The most popular kitesurf binding ever made has just got better! For 2010 the Liquid Force Synergy is built on the all-new Liquid Force IP chassis and plate for a light and more direct feel, while preserving the over all comfort, fit and feel of last year's super popular Liquid Force Synergy boot. If you want that perfect binding for wake-style then look no further than the 2010 Synergy binding.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We see so many images of top riders in them and hear more and more from them about how good it feels to ride in bindings. But how practical and necessary are they for the everyday kiter? Jim Gaunt set about finding out. There's no denying how sexy these Synergy bindings look. Opening the box it was like unleashing the most mega pair of 80s trainers. I was smitten and, from my sofa, already believing that these were going to automatically add style to my riding, but I couldn’t yet see the button on them which would upload the new moves to my memory. I couldn't get over how light they were. Bindings that I've tried on boards in the past (quickly) have felt very heavy compared to my normal twin-tip, but these barely added any real noticeable weight. There's definitely a kudos with bindings. People are used to seeing pros in bindings now, but also believe that you have to be really good to be using them. I did feel quite conspicuous walking down the beach with them, but this can be good in a couple of ways: Firstly, until you actually get in the water, no one knows you're a freestyle imposter. Secondly, the added pressure did seem to make me ride better, giving me the confidence and inspiration to actually go for tricks with a great deal more intent. I tried to use the bindings in a range of conditions, from light to heavy chop and from light to strong winds, but did get chance to get used to them in the perfect conditions of Egypt for eight days first, which you might say was cheating. I'd call it opportunistic. I also managed to get them to fit to my Nobile Fifty50 Blomvall 139 twin-tip. You'll need to check out the compatibility of bindings with your board as insert spacings vary. The first thing I noticed was how much more comfortable they were than most straps. Super smooth on the inside, there aren't any seams touching any part of your foot and the support they provide is a brilliant feeling. You can get looser bindings than these which will allow you more flex between you and your board, but I went the whole hog with a full lace-up binding to provide a more locked-in feeling than I've ever ridden with before. I ride strapless on a surfboard a lot; so this was completely the opposite; unusual, but not bad. The connection you feel to the board is incredible. Although you can't flex your ankles or tweak out the board so easily for grabs, nor do you have the ability to manoeuvre the board so easily when negotiating white water, I really did feel at one with the board. Everything started to come from the hip, rather than just the knees or feet. Often when riding a twin-tip and I'm going for a new trick, or even one that I know I can do, I like to first make sure my feet are well wedged into the straps. Very often they will still be a little looser than I'd like by the time I come in for landing, which plays on my mind as I worry about one foot coming out. The very first raley I tried in the bindings may not have been the most explosive, but the landing was the most satisfying than I think I've had. Where you go, the board follows and as long as you can get it underneath you, it's amazing what you can get away with and ride away from. When you crash it can be a bit more of a traumatic experience, but at least you won't lose your board! When you crash and the board hits the water behind you, it tends to stop dead in the water. Meanwhile if you're kite is well powered up it tries to stretch you in the other direction. This isn't always the case, but just something to be aware will happen from time to time. Other impracticalities are getting in and out of them. These Synergys have a very easy to use lace-up system with a cleat that you just push down to the boot and let the teeth grip. After a little practice it just takes a few seconds to stand over the board and wriggle your foot in. You can then bend down with the kite above your head and slide the cleat down to the boot, or if you're in a quiet, mellow flat water location, you can let the kite rest on top of the water while you get yourself sorted. When you're ready to come backin, loosen the cleat off first and cruise back to the beach. When you're in the shallows, or if there's a bit of a shore-break, ride further up the beach and then stand on top of the board and your feet should come out easily as you lift your legs up one at a time. There's no doubt that you have to adapt your riding a bit for bindings. Your tricks change and you have to let the board go with you a bit more rather than having so much freedom and movement with it. Let it follow you instead and try to focus on making flowing rotations. The board will always come with you and you'll soon work out what's possible. Flat water is where these boots excel as you don't need the flexibility to deal with chop and white water. You're free to just load up and land as hard as you want but, having said that, I've had some good sessions in light chop and when there are some small waves around. Getting big airs off these little kickers is a lot of fun and because the board is locked into your feet it all feels a lot more natural and balanced.
Of course riding in bindings isn't for everyone, and underpowered, or in lots of chop they feel like wellies. If you're not at least trying a few unhooked tricks then there's not a lot of point in dealing with the impracticalities and going to the extra expense of them. Most people will still tell you that you need to be a really good rider to use them, but after living with them for a month, I can really feel that I've improved. I enjoy the odd raley and was aspiring to get some decent looking S-bends on the go, but I don't think I'll be giving these back and can see myself wanting to achieve much more. They are definitely a try before you buy purchase, but you might just be surprised what they do for your riding and how much you enjoy them. We're not done with bindings. We'll be reviewing more pairs and Chris Burke will be presenting a much more in-depth guide to setting up your board for bindings and providing more tips for riding in them next issue.