The new Rottefella XPLORE OFFTRACK Binding System Review

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telerat
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Re: The new Rottefella XPLORE OFFTRACK Binding System Review

Post by telerat » Wed Apr 28, 2021 3:00 am

UtahBrian wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:01 pm
lowangle al wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:36 pm
The light weight
The XPLORE boot + binding appears to be heavier than NNN-BC.
Alfa Vista boot 815g (XPLORE, 43)
Alfa Guard boot 725g (NNN-BC ,42)

NNN-BC auto binding 430g
XPLORE bindings 378g
The weight difference is significant and I wonder what the reason is. I'd expect the Xplore mechanism to be slightly heavier than NNN-BC, but there must be something else also here if the weights are correct (they are from what I can see).
UtahBrian wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:01 pm
lowangle al wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:36 pm
ability to use the same boots for skating and snowshoeing
NNN-BC boots are good for snowshoeing, too. Neither will work as ice skates.
An Xplore mounting on snowshoes would be very fast/easy to get in and out of compared to straps, in addition to being light.

Here is a video (linked in the old thread) that shows Xplore mounted on touring ice skates:

This is an application I look forward to. The alternatives was previously NNN-BC to get a proper rubber sole for hiking to and from lakes, or NNN skating or combi boot with it's plastic slippery sole and possibly a separate boot for hiking. 75mm unfortunately does not work for anything else than slow upright skating (I've tried). So I very much look forward to Xplore for this application.
UtahBrian wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:01 pm
lowangle al wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:36 pm
if…they are priced comparable to what is already available
Announced prices indicate that XPLORE boots and bindings will start above US$1000. Maybe well above.
Top quality (Alpina Alaska or Alfa Guard) boots and bindings for NNN-BC can be had for under US$400 new.
Announced prices for Xplore boots looks to be about US$50 more (including Norwegian tax) than the NNN-BC version, with the new ALFA Free A/P/S trying to establish a new higher price level. Not ideal, but not too bad. The binding is significantly more expensive though, at ~2.5 times the price of NNN-BC, which could be a deal breaker. The Xplore binding construction looks relatively simple, so I'll speculate that Rottefella has some leeway on pricing, but we have to see how prices develop. I understand their attempt to increase margins at the release of a new system, but it will slow adoption.

Even with Alfa Free A/P/S and the binding you will not pass US$1000, and comparing launch prices to clearance or the most expensive to cheapest for the two systems are not relevant. I personally find the cheapest boot Skaget the most interesting from Alfa, but it remains to test it. The other option is Alpina Alaska, so I'm anxiously awaiting Johnny's review. :shock:

A last question for Johnny; Is the Xplore binding made out of plastic with a steel plate for the front screw mounts or (cast) aluminum? I have not seen it mentioned elsewhere.

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iBjorn
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Re: The new Rottefella XPLORE OFFTRACK Binding System Review

Post by iBjorn » Wed Apr 28, 2021 11:23 am

Thank you for the best review I have read in a long time.

How fragile and exposed are the pins on the boot? As a ski mountaineer I am interested in using this system and boots in alpine and mixed terrain, but the pins seemed rather exposed.





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lowangle al
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Re: The new Rottefella XPLORE OFFTRACK Binding System Review

Post by lowangle al » Wed Apr 28, 2021 3:13 pm

riel wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 4:06 pm
lowangle al wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:45 pm
riel wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:29 pm
On the flip side, if the XPlore soles are similar enough to 75mm and NNN-BC that they can just be integrated into boots like the Alfa Guard an Alpina Alaska, then the system may not provide enough control because the boot is only attached at the far front, and not under the entire ball of the foot, or at the rear (with a cable).


I'm cautiously optimistic. Haven't decided yet whether it's more caution or more optimism :)
The stiff flexor should enable you to flex the boot, it's up to the skier to put weight on it.
It's about the flexing and twisting in the boot, and a balance of the flexing and twisting of the upper boot with that of the outer sole.

For example, the NNN-BC Alpina Alaska is a highly regarded boot, which affords the user a lot of control over their skis, and which also happens to be pretty durable, and have good kick and glide performance.

