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2012 Burton Cartel Re-flex Binding: Review

Over a month ago I was the lucky recipient of next years brand new 2012 Burton Cartel Re-Flex Bindings. The Cartel line of bindings from Burton has been a staple binding in the snowboard industry for almost 10 years due to it’s lightweight, durability, and no nonsense features. Simple, clean, and effective, these bindings offer great board feel and response which have been a staple binding for seasoned professionals who do not have a binding sponsor.

Re:Flex increases board flex for a more natural feeling than traditional disc bindings, all in a package that’s compatible with ANY board, including 4X4, 3D and the latest generation of the Channel. The minimized, cored baseplate reduces weight, while the Living Hinge disc disc delivers heaps of flex and allows for all sorts of cushioned toppings” – Burton Hardgoods Dealer Book 2012.
I currently have these bindings mounted to a Lib Tech TRS with the standard and popular shotgun 4X4 hole pattern. Right away, I noticed the difference in weight to my setup and after dialing all straps, centering my boot on the board, rotating the highbacks to align with my board edge, and adjusting the forward lean to my liking, a much necessary carpet session was on tap to get a good feel. I instantly noticed increased board feel under my feet with the Re:Flex AutoCANT FullBED Cushioning System with B3 Gel Heel Cushioning. Jumping around on the carpet is one thing, but getting it out on the hill is another. I’ve been able to ride these bindings for over a month now and I’m very impressed with them. These bindings are extremely comfortable and responsive. If you’re an aggressive advanced rider, these bindings will respond to your every move. The amazing thing about this binding is that it almost feels as though you don’t have any bindings on. The combination of the Asymetrical ankle strap, toe cap strap, AutoCANT FullBED, and New Heel Hammock offer the most natural feel I have ever experienced in my 20+ years of snowboarding. The Asymetrical ankle strap puts the strap pressure on the outside part of your foot alleviating any instep bite. The Toe cap strap distributes pressure as well to almost unnoticeable.
New Heel Hammock “This reinforced rubbery material wraps response around the heel of the boot. Run your straps a little looser and still get lightning fast response out of turns with your heel cradled in complete suspension” – - Burton Hardgoods Dealer Book 2012. This is a no bulls*&t marketing statement. It really does work. I love riding powder and tend to go quite loose on the ankle strap on powder days with literally no affect on performance. The feel is truly surf and skate like. When terrain gets technical, crank down your straps just a touch more and you’ll be blown away from the performance. The Highbacks
are light & stiff and offers a ton of drive to your turns. They are also canted which is anatomically correct for your left & right leg. Adjustment to forward lean is a simple turn of the adjustment tab. I love the fact that it is a Living Hinge Zero-Lean setup with no clunky moving parts that tend to break as I’ve experienced with other bindings. It is possibly the quickest & slickest adjustment of forward lean I have ever come across.
The Buckles and ladder straps have been great so far. No problems have been experienced yet. I say “yet” because over time almost all bindings will suffer some kind of buckle or ladder malfunction. These parts almost always need some kind of replacement one way or another over time, but if you have experienced that sort of problem, it can be attributed to operator error or ice/snow buildup that needs to be addressed.
The Living Hinge disc is really where this binding shines. The Living hinge offers great feel while allowing the binding to be strong and responsive. The best way I could describe it to you is, it is having the ability to get EST feel & performance on any board without having to convert to a Burton binding EST configuration. Instead of two mounting screws on the outer part of the binding as with a Burton EST system, the mounting screws are in standard position under your foot. The forefoot area and heel area of the binding is cut out, which allows for less weight and more flex. The AutoCANT footbed covers these areas offering grip while the Living Hinge disc allows for maximum flex. For those of you who have been snowboarding for over 15 years can remember the days of baseless bindings. What Burton has done with the EST, ICS,and Re:Flex system is adapt, modify, and refine the old baseless theory and improve it. Ancient baseless technology mounted you right on top of the board without an incorporated EVA footbed under your foot for shock absorption and board grip. Back in the dark ages, your foot would have quite the sloppy loose connection inside the horseshoe style binding mount and transfer all that shock back into your body. Now with the incorporation of the AutoCANT FullBED, that problem has been solved. A great solution to old technologies and theories that now works well in a uniform and viable solution.

In the end, I find that this binding would suit an expert-advanced snowboarder who is looking for a stiffer all-mountain freestyle binding that wants great board feel and response. I also feel that advanced level park & pipe riders could benefit from this binding too. Since this binding is stiffer, I’d suggest that you match it up with equipment that would compliment it’s flex rating. A mid to stiff flexing boot on a stiffer board would be key to making your kit complete and performing properly with these bindings. Remember when choosing your setup, always take into consideration your intended application and expectations. The Burton Cartel Re:Flex….give them a try, you might like what they have to offer.
For 2012 Burton will be offering Four models of mens Bindings with the Re:Flex technology:
Diode, Prophecy, Malavita, and Cartel
Re:Flex technology will also be available in a womens platform:
Escapade and Lexa

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About the Author

avatar Snowboard Team Manager & Head Photographer for PortersTahoe. Snowboard experience: Over 20 years.