All randonee bindings allow more boot movement than good quality alpine bindings. Some skiers find this to be a trivial issue — others take it seriously. The “one-rig” breed of randonnee bindings, comprising the Fritschi Freeride and Naxo NX01 and Naxo NX21, are the bindings most often taken to task on this issue. Yet all bindings wobble and bob, with the Naxo NX01 having slightly more movement than the Freeride (the Naxo NX21 has virtually the same stability as the Freeride. If you like the Naxo’s features, but want it to equal the lateral stability of the Freeride, here is a modification that makes makes the 04/05 model Naxo NX01 equal to the Freeride.
When we bench tested the deflection of both bindings, I noticed that both allowed quite a bit of movement at the toe and heel, but the Naxo NX01 plate appeared to torque more, presumably due to it being two small bars arranged side-by-side and easily twisted, probably due to their having an open slot on the inside, rather than being a closed tube. It seemed that manufacturing a plate that inserted between the bars could stiffen them significantly, so we did just that.
We started with 1″ x 1/4″ hardware store aluminum bar stock. Using a router with a cutting guide and straight cutter, we milled two shelves (known as “rabbits” in some trades) in the sides of the stock so it would slide tightly between the Naxo plate rails, with the milled side flanges fitting the existing slots on the inside of the binding rails. We then cut the milled stock to length so it would fit in the gap between the Naxo to and heel units, once the binding was adjusted for boot length. To insert the plate, we removed the binding plate end-cap and slide the heel unit of the rails — an easy process that only took moments. The whole project took about three hours.
We measured the results using a side-by-side comparo and test rig, and found the plate beefed the Naxo to equal the torque resistance of the Fritschi Freeride.
Necessary? You judge. Fun with power tools? You bet.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.