dnt_upton wrote:Meidjo can definitely be set to be as close to neutral as Voile Switchbacks (or nearly there). And can't the Rotte ones be set fairly low tension too? Outlaw on setting 1 is a bit stiff, but you can remove the inner spring to get it a little softer. Regardless, Axl on 3 is burly...
The Rotte Freedom can be set for much more neutral feel than the Freeride.
I find the Rotte NTN bindings, even on the lowest setting, have a lot of initial active feeling probably because of the ramped toe plate. I have the Freedoms set on the lowest tension, Blue box #1, and they feel quite neutral once the knee is bent, but there is more initial active stiffness going into that bend than I experience on duckbills. The Outlaw also has a moderately ramped toe plate--way different from the Axel/Vice.
The ramped, angled toe plate means that for the boot to rise off the ski even a little bit, the bellows has to bend. With a flat toe plate the bellows are a little extended, stretched open, to put the heel down so there is very little resistance to lifting the heel except from the springs. Before NTN skiers used to want stiff springs / active bindings with immediate tension to get rid of this initial easy heel lift feeling that skiers often complained about with pre-HHead bindings. But most bindings with a flat toe plate still had some of that. For NTN, Rottefella was probably intentionally trying to remove that initial neutral feel before the springs bend the bellows.
What's nice about strong initial engagement, among other things, is more fore-aft stability since your heel isn't so ready to lift all the time. Like Harris, I notice a difference with NTN in the little adjustments of edge you can make when you have initial neutral heel lift, and I have less of that on NTN (even very easy skiing Freedoms) since all my heel-up edge control is done with a bent bellows--the binding won't have it any other way. Big adjustment coming from Loops and I assume this is something I'll get used to. Interesting to hear that Harris left NTN to get it back (assuming we're talking about the same thing). Everybody skis differently and I'm sure plenty of NTN skiers won't have that issue if they have other edge habits. (You could argue that all telemark technique is a process of coping with inadequate bindings. coping is fun.)
But it does result in a strong contrast. A neutral low-tension NTN Freedom feels like more resistance right at first as the heel initially rises, then tension immediately reduces and there is neutral low tension once the heel is up. An active binding like the HHead/Axel/Vice set to medium pivot location and medium tension feels exactly the opposite: low initial resistance to heel lift which can pop up without tension after which you feel powerful active resistance.
These graph in the opposite direction. Rotte NTN bindings set up go from high to low resistance, whereas neutrally set Axle/Vice go from low to high resistance. Many people will not have this experience because they'll set up both types of bindings for active feel. But for those of us who like neutral bindings it will be a noticeable difference.
Way back when, you could put a Voile ramp under your tele binding plate such as many did with Riva IIs to create some initial resistance to heel lift. Also, the Voile VP II was a ramped toe binding that had quicker bellows engagement than most. But most bindings up to NTN have flat toe plates, and the more common solution once the HHead came out was to use a rear position cable pivot. The Pitbull was an earlier binding that tried that rear pivot to create active early tension and bellows bend.
You guys all know this. Just my observations getting used to NTN