2013 Bon Hiver 13 Series Binding Used and Reviewed

People have been wondering when this review would come out. Probably because no one thought I would actually subject myself to riding with these creations for the fiery pits of hell, but alas I did and this is the review. So if you ever wondered what it was like to ride with a bear trap on your feet here you go.

Binding Used: Bon Hiver 13 Series Binding

Board Used: Arbor Blacklist

Stance: 22.5 Wide 18 Negative 15 Goofy

Boots Used: K2 UFO Size 10

Weight: 165

Location: A Basin

Conditions: Sunny bluebird slush laps in the early spring.

Binding Adjustability: There’s a lot of screws to play with. Think of it like trying to adjust a Ride binding from the late 90’s. Moving the highback and straps around is kind of a pain in the ass with the current design. And by kind of a pain in the ass I mean it’s a huge pain in the ass and you will let out banshee cries to the heavens as you lose parts.

Straps: Well the heel strap reminds me of the old K2 Formula strap from about 2008ish or so and the toe strap is like a bastardized old version of the toe strap from that same binding. The heel strap gets the job done but the toe strap is somewhat worthless and will pop off.

Highbacks: They’re stiff and bulky. If you drive into them expect amazing response at least on heelside turns.

Binding Flex: Next to non existent. Between the plate for the back binding with its magnets then it’s all aluminum chassis it wasn’t going to flex at all.

Ratchets: Suck is the only word to describe them. The release lever is too small and won’t initiate as a one finger quick release, this results in you having to grab them with your hand and jiggle it around praying that it will let you out.

Rider in Mind: Someone that hasn’t mastered how to strap in standing up I guess or a tech nerd.

Personal Thoughts: It’s a bear trap on your foot. I had a critical cam failure where the easy release wouldn’t engage and lock in, resulting in me screaming at the top of my lungs for five minutes till I had to use my hand to cause it to engage. The weight needs to be talked about just one of these bindings weighs more than both of my Raiden Phantoms. On a plus side the sole weight of these things would deter any potential thief from stealing them as his mobility would be impaired.

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24 Comments

  1. Dave says:

    thanks for the nice review. I knew that there is nothing serious behind this concept. Because we tech. guys think that sophisticated design creates lots of problems and failures, because there are lots of parts and their interaction is also not simple as can be though initially . I am riding Nitro Raiden Machine bindings and love them. I have several seconds to crank them.

    Hehe

  2. Matt Ball says:

    Coming from an actual rider….I’m pretty sure the 13 series are similar to the 18 and Ive to say I have been riding the 18’s all summer and they have not caused even close to the amount of problems listed here. They have the same flex as every binding i’ve ever ridden and never have I struggled to unstrap…? Occasionally a screw comes loose, but I still am yet to find a binding that dosnt have that problem. I have never had to play with “all these screw” either…? Keep in mind i’m also riding in summer slush and i can lock in and out even with snow buildup.
    Seems like you just want to uphold the “angry” part of critisism. I think this is a newer company that hasn’t fully reached it’s potential, but their deff headed in the right direction.

  3. An actual rider eh? How come your email address goes to Casey Willax’s facebook profile and he’s a team rider. Yet when I saw him out here riding he was rocking 2 front bindings and not the back slide plate? Everything I listed is a problem with these and an actual critique, plus I emailed the owner a huge break down of what to improve on to go forward. Then again when you ride for the company no one would expect you to actually bite the hand that feeds you.

  4. Matt Ball says:

    Smart guy huh. Look up Matt Ball, ive been rocking a front and back all season and loving every second of it !
    If you wana talk about Casey Willax, hes on some next level shit and is testing product that might come out in the future. Hes my boy and I use his email because I dont have one. Call your mom.

  5. Aww how cute a mom reply. Could you swing any harder from your boys nuts and you look like a real winner https://www.facebook.com/matthew.ball.188

  6. Matt Ball says:

    Hey at least you know its me! Reppin hard, not playin games. Guy.

  7. JPT says:

    who the hell doesn’t have an email address in 2012?

  8. LOL, my thoughts as well on the email thing. Email has been free for 15 years or more. If you are on the internet, there is no excuse to not have one. Go get one.

