The Hype Behind Hyperlite's System
by Mitch Mann (VP - BoardCo Inc.)
There has been a lot of debate, talk, hype and speculation about the System Bindings since Hyperlite first introduced them in 2010 and, now that we have been able to put them to the test for a few years, I thought I would give my two cents worth. First off, let me state that I do not exclusively endorse Hyperlite nor am I being incentivized to write this information, except for the fact that you might end up purchasing bindings from BoardCo (to which I would say, thank you very much!). I also would like to point out that I believe we here at BoardCo have a unique perspective when it comes to giving our opinion on products, as we offer a broad selection of merchandise from multiple manufacturers and have no favoritism of one brand's products over another. I am by no means the best rider, nor am I the most knowledgeable person in this industry; however, I do believe I am in a unique position to provide a well-informed, un-biased approach to this topic. Lastly, I would like to point out that the System Bindings are considered to be high performance products and that, though a person will most certainly not love every boot / binding that we offer, each and every high end wakeboard boot / binding that we sell as a company is high quality and designed with a certain preference in mind.
With all that said, here are my thoughts on the System.
Currently the Hyperlite System bindings are on their 3rd version since launching in the Fall of 2010. There are currently 2 different designs of System Bindings; the standard version (white and Byerly yellow colors) and the Pro version (Black, Ltd Blue, Ltd Red, Ltd Green and Ltd Pink colors). Though they are for the most part the same, the Pro version features a telescoping toe cap, which is better for those with bigger feet, and a different ankle strap design that seems to flex at better points. Most riders will not notice a difference between the two versions, but it is important to point out the difference nonetheless.
When the System was first introduced, it came with flood of commentary. Proponents of the System said it would change wakeboarding as we know it and propel the sport to new levels; opponents blasted off statements ranging from allegations that the Systems would break hips and ankles to comments about them being the downfall of Hyperlite as a brand. Like most things, the reality landed somewhere in the middle.
I will first point out a few straight-forward facts about the System Bindings to dispel any myths out there you may or may not have heard:
1. No-one to my knowledge has suffered a serious injury from riding them that would not have occurred had they been riding traditional footwear.
2. Despite what many have or currently think, the bindings do release on hard crashes (I have personally been ejected out of them), either the boot coming out of the binding or your feet coming out of the boots that remain in the bindings.
3. You can remove the boots from the bindings if you want and walk around in them or you can leave them attached and get into them like any other boot.
4. The System will not give you magical powers and take you from landing a 360 to a 900 in a few sets.... sorry...
5. At the time I am writing this we have warrantied a total of 3 bindings which is neither more nor less than our warranty rate on any other wake footwear (approximately 1%).
6. The System does have a unique feel when riding and will feel different than any other footwear out there.
7. The boots sit slightly higher off the board than most newer "baseless" footwear. There is a give / take to this as your connection to the board isn't as close but landings are absorbed more than most others.
The main idea behind Hyperlite's System is separating out the main comfort element (the boot) and the main support structure (the binding) and by doing so, they can achieve better fit as well as better performance. Comfort is all in the eye of the beholder but, honestly, the boots are comfy and fit great.
As far as the support structure, there are a few unique attributes that the bindings have that help validate the performance claims. The bindings are much more adjustable when it comes to support than traditional footwear is. By ratcheting the straps tighter you can change how much flex the bindings have and at what points they flex. I have found that if you really tighten them down you end up with support that is more stiff and rigid than any other bindings I have ever tried on. Additionally, if you leave the straps extra loose, you end up with bindings that allow Trever Maur and Mike Schwenne to pull of knee tucks grabs that you simply couldn't do with any other setup (unless you're Josh Twelker, but I'm pretty sure he's from another planet or something). I personally am on the loosey goosey side and can definitely say the Systems provide a feel unlike anything I have ever ridden.
There are a few other quick points about the System that makes them unique:
-The fact that you pull a tab and walk around at a cable park without endangering the footies is pretty sweet.
- Two people with different sized feet can have different boots but click in to the same bindings.
- You can have one pair of boots but two sets of bindings to go on your boat board and your cable board if you're that kind of guy.
-Cold water is much less daunting if you never take your boots off at all.
The System has a lot of cool and unique features, but just like closed toe boots in general, they aren't for everyone. Some people feel a bit too "locked in" when riding on them or don't feel like they have as much freedom in them. Like I mentioned above, they definitely have a unique feel that can take some getting used to. Most of our team riders who use them say they will never go back and swear by them till death, but there are some of our guys that opted to go back to traditional bindings after riding Systems. It really all boils down to personal preference.
If you are considering getting a pair, I hope this post has been helpful and given you some good information. Keep in mind that we have our exclusive 30 day performance guarantee on all of our bindings and can change them out for you if by chance they end up not being your favorite. Regardless of what you ride with, just get out and ride with your friends and family more often; that's really what its all about.
To see the full offering of Hyperlite bindings check out the link below: