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Nordic bindings | getting them straight

Nordic bindings | getting them straight

Brief History of Nordic Cross Country Ski Bindings

old wood skis

Remember this binding system?  It was probably top-of-the-line in its day, but hardly anyone alive now has actually skied on it.

Many of us DO remember cross country skiing on old three-pin bindings, though.  This 75mm system was developed in 1927 by Rottefella, which in Norwegian translates to "rat trap".  

three pin binding

The three-pin system was great if you had stiff, beefy backcountry boots.  But with the flexible sole needed for flat-country skiing the boot was too flimsy for the binding, and control suffered.  And how annoying was that hunk of snow that built up under the ball of the foot?  Thank goodness things progressed in the binding world since then.

 1970's cross country skiers

Rottefella and Salomon

The above photo shows one of the first kinds of bindings that replaced the 75mm system.  On this Salomon Nordic System (SNS) there was a bar that extended out from the toe of the boot that hooked into the binding, and a ridge on the binding plate that fit into a groove on the boot.  A vast improvement, but things would get better yet. (And check out the knickers!  Yes, Eb's used to sell them.)

While Salomon was developing the SNS, Rottefella was improving the rat trap.  Their New Nordic Norm (NNN) system differed from Salomon's by having two ridges on the binding plate that fit into two grooves in the boot, whereas SNS had only one ridge.  The systems were not interchangeable; if you had Salomon boots, you needed Salomon bindings.

SNS and NNN binding system

Until 2016 there were only the two major nordic systems (SNS and NNN) but there were a few variations in binding types.

SNS:

  1. Profil - had a single metal bar under the toe of the boot
  2. Pilot - had two metal bars under the toe and forefoot of the boot
  3. X-Adventure - wider and stronger for backcountry skiing

If you had a Profil boot, it wouldn't fit in a Pilot binding.  However Pilot boots could sometimes fit a Profil binding, as long as there was a wide enough groove in the binding plate where the second bar sits.

NNN:

  1. NNN - made by Rottefella and branded by Fischer, Alpina, Rossignol and Madshus
  2. NNN BC - wider and stronger for backcountry skiing

Pilot boot on a Profil binding

Plate Systems

In 2005 the first plate system came out which pointed the industry in the direction it would go over the next decade. The Nordic Integrated System (NIS) consisted of a plastic plate attached to the ski and an NNN binding which slid onto the plate.  This allowed skiers to adjust their bindings in the field.  

 NIS plate on ski

Salomon opened up their opportunities in 2016 with the release of their Prolink binding. Prolink is compatible with NNN, which opened up brand crossover opportunities for them. Over the next 6 years Salomon continued to support its older SNS systems but slowly phased them out. 

In fall 2017 Fischer and Rossignol released the new Turnamic bindings which slid onto an Integrated Fixation Plate (IFP). Turnamic bindings are NNN compatible. They operated by twisting the Turn Lock mechanism at the front to get into and out of the binding; there were also step-in models. By this time NNN had become the universal system for all major ski and boot manufacturers.

someone holding a turnamic binding

Movable bindings

Movable binding systems had really taken off by now and every major brand had jumped on it.  They gave a skier an added measure of control over their grip and glide. The bindings developed for these plates had the adjustability to move forwards and backwards on the plate which changed where the skier's weight came down over the camber of the ski. For greater control and grip a binding could be slid forwards by various degrees; for greater glide and speed the binding could be slid backwards. This was relevant for both classic and skate style skis but were a revelation for skin skis where the grip zone is fixed, unlike a waxable ski.

people skate skiing

One universal system

Today there seem to be a confusing array of binding choices but things are actually simpler for the consumer than they used to be. One universal binding system (NNN) means you have a larger variety of boots to choose from as all brands will be compatible. The ski you choose will dictate the binding as there are different styles of plates; bindings are generally not compatible with plates of other brands. For example a Salomon Prolink Shift binding cannot be put onto a Fischer ski as this ski has an IFP plate and the Prolink Shift binding will only mount onto a Prolink Shift Plate (PSP). 

old cross country ski bindings 

Buying used equipment

If you are buying used equipment be extra careful to examine the binding system. It's not as straightforward as it used to be to simply unscrew one binding and re-drill and mount a new binding. There are still some bindings that will direct mount onto a ski without a plate, but not many. For more information check out our Guide to buying used cross country skis.

