Spark R&D bindings are some of the best splitboard bindings in the world. They updated their tried and true Magneto Splitboard Binding with a new name and some new tech, we’re stoked to introduce you to the Spark R&D Arc Binding. (Although it has been out for a year), along with reviews of all the Spark bindings over the years we have tested.
Before I kick off this review I wanted to share one of the most unique things about Spark R&D Bindings. These splitboard specific bindings have a cult like following with backcountry users around the globe including numerous snowboarders that actually prefer to mount these bindings to their resort boards, say what??!!!
If you tend to travel, like splitboarding and enjoy playing in deep snow without ever having to worry about your gear, you really ought to pickup a pair of Spark R&D Bindings.
Spark R&D Arc Review
The ability to switch from tour to ride mode and back and forth was once the Achilles heel of splitboarding. However over the past decade that problem no longer exists thanks in part to Spark’s T1 binding interface system. The days of fussing around in the cold trying to put a “pin-in-the-hole” are long gone.
To remove the Arc bindings while in tour mode simply unbuckle your bindings. Lift up the snap ramp (toe ramp) on the front of the binding and give it a little push to the side and with that the binding can easily be removed in seconds.
When it comes time to put your board back together for ride mode, sliding the bindings back onto your board is even easier. Spark R&D Bindings are designed to attach to either Voile pucks or the new Spark pucks. With the board put back together all you have to do is line up the bindings with the pucks, slide the bindings forward and push the snap ramp down into place.
The entire process listed above can easily be done in under 1 minute. That being said messing around with your climbing skins will most likely take a little bit more time.
Whats in the Spark R&D Arc Kit
Each Spark R&D Arc Splitboard Binding Kit includes a set of lightweight splitboard bindings, the Arc’s weigh around 1.5lbs or (681g) for our Euro readers. Along with the bindings come a redesigned heel riser. What we really like about the new T1 heel riser is the fact it only uses one climbing wire. When you find yourself skinning up steep terrain and need a little extra lift the Arc’s offer 12 & 18 degrees of added heal lift.
Along with the bindings and heel risers comes the Tesla T1 touring bracket that easily mounts to your splitboard with 3 screws. This entire setup can be mounted to your splitboard in minutes with practically zero instructions involved!!
How Durable are Spark R&D Bindings?
Spark R&D splitboard bindings are built to handle the backcountry. One of the reasons these bindings are so durable is a lack of clunky parts and interfaces. Will Ritter and the Spark R&D team even went as far to remove the extra metal at the bottom of the binding to help shed snow. These are splitboarders, making bindings for you and I…
Spark utilities Burton Snowboards straps and buckles which make finding replacement parts a breeze. Even with these bindings being uber durable, I always recommend tossing an extra buckle and some ladders in your BC pack, or zip ties at the very least!
My last set of Spark R&D Magento bindings had well over 100 tours on them, and even with a bit of electrical tape holding the straps together the bindings performed flawlessly.
What can be Improved?
Note: Will please don’t hate me here…
As much as I love the new T1 heel risers use of 1 climbing wire vs 2. I did have some issues when trying to get the darn climbing latter to rise up. My recommendation would be to practice at home (a lot) or better yet get a pair of touring poles with a rigid basket. *This is a must with these bindings, if you’re using something flimsy the odds of getting the climbing wire to engage can be tricky at best.
Other then the climbing wire the only thing that could potentially make these bindings even better would be a little bit of padding on the foot beds. Especially if you are considering using the new Spark R&D pucks as you may want something to help dampen the vibration transferred from the board to your feet as they pucks are aluminum.
Arc Splitboard Binding Overall Impression
Spark R&D is the only pair of bindings I feel comfortable mounting to my splitboard for long days in the Tetons. The reliability, durability and functionality of these bindings is spot on. Retailing at $385.00 these bindings are worth every penny!
The entire Spark R&D crew actually splitboards, and with their headquarters in Bozeman, MT these guys and gals get after it often. Along with the amazing new Arc bindings Spark R&D has a full line of binders for women and even for those goofy hard booters too 🙂
Next time you find yourself in the backcountry do yourself a favor and checkout what everyone else is using. Ask people about the bindings under foot. Odds are strong that people having fun and smiling way too much are rocking Sparks… Aside from the funky Heel Riser these bindings are just about perfect.
This is the working man’s splitboard binding!
Spark R&D Magento Review
The Spark R&D Magneto’s will forever change the way you look at splitboarding and the way skiers think of splitboarders. Thanks to the new snap ramps you can forget about using those clunky old metal pins that loved to freeze and now simply snap your bindings into place. The changeover from touring to ride mode and ride to touring mode can now be accomplished in record time, how’s 30 seconds or less sound?
