Triple Threat | The Nidecker Supermatic

As Nidecker unveils their latest binding innovation we explore whether it's the game changer it's cracked up to be

Last week we dropped a video on our Instagram showcasing a new binding from Nidecker. You guys went nuts for it. There were hundreds of curious comments across social media platforms with people expressing opinions and probing for answers, and like anything you put on the internet, there were a few mouth breathing trolls sweating profusely and throwing insults. To try and answer some of your questions and bring some much-needed transparency we reached out to the head honchos and some team riders at Nidecker HQ to get the scoop on what looks to be a brand-new, world-first in snowboarding.

So, what actually is it? It’s definitely worth watching the above video to get a grasp on the product, but essentially the Nidecker Supermatic is a binding that combines the easy accessibility of automated closure, the versatility of dual-entry and the broad appeal of universal compatibility. Nidecker highlights that their Supermatic is the only binding currently on the market that ticks all 3 of these boxes, a triple threat that intersects at the heart of the binding Venn Diagram.

“We had dreamt for a long time to find a solution which would allow the rider to get in and out of the binding fast, but with no compromise on the feeling of a two-strap binding – whilst remembering that we all have different feet and boot preferences, and that the bindings need to work in any conditions. We watched other companies come and go with new concepts and ideas, but we felt that there was always something missing in their propositions”, says Thierry Kunz, Nidecker’s Brand Manager.

” Every season we’re bombarded with PR for products that threaten to revolutionise the sport, blow your mind, or disrupt the very fabric of snowboarding”

The ramifications of a new speed entry binding are huge. Especially from a company that already owns a dominant market share of snowboarding. What’s next? Self lacing boots á la Marty McFly? Already been done bud, that small, independent brand Nike took the bull by the horns there. And then promptly left snowboarding…

Gamechanger is a term that gets bandied around a lot in most industries, and snowboarding is no exception. Every season we’re bombarded with PR for products that threaten to revolutionise the sport, blow your mind, or disrupt the very fabric of snowboarding. And to be honest, despite the hype, upon further inspection most of them are slightly under-inflated, leaving the whole affair to fall a bit flat.

The Supermatic Entry Drop-In System

But we do get a few exceptions. Occasionally we peer off the side of the Pequod, scan the horizon and harpoon a legitimate white whale. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed that the snowboard binding industry has been going through a bit of a renaissance over the last few years in terms of easy and instant access technology. We’ve seen Burton with their Step-On’s, which have since expanded to licence DC boots as well, we’re seeing K2 with their revamped Clicker system, and even new brands like German-engineered CLEW trying to muscle in and get a slice of the pie.

And as cool as it’s been to see movement and progression within the sphere of a product that had started to become slightly stale, there’s always been something missing, one tiny factor that prevents the product from really taking off- but the way we see it, that’s exactly where the Supermatic excels. If you’re a puritan who can’t stand all this new fangled tech then that’s chill. The functionality of the Supermatic as a standard two-strap binding still exists, and performance-wise they sit at the top end of Nidecker’s line with mid-stiff flex, similar to the Kaon Plus. You can ride them like you ride your regular binders if you choose to do so, that’s the benefit here, they’re adaptable to suit each situation without compromising on anything.

“This is the ‘universal’ factor, and it’s a smart move from Nidecker, allowing for an individual rider’s budget and fit to lead the way”

We asked Nidecker team ripper Seb Konijnenberg his thoughts after riding with the Supermatic’s, does the two strap feel really stand up to the test?

“One of the surprises I had from the Supermatics, they are really precise with their two straps. It feels like a normal binding when you’re riding, you can also put some canting on spoilers so the edge to edge is quite efficient” and as to the mechanism holding up when you’re hitting pro level jumps “I tried them in Leysin, rode the big line, went for 1080′, 1260′ and nothing moved so the mechanism holds up on big landings. To be honest I was a bit scared thinking what would happen if it does not hold up but I guess the guys in R&D took everything into consideration so there is nothing to worry about”.