Good luck and happy skiing!

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Comments

ebsadventure - January 6, 2022

Hi Warren,
Good question about whether you can simply rig a Prolink plate on an old SNS binding head. When Prolink came out we asked Salomon if this was possible and were told no. The screw pattern is the same (although some of the old SNS plates don’t have the middle screw as all the Prolink plates do). It does look as though you might be able to get a Prolink plate to work with an SNS binding head but there is a little difference in width just behind the bar, and the flexers are shaped very differently – you’d need to shave a lot off the flexer and might destroy it in doing so.
Not sure if Salomon sells only plates – they used to. If you want us to look into that more please give us a call.
Cheers,
- the Eb’s crew

Warren Altneu - January 6, 2022

My question is about the difference between NNN and SNS. We’ve been skiing on SNS for years and recently switched to NNN. I took off the sns and mounted the NNN (Profil vs the Prolink) and the holes were identical. In fact, other than the sole plate, the bindings appear to be identical in construction. Could you just change out the sole plate instead of the whole binding? and would the new NNN boots fit in then?
If true….does Salomon sell only the NNN plate?

ebsadventure - December 20, 2021

Hi James,
We hope you clicked on the link at the bottom of this blog post as it takes you to more updated information on the binding systems. Pilot is a discontinued binding system from Salomon. They made Pilot bindings with the hinge clip for the second bar but soon took that hinge clip out for many of their classic bindings as skiers found it was unnecessary.
Everything sold today as “new” should be NNN compatible (Prolink is Salomon’s version of NNN). There is still Pilot being sold out there as new but buyers should be made aware it will soon be obsolete.
-the Eb’s team

james Kyle - December 20, 2021

I just bought my wife new XC skis and boots. Salomon Escape Plus Pilot boots ( with the 2 cross bars) I thought the bindings would be the same as my bindings. Both are Salomon Flex 100 but the older ones have a sliding clip that attaches to the 2nd cross bar. The newer Flex 100 does not have the clip, just a crescent shaped groove near where the 2nd cross bar meets the binding. . I love the bindings with the 2nd clip as it provides much more control. Has Salomon dropped the older style binding with the sliding clip for the 2nd cross bar? I looked on the Salomon website and don’t see the binding that I have on my skis. I want to check before complaining to the store.

ebsadventure - March 11, 2021

Hi Olaf,
You can check for replacement bails at your local ski shop. Most likely you’re looking at buying a new set of bindings however. They are still made and sold and should be available through any reputable cross country ski shop.
Cheers,
-the Eb’s team

Olaf Sorenson - March 11, 2021

Do you where I can get replacement bails for those Rottefella bindings?

ebsadventure - February 22, 2021

Hi James,
Assuming you mean 3-pin bindings, yes, you can take them off and install an NIS plate directly onto the bare ski (just fill the old holes with wood glue). Then an NIS binding can mount onto the plate. If you have a ski shop where you live, they should be able to set you up with the appropriate plates and bindings.
Cheers,
-the Eb’s team

ebsadventure - February 22, 2021

Hi Michael,
No, an XADV boot won’t fit on a Profil binding. It has a wider bar at the toe and requires an XADV binding to accommodate that. The reason for this is better stability (and stronger) for a wider, heavier ski.
Cheers,
-the Eb’s team

ebsadventure - February 22, 2021

Hi Amanda,
You certainly can swap SNS bindings on your skis, many people do this when upgrading boots/binding systems. If the screw pattern isn’t the same simply fill the old holes with wood glue. If this is the case you’ll need to drill new holes which is waaaaay easier and safer with a jig – we recommend getting that done at a ski shop.
Hope this helps,
-the Eb’s team

Michael Mareneck - February 22, 2021

Hi Eb’s, since you are The Nordic Binding Experts:
Will an X Adv boot fit on a SNS Profil binding?
Thanks so much!

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