Voile introduces the ‘Light Rail’ and ‘Trax’ splitboard bindings

One of the worst kept secrets in the industry has been officially revealed on Voile’s site tonight. The Voile Light Rail and Voile Trax bindings. Yes, that’s right, Voile has introduced their own splitboard bindings.

Reaction upon initial view of the Trax: meh.

Reaction upon initial view of the Light Rail: meh

I guess I was hoping for more immediately (visually) obvious innovation.

First up the Trax, which is the lower end model, and outside of the milled base plate and integrated ‘Avalanche Rip Cord’ looks like any other metal base snowboard binding. They are claiming the Trax sit lower on the board than a regular binding setup, but to me it looks like it would be similar to any other metal binding setup as unless I’m looking at it wrong you’d only get a decrease in ride height if their baseplate was thinner than your current baseplate.

Voile Trax

Voile Trax

To their credit the milled out base plates will obviously result in a weight savings, and the Avalanche Rip Cord system is something that I’ve seen a few do on their own but never seen as a factory offering. Will be interesting to play with that system and hear real-world feedback on it’s ability to release both buckles and both feet consistently. Actually it’d be interesting to hear the benefits they tout on the release system – I’ve got to believe that their lawyers will make sure Voile chooses their words properly as Americans are prone to sue (Colin in CA care to chime in with some lawyer $.02?)

Voile Trax binding, note orange Avalance Rip Cord

Voile Trax binding, note orange 'Avalance Rip Cord'

The Light Rail looks similar to the Trax, except for the inclusion of two CNC machined aluminum rails on the underside of the baseplate instead of re-using your slider plates. It’s an interesting (yet inelegant to my eye) solution to the problem – I just prefer the clean look of the Sparks v. the the board height side view of the Light Rail. Yes, I realize that has absolutely ZERO to do with performance, just throwing it out there.

The light rails on the Voile Light Rail

The light rails on the Voile Light Rail

Voile Light Rail ride height

Voile Light Rail ride height

One place where the Light Rail appears to immediately shine on paper is weight. Voile is claiming 4 lbs per pair of Light Rails, whereas the Spark Fuse comes in at 4.4 lbs per pair per the Spark website.  What would a spandex clad superhero pay to drop .4 lbs from their bike?  What if it was .4 lbs rolling weight?

All of the above is obviously based on the little bit of information available on Voile’s site, and for all I know these could be the shit and redefine the up and downhill ride of splitboarding as we know it.  At the very least competition will make everyone step up their game, which is a good thing.  Will be interesting to see some side-to-side comparisons on ride height, real world weight and stiffness v. the Fuse by someone with more money than I when these hit the market, which should be sometime in January 2010….which means they’ll be released about a month after their target customers have already upgraded their setups to the Spark Fuse.

18 comments to Voile introduces the ‘Light Rail’ and ‘Trax’ splitboard bindings

  • Interesting addition to the market. They don’t look as elegant as the Sparks, but who knows.

    As for the rip straps and liability, as long as they include the usual disclaimer that ships with any kind of glisse equipment, they should be fine. They’d also need to spell out (in big letters) that for the release to work, you must reach down and rip the straps with your hands. For example, BD doesn’t guarantee the Avalung is going to save your life. To establish a prima facie negligence claim (or even a claim of strict liability for product liability), the plaintiff would have to adequately allege that Voile’s negligence contributed to their injury (highly unlikely), or that the product did not work in the manner advertised or was somehow defective (also unlikely). Suffice to say, I doubt they’re worried about it. There might be stupid plaintiff attorneys out there who might file a suit, but it wouldn’t get anywhere.

    Not that I think the rip strap is a bad thing at all, but I would think that one would be first trying to ride out of the slide before trying to get the board off… and then by the time one tried (and failed) to out-ride the slide, one would not have enough time to rip those straps before getting buried. Lots of things to think about in a very small amount of time (out-ride, Avalung in teeth, rip bindings, swim, etc.).

  • Justin

    Yeah, my first impression was really ‘this looks like some circa-1996 shit’, but in the end if it rides good that’s all that matters. My guess is the height is similar to the Fuse, it just LOOKS like it’s higher because it doesn’t have the full baseplate that sits flush against the board. Initial knee-jerk reaction is that the Voile binding won’t be as stiff as a result, but I’m not an engineer and realize that’s just judging it purely off looks and with no sort of metal engineering design. The modular nature of the rails could be interesting, if you break one you could just replace it as opposed to the entire binding, but I’d imagine stress to that part of the binding under normal use is the exception rather than the rule (and probably usually involve a car or something else to bend ’em). The old slider plates would sometime wear from the pinhole, I guess if the rails are cheaper than new plates you’d save money there.

