After catching sight of a new splitboard set up on K2 Snowboarding Global Marketing Manager Hunter Waldron’s Instagram feed yesterday, and getting a cryptic text back on just what it was, we caught up with Waldron for the skinny.
K2 is digging deep in its library and marrying its Clicker technology with a new splitboard system. Dubbed the Kwicker, it’s a throwback from the future. The step in binding system is based on the Voile puck and plate system married with a step-in binding and the Stark boot, which comes with internal support to make it ride like a traditional system. Paired with the new UltraSplit board, based on the UltraDream, the system comes together in a kit that weighs as much as a normal board and cuts binding transition time in half.
Too good to be true? That’s what we thought so we sat down with Waldron for a Q&A.
Give us a little background on the Kwicker. What’s included with it and what makes it different?
Kwicker is the result of a two-year development effort to drive K2 deeper into the Backcountry/splitboard market. Over the past three years we have been adding to out Backside board, tools, and pack program and this is the next level, a complete splitboard system. It is a board, boot, binding splitboard system that is based on Voile’s puck and plate system. To that we brought in a next generation attachment system and a completely new way of attaching and locking to the Voile pucks that really increases the speed and ease of transition from splitting to shredding modes.
In the end we have a system that is four pounds lighter then the current industry standard of Voile with a conventional binding and boot. Also transition time is cut in half.
So the bindings are a take on your old Clicker system – it seems like a great addition to keep things simple, lighter, and faster. How do the bindings ride compared to normal highbacks?
The binding and boot feel is almost indistinguishable form a conventional setup. This can be contributed to two things. First, in order to get this right, we spent the first phase of the development creating a 360 degree flex test machine from scratch. This machine flexes a boot in a binding in all directions and spits out a 360 flex plot of that boot/binding combo. We benchmarked some of our most popular boot and binding pairings and then set out to mimic those 360 degree flex signatures in the Kwicker setup.
The second key part of this is some of the boot technologies that are built into this [Stark] boot model. Endo Construction is something we have had in our line for a number of years now and has proven itself as a super durable way to build a boot. In the Kwicker application this internal structure acts as an internal highback that stiffens the backstay of the boot and provides solid repeatable support an flex. Second is our Boa Conda system which essentially is a Boa controlled internal ankle strap.
The Clicker went away for a reason – how have you corrected its previous shortcomings?
The weak point in the Clicker system was the boot. Ten years ago we just didn’t have the technology to solve the highback and ankle strap replacement challenges. But with the Endo construction and the Boa Conda internal heel hold, those problems are solved without bulky external parts that were bolted to the previous generation boots. Also, fit technology has improved by leaps and bounds in ten years. With better materials like Intuition foam liners, Boa precision lacing, and better last shaping our modern day fit makes a step in system possible again.
You guys really planted a flag in the splitboard sand with the Panormic at that price point. How does this build off of that package? Is it an evolution? Will you keep that in the line? Is this a Panoramic deck with the Kwicker system on it?
The Panoramic still exists in the line. The Kwicker system is being launched as the premium option above the Panoramic with our new UltraSplit board. This is a tuned up version of our popular UltraDream board that itself has a long list of technologies that add to the impact of the total system. Most important is the Split track system that offer infinite stance options and our new UltraTech board construction that removes 500 grams of weight compared to the Panoramic. The result is a splitboard that weighs the same as a regular board even with the basic split hardware included.
What will the package sell for at retail?
The details are still being worked out, but it will be offered as each part and also as a full kit complete with boots.
Any plans to implement the boot/binding system with non splits so people don’t have to buy a full kit just for splitboarding?
We are offering a standard mount binding so that those that invest in the system and therefore have the boots can then use those boots on their regular in-bounds board.
What are you most excited to share with retailers and riders about this new system?
After using it a few times myself it is really how easy this system in to use. It is fast and it is light, but really the easy of use and user experience is what has me stoked. It is all designed as a system. Kind of like going all in with Apple products, they all just work seamlessly with each other and are super solid. A big part of this is the pinless transition design. The plates go from locked in skinning mode to locked in riding mode without and pins. It can all be done with gloves on and is super simple and easy to do.
What essential problem does it solve?
Weight is the marquee story with the system. That 4 pounds is huge when you are lifting the system with each step. However I am just as excited for the ease factor. We have heard a lot of feedback from riders that splitboarding is fun, but it is just too complicated. Getting all the gear together and then performing the transition at the top and bottom and sometimes in-between each run is just too much. Kwicker is easy and intuitive enough that the potential avid user looking at the sport or trying it once falls on the side of yeah it is worth investing and getting into it.