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Ski workshop | Binding adjustment

Adjust freeride and alpine bindings quickly and safely?

by Knut Pohl 11/28/2011
For many winter sports enthusiasts, adjusting ski bindings, just like fitting bindings to skis, seems to be the prerogative of specialist ski workshops. So should bindings only be fitted and adjusted by professionals? Is it even possible to adjust bindings yourself? And are you allowed to?

The first question can be answered with a clear no and the second with a yes. The third question is a gray area. The so-called DIN ISO standard 11088 regulates the assembly, adjustment and testing of the functional unit "alpine ski binding - boot" and, in addition to assembly and adjustment, also includes testing with the aid of a special testing device. However, very often - especially in rental or test operations - this check is not carried out at all or only on a random basis. Other bindings are not even DIN ISO certified. But even without a testing device, it is possible to adjust bindings properly without any problems.

Once you are sure that the binding is working perfectly and you have understood the basics of binding function and adjustment, there is nothing to stop you from adjusting your bindings yourself.

In principle, there are only three things that need to be adjusted on every binding:

1. the contact pressure of the rear jaw and 2. the front and 3. the rear release value (also known as the Z-value).

For setting the release value

The weight method discussed here is used throughout the Alpine region, while the tibia method, which is based on measuring the tibial head to the knee, is essentially only used in Germany. The tabular weight method is based on statistical evaluations of skiing accidents and was developed in the USA and Switzerland.

To determine the appropriate Z-value, the Z-value table is consulted (Table 1). To do this, look for the row in the table with your own weight and height. If both values are not in the same row, the upper of the two rows is consulted. The Z-value is now determined based on the sole length of the ski boots used.

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Now the value is individually adjusted to the respective skier type. You must classify yourself as one of the following three (skier) types:

Type 1: Careful skiing on gentle slopes with a slight to medium incline. This type also includes skiers in the beginner stage and those who are unsure of their classification. Type 1 skiers receive below-average settings with a higher risk of false releases.

Type 2: Skiers who classify themselves as neither type 1 nor type 3

Type 3: Fast, aggressive skiing on slopes with medium to steep inclines. Type 3 skiers receive above-average settings with an increased risk of injury.

+/-: A type can be classified as -1 or +3 on express request.

To determine the type-dependent Z value, the following corrections are made:
Type 1: The Z value determined in the table is the correct one Type 2: The Z value one line below the determined value must be set Type 3: The Z value two lines below the determined value must be set
+/-: Corresponds to an additional jump by one line up (-) or down (+)
Age correction: For skiers under 10 or over 50 years of age, a correction is made by one line upwards after the type determination.

The release value determined in this way is now set on the front and rear jaws using the screws and the release value scale (see image). If there is any doubt about the accuracy of the binding, especially with old bindings, there is only one thing to do: go to a specialist store to have it checked. The same applies if there is a high incidence of unintentional release. Anyone who deviates significantly from these tabular Z-values should definitely know what they are doing. Unauthorized modification is not recommended for the average skier. Setting the Z-value requires knowledge, but is not complicated.

It is sometimes recommended to set the release value to the minimum when storing skis over the summer in order to protect the material. Whether this really makes sense is open to debate.

For a binding to work properly, not only does the release value have to be right, but also the contact pressure with which the rear jaw usually presses the boot into the binding. Adjusting the contact pressure is the same as adjusting the binding to the correct sole length.

Unfortunately, the different bindings have very different systems for this. The most common way is to adjust the position of the rear jaw using a screw (see 1st image, below) or by lifting a plate (2nd image, below), which engages in the base rail of the rear jaw using teeth. However, there are also exotic adjustment options. The way in which the correct contact pressure is indicated also varies greatly between different binding models and manufacturers. Often - especially when adjusting with toothed plates - there is a marking on the back jaw, which must be placed within a marking scale on the mounting rail of the back jaw (Fig. 3 & 4, below). Jaws that are finely adjusted in position using a screw often do not have a scale. They are correctly adjusted when the screw is flush with the housing. In some cases, however, the screw itself has a marking or graduation that must be flush with the housing.

If you are not sure how the correct contact pressure is indicated on the binding, you can consult the operating instructions. If there is nothing there, the only option is to go to a specialist retailer.

The contact pressure is set correctly by placing the boot in the binding and then moving the binding in position so that the contact pressure - determined using the scale or screw position - is correct. By inserting and removing the boot several times, you can check whether the setting remains consistently correct.

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Further adjustment options

Some bindings require further adjustments. For example, practically all touring bindings, but also some alpine bindings, have the option of adjusting the height of the toe piece and adapting it to the boot sole. This is particularly necessary when ski boots with touring boot soles are to be used in a binding. In principle, every binding that has these adjustment options should be set correctly, even if there are "default" markings for alpine or touring soles. As a rule, there are two ways to adjust a toe piece. Either the height of the toe piece itself is adjusted, or the binding has a sliding plate under the sole of the boot, which is adjusted in height.

No matter how the adjustment is made, the procedure is always the same: a piece of glossy paper from a magazine is best for checking the correct setting. However, the paper should not be too thin. Fold it so that one side is longer than the other. It is then placed with the longer side down on the sliding plate of the toe piece and the shoe is inserted into the binding. Make sure that the shoe is pressed upwards and also rests against the stop of the toe piece.

Now pull on the longer end of the paper. If you only pull this out and the shorter end remains in its position under the sole of the boot, the binding is set correctly. If the paper tears when you pull it out, the toe piece is set too low or the sliding plate too high. If the paper is pulled out effortlessly so that the short and long ends slide out together, the setting on the toe piece is too loose. In both cases, the front jaw or sliding plate height is adjusted so that the test works. Alternatively, a thin plastic card can also be used for adjustment: This must be able to be pulled out with some resistance between the boot sole and the toe plate.

Some Salomon bindings also still have the option of adjusting the wings of the toe piece. To do this, the screw (or the screws on both sides) is first fully unscrewed. Then insert the boot and tighten the screw again until the wings rest against the boot and hold it in position (do not overtighten). After this, it is worth taking another look at the contact pressure on the rear jaw if you have adjusted it first.

The adjustment of tech bindings according to the Dynafit concept will not be discussed here, as this is usually well documented in the operating instructions.

With this knowledge and a certain amount of care, you are well equipped to maintain your skis yourself. If you also master binding assembly, you are completely independent of the opening hours or daily schedules of specialist retailers. Freeskiing starts in the ski cellar.

To the article Binding assembly (you can also find the drilling templates here)

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This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

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