09 December, 2010

Plum Race 135, 145, 185 Bindings

Here in North America we are usually the last to see the latest in greatest gear on the Ski Mountaineering Race side of the sport; but those days have come to an end.  Plum Bindings, is now distributing in Canada!  I've been watching this brand for a number of years and am really excited to see them here.

Plum has three binding models for the racing and crazy light crowd.  The Race 135, Race 145, and the Race 185.  To start, the number which the Race bindings are named is simply the weight which they come in at on the scales, per binding.  All of them nearly the same, but with a few key differences, setting them apart.  The Race 145 is the signature model for the guys out there.  The 145 is designed to have a slightly stiffer rear fork, made out of steel that has a forward release setting of about 8.5, and a lateral release of 7.5, which is suited to people over 70kg, tall racers, or more aggressive skiers.  The 135 differs as it has a 10g lighter rear fork made of titanium, but has a forward release setting of about 7, and a lateral release of 7.5.  Other than that the two are the same, and users can order both steel and titanium forks to replace whichever model Plum Race they have.  (Photo Above Left:  2 Race 145 red & orange, and the Race 185 in the back)

One complaint which most ski mountaineering racers have is that they can't adjust these race bindings to different boot sole lengths, in order to use a training boot and race day boot.  Enter the Race 185.  The Race 185 is essentially a Race 145 binding mounted on a cnc'd adjustable plate.  However, the Race 185's heel piece is actually 5mm lower than the 145's in order to accomodate the 5mm cnc'd plate, and making sure not to change the ramp angle of the boot in the binding.  (Photo Right:  You can see the Race 145 and 185 heel height are virtually identical, so the plate does not disturb skiing ramp angle or skinning heel height)

The real beautiful thing about these models are that the toes (77g no screws) have adjustable pin widths, in order to accomodate boots where the boot inserts are off center, wider, narrower, allowing the binding to be specifically dialed in to any boot toe width, custom or stock.  You can see in the photo's where the pins screw in, as I have yet to install them.  This can be a huge benefit when it comes to ensuring there is no additional load to the toe's springs, and also helps guard against pre-releases due to systems which have not clicked down properly.  The toe also has an automically locking toe piece, ensuring for insanely fast transitions, and shaves even more weight using only 4 front screws versus other brand's 5 screw design.  (Photo Below:  Toe without pins 'left' and pin insert 'right')
To look a bit deeper into the design, the binding is specifically designed to reduce any calf strain and fatigue, by raising the heel slightly to eliminating muscle fibers from being overstretched while working hard.  The binding ensures that a 27.0 (300mm) boot sits at a 7.73 degrees, the height is  specifically designed for use on flat rolling terrain as well as steeper skintracks with more switchbacks.  Racers should shoot for an angle between 7 and 8 degrees of positive ramp angle while skinning (heel higher than the toe) to find the most efficient skinning position.  The toe piece has an optional, screw on or off, crampon attachment for spring skiing use and speed traverses.  As there is no plastic on the toe piece, there is no risk of accidentally cracking anything, or breaking off crampon attachments while sliding on and off.

The Plum Race series are beautifully thought out, and engineered for speed, with less chance of user error.  These are easily a better choice for anyone who wants an extremely light weight binding, but also a system that holds the boot in during aggressive skiing, and reliability through simplicity in remote mountain ranges.  Keep in mind these are well designed race bindings, but the bottom line is that they will hold up to so much more, and I for one am excited to ski these as an everyday ski mountaineering binding as well as on the race course.  (Photo Left:  The Plum Race 145 heel piece, weighing in a 61g with no screws)

You can buy these online at escaperoute.ca or click here.


  1. wow.... I want to see you str*line siberian express in those things. Of course I get first tracks though right? Right?

  2. They are going to be used for steep skiing / ski mountaineering this year. Super stiff springs, the toe feels like it would take your finger off if you had it in the wrong place. Trevor Hunt just put the Race 185's on his Dynafit Stokes, super cool setup with DyNA's!

  3. A review as detailed and as well thought out as the bindings - many thanks both to you and to Plum!
    A few q’s though:
    1. “The 145 [...] has a forward release setting of about 8.5, and a lateral release of 7.5 [...] 135 [...] has a forward release setting of about 7, and a lateral release of 7.5.”
    - Have you either torque tested these or just compared them to Dynafit bindings set at the same release indicators?
    2. “The real beautiful thing about these models are that the toes (77g no screws) have adjustable pin widths, in order to accomodate boots where the boot inserts are off center, wider, narrower, allowing the binding to be specifically dialed in to any boot toe width, custom or stock.”
    - Is a default position indicated for boots that are spot-on where they should be?
    3. “The binding ensures that a 27.0 (300mm) boot sits at a 7.73 degrees [...]”
    - Interesting, but I’m confused: what keeps the boot heel from just dropping down to the ski topskin (like on the Dynafit Speed) so that it’s flat, or even slightly negative?

