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Gear Review

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Cartel Over Diode

Check these out! Pick any angle and they look siiiiiiiiick. From the side, you get a huge burly spire (Bigger than Cartel), a low profile/minimalistic strap design, and a thin almost hairline looking high back. Hit it from the back, and whammy! An ergonomically designed swooping high back flaring inward of stance position and clear coated with a carbon layup. Throw a little paint up in there to highlight it up and add some style, makes me wonder how I slept at night before owning a set……..

Who in their right mind would need these? Isn’t it just a glorified Prada handbag mounted to a snowboard? Well everyone has their quirks and it takes ALL kinds of people to make the world go round, but lets dissect the reasons. First, this is the stiffest binding Burton makes (laterally/toe to heel) I mean look at those spires at the center of the foot bed. Longitudinally, the Diode allows your board to flex under your feet; providing that Burton EST feel/riding experience on any deck out on the market. Burton achieves this with their RE:Flex technology, essentially creating a disk that can pivot/flex in the center. Oh yeah, the carbon fiber. Carbon is a fantastic material when implemented properly, it is light, super durable, and never loses its strength as it is flexed. Think of a coat hanger, when you bend/flex it back and forth continually it eventually snaps, right? Well carbon doesn’t weaken upon flex, its strength is constantly retained. Even plastic is susceptible to weakening, but it is far better than metal.

The Diode is new to Burton in 2011-2012 and developed as sort of a hybrid. Hybrid because Burton took their C60 and CO2 binding attributes, combined them, pumped out the Diode, sun setting the CO2/C60 platforms. Currently, the only bindings I am riding are the CO2 and C60 (from 4 years ago) so the Diode is definitely in that ball park of what I am riding currently. Additionally, I have never owned a Prada handbag before and really curious if these things came with chromed out screws……

Shipping them ground was a bad idea, if I saw another FedEx truck around my home town I was going to freak out. It is like the moment I ordered them they put in a distribution center next to my house, it was painful. When they finally arrived, it was Christmas in November. The box is SO light, I felt like I you could chuck the box over my house. Naturally, I dropped everything I had going on and mounting the Diodes on my board was top priority.

Mounting these up (15/-15) was easy. Standard Burton protocol, lift base pad, slide toe ramp, insert disc (flexi, it is cool), screw down plate, snap down base pad, and done. Now to the high back adjustment, take a close look at the design….there is no stopper block/post for the high back to rest on the heel cup. Adjusting these took me about an hour, getting the high back parallel to the board edge (at 15 degrees that SHOULD not be this hard) and then dialing in the forward lean. This was a fine tuned process. Burton uses these rings painted on the high back as kind of your guide for forward lean, it was a struggle. I ended up getting it close, then moving the high back one notch at a time in the side of the binding to get it perfect. I overlooked it though, small price to pay for such a nice handbag. Figured it’s a one time adjustment and you are done with it…..and no, the screws were not chrome.

Finally on the snow, these things were tough. I felt like laterally I had the control of a metal binding, it was great. So fun to carve, really set a hard edge, and heel side (with the forward lean) it provided immediate power transfer. The binding stuffs the board edge into the snow, makes the snow pretty much eat it. Can’t say busting huge 180′s off rollers wasn’t fun, my overall set up was a feather light. You can go huge with these, the Diodes provide great energy transfer for pop, and super light where you could whip the board any which way you wanted. Yeah, I was definitely smiling that day.

After a few sessions……that was when everything started to unravel.

Burton is kind of known for their cushy straps that are super comfy. The minimal design on these and how thin they are, I was CRANKING them down to get enough pressure and then my feet definitely lost blood flow. The toe cap strap isn’t trimmed out with rubber on the inside either, foam?!?! Yeah, that’s right foam…..short cut to save weight. Additionally, on my third session I broke the high back, the thing blew out and busted like a twig. Now, Burton 2 day shipped me a new pair once I called them (which is legit) but now I had to go through the process of adjustment again. For the sake of everyone’s time, I am going to break down in a less narrative description…..and get to the summary.

High back – Yeah it is stiff, great. But it is not strong, the adjustment is a nightmare (due to lack of post support), AND it broke! The key word in this story is, Carbon COMPOSITE……all the look of Prada AND it’s lack of functionality. I couldn’t trust it either, so I bought an extra set (Cartels) to bring on my 2 week backcountry trip. Furthermore, the high back on the back foot came lose constantly……just from moving it down to get on lifts and up to strap in. Then the forward lean would get out of whack (high back would slam to lowest position) and I had to adjust them again! I will say though, by the fifth time…..I started getting pretty good at adjusting the high backs.

Straps – Okay minimalistic, save weight, I get it. They are not comfortable and provide no added support to the boot. It makes the system more dependent on boot stiffness for toe side carving and if you rely on your binding for added toe side power by virtue of the strap, forget it. Oh yeah, the foam……well obviously a durability issue and the thing was already starting to peel away after about five sessions.

Base Pad – I understand design and looks, but those holes are ice magnets. Trying to sweep the snow out of it is impossible. The holes fill up, freeze and you the ice build up on the foot bed begins. I was using the ratchet strap to chip the ice out of the base pad. The holes and design on the high back, no problem…..but that design on the base pad was a mistake for sure.

RE: Flex Disc – The beginning was great, the disc was strong, made of a Carbon/Nylon Composite. After riding it and stressing the disk, it got spongy. The base plate broke in and lost a lot of rigidity longitudinally. Just moving my knee inward and flexing while standing strapped in, I could pick up the side of the binding enough to slide a Nestle chocolate bar under it. Not ideal, it compromises your ability to provide input to the board. The Burton EST is the way to go if you want the board flex under foot concept. The screws are on the outside of the bindings which prevents this lifting from happening and gives you 100% input longitudinally into the board. You can presses like a king with that system……but with the RE:Flex, not so much.

Personal recommendation – If you are the fair weather, ski with friends, noon beer type snowboarder personality, don’t really care about fine tuned adjustments and performance; this hand bag is for you. However, if you demand and expect solid execution of design/technology and performance because snowboarding runs deep within your veins…..pump the brakes. Burton has a lot of figuring out to do with the Diode and it shouldn’t be at your expense with the price tag of $400. Cause at 400 bucks, this thing should be making you coffee in the mornings.

If you ARE looking for a stiffer/aggressive binding and want to stick with Burton, I suggest going for the standard disc (non-RE:Flex) Cartel……you’ll get the cushy strap, rubber toe cap, strong spires, stronger disc, and beefy high back. Additionally you can take that $150 bucks in savings and get a coffee maker.

Stay safe out there, be with your friends, and keep up progression