Blog Category: ’News’

Greetings from Bozeman!

An open letter from your friends at Spark R&D

Shop 2

I don’t know about you – but the past year FLEW by for us at Spark R&D! The introduction of our new Tesla System bindings last season left our phone ringing off the hook and our email inboxes flooded with email subject lines like this: “I want the AfterBurner more than I want my mustache to connect to my beard.”

Seriously. We wouldn’t make this stuff up.

Mag 1

New green Magnetos on the assembly line.

Last year was indeed crazy for us at Spark and now we have a lot happening around the shop. For the 2014/15 season, we have doubled our factory space and added new machines and team members to continue developing and manufacturing the best splitboard bindings and accessories in the world.

Despite the busy year, we charged ahead with midnight design sessions and dawn patrol product testing missions. Our goal has always been to make splitboarding more accessible and simple with solid gear and breakthrough products that fill in the gaps for the split community … while giving our customers and dealers a voice in what we tackle next.

With that in mind, NEW for this season:

  • Our first-ever hardboot splitboard specific binding, the Dyno DH, along with a Dynafit Toe Piece compatible hardboot touring crampon, the D Rex.  See our entire Hardboot lineup here.
  • Tesla Heel Locker. Riders now have the ability to lock down their heel in tour mode to better adapt to diversified terrain types where quick descents, side-stepping, traversing, and skate splitting become more effective means of backcountry travel.  Find more info here.
  • Low Rider Heel Loop Kit. This XS heel loop positions highbacks lower on the leg for a better calf fit for the not-so-tall, and allows for better heel-toe centering for smaller boot sizes.  Specs and info here.
Dyno mix 1

New for this season: The Dyno DH hardboot bindings.

Meanwhile, we continue to collaborate with champion companies in the industry – utilizing their already established tech (why re-invent the wheel?) and integrating it into the splitboard binding world. Throughout our product line, we are proud to partner with: Burton, Voile, G3, Dynafit, Verts, and new for this season, Black Diamond, Bomber Industries, and One Binding System.

We have also produced a custom, limited edition splitboard specific binding for Burton called the Hitchhiker, which is available exclusively through their distribution channels.

Heel 5 Lrg

The new Tesla Heel Lockers.

Yes, it’s been a crazy ride for us at Spark and this year will no doubt be the same. Our success for the season does not go without many thanks to our loyal Dealers, Ambassadors, Customers, and Friends. Thanks for taking the ride with us and for all of your support over the years.

See you on the skin track!

Spark R&D

Introducing the Burner Splitboard Binding

Spark R&D is proud to announce the newest addition to the family: the BURNER splitboard binding was designed for the rider who wants to point it. Increased support both torsionally and laterally creates a stiffer ride in all snow conditions and will allow even the largest of riders to edge with confidence.

“Splitboarding has grown so quickly in the last couple of years that the pool of people riding the backcountry has become more and more diverse,” says Will Ritter, Spark R&D owner and chief engineer. “Riders have different shred styles, terrain preferences, and ride different areas of the world. The snow in Utah is different from the snow in New Zealand. We had feedback from people who were in love with the Blaze, and others wanting something stiffer.”

… thus the BURNER splitboard binding was born…

“It’s the big brother to the Blaze,” says Will. “The difference is in the ankle strap and highback. We stiffened them up for those riders wanting extra support on the descent. If you want to ride through tight trees and ride with a bit more freestyle influence, you’ll probably prefer the Blaze. But if you’re straight lining from the top to bottom, railing through chundery hardpack, or could be described as a Clydesdale you’ll probably want to be on the Burner this season.”

Here are some features from the all new Burner:

Ankle Straps: Slightly larger strap platform than the Blaze with stiffer plastic skeleton for more support through your turns. Beefy PU leather construction for durability and a tunnel to keep ankle telescope out of the way while touring. Toe Straps: Size-specific and lightweight. Same PU leather body and piping construction as the ankle straps ensure these are bomb proof. Convertible toe cap strap for comfortably keeping your toe on lockdown.

Highbacks: Same great custom highback design as last season, allowing the widest range of lean on the market (25° forward lean, to -5° for touring – an industry first). The Burner incorporates more than two times the glass fiber content than the Blaze, offering the rider the utmost edging control with increased stiffness. Vertical built-in slots fit perfectly with the Spark R&D Strappy Strap, for steeps and off-camber climbing, and an extra large grab hole for billy goating security.

