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Author Topic: How to Rotate Dynafit Radical Heel with a Ski Pole  (Read 439 times)
Amar Andalkar
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How to Rotate Dynafit Radical Heel with a Ski Pole
« on: 11/01/18, 02:01 PM »

How to Rotate the Dynafit Radical or Rotation Heel from Uphill to Downhill Mode with a Ski Pole: A Simple Trick!

Some people already know how to do this -- but the overwhelming majority of backcountry skiers using Dynafit Radical and Rotation series bindings seem to believe that there is no way to rotate the heel using a ski pole to switch from uphill mode to downhill mode. As did I until yesterday, even after over 4.5 years and nearly 400 touring days using bindings from the Radical and Rotation series since January 2014. As did apparently all of my many ski partners who have those bindings, none of whom had ever rotated a Radical or Rotation series heel with their pole within my sight, or indicated to me that they knew how to do it or that it might even be possible at all. In contrast, it has been accepted as common knowledge since the Radical series bindings were introduced for the 2011-12 season that you have to reach down and rotate the heel by hand in order to transition to downhill mode, or just take the ski off and do it.

I've been using numerous different Dynafit bindings since 2005 (after initially using Fritschi since I started backcountry skiing in 1996), including models from the Comfort, Vertical, Radical, and Rotation series. One of the nice features of the Comfort and Vertical series was that it was very easy to rotate the heel piece using a ski pole tip to switch from uphill to downhill mode at the top of a run. Of course, this was a necessary consequence of the early Dynafits all needing to rotate the heel to change lifter heights, so easy rotation via ski pole was simply essential to their design.

With the introduction of the new Radical series for the 2011-12 season, the major new feature was the flip-up heel lifters which eliminated the need to rotate the heel to change lifter height while skinning, and more importantly, eliminated the unintended heel rotation issue which was a major problem for many users of earlier Dynafit models. However, a major disadvantage of the new Radical heel was that it was no longer possible to rotate it with a ski pole in order to switch from uphill to downhill mode. There was no obvious provision for using a ski pole, no obvious place to stick a ski pole tip into the heel to rotate it. Almost every review mentioned this issue, including the need to reach down and rotate the heel by hand to switch modes, or simply remove the ski and then rotate it. The lack of an easy way to do a standing transition from uphill to downhill mode was a major negative on an otherwise mostly-excellent binding (and one which was rapidly improving its few other flaws in subsequent model years).

The major online reviews and binding comparisons and FAQs all indicated that the Radical heel was not rotatable with a ski pole and/or gave no information on how to do it (see for example, https://www.wildsnow.com/bindings/dynafit-backcountry-skiing-bindings/dynafit-binding-tech-skiing-faq/ and https://skimo.co/dynafit-radical-vs-vertical). WildSnow's first look from January 2011 (https://www.wildsnow.com/4309/dynafit-bindings-radical-2011/) includes this comment from Lou Dawson himself, "the only time you’d want to rotate the heel unit is when switching between alpine and touring modes, and as far as I can tell you’d be doing this by hand, not with a ski pole", while his full review from April 2011 (https://www.wildsnow.com/4828/dynafit-radical-backcountry-skiing/) includes another comment from Lou, "I don’t like having to rotate heel by hand when going to alpine mode without taking skis off. I tried to rotate it with my ski pole, but only got it about half way there." Such statements about the need to rotate the heel by hand are typical of almost all other reviews.

Even after the heel was redesigned and strengthened for the Radical 2.0 and Rotation series, the design of the lifters remained largely unchanged, as did the lack of places to insert a ski pole tip to rotate it. So after randomly reading an April 2018 online review yesterday (http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/2018-2019-dynafit-st-rotation-10) which included the cryptic statement, "It’s fairly easy to turn the heel of the ST Rotation 10 from walk to ski mode with a ski pole, and I pretty much always use a pole for this...", I was flabbergasted. What?? How on earth is this guy doing that at all, much less doing it easily?? And then suddenly, within seconds, I had a total inspiration and the answer revealed itself in my mind's eye! Very simple and totally obvious once you see it (or if someone else tells you), but totally counterintuitive to what anyone would normally do during a transition from uphill to downhill mode.

Almost always, skinning up to a summit or just the top of a run, the terrain flattens at the very top, and so one switches from the middle or high heel lifter back to the no-lifter position, before it's time to transition to downhill mode. That's the way it is with all brands and models of AT bindings. But in the no-lifter position, there is absolutely no place to stick a pole tip into the Radical or Rotation series heels. And thus the whole key: switch back to the middle lifter!, and then it's immediately obvious where to stick the pole tip to rotate the heel. This totally counterintuitive extra step makes it trivially easy to then rotate the heel using a ski pole tip.

Seeing the Radical and Rotation series heels side-by-side in the no-lifter and middle-lifter positions makes this very plain.


Comparison of 4 different Dynafit bindings from the Vertical, Radical, and Rotation series. (click for double-size version)


A zoomed and rotated view of the same bindings is much clearer. From left to right, the bindings are: Vertical ST (2009-10), Radical ST 1.0 (2013-14), Radical ST 2.0 (2015-16), and ST Rotation (2017-18), which is basically a Radical 3.0 with a new name. The right 3 pairs all have one heel in middle lifter and one in no-lifter.