    One thing I missed on their site on first glance but just noticed when looking at the prices on these bindings is the dual height climbing wires

    http://www.voile-usa.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=1130-56&Category_Code=SB&Product_Count=2

  • matty

    They suck.
    Was offerd these at a good price with a board and skins so took them.
    Truly horrible bindings to ride.
    Not really stiff but not really soft and surfy.
    No highback rotational adjust means no highback angle compensation for your stance angles.
    Forward lean adjuster is tough to release. This matters as many need to remove their forawrd lean when skinning.
    Toe straps are horrible flat things. like something off the cheap rental boards I learned on ten years ago.

    Quality is appaling.
    Even with loctite, my Light Rails will vibrate loose pretty much every one of their fixings over the course of a day of riding. My transition time is extended by the need to go over each screw head with a multitool just be sure.

    I’d been riding for a while and have used a pretty wide range of gear.
    Splitboard specific or not, these are the worst bindings I’ve ever owned.

    Get Sparks. They stay in one piece and feel great both riding and skinning.

  • Justin

    Damn, THAT bad?? Worse than baseless lowbacks on a 181cm board bad??

  • I’ve been snowboarding for 23 years. On regular boards, I ride the stiffest Union binding I can find. I used to ride Technine before they moved production to china. Before that it was burton CFX. My first binders were Sims. When I was a kid, I would ride softer bindgins and shorter boards. My smallest board now is a 169 designed for boardercross. My opinion of the Lightrail binding after running them two full seasons in Montana Is that they are a great, simple binding that performs well. No split board binding is going to perform like your normal freeride bindings would. Don’t expect that with a puck holding you all together.

    I put a month on the Sparks which is a local company. They are good but nothing special. I disliked the burton straps on them. They did not respond to my feet like the voile did in the powder. They didn’t skin as well either. The voile was easier to manipulate in poor conditions where you can not take your gloves off.

    The highbacks are just fine. I have had no problems adjusting my forward lean. It’s simply not something you dick around with when you are touring. Find a happy medium. I don’t know too many powder junkies who use a lot of forward lean in the pow. You can match your higbacks to your edge with the three holes in the heel cup. Nobody said you had to have them all in front, middle or rear position.

    Try not to make adjustments to your board out in the elements. Loctite is a very dangerous material to have around your plastic. Treat the threads on the screw, let them dry and then insert them. This way you will not let the material leak onto plastic parts and it will lock in just fine. It is also a one shot product. If you are taking your rails off to be OCD and dry them off or just tinkering, they will become loose. On the Light rail, I suggest a rattle gun with treated screw to install them properly. They will NEVER fall out if you do it properly. They are done by the factory like this.

    I’ve yet to have a pair of bindings where the hardware on the ladders and straps did not come loose over time. Use the proper #3 screwdriver and crank it as hard as your hand can crank. Do this inside when it is warm and dried up and you wont have to do it again for months.

    Anybody who says these bindings sucks is a fool. I’d choose them over the Sparks because I have beaten the hell out of both of them. I ride backcountry over 100 days every winter and weigh almost 200lbs naked. I appreciate things that are utilitarian and less hype.

    If you want a superior binding compared to both the voile and the sparks, get the karakorumakazie. Or whatever the hell they call it. I borrowed my friends setup last season and it was night and day. The only downside to the system is the retarded cost of it. Superior in every way except cost. OUCH!

    negative nitro nick… whitefish montana, america

  • Justin

    Comment of the year, appreciate it numb nuts!

  • No problem Justin I’d suggest trying them all out if possible. My buddy likes the Sparks better. I did not. Really apples to oranges. I did think the Karakoram binders were the cat’s meow but really didn’t want to pay more for the bindings than my board. Maybe I will find a used set some day.

    PRAY FOR POW!

  • Justin

    I won some Sparks last year at Baker Splitfest so going to roll those for now. First couple tours I had on ’em was definitely night/day from what I was running. Would love to try out all the systems one day tho!

