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Our History

When an idea hits – there is a spark – energy is released and the gears start turning. For us, that spark happened as Will (Founder, Owner, and Chief Designer) took his first strides into the backcountry on a splitboard. He thought...

"This totally beats snowshoeing, but could be so much better with a binding made just for splitboards. There has to be a better way for snowboarders to travel back here."

Will, being a mechanical engineer, began designing a splitboard specific binding that would greatly improve the backcountry experience for splitboarders and snowboarders all over the world.

The goal initially was not to start a company, but as more splitboarders saw the design and heard about the performance, a waiting list formed and demand grew. With enough interest and encouragement, patents were applied for and Spark R&D was born.

Over a decade has gone by since we unveiled a primitive prototype of the first splitboard specific binding on splitboard.com. It has been a fun, fulfilling, and really exciting time to go from concept to company.

Early on we contracted out the manufacturing to other machine shops and vendors, but the lead times were long and we were antsy to have total control over the final product. So bit by bit, year by year, we started to acquire machines, tools, equipment, and staff that could allow us to manufacture the entire product line from start to finish.

Now as we celebrate our 10-year anniversary we are proud to say that at Spark R&D we:

design, 3D scan, 3D print, CNC machine, CNC turn, bend, punch, cut, tumble, anodize, injection mold, print, laser engrave, assemble, inspect, test, package, and ship all in-house.

We’ve had our share of challenges along the way. From late shipments and denied bank loan proposals to short buckle springs and machines catching on fire – we have lived it all and at times it has seemed like we might not survive. But like most things, as we learn and grow from experience we are a better company and better people because of it.

We are extremely proud of our journey and even more excited about the future. Living at the foot of the Bridger Mountains in Montana, getting to ride and test our own products made in our own factory is the stuff that dreams are made of.

Thanks to everyone for riding with us!

 

 

 

Pre 2006

The way things were…  pre 2006

Before Spark R&D began making splitboard specific bindings, the only real option was the Voile slider track system. This is a metal track that riders can attach to their regular snowboard bindings. This slider track/binding combo would then slide onto an early puck design and attach via a basic touring bracket. The system was functional and got many splitboarders into the backcountry, but as you can imagine, it was also clunky, heavy, and really limited performance due to the inadequate board feel.

 

 

 

2006

Ignition I

The Ignition Series bindings started it all for Spark R&D, and changed the game for backcountry snowboarders forever. The slider track function was integrated into the baseplate of the binding making it stiffer, lower, and lighter for better control and performance. The baseplate was constructed by riveting aluminum plates together around plastic spacers.

 

 

 

2007/08

Ignition II

The Ignition II was almost identical to the Ignition I but came with a different set of Bent Metal highbacks, straps, and buckles, and also featured several small but important updates to the baseplate.

 

 

 

2009

Fuse

The Fuse baseplate was machined from one piece of aluminum leading to improved stiffness, durability and lighter weight. Featuring Bent Metal highbacks, straps and buckles, the Fuse utilized a pin mount system and set a new standard when it came out in 2009. This new baseplate was the first manufactured completely in-house.

 

 

 

2010

Blaze

Like the Fuse, the Blaze baseplate was machined from a solid piece of aluminum but became lighter and stronger thanks to even more precise engineering. The new highback featured strappy strap slots, a large grab hole for securely hanging on to your board while billy goating, and industry first negative forward lean for long strides while touring. It was tortionally soft for mobility and stiff fore and aft for improved performance on big lines.

 

 

 

2011/12

Blaze Next-Generation

The design concept for the Blaze was working, but the straps and components needed some love. We partnered up with Burton on the straps, plastics, and buckles and have been using them ever since. The 11/12 model bindings also moved away from the Turcite bushings in the touring bracket in favor of stronger brass bushings.

 

 

 

2011/12

Burner

Coming the year after we introduced the Blaze, the Burner answered the call from splitters looking for a stiffer binding to tackle big mountain lines. The Burner featured a stiffer highback with more fiberglass, and thicker, stiffer straps than the Blaze.

 

 

 

2012/13

Blaze Into the Future

With the advent of the Burner and the stiffer ride that it provided, the aim was to keep the Blaze’s softer feel and shave some weight off the binding. The 12/13 Blaze was the first binding to have cutouts milled out of the baseplate for weight savings.

 

 

 

2013/14

Tesla

Never being satisfied is a fundamental trait of Spark R&D. Out comes the Tesla System. The system featured for the first time – side lock touring brackets for crazy easy transitions to and from touring, two climbing wires built into the baseplate, and our easy to use Sabertooth Crampons.  The Tesla system debuted in the Magneto and Afterburner binding models.

 

 

 

2014/15

Dyno DH for Hardboot Splitboarders

Coming out the year after we introduced the Tesla system, the Dyno DH showed some love to the hardboot splitboarders around the world. The Dyno DH is a hardboot binding that easily stashes in a pack while touring and attaches to the pucks like our other Tesla bindings for the ride down.

 

 

 

2015/16

Tesla T1

The 1 in T1 is for the One Climbing Wire that replaced the two wire system on Tesla bindings. The T1 bindings also feature Rip ‘N’ Flip highbacks with a tool free forward lean adjuster that toggles between ride and tour mode, and for the first time, came in women’s specific sizes and colorways. These changes make for our lightest and highest performing bindings ever.

 

 

 

2016/17

Always Growing

In March of 2016 we purchased the shop and warehouse space we have been calling home for the last 5 years, as well as the adjoining third of our building!

The expansion has had an immediate impact on our operations this fall with our team taking full advantage of the increase in warehouse and office space. This move also sets us up nicely for the future providing room to grow as well as locking in our sweet location in the fast growing city of Bozeman.

 

 

 

2017/18

Pillow Line Strap Collection

After two years of development, Spark R&D is proud to introduce the Pillow Line strap collection. Lighter. Ultradurable. Comfortable. Waterproof. One-piece molded construction. Made at Spark R&D in the USA (even our molds are made in-house!).

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