The Burner also demonstrates these same great features as the Blaze:

Buckles: This ratchet system is the perfect balance of minimalism and durability. Crank ‘em down – this buckle gets you super tight and releases easily. Low profile design is perfect for touring.

Thermo Plastics: Spark R&D designed their own molds this season for toe and ankle ladders and telescopes to maintain compatibility with their baseplates while working seamlessly with the new straps and buckles. Plastics are molded to be pre-curved to hug the strap and remain snag-free while touring or riding. This in combination with Burton’s® secret recipe for extremely durable components will keep you confident out in the backcountry.

Baseplate Design: Fine-tuned for all around ease of use as well as long-term durability. A few highlights: the pivot area for touring has been beefed up, medium and large sizing is more specific, puck interface is designed to slide better onto both factory and DIY pucks and require less adjustment, and improved toe strap attachment area.

Bushings: Spark introduces custom made bronze bushings for exceptional durability
Burner Binding Specifications:

Sizes: S, M, L
Colors: Black, Red, Gunmetal
Standard Price: $329 – comes with the standard stainless steel pin for Voile touring brackets
LT Price: $380 –comes with the LT Pin System’s aluminum pin and bracket.
Standard Weight: 3.67 lbs/pr [1664 g] (medium)
LT Weight: 3.52 lbs/pr [1600 g] (medium)

Available worldwide at Spark R&D retailers beginning in early September.

Spark R&D re-introduces the BLAZE splitboard binding for the 2011/2012 season

August 12, 2011: For Immediate Release.

Spark R&D re-introduces the BLAZE splitboard binding for the 2011/2012 season

 

Spark R&D is stepping it up again this season; seeking perfection based on customer needs and keeping pace with the rapidly expanding splitboarding community. The BLAZE returns again this season with upgraded components and splitboard-specific features for even better performance in the backcountry.

 

“We’ve always been able to respond quickly to customer feedback in our product designs year after year,” says Will Ritter, Spark R&D owner and chief engineer, “and this year is no different.  The biggest challenge for us has always been outfitting our baseplates with excellent straps, highbacks, and components worthy of backcountry missions. We’ve tried a couple of different things the last few years that worked well … but for the next level of quality and performance we just had to wait for all of the planets to align.”

 

The planets have aligned. Spark R&D is proud to announce that they are working with Burton Snowboards for the manufacturing of their straps, thermo plastics, and buckles.

 

Again, here’s Will: “We get to design our parts exactly how we want them [specific for backcountry touring and riding] while having access to Burton’s time-tested fabrics, materials and techniques for production. We’re psyched because their reputation for quality binding components is unsurpassed in the industry. That’s what we’ve been aiming for – and we’re stoked.”

 

Here is what you can expect to see from the Blaze this season:

  • Ankle Straps: Minimalist straps for lightweight skinning, webbing edging for durability, tunnel to keep ankle telescope out of the way while touring, and a size-specific 3D skeleton to conform to your boot. Stitched through middle window allows for easy ankle flex for maximum maneuverability.

  • Toe Straps: Also size-specific and lightweight with matching webbing edging. Convertible toe cap strap for comfortably keeping your toe on lock down.

 

  • Buckles: This ratchet system is the perfect balance of minimalism and durability. Crank ‘em down – this buckle gets you super tight and releases easily.  Low profile design is perfect for touring.

 

  • Thermo Plastics: Spark R&D designed their own molds this season for toe and ankle ladders and telescopes to maintain compatibility with their baseplates while working seamlessly with the new straps and buckles. Plastics are molded to be pre-curved to hug the strap and remain snag-free while touring or riding. This in combination with Burton’s secret recipe for extremely durable components will keep you confident out in the backcountry.

  • Baseplate Design: Fine-tuned for all around ease of use as well as long-term durability. A few highlights: the pivot area for touring has been beefed up, medium and large sizing is more specific, puck interface is designed to slide better onto both factory and DIY pucks and require less adjustment, and improved toe strap attachment area.

 

  • Highbacks: Same great custom highback design as last season, innovating the widest range of lean on the market (25° forward lean, to -5° for touring – an industry first). Increased glass fiber content strikes the perfect balance between response and maneuverability. Vertical built-in slots fit perfectly with the Spark R&D Strappy Strap, for steeps and off-camber climbing, and an extra large grab hole for billy goating security.