    I’m always a fan of companies trying new things; not every idea is a winner (not passing judgement on BH here, more of a general comment). So, I appreciate when people try to make something new, even when it might not end up being great. R&D definitely isn’t a two-step “have great idea, bang it out first try” process. There’s a ton of failures on the road to success.

    On the other hand, you can’t dismiss comments because you don’t want to hear them or dislike how they are presented. I just re-read the review and frankly it seems fairly charitable. As an example from an engineering perspective, looking at those baseplate things, it seems that there is a ton of potential for weight-reduction (unsure if the underside is hollowed and ribbed or not).

    I know that Angry talked to BH’s owner at SIA, and Angry was fairly impressed by the amount of progress BH had made over the first abysmal protos he saw. I don’t get the “this will never work” vibe here, unlike, say, his review of the insipid “releaseable snowboard bindings” in the “bad Ideas” section. He just thinks these bindings can be improved. Guess what? I bet they can.

  9. Bon Hiver says:

    I think the Company Commander’s perspective is spot on. We respect everyone’s point of view and we know we can make our bindings better and we definitely will. Angry, thanks for your feedback in the email you sent, although I could go without the ranting rhetoric of your reviews, but it’s your shtick, so I get it. Seriously, I do appreciate your list of improvements and refinements for the bindings. For that, I thank you. For the review though, I would have appreciated the feedback of your staff as well. I’m not 100% sure, but I think it was your guy, Kevin, who tested the bindings at the on-snow demo at Winter Park that came back and said that the bindings were extremely responsive, a great ride and that they “did everything that [we] said they’d do” (in terms of hands-free locking). His only critiques were more EVA padding and move the toe strap to the outside of the aluminum. It would have been cool if you included his feedback as well.

    Yes, we know our baby is a little fat so we’re putting it on a diet for next season. We didn’t core out the aluminum and are cutting a ton of weight there for next season. On the topic of weight though, let’s think about this a little more logically. I was at the airport headed to Colorado and I weighed my board bag with all of my gear in it (board, boots, bindings, pants, jackets, gloves, goggles, clothing, etc.) and it weighed approximately 24 lbs. Come to think of it, it’s rather funny that no one talks about the weight of all of the other gear like boots for instance. Anyway, I weigh 180 lbs, so that means I’m pushing approximately 204 lbs on the mountain. So, let’s compare that to a binding that’s a pound lighter. In that case, I’m handling 203 lbs instead of 204 lbs. That’s less than half of a percent difference! The point is that it’s a minute difference (even if you exclude body weight) and that most riders have been sold on weight because other companies have no way of differentiating their products based on features or functionality because they are indistinguishable commodities. Seriously, take the logos and graphics off and see if you can tell the difference.

    Or, let’s actually think about weight by taking out the marketing hype and focusing on something a little more tangible: let’s say physics. Last time I checked, snowboarding was a downhill sport and, according to the laws of physics, momentum = mass x velocity. So, when sliding down a hill, a certain amount of weight can actually help. After all, that’s why bobsleds have a weight maximum, not minimum, in order to make competition fair. The more massive an object is and the faster it goes, the more momentum it has. The more momentum it has, the easier it is to overcome the effects of drag and friction caused by the snow. Granted, a greater force must be applied to achieve that velocity (234.9 newtons for the 204 lbs body and 233.8 newtons for the 203 lbs body on a 15 degree slope – cue nerdy snorting), but this can easily be achieved by decreasing the coefficient of kinetic friction. That means, sans geek-talk, wax your board! Besides straight downhills, the greater mass can actually be beneficial for spins as we can see by analyzing rotational momentum (rotational momentum = position vector x mass x velocity). Think sledge hammer versus ball-peen. OK, OK, we’re not advocating heavy gear and we are making our bindings lighter, but I just wanted to simply illustrate the absurd fixation that consumers have based on years of bad marketing and point out that less than a half of a percent of weight difference really won’t make a difference. If it does, than you should leave your wallet, MP3 player, board lock, etc. behind, lay off the beers, taquitos and 2 am pizza, and hit the gym.* Besides, I’ll take an extra pound of weight in my bindings as opposed to a pound of water that’s soaked into the ass of my pants after a day of strapping in.

