Bindings 2000: Tyrolia

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Tyrolia has updated its Freeflex ski-flex enhancement for this season, and in general the line is much easier to shop than in years past. "Diagonal" is the company's buzzword for its most advanced release technology. A non-Diagonal Control heel appears here and there in the line, so pay attention to what you are buying. You can twist a Diagonal heel from side to side when it's cocked; the Control heels won't twist.

Release Features: Tyrolia has a slew of them. All toe pieces, except the Race Diagonal Aero, have upward release. Diagonal heels can twist slightly during release, intended to improve release in forward-twisting falls. The Control heels are traditional step-ins. ABS AFD is the company's antifriction control technology¿a circular band that rotates under the boot toe during a twisting release.

Passive Enhancers: Freeflex is Tyrolia's tried-and-true ski-flex enhancement system, updated this year as Freeflex Plus. The new version is said to create longer on-snow contact for the ski. Every binding in the line but the entry level SL 100 ABS has some form of lifter or flex enhancer. Tyrolia also has a line of after-market plates of various levels of sophistication and height, from a 9-mm lifter that costs $30 to a 23-mm Super Carve plate for $110.

Active Enhancers: Power Select is Tyrolia's skier-interactive performance-enhancer. A three-position switch either increases, decreases, or does not change a ski's camber. The difference in ski feel is amazing. Add camber for high-speed ripping, leave it alone for softer snow, or decrease it for bumps. Trust us, it's sweet.

WE LIKE:
Power Select Freeride 8
Adjustment Range 3.5-12
This one's a toss-up. The Freeride 9 is $395, and the 65-buck difference is essentially just for a higher Adjustment Range. The Freeride 7 is only $275, but the toe is less sophisticated, and it has a non-Diagonal heel. We want the Power Select, and figure that the higher-tech release package is worth the bump in price. $330

Freeflex Plus 8
Adjustment Range 3.5-12
The high end of the Adjustment Range is a little high, but at $280, we're not paying a premium for it, so no biggie. And to get the Freeflex Plus, the 8 makes sense¿the other models range up to $350. With Diagonal release at toe and heel and the ABS AFD, the 8 has the full release-enhancement package, so we're happy. $280

SL 100 Carve ABS
Adjustment Range 3-10
Deal time at Tyrolia. We get the full-length Carve Plate for a $20 premium over a stock SL 100. Good deal right there. All SL 100's have a non-Diagonal heel, but with ABS AFD and a full Diagonal toe, the release package is reasonable for the price¿which should be a lot less than we've quoted here. $210