The 7tm has intrigued us from the first time
we heard about last season. A flexible plate binding combined
with a DIN release function. Is there a tele skier out there
who would not want to know more about this new binding concept?
The spring came and went. We heard a few things,
saw a drawing, speculated about the future of telemark bindings
and the role of flexible plates. Then summer came and at Mt.
Hood we saw the prototype. It looked really cool. And when we
skied the 7tm we discovered a binding that has a "disappearing"
feel through much of its action but then clamps on a bit of ski
forebody pressure as the heel is raised to near maximum.
So we anxiously waited to get a pair and put
the 7tm through its paces. And now we have. We have skied the
7tm on hardpack, scraped off groomers, soft packed groomed runs,
a little crud, and powder too. Four testers have added their
input. Our 7tm has been skied in the trees, through narrow shots,
wide open runs and it has even seen a little time in a mini early-season
The 7tm binding is a winner. It utilizes the
inherent rigidity in the big telemark boots of today to full
advantage. The boot is allowed to flex naturally through most
of the range of motion in the tele turn but then the binding
kicks in and gives the boot a little help in flexing at the forefoot.
The result is a binding that does not have the dramatic forefoot
retention of the new HammerHead but one that does share some
of that bindings good qualities. Virtues they get from their
shared under the forefoot pivot design. While not the ultimate
railing machine that the Linken is, the 7tm does an excellent
job of holding the boot secure in the toe piece so as to milk
every bit of torsional rigidity out of the boot itself.
The 7tm offers outstanding control and feel,
beyond that found in the previous generation of tele bindings
such as the SuperLoop. It has a positive feel, with a solid connection
between boot and ski. The action is oh so smooth, but progressive
in forefoot retention with very little "heel retention."
This give the 7tm a sweet "no tip dive" feel in powder.
The phenomenon known as "rocker launch"
was not noticed in the 7tm by our testers, one of whom barely
tips the scale at 150 pounds and skis T-2's. When a boot was
placed in the binding on our test bench it looked like "rocker
launch" might be noticeable--the heel ended up quite a ways
off the ski--but it takes little force to weight the heel down.
The release mechanism worked very well in
our tests with no reports of even a single unwanted release.
But we did have a successful release during a fall in our first
4 days of skiing the 7tm. It occurred when a tester was poking
around off the opening day groomers and caught a ski tip in the
branches of a small pine tree sticking out through the snow.
The 7tm released smoothly in a sideways release. Our tester,
who had received no instruction whatsoever in how to get the
binding reassembled (oops!) reports that it took him just seconds
to get back in and on his way.
There have been some concerns raised about
durability issues that might be encountered with the 7tm. There
has been speculation both in the media and on discussion boards
about possible weak points. At Telemarktips.com we have learned
that this kind of speculation is often pointless and even unfair,
that the real weak points reveal themselves over time and use
rather than through static analysis. We can report that after
4 days of hard use, including some big Tim torture testing, the
7tm is no worse for wear. The plastics used in the heel pieces
appear to be very strong. In visually assessing the strength
of the 7tm one must keep in mind that it is a release binding.
In theory, important parts such as the toe piece can be plenty
strong with far less beef since the binding should release rather
than break. We will know more after 4 months of testing rather
than 4 days.
Things we would like to see from the 7tm team
in the future: brakes (due next season), climbing bales, but
most of all, an adjustable pivot point for the flexible plate.
believe that over time the 7tm with its flexible plate will prove
to be a landmark design in telemark binding evolution. While
not the ultimate in control, the 7tm does offer a multi-dimensional
tele skiing experience, combining some of the best features in
other binding designs with a DIN release function. This is no
one trick pony. It tours well with its low heel retention, it
skis well with a fair amount of forefoot retention courtesy of
its under the ball of the foot pivot point, and it connects solidly
to the ski despite the release function. At 54 oz. (1,540g),
with optional risers, it weighs only a little more than some
of the non-releaseables. We welcome the 7tm into the fold of
advanced telemark bindings now available and feel that it will
take its place among the handful of the best of the new crop
while delivering DIN release for those who will not consider
a non- releasable telemark binding.
has delivered on its promise to make both climbing bales and
brakes available. The bales are sturdy and functional, the brakes
come in size that include a model that will work on the widest
skis out there today. Some 7tm users reported problems with the
flex plate breaking at the toe piece pivot point. A new flex
plate that should eliminate the cutting action that was the cause
of the failures (especially among those running the spring preload
extra tight) appears to have solved the problem, at least this
this point. Expect to see a further updat to this review as the
season progresses. Other changes for the 2002/03 season include
an added toe bar and improved visibility of the DIN setting in
the little window on the front of the binding.
As predicted above, the 7tm has indeed assumed
a position in freeheel skiing as the preeminent binding choice
for skiers desiring a combination of performance and DIN release.