The 12/13 snowboard season could quite possibly go down as the year that binding technologies became the new rocker. The binding game has changed faster in the last few months than it has in the last decade as new technologies and brands seek to enhance your connection to your board.
One new brand that caught our eye is Switchback Bindings, which is releasing at SIA. Founded by Bataleon Director Dennis Dusseldorp and co-founded by Bataleon Art Director Danny Kiebert, the new bindings allow riders to customize their look with a variety of different colored, interchangable parts, and also include a patented system to remove the highback at the drop of a hat. With a totally tool-less binding, you can adjust your angles and set up on the fly as well.
We caught up with Dusseldorp to get the low down about the new brand and the return of no back riding.
Congrats on launching Switchback. How long has this project been in the works and why did you decide to get into the binding game?
Thanks, exciting times for sure! The idea of doing our own binding has been on my/our minds for a few years. We however didn’t want to come out with something that is “another good binding” cause there are a bunch of good bindings on the market right now. What I was looking for is something just like we did with the Triple Base Technology. I wanted something unique, something that really sets us apart from what is currently available, a real game changer.
The main idea for Switchback came about two years ago when I was riding spring conditions in Europe at a retailer event. I noticed a few riders on the hill riding without a high-back, Jake OE being one of them. Seeing these guys do it made me curious to try it again but I just could not get myself to pick up tools and remove the high-back. It seemed fun and the riders were stoked so three days later when someone gave me his board set up without high-backs I finally gave it a go. I really liked how it felt specially in the real soft spring conditions--it was like surfing. The freedom feels great and I was having a good time. But then the next morning when I wanted to lay some hard turns while the slopes were freshly groomed and still firm I was missing my high-backs again. In the car back to the office I called the boys at the office and the project started.
Get a sneak peek of Switchback’s ’12/13 catalog:
Follow the jump for more.
There are a ton of new binder brands coming out for '12/13. Is binding tech the new rocker?
Hehe.. yeah I have been told so….I think it’s a good thing though… let’s freshen up the binding market. I hope that the other newcomers also drop some unique features cause that will make it all a lot more interesting than launching something on your own. Hopefully we can create a rocker/reversed camber kinda thing in the sense that it motivates retailers and interests customers again again to rethink the product like it did with base-shapes the past years. Would be great to do it with products that will actually improve peoples riding experience opposed to what rocker does for your riding.
Why do you think we're seeing a resurgence in no backs these days?
Riding without highbacks is fun but for the majority of people it seems like a huge change or something that is to crazy to commit to or even try. We have created a system that makes switching between high-back and no-back a no brainer. It can be done in a couple of seconds. So that will make it easier for people to try it out with keeping the option of going back to highbacks. On top of that the boots these days in combination with improved strap shapes give way more supoort than back in the day so I believe that we will see a increased interest in riding no-back again now that it is actually made easy.
In powder it gives you more of a surf feel and on rails and jibs it gives riders a lot more freedom closer to skate. What keeps a lot of riders off from trying it is the hassle of taking your high-backs of and putting them back on. Also the problem of your foot being no longer centered on the board will make it ride weird. We solved all those issues so I see the Switchback system increasing the number of riders riding no-back.
You guys are also offering interchangeable pieces to allow riders to customize their bindings. How will these be sold when you buy a pair? Can you mix and match then?
You don’t buy a pair ! You create your own pair by purchasing all four parts needed for your personal set up. Base, Straps, Highback and Padding. One of the ideas behind Switchback is to offer multiple options, thousands of them in fact, through a tool-less component system, so you can assemble in a few seconds a perfect binding for your budget, riding style, conditions/terrain and do so in a way that fits your look.
What pieces are interchangeable and how do you swap those?
The four components are:
1.The base which comes with the mounting hardware, basepadding, a double sets of disks (1 set with off set holes) and the no-back piece.
2. Toe and Ankle straps including the ladders. 3. Footbed padding/disc cover in 2 different styles. (ST pad and a Jib Pad for extra cushioning)
4. Highback in 2 styles; the ST high-back and the FL high-back that is pre-rotated and has a tool-less forward-lean adjuster.
All these item will launch in 5 color-ways for the first season. Matte Black, White, Red Dawn, Agent Orange and Blue Algea.
What will the prices look like for the full kit as well as individual parts?
You’ll be looking at $250 for a complete Switchback set up including highback.
What else sets Switchbacks apart? I understand you've really taken a hard look at improving tool-less adjustments?
That’s correct the only time a tool is needed is to mount your base to your snowboard. Once your base is mounted no more tools are needed. Highback or no-back, thicker padding for more cushioning or less padding for more direct feel, adjust the position of the straps etc… all 100% tool-less.
Where you making them?
Switchback is designed in Amsterdam and manufactured in China. Just back from a visit. It all looks really good and we are stoked!
Your release mentions you have some patents on these - what exactly are they for?
The main patent is regarding the no-back option. We’ve protected the fact that on our binding you can take the high-back out but the foot stay’s positioned exactly where it was with the high-back in. That is a huge deal since taking your highback out is one thing but to be able to go and shred right away without a lot of additional adjustments is another. Then we have a patent pending on the shape of our ankle strap ladders. It’s shaped so that the straps falls outside the base which will make getting in easier. We have a patent on the mounting system of the heelstrap and one on a new forward lean adjusting system eliminating the bulky and always breaking forward-lean adjuster on the back of most highbacks right now. The final one is on the tool-less system that allows to place and remove the high-back within seconds. All these idea’s came up along the way and from just figuring out what we didn’t like about our bindings the past 20 years.
I'm guessing these will be distributed in the States through Yeah For It?
That’s correct. These guys are building up a strong portfolio with Bataleon, Sandbox, Lobster, 7/9/13, and now Switchback. Nice and complete package.
Who's going to be on the team?
We are very proud to have these riders supporting our project. These are about the most creative and hardworking riders out there and with two X Games gold medals on the team only good things can happen. From the very start of the project we have received good feedback from the riders and it seems that they know what they want in a binding besides holding your boots in place.
Does your little logo guy have a name yet?
Haha.. The logo icon represents a scared looking highback cause he’s unsure if he will be in for much longer!
Anything else you'd like to take a swing at that I didn't tee up?
Yeah.. Would like to add that this project was not possible without Cleay Perham (product manager) who besides a long time friend is also the most critical and anal dude I know when it comes to equipment. I’m thankful that he agreed to take on this project and spend all these weeks in China eating ox-tongue and goose feet to make a actual product out of the initial idea. A good product alone is not enough and therefore I’d like to thank another long time friend and colleague Danny Kiebert (also the dude behind the Bataleon artwork). He created the brand around the product Switchback Bindings. Then about 400 hours of 3D rendering and the concept drawings done by Peter Gal (check his shit out on www.petergal.com <http://www.petergal.com> ) to give Switchback the look and lines of a expensive european car.