  • Awesome score Justin! I want to try the new sparks binding this year. It pretty much copied the Kara idea of mounting the base. Looks pretty cool. First thing to go will be the burton straps. :)

  • Justin

    Yeah, I was stoked. One buddy won the pair of Light Rails, I won the Sparks, the third buddy won a BCA pack. We ruled the raffle.

  • Awesome! Pays to support the cause and get free swag! Your buddy has the lighrails so there is no reason not to swap gear for a few days!

    If you see any shops with last year’s LARGE and not medium/large light rails by voile, let me know! My buddy is having a really hard time finding them, he sold his sparks to a friend and doesn’t want to wait till nov 26 or whenever to get the bindings. Seems like BC gear should come out a little earlier than the regular stuff….

    Anyway, PRAY FOR POW!

  • Justin

    I just did a quick search in this product widget thing I’ve got and didn’t see anything but 2012s (or smalls in last year’s model at STP), but I’d call Mammoth Mountaineering (their website is down right now) and see if they have any. I haven’t been there in years but it’s a cool little shop in Mammoth Lakes and they don’t have quite the turnover all the big guys do.

  • I guess the large were special order only and they don’t even have the parts to fix them. My friend wants them because of the older better straps. He might have to bite the bullet and get this years. Price isn’t a deal. Just wants them now. I appreciate you checking. Local dealer had him drive 45 miles and when they got there, the medium large binding was set all the way back. Real asshole thing to do to a long distance customer.

    His foot is 12 (ouch) so the ml sets the toe ramp under the ball on its largest setting.

    At this point, he should just drive over to sparks and pick up a pair!

  • Justin

    Check the baseplate length difference between the M/L and L. The Sparks I won were medium but after looking on their website at documentation discovered they are the same baseplate length as the large, only difference was in the width. May discover the light rail is the same.

  • I sure hope not! The upturn on the base plate is already too short on the bindings. If they didn’t make a longer plate for the large, a size 12 foot would hang toes over the lip several inches. The width on the M/L is quite wide. Any wider and the straps would be the only thing from keeping your soles from sliding fore and aft on a landing or hard carve.

  • matty

    @ NITRO NUMB NUT

    Seriously brother?
    I add some hopefully useful feedback about a product and you weigh in with personal insults?
    Why man? Is it really ok to call me a fool because I thought the Voiles sucked?

    Here are a couple of responses to your assessment of the Voiles. Please don’t get shitty with me if you want to disagree with any of this, just tel me why you think I’m wrong:

    Forward lean is “simply not something you dick around with when you are touring”
    I don’t agree. Karakorum bindings have a quick adjust for forward lean to suit skinning or riding. Skinning with bent knees because of your binding’s forward lean is tiring. Check it out:
    http://www.splitboardbindings.com/ride-stride-forward-lean/

    I weigh 178lbs to your 200. I get around three months of splitting a year. The Voile’s have been tough for you but mine kept falling apart from the first week even though I’m lighter.
    Maybe our riding is different. I look for all the terrain hits and drops I can find, and throw in rotations where I can. Pretty freestyle influenced from my teens and early 20s I guess. I reckon this stresses the Violes beyond their tolerances, and they aren;t suited to this style.
    Are you more of a pow hound, looking for big carve-ey lines?
    Maybe they are better suited to your style.

    Karakorums have blown away the Violes and Sparks for me recently though.
    Aside from weight, my splits ride almost like solids now.
    They’re expensive, but worth saving for if you can.

    Anyway, there it is.
    The Voiles didn’t work out for me for all the reasons I’ve stated.
    Sparks suited me much better.
    Karakorums better still, even though they are expensive.

  • Justin

    Summary: like snowflakes no two of us are alike. Some like fat women, some like brunettes, some like Voiles, some like Karakorums. I like ’em all (well, except the fat women)

  • matty

    ^ …and some like Voile Lightrail bindings.
    Guys like NITRO NUMB NUTS who I’m guessing is an overweight weekend warrior.
    Bro, sounds to me like your bindings don’t need to do much more than keep your overweight body attached to a board while you cruise casual lines.
    Am I right?
    Nice cruisey runs at the weekend for you buddy?
    Probably about as much as you can handle.

    If you want a binding that will handle freestyle oriented freeride – drops, terrain hits, sketchy landings of big rotations and the chatter and punishment that goes with riding high alpine gnar then the Lightrails aren’t for you.

    If you’re an overweight cruiser then I guess they will probably be ok.

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