  4. Thanks for the review, Alex - curious as to whether the bindings require some user assembly (as they seem to indicate on the Plum website videos). Do you have to superglue on the tab for the locking lever and set the toe pins with "Lock-teet" yourself?

  5. Jonathan,
    Thanks for the questions, to answer number 1. I have not torque tested these, as it is hard to find a Huber machine directly fit for tech systems, although the guys at Plum probably have one to get the numbers for everyone.
    2. There is no default position indicated for the toe pins, however, it is a simple adjustment and can be tweaked on the bench to make sure its right.
    3. The boot actually sits on the metal flap which covers the pins, like all race bindings, the boot is not really best used with the heel twisted as it will be a negative angle. So while transitioning there is no twisting of the binding, only lifting or putting down the climbing flap.

    Thanks for the comments! The bindings are actually pretty easy mount and setup, especially with the beautiful jig they sent us. The pins have a bit of adjustment to work with, but they are still pretty straight forward to mount and adjust, and do come with lock tight (which really works). The little metal tab under the locking lever has a spot to clip on underneath the toe piece, so no glue is required to mount it.

    Hope that helps!

  6. I used a Pieps 30+ digital clinometer to measure the angle of my 287mm DyNA heel lugs in a Dynafit Speed binding: when “flat” (albeit resting on the mounting base plate, not the ski) about 1 degree, and when up on the heel unit about 8 to 9 degrees. Seems like the nearly 8-degree Plum angle would be too much for flat skin tracks, and hence the boot heel would have to rest on the ski topskin for a slightly negative angle?
    Also, when skiing, how does the angle compared to a Dynafit Speed?

  7. The Plums definitely sit lower than a boot on the middle setting on a speed. It skins quite well, on flat, but even better on an angle. Mind you the smaller your boot, the larger the angle will be, and that doesn't account for the toe pin height either. A slightly complex discussion, but if you look at Vert Ti's, they will have a "half step," a heel height that's not flat, but the boot does not sit on top of the binding. That small reduction of height, which is similar to the Plums, is a major benefit to the skier. So with your Speeds, imagine a setting between the "flat" setting and the middle "on-top" setting.

    So I guess the answer to your question is, the Plum skins much more efficiently and comfortably as it is slightly lower than the setting your describing on your speeds. Instead of thinking in angles maybe think how high your heel sits, rather that its angle, the lower it sits. The boot always stays at one angle, never on the topskin of the ski, and never at a negative angle.

    I think we're going into too much detail now though!

  8. let the revolution commence . . .

    thanks for the awesome mounting job Alex.

    The setup is unreal. I've always believed that Dynafit bindings were the only binding to truly allow a ski to flex and perform to its potential. But we've taken it to the next level. Everyday I'm making ever-more dynamic turns and carves in the pow. The stokes allow me to let loose in open areas, but when things get tight I can lay down the most precise rapid-fire turns due to the incredible lightness of the DyNA - Plum combo.

    A reversal of the entire ski formula:

    Classic: for technical skiing we've always used heavy boots and bindings (even regular dynafit bindings and boots are ‘heavy’) and the skis were the lighter part of the equation. So much needless weight driving the ski in the direction it happens to be going. Not as adept at changing direction or angles.

    DyNA - Plum - stoke: boots and bindings weigh nothing, and allow the relatively heavier ski to truly perform to its potential. You want the bulk of the weight in contact with the snow. The center of gravity is where it's meant to be.

    Sorry my mind is totally blown and I'm probably not making much sense.

    Have a good x-mas alex

  9. Thanks Trevor! So pumped you love them! For everyone else who wants to check out Trevor's setup check out this link for a picture. http://twitpic.com/3g2urs

  10. Amazing setup Trevor has assembled there! And will be interesting to see if the small footprint of the race binding can stand up to the torque of a wider skier.
    So Alex, with the toe units you have that go straight into “locked” tour mode, and stay there even when skiing (correct?), are those lateral release values you cited still applicable?

  11. Trevor, curious what length Stokes you chose, and what you weigh.



  12. A warning to anyone thinking of buying these bindings this season. There a rumours circulating in Europe that bindings of this type that auto lock as soon as the boot is entered are to be banned next year by the ISMF


    It is almost as if the ISMF and the manufacturers pool now have a licence to print money. The new rule came out on boots so I along with many others payed out 900€ for new boots, then the rules on binding manufacturers front and rear, so another 450€ on Plum bindings (which are superb, as this post states). Now it seems I and countless others may have to go back again with more cash to race in 2011/12. Its amazing that these changes are voted in by the manufacturers of this kit, the same people that still allow atheletes to disapear into the high mountains with inadequate plastic shovels, perhaps this will change next year and we will be forced to pay 250€ for carbon/titanium shovels.