    We know our bindings aren’t perfect, but they’re the best at what they do and that’s for damn sure. As we were told time and again at SIA, “you’ve done what no one else could do” because we put out a binding that no one else has the balls to. And, believe me, other companies have tried time and again to make this type of binding, but have opted to take the easy road after failing and opted to pump out revisions of the same crap, time and again (OK, maybe not the same as the graphics are different each season). As for the critiques, we’re going to work our asses off to make these bindings better and better each season. Again, we appreciate your feedback and we’ll definitely take it into consideration.

    * While Bon Hiver does advocate a solid fitness regimen, we do not actually advocate laying off the beers, even for riding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUVwR0rw5fk

  10. Kevin says:

    Just as a clarification, except for the cam failure I experienced everything angry did. The response I referred to was the same as his, in the uberstiff frame and highback. Its been a while so I don’t remember if I mentioned ratchets buy yeah they needed help too and I couldn’t get the toe strap to stay put. And as non accusatory as I can be, I don’t remember using the phrase “great ride”. I can’t see myself saying that and then telling you they need a lot more dampening. Those two thoughts don’t meld. As for it doing what you say, for me they did. For angry they jammed.

    I want these to work, so keep at it.

  11. Good on you, BH! You have a great attitude. I agree with you on the lightness issue—a TON of emphasis is placed on weight, and depending on application the weight might be a non-issue. For barreling straight down the hill, it could even be beneficial (again, condition dependent).

    People need to remember that the best in one dimension might not be the best in all dimensions. Something could be the “step in binding” department and not the “best freestyle binding department”- if you value quick-in-out over freestyle performance, then maybe these would be great for you. And truth is, that fits a LOT of the bulk snowboard populace.

    Keep at it! Love innovation, and innovators. They make life interesting.

  12. Jon says:

    I too had to test these after seeing them at SIA. First thing…yes, they are different than every other binding out there. But that doesnt necessarily make them better. I rode the series 13, the stealth I think, and the review Angry had was my exact experience. They were more of a pain to me than anything. They felt dead and I didnt experience any sort of “flex” either. Good on them for making something new and different, but thats about all I can say about it. Honestly, if I dont have the ability, time, etc. to strap/unstrap my back foot, maybe I should re-think being on the hill. When I ride new products the first thing I look for is price for performance. At 300+ retail, they arent worth it in my book. For that price I could purchase at least a dozen different models on the market with way better performance. As for the wet ass comment, that sounds more like having shitty outerwear than sitting down to strap in. Here is an idea….kick your heel edge into the snow and voila! you now can stand up and strap in!

  13. Bon Hiver says:

    Echelon Six. Big thanks and best to you as well.

    Hey Jon. We appreciate the comments and critiques as always, so thanks for the input. We monitor all of our customers and all of our testers and provide updates, so we’d really appreciate your last name as we want to send you next season’s test models. Then we’ll link to our emails on record. Please provide. Thanks.

  14. Fred says:

    To the Bon Hiver guy.

    I’m a 110 kilo snowboarder. I’m a rugby player, hence the weight. I’m not so good at snowboarding unfortuantly, but I ride for 6 weeks a year, which includes a two week summer camp. I also ride the fridges (snowdomes) once a week (I’m in the UK)

    Now I’l use my rugby boots as an example-they weigh literally nothing compared to my actual body weight. But a pair of large metal studded leather boots, which I use for most of the seaon, weigh more than the lightweight moulded boots I use in the summer. Like I said, compared to my 110 kilos, its nothing. But on the end of my legs, after 50 minutes, its a huge diference when it comes to running fast.

    On to snowboarding-If these bindings weigh twice as much as some bindings on the market, and you take the same approach and have a heavy snowboard and boots, then you are carrying twice as much weight on your feet. Granted, if you are carving up the packed snow then no, you probably wont notice. But if you are jibbing, catching air, trying to manuevre in powder and your board is sinking, duck waddling the board, ect ect, then yes, a heavy set up is far harder to manuevre.

    I like to think I know a fair bit about snowboarding as I work in a snowboard shop during the day. I welcome the fact that you are working on the weight issue for next year, because customers will most likely not be able to try the bindings out before they buy. They will however, pick them up, feel them, try out the rachets, and generally touch them up erotically,

    A pair of lightweight bindings with nice rachets and a cool design sells a lot easier than a heavy one, regardless of real world performance. I’m sure angry will agree on that, so if you actually want these to sell, its the way forward.