That exact same boot, with a floppier Vibram 75mm sole? People are reporting some issues with the sole detaching, and the boot not providing as much control over the ski as the NNN-BC version.

I don't know if any part of the boot was redesigned to make it work well with whatever properties the XPlore sole has, or whether the XPlore sole just happens to already match what it needs to work well with the Alpina Alaska.

The same will be true for an XPlore sole integrated into a much softer boot, like those made by Alfa. Can the boots retain their kick and glide properties when a stiffer XPlore sole is integrated, or is the XPlore sole relatively soft?

On 75mm and NNN-BC, the softness of the sole desired for kick and glide can be complemented with either cables (which also provide lateral control), or with the NNN-BC grooves that allow a larger part of the boot to be used to control the skis.

With XPlore, all the performance needs to come from the sole of the boot. Can the sole be simultaneously rigid enough to provide better control than NNN-BC or 75mm, while still being flexible enough for good kick and glide? Will that sole "just work" when integrated into existing boots?

Maybe they figured it all out, and there is some magic in the flex pattern of the sole that makes it work, but I'm going to wait and see...
With the addition of midsoles I don't see why the boot can't have enough flexibility for K&G and maintain enough stiffness to eliminate twisting. For me the boots upper would have to be stiff with a solid connection where the upper is attached to the sole, like a plastic boot. For me the weak link with leather boots is the slop you get where the upper is connected to the sole affecting the precision of control.

I would only buy into this system if it improved the DH performance to come close to what I am getting with T4s.





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lowangle al
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Re: The new Rottefella XPLORE OFFTRACK Binding System Review

Post by lowangle al » Wed Apr 28, 2021 3:16 pm

UtahBrian wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:01 pm
lowangle al wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:36 pm
The light weight


The XPLORE boot + binding appears to be heavier than NNN-BC.

Alfa Vista boot 815g (XPLORE, 43)
Alfa Guard boot 725g (NNN-BC ,42)

NNN-BC auto binding 430g
XPLORE bindings 378g
ability to use the same boots for skating and snowshoeing
NNN-BC boots are good for snowshoeing, too. Neither will work as ice skates.
if…they are priced comparable to what is already available
Announced prices indicate that XPLORE boots and bindings will start above US$1000. Maybe well above.

Top quality (Alpina Alaska or Alfa Guard) boots and bindings for NNN-BC can be had for under US$400 new.
I guess they're screwed.





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UtahBrian
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Re: The new Rottefella XPLORE OFFTRACK Binding System Review

Post by UtahBrian » Wed Apr 28, 2021 5:40 pm

Here is a video (linked in the old thread) that shows Xplore mounted on touring ice skates:

This is an application I look forward to. The alternatives was previously NNN-BC to get a proper rubber sole for hiking to and from lakes, or NNN skating or combi boot with it's plastic slippery sole and possibly a separate boot for hiking. 75mm unfortunately does not work for anything else than slow upright skating (I've tried). So I very much look forward to Xplore for this application.
That is amazing and enlightening.
Announced prices for Xplore boots looks to be about US$50 more (including Norwegian tax) than the NNN-BC version, with the new ALFA Free A/P/S trying to establish a new higher price level. Not ideal, but not too bad. The binding is significantly more expensive though, at ~2.5 times the price of NNN-BC, which could be a deal breaker. The Xplore binding construction looks relatively simple, so I'll speculate that Rottefella has some leeway on pricing, but we have to see how prices develop. I understand their attempt to increase margins at the release of a new system, but it will slow adoption.
Alfa Vista is announced at NO$4499 or US$550, which is nearly double what Alfa Guard boots go for in the USA, if you can find Alfa products at all.
Even with Alfa Free A/P/S and the binding you will not pass US$1000,
Free boots $730
XPLORE binding $265
--------
$995

Technically correct.
and comparing launch prices to clearance or the most expensive to cheapest
I look forward to prices eventually dropping, but I need new boots and skis now.
The other option is Alpina Alaska, so I'm anxiously awaiting Johnny's review. :shock:
Same.





