NOW IPO 2015 - 2013 Review by The Good Ride
The NOW IPO binding is very unique to the industry. There are only 2 bindings out there with hinge technology. Burton and Now. Burton has a spring-like hinge that works lengthwise to improve your ollie power. With NOW the hinge is in the middle and works edge to edge. It makes for a smooth ride and reduces fatigue.
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NOW has this hinge that changes the feel of your edge to edge transitioning and relieve fatigue from the constant chatter you get from snowboarding. NOW also has another rather unique design when it comes to dealing with the heel. So what most bindings do is wrap the high back around the heel loop so the only thing that touches your boot is the High Back. What NOW does is have the high back start after the heel loop and your boot comes in contact with both. What does this mean? Well for those that are real old schooler or those that like to try new things you can take off the high back and just ride using the heel loop. On a similar note, the High back isn’t really a high back but more like a low back. So this binding in a lot of ways is a merger of modern and old technology.
The NOW IPO has one of the smallest high backs in the industry right now and looks like a version of a 90’s binding. It’s really a low back. Also if you are going to do one color we have to agree with the stormtrooper or shuttle white for an IPO.
It must be told that the demo model we rode was different from the production model you will see. This is very common for new models to have a few differences between the two. So the Demo model had a few flaws.
– The milling around the ankle strap didn’t go all the way so you couldn’t put it behind the high back when stepping in. This was annoying and we are happy to report it’s fixed with the production model.
– The heel loop is going to be wider than the demo model which will be good since it has contact with the boot. This was the biggest complaint.
– the little rubber footbeds that look like the soft stuff you put on couch legs that sit on a wood floor were a little loose. This should be fixed with the production model so you shouldn’t lose them when taking on and off the binding.
Flex: It’s a soft small high back with what feels like a medium flex.
Adjustability: There is your normal adjustability here. Nothing like a Burton binding but enough to get you dialed in.
Comfort: This was either loved or hated depending on the size of the boot you stuffed in there. If you were a size 8-9 on the medium binding we rode it fit pretty well but still felt a little snug around the ankle. Our friends who were 10 plus (US) were not happy with the fit around the heel loop with the size medium. Most of us at The Good Ride would like to see NOW spit the IPO into 2 Types of bindings. One would be just like this binding. The other we’d like to see a hinge binding that has a normal high back that doesn’t use the heel loop to fit the boot. That way it would be incredibly responsive and fit almost any type of boot. We could see this heel loop either making or breaking the IPO for many riders. Some could love the snug feeling around the ankle that can help reduce heel lift and others could absolutely hate this.
Heel to Toe Response: Your initial reaction before riding would be to “say please don’t put this on the Jones Carbon Flagship”. We didn’t say that out loud and just went up to the chair anyways. It powered the boards well enough edge to edge but many of our riders felt a delay when it came to edge to edge transitioning and felt it’s better suited for easier turning boards. I’d personally love to see springs in the kingpin hinge or in the stoppers on each corner because then you would have a response that would defy the flex.
Tip to Tail Response: The way the NOW IPO is set up there is good torsional and longitudinal flex underfoot. The tight heel loop around the ankle makes it a little less friendly to butter though than other bindings with this type of flex underfoot. Still it’s pretty good to play around on. If you had the freedom to butter.
Approximate Weight: Felt light but not ultralight. You know like every other good binding out there.
Dampening: If this was a 1-10 rating this would get a spinal tap 11. The super cush uniform footbed combined with the hinge technology make for a very stable ride in any type of situation or speed. There is also reduced fatigue when riding this binding. For example, if you have a long crappy traverse that’s been rutted up and filled with whoops for a half mile or so the NOW IPO’s will feel much better underfoot.
Shock Absorption: If you go out and ride rough conditions that are chopped up or rutted up the NOW IPO’s base plate will really help you deal. Landing flat on a jump sucks no matter how good the bindings are but If for some strange reason I (editor) was forced to land flat on a jump the NOW IPO would be at the top of the list for the binding I’d want to do it with.
The NOW IPO will work well with any board and make it ride better but at this point, boots could be in question here. Reduced footprint boots, for the most part, will be more favorable here because they will be a little smaller around the ankle and fit this binding better.
So if we were looking at a binding that has the hinge tech with a traditional heel loop and high back this would just own it over any other binding in the market. However, with the tech that allows you to ride this binding without the high back, it makes it more of a questionable call because of the snug fit. Instead, those who fit this binding well will love it and those who are in-between-er sizes might find it uncomfortable. We hope to see Now make it another year and offer up a few different styles of binding. Then the industry, especially the freeride side might be in trouble.
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NOW IPO User Reviews
The bindings are a bit small for the upper range of the size. for example size 9-9.5 barely fits into a medium. Also there's no highback rotation. Yes it is 10 degrees rotated but what if I'm a free rider and dont like to have mine set up duck? So I would like to see more adjustability.
Super surfy carving feel that doesn't surprise you till you ride another binding afterwards. Love the ratchets and footbed on big landings! Can't stress that enough; proper. Highback is assym and feels great but could use options to rotate for us that run 15-15. I read that the IPO will have urethane o ring and disk so that should lighten this up for 2014-15. Didn't feel good naked; only on Ollie's and rails and popping lips of booters. I found out quickly I've learned to feel the highback since highbacks went tall in 2000s. Heelcup might change that but I slapped the highback on after 4-5 hours test on snowment. In no back it still surfy and Carved really good but the awkwardness of Ollie's was a deal breaker. Love these things almost as much as my flux RLs on my gnu riders choice for heel lock/lift.
Boot: 9.5 Burton SLX
Boards: NS Raptor, NS Proto CT
Medium size bindings with the medium durometer rubber fittings
Fantastic binding. Since the binding pivots with your foot a little it reduces the feeling of heel lift.
I've been playing around with a few binding setups this season (Union MC, Flow NX2-GT, Now IPO) and I've gotta say that Now IPO's on the NS Proto are pretty damn amazing for a go anywhere do anything setup (didn't get any powder days but would've done Union MC's on the raptor). You can really feel the difference in the edge to edge transitions from the other bindings and, like I wrote above, reduced heel lift.
Didn't get to test Lars' theory about fitting sizes but he's probly right. If you're a 9-9.5 and have a reduced footprint boot a medium size binding is fantastic, anything higher or non reduced footprint will need the large's.
The heel cup
This is not a review, as I haven't tired those bindings. I just got to play around with them in a shop a couple of days ago. It's more of a thing to think about, that I'd like to put out there:
If any binding out there really needs an adjustable heelcup, than that would be this one!!! The concept can only work at its maximum capabilities, when the boot is centered - not only over the board, but even more importantly over the footbed of those bindings! The moving hinge actually has to stay centered over the board to get the most out of them. So if you don't have this one perfectly fitting boot size for each individual binding size, you either have to deal with a non centered boot or a non centered hinge, which in my opinion on this binding concept can both be really annoying!