  15. My whole response to his argument is that weight while it adds more speed also adds more stress and fatigue to knees and other joints. 10 to 12lbs is about the max where you want to be with a set up if you’re an in shape rider anything more and you’re just asking for something to blow out. On average your set up should be about 8 to 9lbs max. And that’s not me going into it scientifically that’s just real world experience from riding.

  16. Jon says:

    @Bon Hiver,
    Im not a customer, nor a “tester” for you. I work at a shop and we tried these at the on snow demo at Winter Park. I didnt give anybody my email. We arent a dealer. We might check them out again at this years on snow demo.

  17. Doug says:

    i think they should work on getting a partnership going with a big name binding company, i think the extra R&D and proven performance of said future binding company would be nothing but beneficial. They’re not really trying to revolutionize the binding ITSELF, this is more of an addon feature. I’d be prototyping with the best damn bindings i could buy, and modding them to fit this thing, and going from there.

    I personally dont mind being unstrapped in the back (my binding has one strap), and i cant picture the thought of having a binding attached to my boot while kicking around a crowded lift line, or trying to ride “one footed”.

    As long as traditional strap bindings keep getting pushed to their limits, they keep overcoming anything that comes out that offers speed or ease of engagement.

  18. Bon Hiver says:

    Fred, I completely agree. Just to clarify though, they aren’t twice the weight, but about a pound heavier. Thanks for the input and advice! We’re working on it.

  19. Fu says:

    I came upon this review as I was curious to research BH bindings. To me the idea is just a rework of the old stepins (burton tried to push these in the early 2000s). I myself rode them a few times on rentals and had huge problems, all of which I can see happening to BH. If you hollow out the base plates then you run a risk of snow buildup, leading to problems stepping in or spontaneous detachment, the latter happening frequently with burtons stepins.
    Secondly if you really the release mechanism seems ridiculously complex, it seems to take the same time as using standard rathchets. for this I would say look at the burton system because at least it was easy to remove. I often stepped out doing an ollie so i wouldn’t have to bend down, if you’re that fussed about speedy exits it needs to be speedy.
    If you guys could really make a fast, light progressive and good looking binding I would be down to get some but as it stands I think flow have it covered.
    Keep trying.

  20. Bon Hiver says:

    Hey, I’ve said it before and will said it again, actions speak louder than words. Check it:

    https://vimeo.com/55479799

    Hope everyone has a good winter!

    Bon Hiver

  21. Andrew says:

    Okay I’ve read everyone’s remarks and comments. Cut the guy some slack I mean seriously . He (BH)makes a strong point,the whole concept of a freebase binding is nuts . The reason there aren’t many companies doing this style of binding is because of how complex the assembly and design actually is . As for not working , it’s Bon Hivers 3rd year, 2nd year of sales . Do you really think flow or burton came out the gate with perfect bindings ? No. Look at flow when they first came out with the step in high back concept everyone was skeptical , and for good reason. Because , everyone was used to the “normal” shit. Flow came out and the high back straps stretched and were a piece of shit . But they did some R&D and now there big . I rode two seperate pairs of burtons last year and snapped one of the highbacks and one toe strap, its burton though, thats not supposed to happen ???? Bon Hiver is taking a new approach at riding with the freebase system , with a little bit of R&D these binding will be selling like crazy .BH has already proven that the product is a great product, Bon Hiver was nominated this year for an award over in Germany . Obviously BH is doing something right . I’ve had the series 18’s now for just over a month , I did over a year of research on Bon Hiver and there whole idea behind freebase , and to be honest I wasn’t sold . So I got a pair . All I can say is WOW ! The fit was perfect , the actually locking mechanism latched perfectly and made me feel like it was good and solid (which it was) . I Really like the high back , the only thing is, I agree there a little heavier than what I’m used to but I don’t mind getting used to these . Definitely will be recommending these bindings to friends !!! Btw I’m NOT a Dealer or a TESTER , I’m a rider out of Canada . Keep up the good work Bon Hiver.

  22. So you bought a pair of bindings you weren’t sold on? Also The ISPO award went to Bitch Boards one year for advancements in women’s tech. Yes there boards were so advanced they had “Carbon Fiber” because women’s lower center of gravity needed it. Parts break on bindings that’s not an issue but a critical failure of the locking mechanism that attaches you to the board that’s another. In the world of bindings less is more.

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