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riel
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Re: The new Rottefella XPLORE OFFTRACK Binding System Review

Post by riel » Wed Apr 28, 2021 10:09 pm

lowangle al wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 3:13 pm
With the addition of midsoles I don't see why the boot can't have enough flexibility for K&G and maintain enough stiffness to eliminate twisting. For me the boots upper would have to be stiff with a solid connection where the upper is attached to the sole, like a plastic boot. For me the weak link with leather boots is the slop you get where the upper is connected to the sole affecting the precision of control.

I would only buy into this system if it improved the DH performance to come close to what I am getting with T4s.
If I could get boots with the kick and glide performance of the BCX675 or Alpina Alaska, and downhill control approaching that of the Scarpa T4 or Scott Excursion, I would switch to whatever bindings those boots were made for.

The boots would really dictate the binding choice for me, and would motivate me to drop a bunch of money upgrading the bindings on all the wider skis in my quiver. If Rottefella can convince someone to make boots like that for XPlore, I'll get XPlore bindings :)





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Re: The new Rottefella XPLORE OFFTRACK Binding System Review

Post by Shenanagains » Wed Apr 28, 2021 10:09 pm

K, so I've been following along with this new binding system development. Looks like a marginally improved NNN-BC replacement, with some super cheap and flimsy components and hiking boots resoled to match. So, good enough for XC-d on Forest Service roads, not too technical or expensive.

Then the price tag. A grand for boots that flex like this



and bindings that flex like this

Image

and no reason to think they are even durable?

I'm not above paying big bucks for stuff that works. But this is entry level, bargain basement equipment. MAYBE I could see $75 for these disposable bindings, and $200 for the boots.

Is there really a board room full of 'very smart people' who think this is going to satisfy the market???

I'm with Low Angle Al. Unless this will perform with a T4 and 3-pin, and be just as durable, no thank you, Rottefella. And the pictures sure don't seem promising AT ALL. I'd so love to be wrong, but all I see here is a guarantee that Voile's 75mm bindings remain the best there is for another 20 years.





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telerat
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Re: The new Rottefella XPLORE OFFTRACK Binding System Review

Post by telerat » Thu Apr 29, 2021 3:45 am

Johnny is making drama with moving the binding slightly while demonstrating the boot release mechanism :o
If you watch closely you can see the ski and binding base tilting, and I believe that is the reason for what looks like flex until proven otherwise. I'm also still wondering if the material is plastic or aluminum. I think it looks like aluminum and then it will not flex like that, but it could also be plastic as the towers are a bit wide. The mechanism in the boots is a bit more advanced than NNN-BC and can defend a slightly higher price. I assume most are aware that Norwegian prices include 25% tax when comparing prices. I often just multiply with 10 to convert between NOK and USD, which is exact if 1 USD costs 8 NOK and there is no extra.

I still don't believe the Xplore system will match the power that a T4 class boot can provide, but we'll see what comes later. It is not my priority anyway, as I am waiting for a lighter NTN boot with more walking comfort. Walking comfort is also priority number one for me in the Xplore system, but I hope to match the current downhill performance of my 75mm leather boots too. Less play in the binding interface would be an advantage there. The Alfa Free boot does not look very torsional rigid, but I hope other/future boots will be better. Perhaps I'll buy another boot for the system if one is released with a hinged plastic cuff, in addition to an Alpina Alaska, Alfa Skaget or similar boot. Durability remains to be seen, but the system looks very user friendly, simple and reliable.