This angled view makes it even more obvious, how the middle lifter position of the Radical and Rotation series easily accommodates a ski pole tip in a very similar manner to the angled hole through the Vertical heel:



For the Radical 2.0 and Rotation heels, the very simple procedure is to use the LEFT ski pole tip to rotate both the heels by 90° counter-clockwise into downhill mode. Done! Total piece of cake!

For the older Radical 1.0 and Speed Radical heels, it's more complicated since those are restricted to only rotating clockwise, as indicated by the red arrow on the top plate, and so they need to rotate by 270° to switch from uphill to downhill mode. A procedure that is working for me now in floor testing is to first use the RIGHT ski pole tip to rotate each heel by about 135° clockwise, and then use the LEFT ski pole tip to rotate each heel by the remaining 135° clockwise into downhill mode. A bit awkward, but doable, and way better than reaching down to rotate the heel by hand, at least for those of limited flexibility. Those with greater flexibility (or longer arms) than me may be able to do the entire 270° rotation with a single sweep of the RIGHT pole, by starting with the ski a bit farther back (as suggested by bwalt822 in Reply #2 below). But that doesn't quite work for me and also causes noticeable strain on my right shoulder, so the 2-stage process is the only way for me to do it.


And as an appropriate postscript, some people figured out this trick almost immediately many years ago! Buried in the comments of the April 2011 WildSnow review linked above (https://www.wildsnow.com/4828/dynafit-radical-backcountry-skiing/) is this one from Jasper on February 28th, 2012:
"Maybe it’s already been done, but I think it is worth mentioning, that one can switch radical bindings from walk to ski mode without ski removal by using a pole! It works best if bindings are in the middle 'height' setting, angle your pole, stick it in and twist, just make sure you go the right direction and be willing to move your ski forward or backward to get the appropriate force/angle."

If only I had read that comment way back then, instead of yesterday while doing background research on this subject, after finally discovering the trick myself so many years after getting these bindings!
« Last Edit: 11/02/18, 01:17 PM by Amar Andalkar » Logged

Amar Andalkar
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Re: How to Rotate Dynafit Radical Heel with a Ski Pole
« Reply #1 on: 11/01/18, 06:07 PM »

After cross-posting this on the TAY Facebook page, some people were asking for a video. I definitely never planned to do a video of this, but after seeing those requests, decided to try making a quick and simple video demonstration showing how to easily rotate the Rotation (or Radical 2.0) heel from uphill mode to downhill mode with a ski pole. See the Facebook post for the video:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/turnsallyear/permalink/10156750951954699/

And it's also posted on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGVVKh6A4I0




And now there's a 2nd video too, showing the longer and more awkward 2-stage procedure needed for the Radical 1.0 or Speed Radical. This ski-pole heel rotation trick is definitely much more useful for the Radical 2.0 and Rotation than for those earlier models!

It's on the Facebook post and also on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV9nGaStuGU




« Last Edit: 11/01/18, 08:20 PM by Amar Andalkar » Logged

bwalt822
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Re: How to Rotate Dynafit Radical Heel with a Ski Pole
« Reply #2 on: 11/02/18, 10:01 AM »

You don't need to take the pole out and switch sides for the 1.0.  Just put your foot further back and you can clear the pole around your body and you can do it in one motion.  No more difficult than TLT's.  My poles (BD flick locks) can hang up if I jam the pole way into the lifter.  I try to use just the tip so I don't accidentally break the heel lifter off or something.  This also helps with keeping the pole clear of your body since you can angle it out a bit.
« Last Edit: 11/02/18, 10:17 AM by bwalt822 » Logged
Amar Andalkar
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Re: How to Rotate Dynafit Radical Heel with a Ski Pole
« Reply #3 on: 11/02/18, 01:09 PM »

You don't need to take the pole out and switch sides for the 1.0.  Just put your foot further back and you can clear the pole around your body and you can do it in one motion.  No more difficult than TLT's.  My poles (BD flick locks) can hang up if I jam the pole way into the lifter.  I try to use just the tip so I don't accidentally break the heel lifter off or something.  This also helps with keeping the pole clear of your body since you can angle it out a bit.

Thanks for the suggestion, I've been trying it out now in floor testing. I can get the right ski to work OK, just barely, but can't easily get the full 270° rotation on the left ski. It's really close, but if let the left ski go the full 270° and snap into downhill mode, the pole tip gets caught inside at the last second and I'm forced to drop the ski pole from my hand. There's just no way for me to hold onto the pole in such a fully twisted position. Numerous attempts have resulted in the same issue, despite varying how far back the foot is each time and trying to move it smoothly forward during the rotation.

So your method dosen't quite work for someone like me who is not very flexible at all, although it clearly does work for those who are more flexible, or maybe have longer arms. I've added a sentence to that effect to the original post above, at the end of the Radical 1.0 / Speed Radical paragraph.

In addition, trying to do the full 270° rotation puts a very noticeable strain on my right shoulder, so it's definitely far better for me to do the 2-stage method using both poles. Luckily for me, my Radical 1.0 is nearing retirement stage with over 220 touring days of hard usage, so it is only being used on rock skis (for late summer / early fall trips with only a single run, not powder laps) and I'll never have to actually do a standing transition with it on snow.


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