Our leaked IG video had tonnes of comments but one that kept popping up was “why is it so hard just to do up your straps *eye roll emoji, thumbs down*”. If you’re losing sleep because someone doesn’t want to, or potentially physically can’t, bend over and do their straps up you should switch to snowblades because they seem a bit more your speed. Either way, we’ve seen there’s an appetite for these easy access bindings, and regardless of whether or not you as an individual likes them, they still exist for the people that do.

Okay so we know what they are, but how do they actually work? Thierry breaks it down, “When the binding is open, the highback is in the open position and the strap sits in a lifted, up and open position. Then you just put your boot into it – you won’t notice, but there’s a roller in the heelcup which lowers your boot down enough for your forefoot to hit our Slip-N-Grip Plate upfront. Then, as your heel lowers with your bodyweight, it engages a three-step mechanism which clicks you in securely. To get out, just push the lever and pull your foot out.” Set your straps up initially, lock the ratchets into place, and voilà, you’ve got automated closure though the Drop-In system.

Another of the biggest queries about the Supermatic’s online was the possibility of the binding shredding the back of your boot as you get in and out. CEO of the Nidecker Brain Trust, Thierry Kunz, assured us that the roller inserted in the heelcup allows for your boot to glide in without a hitch and a high gloss panel removes friction. Problem solved. There’s that good old Swiss efficiency in full force.

“As a general rule of thumb we take all things with a pinch of salt, and we were apprehensive about the Supermatics initially

The ability to use any boot in the Supermatic is another ticked box from us. You can be the biggest fan of a Burton or K2 system, but if the boots don’t fit your feet well then it’s a no go. Hands down the most important part of your entire snowboard set up is your boots, it doesn’t matter how much cash you drop on your gear, if your boots don’t fit properly then it’s game over. This is the ‘universal’ factor, and it’s a smart move from Nidecker, allowing for an individual rider’s budget and fit to lead the way.

Another question that was peppered on social media following the leaked video was “is it just a rebranded Flow binding?” Fair enough, it’s pretty common knowledge by now that the Nidecker Group owns the company Flow and the relaunch and overhaul of Flow over the last 5 or so years has actually been really beneficial for both brands. They’ve managed to iron out the little flaws that had left a bit of a stigma attached to the brand previously. But no, they’re not Flows. Similar in principle, but totally different in terms of mechanism and functionality. Both products can use any boot, and both are dual entry but the ‘automatic’ is where they differ.

Thierry Kunz ripping in Portes du Soleil | PC: David Carlier

Nidecker don’t do anything by half, or leave anything to chance, even the Supermatic’s name, a snazzy portmanteau of ‘super’ and ‘automatic’ (with a definite John Travolta influence), references the products’ intended space. Variable factors aside, peace of mind is paramount when you’re out in the mountains, and Thierry assures us that the Supermatic, like the entirety of the Nidecker binding line, exceeds all safety standards. Full tests are performed on both assembled bindings, and individual parts to ensure quality, integrity, durability and strength standards.

As with all ‘revolutionary products’ a healthy dose of scepticism is encouraged. As a general rule of thumb we take all things with a pinch of salt, and we were apprehensive about the Supermatics initially. But after seeing them in the flesh, trying them out for ourselves and trying to pick apart any discernible faults we have to admit even the luddites among us are converts. Is the Supermatic for everyone? Technically, yes. That’s kind of the whole point, remember that ‘universal’ thing we were banging on about earlier?

“Like every product on the market you don’t have to want it, or even like it”

But like every product on the market you don’t have to want it, or even like it. Is this going to change snowboarding? Not for everyone to be perfectly honest, but it will for some. Riders who have previously struggled with traditional bindings due to physical issues or just don’t like the faff of straps will like what the Supermatic’s have to offer, rad dads who are trying to keep up with kids or those getting out for their one week a year and want to squeeze every last second out of their holiday might also find some common ground in the Supermatic.

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