I have had the absolute pleasure of testing these bindings since the middle of last winter and can say without a doubt that the Spark R&D Magneto Splitboard Binding is the best thing to happen to splitboarding in a long long time. The Spark team developed these bindings to work in conjunction with the tried and true Voile pucks and has added their own climbing wires that are built into the base of the binding. The Magneto binding is lightweight, powerful and build to last.
Video of the Spark R&D Magneto’s in action
Spark Magneto Snap Ramps
Snap Ramps are a game changer, anytime someone sees these bindings in action their jaws literally hit the floor. When touring and ready to remove the bindings all you need to do is simply lift up on the toe ramp and the binding will pop off. It’s really that simple! A don’t be worried about the binding popping off at the wrong time as the Spark crew sat in their shop and at SIA last year opening and closing the locks, even after thousands of repetitions the snaps always held into place.
To get the bindings back on the board for riding you just slide them over the pucks and then push down on the toe ramp to engage the lock on the snap ramps.
Even putting the bindings back into touring mode is easy thanks to Spark’s Side Lock Touring Bracket. The bindings fit into the bracket by sliding into place from the left or right side. Push down on the toe ramps again and the binding has locked into place.
Spark R&D High Backs
Spark R&D Magento’s high backs have a great flex allowing total control over your board for a comfortable surfy fit and feel. While the heel cups are made of solid metal that connects directly to the base for when you really need to power into a turn. The bindings feature forward lean adjustments from 25 degrees to -5 however I have not had the need to adjust these while touring or riding.
Whats great about these bindings is they use their own climbing wires that are built into the bottom of the binding. There are two heights available to use 12 and 18 degrees which are simple to engage with your ski pole for steep climbs and just as easy to put back down for flat spots. Each set of Spark Magento’s come with a special Heel Rest that work in conjunction with the climbing wires. According to Spark this helps to take stress off your top sheet and keeps the wires from collapsing thanks to the ridges built into the Heel Rest.
In an effort to save weight Spark eliminated part of the base by creating a cut out design on the Spark R&D Magento’s. Not only does this make the base lighter it drastically improves your ability to shed snow from the bindings. I like to tap the bases against each other and am amazed at how easy the snow comes off both sides.
Spark Magento’s are available in three sizes and color ways. Small, Medium and Large and your choice of black, blue or green if your the type of person that likes to color coordinate your kit. The bindings will surely sell out this season (currently sold out on Spark’s website) All Spark R&D bindings are hand made at the Spark factory in Bozeman, MT by people that snowboard an rip in the backcountry. I can’t say enough about how great these bindings are and just how incredibly fast your transitions will become. Your skier friends will thank you for getting a pair and your snowboard friends will be insanely jealous!
Spark R&D After Burner Review
In 2014 the snowboard industry swooned as Spark R&D’s Tesla system set out to remove the word “slowboarder” from skier’s vocabulary. By eliminating the bothersome pins that most splitboard bindings require to affix themselves to the board, the Tesla’s “snap ramps” put changeover times within seconds of skier’s.
Conveniences aside, the wide and supportive straps (made by Burton) are the slickest in the business, providing huge support without pressure points. This, coupled with relatively tall highbacks, results in near telepathic response. By the time your brain thinks “slash,” snow is flying.
Spark R&D in Touring Mode
When in touring mode, the position of the toe-pivot in relationship to the boot can be adjusted by moving the bindings heelcup fore or aft, resulting in more efficient strides. But the mountain top is where the Sparks really earn their keep. The Voile puck interface, while far from the freshest mounting option, continues to rule as the most fail-proof design.
Stone-axe reliability and near imperviousness to icing (at least in our dry Teton climes) makes this a binding that can be trusted when the pride of the entire snowboard community is on the line. There’s no need to be surgical about snow removal: just lift the snap ramp and shove the bindings on.
If pressed for criticism, the highback’s forward lean adjustment is a pain to change, even without gloves. Many will ignore this feature altogether, but it’s nice to tour with a negative lean angle to increase stride length, and then crank it back up for a powerful heelside cut.
Speaking of power, many riders will opt for Spark’s more forgiving Magneto model (shown above), which offers most of the AfterBurner’s features, without responsiveness akin to having the snowboard lag-bolted through your shin bones.
So is the AfterBurner the best big-mountain touring binding made? Simple, efficient, and unapologetically hard- edged? An argument can certainly be made – especially if they keep skiers from snickering while they eat their lunch at the top. Currently on sale for $262.00 at REI.com