 

  • Bushings: Spark introduces custom made bronze bushings for exceptional durability with an inside flange that eliminates wear from the touring bracket.

 

Blaze Binding Specifications:

 

Sizes: S, M, L

Colors: Black, Teal, Gunmetal

Standard Price: $299 – comes with the standard stainless steel pin for Voile touring brackets

LT Price: $350 –comes with the LT Pin System’s aluminum pin and bracket.

Standard Weight: 3.61 lbs/pr [1640 g] (medium)

LT Weight: 3.47 lbs/pr [1576 g] (medium)

 

 

Available worldwide at Spark R&D retailers beginning in mid-September.

For additional information, please visit us online at www.sparkrandd.com.

The website will be updated for 2011/2012 products in late August.

 

 

Jeff Johnson

Sales & Marketing Manager

jeff@sparkrandd.com

406-580-7674

Say Hello To The New Mr. Chomps

Mr. Chomps gets a new look with improved features for the 2010/2011 season

Here at Spark R&D we pride ourselves on providing the most innovative and high performance splitboarding gear on the market. With that in mind, we would like to introduce you to the newest version of our popular Mr. Chomps splitboard crampon.

Stronger: By bringing production entirely in-house this year, we were able to upgrade the quality of aluminum used to make the crampons (now 6061-T6 aluminum). The end result is 60% harder and 40% stronger.

Longer Teeth & Centered Underfoot: Product testing and rider feedback encouraged us to increase the length of the crampon teeth for even more Chomp. The new crampon boasts teeth 2 in. [5 cm] in length – that’s 0.35 in. [0.8 cm] longer than the previous version. In addition, the teeth position has been shifted forward to be more centered underfoot for balance and control.

Compatibility: Mr. Chomps are now compatible with the new Voile dual climbing wires.

Sizing: We are still offering two sizes: Regular (< 26cm board waist) and Wide ( >26cm board waist)

Lighter: Despite the improved quality of aluminum and longer teeth length, advanced design efforts enabled us to shave even more weight off of each crampon. Many say less is more. With the new Mr. Chomps, it is entirely true. They now weigh less than a pound.

Weight/Pair (Reg) Weight/Pair (Wide)
2009/10 Mr. Chomps 1 lb 0.7 oz [474g] 1 lb 1.6 oz [498g]
2010/11 Mr. Chomps 14.8 oz  [418g] 15.2 oz [432g]

The 2010/2011 Mr. Chomps will be available at Spark R&D retailers in mid October and available direct from Spark R&D in late October.

THE BLAZE

The next generation is here.

Introducing the BLAZE splitboard binding for the 2010/2011 season.

Since the very beginning, Spark R&D has been a rider-owned and operated business, pushing innovation in the sport of splitboarding – because that’s what we LIVE for. We are all splitboarders. We have spent hundreds of days in the backcountry. We have vigorously tested our own products and know what would make them lighter, stronger, better. That’s why we’re stepping it up this season, even more than before; we’re seeking perfection based on your needs and feedback and our own riding experiences. Bringing together all of this knowledge, we’re proudly introducing the BLAZE – our most innovative binding yet – a splitboard specific binding with splitboard specific features:

Straps: We are now sourcing our own straps, chosen for their minimalism, durability, and functionality in the backcountry.

Highbacks: We have designed our own custom highback for splitboard specific needs: wider range of lean (more aggressively forward, 25° compared to 18° on the Fuse, all the way back to “layback” for striding on the flats,  -5° compared to +8° on the Fuse), stiffer yet more comfortable construction, vertical built-in slots for a standard 1.5″ webbing booster strap for steeps and off-camber climbing, and an extra large grab hole for billy goating security.

Even Lighter: Based on the strong performance of the Fuse, we were able to shave weight off of the baseplate – carving away more aluminum allowing for an equally stiff construction, lighter weight, and more avenues for snow to escape.

Bushings: Custom made bushings provide for easier pin insertion and removal , increased durability, and inside flange eliminates wear from the touring bracket.

Final weight: 3.75 lb/pair [1730 g/pair]! (sorry, our mistake) Final weight: 3.52 lbs [1596g] / pair! This is a 3/4 lb per pair weight savings compared to the Fuse.