    Sorry for the rant, and I hope these rumours are not true, but ensure you check this out before parting with your hard earned cash.

    Hautes Alpes

  13. Thanks for the heads up Simon! It seems like the ISMF is always changing things, although this I'm not that pumped on as the "auto-lock" toes are a great feature, and have been a great way of increasing speed on transition. I will have to follow up with the ISMF with there plans for next year! Don't worry about the rant, it is well stated, and these changes really do affect racers ability to afford participating and travelling.

  14. Alex,

    I also enjoy the auto-lock, but for different reasons (to lazy to bend over)


    my stokes 182cm, weight 165, 6’1 tall.

    Setup is great, but very specific.
    It is insanely expensive, no heel-risers sort of sucks, falling isn’t really an option due to lack of brakes and the DIN on race bindings is certainly sketchy compared with ‘regular’ bindings. Stomping airs is hopeless on such a light set-up. As soon as you’re in the back seat (leaning back) your screwed!

    ouch . . . I've made them sound like torture devices :)

  15. Just read Jonathans post on Wildsnow and it appears we are saved from spending more cash as it appears that Plum will be making available a retro fit mod to allow the race binding to be skied in a 'downhill' mode. Great news!

    Hautes Alpes

  16. Alex's latest post on the DPS skis reminded me of Trevor's info on his Stoke setup with Plum race bindings -- did that hold up okay? More specifically, through the entire season, did the race heels stay intact, and also stay in the non-standard position in the ski, i.e., outside the nylon inserts?
    (This past season, for rando racing & training, I used Movement Fish-X + Plum 135 + DyNA, then for a couple tours used these skis & bindings with my TLT5 boots. I have a hybrid pair of Dynafit Speed toes and Plum 135 heels that I had been thinking about using on my spring/summer setup – since my Trab Duo Sint Aero skis are in the process of finishing up their fifth season – but based on the “real” touring I did with the Plum 135, I think the heel elevator position isn’t quite high enough for the often too-steep skin tracks in late spring & early summer ski mountaineering. Yet the heel elevator would be sufficient for the winter skinning I do. My Manaslu + Plum Guide setup is still in good shape, but thinking about a wider ski to supplement them, and the hybrid Speed/Plum binding seems like it could work while keeping the weight of a wider setup still reasonable ... in theory!)

  17. Jonathan,

    Trevor's setup is working great. Bindings are fully intact, not even an adjustment. The skis are still solid as well even outside of the mounting pattern, as we stayed within the metal mounting section while mounting. Most other people who have mounted outside of the whole pattern have not had any durability problem to which I am aware of.

    Having used them a long time now with the Fish-X as well (but with Gignoux boot), I've found they really are in the perfect heel height for everything. I generally cut my own skin track when faced with some of the silly vertical skin tracks of the Whistler backcountry, so I'm never really forced to stay on a skin track that's too steep. They will be making their way onto a steep skiing setup for me this winter as well.

    As for the Guides, like new! No problems and ready to give'r this year. So stoked on these.

  18. Interesting, thanks for the add’l feedback.
    So looking back on our prior exchanges in December regarding the Race binding heel elevator position, everything you wrote was spot-on with my subsequent experience. That is, except for really long extended flats (that are truly flat), the heel elevator is just perfect for any reasonably efficient skin track.
    But during one backcountry tour with my race setup (http://tinyurl.com/3udqn2c), I was often in terrain that while skinnable, was far steeper than optimal, with no lower-angled options. I was still able to skin with the Plum race bindings to everywhere I normally skin (with Speed bindings), but I definitely felt that a little more heel elevator height would be more efficient.
    I’ve noticed that the ATK / La Sportiva RT in its stock configuration has about the same elevator height as the Plum race bindings, but with the optional little elevator add-on, it’s comparable to the lower setting of the Vertical ST/FT (which in turn is a bit higher than the Speed). Will be interesting to see how the new Dynafit Speed Superlight compares, with its Click-Clack-style elevators.

  19. Just a FYI, the 11/12 Race 145s come with the toe pins pressed in (similar to the Plum Guide toe units) not threaded in as with 10/11 models shown in the pics above.

  20. The 2011/2012 Race 135's, 145's, 165's, and 185's do come standard as a fixed pin, however, adjustable pins are available on request. I have a few pairs of the fixed pins to test once the season gets going, so I'll let everyone know how they stack up with DyNA's, Gignoux's, Aliens etc. There has been a minor change to the Guides heel and toe lever as well. Can't wait for the snow to fly, thanks for the comment!

  21. Yep, my new Guides have a thicker heel base plate rail and the foot that bolts to it is beefier too, increasing the ramp angle a bit.
    Would love to see what Plum designs for a race heel unit that has adjustable release values such as the Dynafit Speed Superlight or the ATK / RT heel units.
    Really liking my 145s as the weight advantage just spoils you.