Spark R&D ST Splitboard Binding Review and Comparison
Tom from Splitboard HQ here just checking in with an update for Spark's new ST splitboard bindings.
They've made some changes to their T1 system with this new ST binding. Here we’re gonna go over the differences between last year's model/the previous generation of the T1 system with the new ST/ smooth tour binding.
Issues with Previous Spark Splitboard Bindings
At Splitboard HQ we're in a cool position where we've been helping Spark out for the last eight years as their Canadian warranty centre, so we've seen what's gone wrong with some of their bindings over that long period of time.
But for 2023 they've made some really substantial improvements to the durability and ease of use of the binding. I'll highlight some of those key differences here.
Here we’ll focus on the Spark ARC binding. The ARC's been a fantastic binding with a little bit of a surfy and lightweight feel.
But, it's something that we've been a bit careful about offering to people who are really hard riders or maybe over 180lbs, just because there's been some durability issues with the baseplate when you really push this binding.
They've addressed some of that this year with the new ST binding.
Note: the Spark Surge binding has also gotten the ST treatment.
Improved Spark ST Binding Durability
First off, there’s some subtle changes to the baseplate and that's where we'd like to start off.
The new Arc ST binding stands for Smooth Tour. We'll touch on the Smooth Tour element a little bit later. The first key difference between last year's binding and this year's binding is improved durability of the baseplate.
There’s notched-out positions along the side rail where they used to remove all of the aluminum. This year, they've left a little bit of aluminum inside of those notches to really help improve the durability.
Another place we've seen cracks happen is right where the connection to the whammy bar or riser heel piece is. This year, for the ST version, that section is now heavily reinforced.
There’s definitely a lot more confidence in this baseplate now, even if you’re pushing over that 170/180lb threshold or just wanna ride a really hard binding but have a little bit of a softer, more surf inspired feel to it.
Spark Smooth Tour Features
Now, some of the changes they've made for the Smooth Tour or ST element. What they've done is add a process called overmolding to some of the parts.
Overmolding essentially is adding a proprietary plastic layer over top of some of the metal pieces. It offers a lot better glide and improved durability over some of the materials they've been using in the past.
The first one is on the whammy bar or your heel riser. They've added this plastic element to both sides just to help it glide along the baseplate a little bit better. That's gonna improve the ease of use.
You're not gonna have to grease these things up the way you used to on the old version, and it's gonna also help reduce the amount of wear and tear on the notches that those slide into. So you should have longer lasting, easier use of the whammy bar with less maintenance.
The other place they've added the ST overmolding is on the touring brackets. Previously, they used a brass insert for the touring brackets. We found, typically after 40-50 days of hard touring or if you had any damage to the snap block that helps incorporate that system to the touring element of the board, you’d wear out that brass insert.
This year they've done the overmolding right on top of the aluminum, so it's allowed them to have thicker aluminum with less recess for where the brass insert would've been placed.
This means a smoother feel and operation of the binding while in walk-mode. Spark is saying these last potentially up to four times longer. If our math is right, you should have at least 200 days on these touring brackets before you see them really show significant signs of wear.
Spark ST Highbacks
The last thing Spark changed with the ST binding this year is the highback. You've got that really good walk and ride mode with easy adjustability, but they've given the overall highback a little bit of an asymmetrical shape.
This improves the inside edge catch while also allowing it to have a little bit more surf inspired shape – all-around really significant and nice improvements without changing the whole system altogether.
I think we're gonna see a lot better durability and ease of use in maintenance with the new Spark ST splitboarding binding models.
Backwards Compatibility and Summary
The new ST whammy bars are sold separately but are not backwards compatible. So you cannot put the ST whammy bar on your previous generation of Spark Arc or Surge splitboard bindings.
The ST touring brackets, however, are backwards compatible if you want to get rid of those old brass inserts, have a little bit better glide and more reliability. The ST touring brackets are sold separately.
So that's it for the new Spark ST bindings. They've done the ST Arc and the ST Surge in both the standard and pro models. So check 'em out!
If you want to learn more, please feel free to contact us below or visit us in store!
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