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Bindings

Spark R&D Surge 2019-2020 Splitboard Bindings Review

  • Sizes: S, M, L
  • Entry System: Classic
  • Price: $415
  • BUY ONLINE

The Spark R&D Surge is the big brutish brother in the lineup. It’s still, of course, incredibly lightweight, but compared to the other options this is an altogether stiffer and more powerful model, aimed towards stronger, aggressive riders in demanding terrain.

There’s a solid piece of CNC Aluminium comprising the Surge’s baseplate, making it substantially more rigid than the Arc, although undoubtedly adding a little to its weight. The highback is also stiffer, although it does still feature the walk mode adjustment, where it can fully hinge back to allow for longer strides touring in the backcountry.

“This is an altogether stiffer and more powerful model, aimed towards stronger, aggressive riders in demanding terrain”

Spark’s T1 system is where the Bozeman bunch have made the biggest waves. The stupidly simple Tesla Snap Ramp and Side Lock makes transitioning from walk-to-ride and back effortlessly simple. It really is as simple as ‘slide and click’.

On the way up, the Surge bindings offer the same 12° and 18° climbing wire positions as the rest of the line and are adjustable hands-free, with the Whammy Bars, which now come fitted as standard (and no longer the costly add-on purchase).

On the way back down, the tougher and more responsive straps coupled with the Surge’s bombproof chassis make this a powerhouse binding for charging big, backcountry lines. If your priority is less on shaving every gram and more about straight lining out the mouth of a couloir on the seat of your pants, there are few better options at your disposal than these.

Tester’s Verdict

Owain GeorgeTDC Snowboarding

“I spend as much time as possible each winter out in the backcountry on my splitboard so the Spark Surge had a good going over.

I previously had issues with Spark setups. Mainly the bolts that hold the baseplate and the heel cup together have always worked themselves loose and I mean each time I use them!

Each time I switched over from walk to ride mode I had to get out my tool and tighten everything. If I forgot to do this ritual I could almost guarantee to lose a screw.

“The Surge is a stiffer and more responsive binding to the Arc, lending itself to more aggressive riders and steeper terrain. I really liked the feel of the high back and the straps. I found the whole binding responded well when called upon.”

In the past, I ended up using glue to remedy this problem, although that’s not ideal if you ever need to take the binding apart for some reason.

So, I was pleasantly surprised that in the time I used the new Surge this didn’t happen, stoked.

The Surge is a stiffer and more responsive binding to the Arc, lending itself to more aggressive riders and steeper terrain. I really liked the feel of the high back and the straps. I found the whole binding responded well when called upon.

Obviously, the usual luxuries of dampening and comfort as sacrificed for weight saving on a split binding but I still found the Surge to be comfortable enough for all-day touring.

My one major gripe with this binding is the ‘easy to use’ climbing wire. The promo video for the Surge shows you just how easy it is to adjust as the gradient changes on your climb. In reality, it’s about as easy as the UK leaving the EU.

I don’t know if it was only because they were brand new and hadn’t been used yet, but it just wasn’t easy to work. Instead of being able to use my pole to easily flip between different angles I found myself dropping to one knee and having to force it into place using my hands.

On a flat section, this is frustrating but manageable; try and do it on an icy traverse though, testing!

I can imagine this could be something that would aggravate someone trying splitboarding for the first time and potentially put them off it altogether.

Saying all that, the touring mode adjuster for the high back is super simple to use and really effective.

Ultimately, the descent was super rewarding on the Surge bindings, but the climbing wire was enough to make me cautious about using these again”

Tester’s Verdict 2018/19

Tom Copseyonboardmag.com

“For an inexperienced splitboarder who has previously only used regular bindings, the Surge was an eye-opener. They’re so damn light, so damn easy to switch between split- and ride modes, and so damn comfortable to boot.

The large, moulded ankle strap gave zero pressure points either going up or down, and the bindings felt responsive enough for anything.

“So damn light, so damn easy to switch between modes, and so damn comfortable”

The avalanche risk restricted us to mellower lines, but I have no doubt they have the stiffness you need to see you down steep faces. The only thing I struggled with was flipping down the riser for ascending steeper terrain with a pole (inexperience combined with exhaustion, no doubt).

At a price north of 400 shekels you might consider making do with your regular two strappers, but if you splitboard with any regularity these are an investment well worth making.”

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