2014-2015 Dynafit Beast 14
Maximum DIN: 14
Weight of test bindings with 105mm Brakes + all mounting screws:
• 844 & 839 grams
Test Location: Japan Backcountry
Tested on: 192cm Whitedot Redeemer Carbonlite, mounted on the “FR” line.
Boots: Dynafit Vulcan 27.5 with Intuition Powerwrap plug liners and Booster strap
Days Tested: 7
Having spent a significant portion of my ski days during the last decade on tech bindings, I have been closely following the development of Dynafit’s Beast bindings, as well as their competitors.
The Beast 16 premiered last season with some impressive features, as outlined in Marshal Olson’s review. While I am looking forward to skiing the Beast 16, much of my backcountry skiing involves long days of touring and human powered vertical, so I was hoping to gain some of the advantages of the new technology (e.g., increased elasticity, better retention, lower ramp angle and more consistent release) at a weight that is a bit closer to a traditional tech binding.
(The Beast 16 is 940 grams per binding, while the Dynafit Radical FT 12 is about 600 grams per binding.)
The Beast 14 has a heelpiece that is almost identical to that of Beast 16. With its maximum release value of 14, the Beast 14’s heel spring is slightly softer than that of the Beast 16, but it is otherwise the same. The Beast 14’s pivoting toe piece is the same as the one found on the Dynafit Radical 2.0 (both the “FT” and “ST” models), which will be released in the Fall of 2015.
The most notable difference between the Radical 2.0 and the current Radical (1.0) toe piece is the side-to-side rotation that is built into the 2.0 toe piece (again, also found on the Beast 14) intended to aid in release performance.
In appearance—and also when skiing—there is noticeably less forward ramp on the Beast 14 than the Dynafit Radical or Vertical FT12 bindings. This is at least partly due to the toe being higher given the rotation mechanism, and the included shim that mounts under the toe piece.
Mounting & Setting Up
I received the Beast nine hours before my departure time to Japan, and had to scramble to get them mounted and ready to ski before leaving. So fortunately, the guys at Powderhounds Ski Shop in Girdwood were willing to loan me the Beast 16 jig that they got last year.
For those DIY mounters reading this, be aware that while the heel hole pattern is the same as the Beast 16, the toe piece of the Beast 14 (and Radical 2.0) has a completely different hole pattern than any previous Dynafit binding, including the Vertical, Comfort, Radical or Beast 16.
With some creative jig work, I was able to get a clean mount partly by making use of the fact that two of the Beast 16 toe holes are the same width as the Beast 14 albeit in completely different places relative to the pin line.
Setting up the forward pressure and release values is, as always, best left to your most trusted ski shop. But by following the instructions that came with the bindings, it was relatively easy to get them correctly adjusted.
Similarly, mounting the horseshoe-shaped Beast heel fitting (which is a little different from the standard heel fitting ordinarily used with other Dynafit bindings, like the Radical) was quick and intuitive. First it involved popping off the standard heel fitting of my Vulcans by removing its main rear screw and screwing the Beast heel fitting’s main rear screw its place. Next I used a 1/16” drill bit to drill pilot holes where the two screws on either end of the “horseshoe” fitting go, and finished securing it in place with those screws.
One important caveat here is that there may be some boot heels that are not compatible with the beast heel fitting, and consequently, the Beast 14 or Beast 16 bindings. If you’re unsure, check with your shop. (We played with a few boots, and it seems that the Scarpa Freedoms and possibly the Black Diamond Factor MX will not work due to the way the heel attaches. But I can’t confirm that with certainty at this time.)
Another note about the Beast heel fitting is that it is technically compatible with other non-Beast Dynafit bindings, like the Radical, but not perfectly. I spent about half of my time in Japan skiing on the DPS Spoon mounted with the 13/14 Radical FT 12 and my Vulcans (with the Beast heel fitting in place).
After a great run on the DPS Spoon, I was cruising back to the skin track in flat light, hit an unforeseen compression, and lurched forward on my skis. One of my heels popped out, and when I went to click back into the ski, I realized that the top of my Radical heel piece had sheared off and broken into two pieces.
As I understand it, this would mean the heel retention of the binding is compromised to some degree when used with a boot with the Beast heel fitting installed. On the other hand, it would also seem that the decreased distance between the the Beast heel fitting and the heel piece could cause more force to be exerted on the heel piece, which could explain the incident with my Radicals breaking during a forward-leaning fall … but I can’t be sure. If that is true, one solution might be to back off the heel a few millimeters, which is what Marshal Olson was able to do successfully when testing the Beast heel fitting with a pair of Plum Guide bindings. I didn’t try that initially because it would further decrease the penetration of the heel pins into the boot, which I was nervous about, but I will experiment with this soon.
When we asked Dynafit for more information about the compatibility of the Beast heel fitting, they noted that correct spacing of the Beast horseshoe-shaped heel fitting will make it so that a bit less of a non-Beast binding’s heel pins are engaged in the heel of the boot, but a boot with a Beast heel fitting is still compatible with a non-Beast binding (like the Radical). As I interpret this, they are recommending that users back off the non-Beast heel piece a few millimeters to create the normal spacing (as I proposed and Marshal successfully accomplished.)
We’ll update this review when we have more solid information about the compatibility of the Beast heel fitting with other bindings (like the Radical) and the exact tradeoffs involved. For now, I can’t say with certainty that my issue with my Radical bindings happened because I was skiing them in my Vulcans with the Beast heel fitting, but I strongly suspect it to be the cause.