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Dane

BD's newest Fusion winter '09/ '10 review

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First let me state these are simple dry land observations. I have yet to climb on the newest Fusion. But hopefully I can offer some useful comparisons and observations having a pair sitting here on the floor.

 

A few threads about the new Fusion on Cascade.com already but none written with a tool in hand. Not easily impressed by any ice tool, holding on to these I have to say I am pretty excited at the out come.

 

Before I start it is worth remembering every tool back to and before Chouinard's piolet was based on and simply an improvement of, tools that came before them as our newest climbing techniques required them to compliment our growing skills. Few have been real innovations.

 

For those that have read many of my previous gear related posts I am a huge fan of the Petzl Nomic. To date there has been nothing to seriously compare to the Nomic. Those that have climbed with the Nomic realise that...as did everyone at Black Diamond obviously. (as you'll see) Which is a really good thing for us!

 

Now there are options and choices to be made!

 

Before I get to those details lets first look at the issues (good and bad) most striking with a Nomic. No hammer or adze is obvious to all. Missed? Some think so. Others don't. Lack of a spike at the end of the shaft. Missed? Again some think so, others don't. New techniques have been developed...like using the head for support on moderate snow or neve. Funky but it actually works. The lower grip support changes as you make the grip bigger for more glove...offering less support as it is opened. Not a good thing...few will argue that. Wrapping the shaft for stick and insulation? Not the best thought out idea, imo and a full 30 years behind times. Small detail but really! What the hell were they thinking? Shaft is one continuous size..one size and any position fits all? While it works...not really one size or position fits all.

 

Up side? A easily removeable 2.3oz head weight. You can have a tool weighted specifically for ice (heavy} or mixed (light) or a combo of the two by mating pick (two options) and weight or no weight to your specific conditions and climb. I find that detail very useful. A shaft design and grip supports that really make the radical curve shaft amazing effecient in hard technical climbing and on moderate ground used in a dagger position. More than anyone (except Petzl) would have first expected I suspect. One of the best, if not the best, pick designs and manufacturing techniques imo. But that can be argued either way as well by smarter and better climbers than I.

 

For those with info on the MacIntyre/Colton route...and Steck's choice of tools? Nomic, no pick weights and a mixed pick might come as a surprise...did me.

 

afp.sized.jpg

 

And on the Mattrehorn

 

e9d2653d48dc70e37b1da5d05c376991.jpg

 

Ok, side to side comparison..Fusion..Nomic

 

Nomic 1 lb 6.6 oz w/o weight and mixed pick (no hammer/spike)

1 lb 8.9 oz with weight and the mixed pick

pick thickness 1.5" in from tip .155"

at the tip .140"

 

Fusion 1 lb 8.0 oz with a hammer and spike

pick thickness 1.5" in from tip .175"

at the tip .146"

 

The bright side of the Fusion? You get a mini hammer....and very good balance! Tool feels head heavy. But interesting enough a very similar balance as the Nomic with head weights attached.....very, very similar as the weight comparisons show. Shaft contour and pick angle are almost exact (maybe exact) duplicates of the Nomic. That is a very good thing imo. The pick design seems unchanged maybe the angle tweaked a bit but if so it is subtle. Jury is obviously out on that yet. But looks really good. Lower grip can be changed for size/space and not lessen the support. Upper grip is equal in front and rear support. Grips are a tiny bit different but nothing to make me think one is any better than the other. BD obviously spent a little more time and money adding a gripping surface which runs higher on the shaft.

 

The shaft sizes change from small at the base of the higher grip to broad and filling on the major curve up higher for a dagger position. Which feels GREAT! And finally did I mention we have a spike on the end of the shaft? A removeable spike at that....alpine to the sport M climbs?! It will take full body weight on a umbilical and can easily be clipped with a full size biner. This one..the newest Fusion... will very easily do it all. And did I mention we now have a hammer :)

 

Yes there is a Fusion under there...

 

aaa.sized.jpg

 

reversed position

 

aab.sized.jpg

 

The spike

 

aad.sized.jpg

 

aae.sized.jpg

 

aaf.sized.jpg

 

The hammer and head shape comparison

 

aag.sized.jpg

 

Easy to see which you can better wrap a mit around

 

aaj.sized.jpg

 

The upper shaft

 

aah.sized.jpg

 

aai.sized.jpg

 

Rob Cotter 8/'09

"...I used a set to do a bunch of ice routes on Mont Blanc du Tacul in February 2008, very lively, sturdy....F2 will no doubt revolutionize high-standard mixed in the alpine environment offering high-end dry-tool capability in a tool very suited to ice and alpine applications, at last one tool that would excel in the Ice World Cup one weekend then give superb service on the Colton-MacIntyre only days later."

