Yes Virginia, I promised I wouldn’t do it. But temptation is a devious mistress. She snuggles into a tiny corner of your mind. Next thing you know you are doing it, enthusiastically. Mouth breathing gear blogger, pant pant. So, I mounted a Vipec toe with a Kingpin heel, fooled around with it, went skiing. Now it’s done. The itch has been scratched.
First conclusion: This is not a viable setup. There is no clear advantage I can see and the downsides are many. For example, no way to know how this pairing would behave under extreme forces, in terms of shock absorption and possible accidental release. Want to sacrifice your body to test some weird binding combo? No? I didn’t think so. More, negative ramp angle is extreme and would require a shim under the binding heel for all but the green groomers I was testing on.
Second conclusion: Yes, judging from bench tests this setup does release to the side at the toe as the Vipec is designed to do. Yes, it does provide the vertical elasticity of the Kingpin heel (Vipec vertical elasticity is limited by classic tech binding attachment at heel.)
Most important thing I noticed is that apparently the Vipec toe pins work in such a way as to not allow the boot toe tech fittings to rotate off the pins in the normal fashion of a tech binding. The Kingpin heel depends on this action to allow full lateral (side) release at the heel. Thus, the KingViper binding has no side release at the heel. That was a hoped for “benefit” that in theory would have provided protection from knee injury.
Third conclusion: Check out that negative ramp angle! I had fun skiing the Blizzard Zero G these frankenbindings were attached to, the ramp angle made for a very relaxed stance. Works for 25 degree green groomers anyhow.
Final conclusion: I thanked Virginia for the time, and told her it would be nice if Fritschi could come up with a Vipec that had better vertical heel elasticity (rumor holds we may see this next season), and that Marker is going to have to be careful because their binding depends entirely on the tech binding boot toe fittings sliding off the toe pins in a reliable and smooth fashion — as do most other tech bindings.
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.