Whistler legend and industry vet JF Pelchat is releasing a new binding brand at SIA with a revolutionary design that takes its cues from skateboard trucks. Pelchat has built a solid roster for Now, including partnering with another Canadian legend, Alex Warburton, to help with industrial design, Nidecker to handle the production side, and Chad Perrin to run sales; not to mention adding Devun Walsh and Jeremy Jones to its A Team and a team sponsorship with Yes Snowboards.
We caught up with Pelchat to learn more about the endeavor and get the final video teaser in the series he’s been using to build hype and announce what Now is all about.
So the concept of your new bindings are influenced by skate trucks—dig into that analogy and how it translates to your new binding’s design and function.
I have been looking at skateboarding for quite some time now and how a skater digs his toes & heels to make a turn and how the energy is transferred. Skateboards use a minimal amount of effort to turn and that is achieved without a highback or being strapped in. It made sense to incorporate that motion into a binding.
The easiest way to understand the binding’s concept is: take a skateboard, flip it upside down…in my application the “skateboard hanger” is the binding, and the deck is the snowboard.
I knew that all bindings flex, but that energy was lost in the baseplate/disc instead of being transferred to your edges where you need them. Our binding concept is simply to transfer the energy to the edges. In order to successfully accomplished that I needed the binding, our hanger, to move on a similar axis as a skate truck. The link of that axis is called the kingpin. We also have our hanger sitting on bushings which will diffuse chatters and dampen the ride.
How long have you been working on this project?
I have been working on products since the early ’90s. I remember building my own baseless bindings after seeing a picture of the Westbeach Perogies binding—this was also the era of cutting down your tip and tail. Then I went on to work in a snowboard factory called REV Snowboards before turning professional and I helped test the Freedom Groove an early version of the channel system, [similar to] today’s refined Burton EST system. Throughout my career I have been involved with products and finding ways to improve them. In 2000 I filed my first US Patent, which is an interface system that works on the channel boards. In 2005 I was already working on this new binding concept. Most of my conceptual ideas are engineered in my head when I drive the Sea to Sky highway from Vancouver to Whistler, then I go into my garage and pick apart bindings and start the process of building a working prototype.
How would you describe the ride on these compared to a traditional binding?
How easy it is to ride harder! Our binding design is so effective that you need less effort to make a turn which in return makes the overall experience more enjoyable and less tiring. I think that the biggest improvements are: edge control, responsiveness, and comfort. The binding does the work for you—transferring the energy directly to your edges.
Your feet are more relaxed in your boots and less prone to cramps or pain. We also offer a binding that can be customized by changing the density of the bushings according to your style of riding or snow conditions. The harder the bushing, the stiffer and more responsive the ride; the softer the bushing, the softer the ride. These bushings also act as dampeners when riding through choppy snow and help the board hold a better edge when riding trough bumps, ice, and what ever mother nature throws at you.
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