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Re: The new Rottefella XPLORE OFFTRACK Binding System Review

Post by Johnny » Thu Apr 29, 2021 7:15 am

lowangle al wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:36 pm
Does this system even need to be superior to 75mm or nnn to find a place in the market? The light weight and ability to use the same boots for skating and snowshoeing should be enough. Add in the step in feature and a boot that doesn't have a duckbill or bar to affect walking.
Pretty much one of the things I was trying to say without sounding over-enthusiastic. Even if the XPlore binding was only just-as-good as NNN-BC or 75mm, (It's a lot better but let's say it's not for skiers stuck in 70's nostalgia), then yes, it would definitely be worth it for a lot of people, if it's only for the weight reduction, the step in feature and the hiking soles.

riel wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:29 pm
I'm cautiously optimistic. Haven't decided yet whether it's more caution or more optimism :)
Better be cautious... Because I foresee a very strong wave of Gear Acquisition Syndrome coming next fall... 8-)

telerat wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 3:00 am
Announced prices for Xplore boots looks to be about US$50 more (including Norwegian tax) than the NNN-BC version, with the new ALFA Free A/P/S trying to establish a new higher price level. Not ideal, but not too bad.
The announced weight was 530g and it turned out to be 378g in reality. If we keep the same ratio, the announced 265$ price should end up being 189$? ;)

Keep in mind a Voile Switchback is around 320$... No step in, big duckbills on the way, bulky cables and 3 times heavier at 1300+g!

telerat wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 3:45 am
If you watch closely you can see the ski and binding base tilting, and I believe that is the reason for what looks like flex until proven otherwise.
Yep, nothing is really moving expect on the pins. The ski is moving. I'm no photographer, I was holding the camera with one hand and moving the lever with the other one. The binding does not flex at all. I can't tell which kind of advanced material it's made of, but it's not aluminium. Being a Master NTN binding destroyer, I can't wait to push the XPlore to the limits! Honestly, I really doubt I'll be able to break it in any way.

I still don't believe the Xplore system will match the power that a T4 class boot can provide, but we'll see what comes later. It is not my priority anyway, as I am waiting for a lighter NTN boot with more walking comfort.
It has never been what the XPlore is all about:

Rottefella Xplore is a new backcountry binding system which will greatly improve your skiing experience; with better mobility when skiing across all types of terrain and greater stability during downhill skiing, giving you an increased sense of confidence and enjoyment of backcountry skiing. The Rottefella Xplore system is our newest innovation. It is a new binding system designed to enhance stability, provide better comfort and increase mobility.

That said, if I personally can get more power than a plastic T4 out of leathers and 30yo NNN-BC bindings without cables, you can understand my optimism about the XPlore... 8-)

It's up to boot manufacturers to decide if they want to release XPlore plastic boots or not. All the potential is there, hidden in the binding, and ready to explode... (But if Scarpa never even bothered to add tech inserts on the TX Comps in the last 15 years, I don't see why they would start developing XPlore boots at all.)
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
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Johnny
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Re: The new Rottefella XPLORE OFFTRACK Binding System Review

Post by Johnny » Thu Apr 29, 2021 7:45 am

iBjorn wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 11:23 am
How fragile and exposed are the pins on the boot? As a ski mountaineer I am interested in using this system and boots in alpine and mixed terrain, but the pins seemed rather exposed.
They are definitely exposed. But it's not as bad as it may seem. The pins are actually very short. I'll take a few pictures in my Alaska XP review... Keep in mind that this is the main idea behind the XPlore system: to have one single high-quality hiking boot that can be used for any winter activity. They were designed To give better mobility when walking. They were designed as all-around hiking boots... that can also be used for skiing, skating and snowshoeing. So the pin design and placement must have been meticulously planned. 8-)

The pins look pretty solid. In fact, that was my main concern. Having badly bent NNN-BC bars, modded broken NTN cups and ripped 3pin holes on all my gear, I was curious to see how the XPlore pins would bend and how the binding would wear over time. I definitely do NOT want something on the fragile side... If you hit something, the pins should be able to hide inside the boot as they have rounded end ... But I should be able to tell more about wear and abuse before the end of 2021... 8-)

iBjorn wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 11:23 am
Thank you for the best review I have read in a long time.
Thanks! It's pretty hard not to be excited about the XPlore. I mean, it's not everyday that we get a chance to witness the birth of a new telemark norm. Last time was NTN in 2006 and NNN-BC in 1989... Very exciting times! 8-)
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"And if you like to risk your neck, we'll boom down Sutton in old Quebec..."





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