Now, we know you’re going to have some questions, so we tried to preemptively answer them here:

Q:  What’s going to happen to the Fuse? Are you going to sell them as well?

A: The Blaze is the “new and improved” Fuse. The Fuse has been discontinued, and the Blaze is the only model of binding we are making. Don’t worry, we are still offering a complete line of spare parts for both the Ignition and Fuse series.

Q: The Fuse was compatible with Bent Metal binding straps and highbacks, what about the Blaze?

A: The straps and highbacks for the Blaze are custom, which means we chose and designed them especially for splitboarding. The baseplates were not modeled around any other brand or model of binding. Other straps and highbacks MAY be compatible, but that is up to you to experiment with if you want to switch out parts. We will NOT be offering a baseplates only option this year.

Q: Last year the Fuse were so hard to get my hands on, will this be the same with the Blaze?

A: We know that last year may have been frustrating for some of you trying to find a pair (any pair!) of the Fuse. Trust us, we were taken by surprise too. We make and assemble every binding here in our machine shop in Bozeman, MT (everything but the straps and highbacks). This ensures that you get a solid, quality set of bindings…but that also means that they take a lot of time to make. In years past our built-to-order system worked great, but last season, we just didn’t have enough hours in the day to keep up. For this season, we started production early and are well-prepared to handle the demand for the Blaze throughout the season. Rest assured, if you want to get a set this season – you will be able to!

Q: So, when will the Blaze be available?

A: Mid-October 2010.

Q: Does this mean that I am guaranteed a set of bindings on October 15?

A: No. We will be manufacturing bindings through December, so they will of course not all be available at once. We anticipate people being antsy to get the new Blaze the moment they are available, which will inevitably create initial binding shortages. Please be a little patient, expect the traffic jam, and we promise, everyone will be able to get the bindings they need – just not all at once!

Q: But I am going on a trip October 15…I MUST have them!

A: Your best bet would be to contact a local dealer. They all know when their shipments are scheduled to arrive, and some are willing to take pre-payment in order to save a set for you.

Q: Ok, I will be patient :) But where can I buy the Blaze once they are available?

A: We have an updated list of dealers on our website here:  http://www.sparkrandd.com/dealers and have many more than last season, so make sure you check to see if your local shop will be carrying Spark R&D products this season. They will also be available for purchase on our webstore sometime in October, and we will update you when we know the actual date.

THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR SUPPORT! WE COULDN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU!

– THE SPARK R&D CREW

Spark R&D Wins ISPO BrandNew Finalist Award!!!

We are excited to announce that Spark R&D’s Fuse binding has won the ISPO BrandNew Finalist Award for innovation!!! Thank you for all of your votes and comments and support. We couldn’t have done it without you. The sport of splitboarding is growing … and you all are part of the revolution. Be proud.

A little background on the ISPO BrandNew Award:

ISPO (Internationale Fachmesse für Sportartikel und Sportmode) is the 4-Day International Trade Fair for Sports Equipment and Fashion, and has been an annual event for the past 40 years in Munich, Germany. This is where all of the retailers and buyers go to see next year’s products and to decide what to sell in their stores in the next season, setting the trends for the outdoor market. Products and companies awarded the ISPO BrandNew Award are considered THE barometer of future trends in sports. This year there were over 350 applicants for the award.

To enter the competition, the company must be 4 years old or younger. The application process involves a public voting component (the part you are familiar with – thanks for all the votes and great comments!) and then a juried component where a group of 20 international experts test and evaluate the products. There is one overall winner of the entire competition, and then one winner and several finalists in each of 7 categories: Accessories, Eco/Fair Trade, Fitness, Hardware, Sportswear, Style, and Urban Style. Spark R&D won a finalist BrandNew Award in the Hardware Category. We are so stoked!

Where from here?

Will Ritter, the owner of Spark R&D and his wife Becca are headed over to Munich in early February to the ISPO trade show along with all of the other winners and finalists. They will be showcasing the Fuse binding and unveiling some great new innovations for the 2011 season.

Spark R&D has always been dedicated to pushing innovation in the sport of splitboarding. Being internationally recognized for this award is just one more way that splitboarding gets put in the lime light. Again, thank you for all of your support and votes, and your dedication to the sport!

See all of the winners and finalists here!