Dynafit TLT Speed Review
Cons: Sticky heel piece, no brakes, limited heel lift range
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The TLT Speed from venerable tech binding manufacturer Dynafit is a sort of hybrid. It combines attributes of race bindings for light weight while adding features that enhance usability for the masses. Like many "hybrid" pieces of equipment, performance is literally compromised. Does this set of compromises hit your sweet spot? Read on to learn more.
In terms of touring performance, we look at pivot range and resistance and heel elevations. The TLT Speed has virtually zero pivot resistance and a wide range of motion. While we never had any issues, there are widespread reports of boots disengaging the toe piece of the TLT Speed in regular use. It seems to be correlated to boot size and model. The issue, more specifically, is in touring mode, when doing anything that extends one's foot to the very front of the pivot range (as when doing a kick turn). In this situation, some boots apparently disengage the lock and push the ski entirely off your foot. Again, we did not have this issue at all. Nonetheless, reports are frequent and reliable enough that they deserve mention here.
There are three heel elevations on the TLT Speed, just like on the Editors Choice winners. The three TLT elevations, though, are all relatively close together. The overall range is more like that covered by the two lower levels of these other bindings. Three levels should bump up the touring score, but the fact that all three are so close together negates this.
Downhill performance is right in the league of most of the bindings we tested. Stack height, toe/heel delta, and energy transmission are about average. There is virtually no binding elasticity with this sort of binding design. Release value is adjustable, but not certified by an external body. There are no ski brakes in the event you lose a ski. You must use leashes in any situation where losing a ski would be even slightly bad.
This set of downhill performance attributes is pretty standard. Some are much better, of course. Hybrid tech/standard bindings are much better downhill, while others don't have any adjustable release. The Editors Choice and others in this same weight class have similar downhill performance. More and more bindings in this weight class now add some spring tension in the heel piece that allows for a sort of "forward pressure" or ski flex allowance that enables at least a little release elasticity. The TLT Speed does not have this forward pressure. Discerning skiers in high energy turns may notice this otherwise very subtle difference.
Ease of Use
Simple products are easy to use. Dynafit has been in the business of making simple and easy to use ski bindings for a long time. In some ways, the TLT Speed is the culmination of decades of usability refinement.
Stripped down, but with some important luxuries, one could say that the TLT Speed represents maximum ease of use. Our testing bears this out. We had a fine time with these bindings. The one issue we had was in rotating the heel piece from tour to ski mode. On a couple of occasions, occasions in which we are confident the mechanism wasn't frozen, something bound up in the heel piece to make turning it very very difficult. We got it to turn each time, but it took great strength to do so.
For the price and the functions, the TLT Speed is light enough. You can readily pay more for far less weight, but you also suffer some ergonomic and usability compromises. These are light bindings, in the grand scheme of things.
We had absolutely no issues with the TLT Speed and anticipate none further. The construction is robust, calling on years of Dynafit experience in the field.
For absolute value, the Dynafit Speed Turn is definitely better. You pay a premium for just a little bit of upgrades with the TLT Speed.
Simple, basic bindings for all kinds of human-powered high and wild skiing. Overall the TLT Speed is about average. There are some pros and some cons, of course. The end result is maybe a good value, and definitely something you should consider.
— Jediah Porter