 

Fight Club?

 

BD takes the ice tool '09/10 winter season by TKO. The Fusion is extremely well thought out and finished in materials, design and detail.

 

While BD is in the tecnical lead by a nose at the moment I have one area that still puzzles me with BD's design work. That would be their pick manufacturing technique and pick attachment. I think Petzl is still ahead of the game on both. The Petzl picks are still much easier to change while on route and still less likely to need that change. BTDT easy enough with Petzl while on route and can hardly accomplish the same chore in my living room with a correctly tightened BD head. Not a deal breaker but annoying with the issues in the recent past on BD pick reliability.

 

The BD carbon fiber Cobra shaft and now the Fusion shaft are truely state of the art in materials and hi-tech design. Attachment and pick manufacturing are not up to that standard...as of yet...imo.

 

 

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Personally, I hate all the new tools. I hate that every couple of years they improve things to the point that I feel obligated to shell out $600+ on a shiny new set of tools - cause really, you're going to climb that route on those old things? I guess you could......

 

I remember when the first generation of carbon fiber cobras came out. Everything instantly felt 1/2 grade easier. It felt like cheating. Now I'd posit that everything would feel a full grade easier compared to the "good old days" (which were NOT that long ago). Eventually the tools will catch up with my lack of technique and fitness to the point I will never have to back off another ice or mixed climb for fear it's beyond my abilities.

 

Great analysis Dane, even if it makes me want to puke at the thought of buying another set of ice tools to sit in my closet and get used irregularly.

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Great review Dane!

 

The Petzl picks are still much easier to change while on route

 

Disagree on this one. You need 2 different size allen keys to change the petzl pick (one for the bolts one for the head weight)... takes much longer IMO

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...

While BD is in the technical lead by a nose at the moment I have one area that still puzzles me with BD's design work. That would be their pick manufacturing technique...

 

There are two ways to make things if you have the budget.

 

Find the absolute best person in the world to figure it out for you, or spend tons of money by yourself confident that you know more than anybody else about it cause you're a climber or cyclist or whatever. IMHO, the second option is idiotic.

 

No offense to anybody, but the new Fusion is clearly a result of BD deciding to hire a real world expert in hydroforming. It's much like Trek's decision in the '90's to go outside the house to hire the guy who came up with OLCV bike technology.

 

Now, those picks, hmm...do you think they called somebody who *really* knows aermet or do you think they decided they know better? I've got my guess...

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Great review Dane!

 

The Petzl picks are still much easier to change while on route

 

Disagree on this one. You need 2 different size allen keys to change the petzl pick (one for the bolts one for the head weight)... takes much longer IMO

 

x2. I needed a hammer, a beer and a half an hour to change out the picks on my old quarks. Maybe the nomics are easier?

 

 

I always felt that the universal pick attachment (and it ease) was something that BD had going for them.

 

Good review Dane. I'd love to get some imput from someone who has had these on ice.

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Great review Dane!

 

The Petzl picks are still much easier to change while on route

 

Disagree on this one. You need 2 different size allen keys to change the petzl pick (one for the bolts one for the head weight)... takes much longer IMO

 

x2. I needed a hammer, a beer and a half an hour to change out the picks on my old quarks. Maybe the nomics are easier?

 

 

I always felt that the universal pick attachment (and it ease) was something that BD had going for them.

 

Good review Dane. I'd love to get some imput from someone who has had these on ice.

 

The nomics are much easier than the quarks to change... I just dont like having multiple parts to lose either on route or during the change out.

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With so many options I thought a detailed review might help some that don't get to swing them on ice without buying first.

 

"Everything instantly felt 1/2 grade easier. It felt like cheating. Now I'd posit that everything would feel a full grade easier compared to the "good old days".

 

I would agree....generally full grade easier with the best tools than the original grades. Grade 6 ice use to be a rare and scary occurance for me. Climbed more of it in the last three years with new tools and screws than I ever have in the previous 30 years of ice climbing. I missed some really good climbing (read easier) by refusing to buy new tools thorough several generational changes.

 

"Would you pick Fusion over Nomic? Looks like Nomic has a better total package."

 

My answer? Petzl is very good. But BD stepped up and signifigantly improved many of the details imo. But you have to make a detailed comparison to have an honest and useful opinion. "BD takes the ice tool '09/10 winter season by TKO. The Fusion is extremely well thought out and finished in materials, design and detail." It isn't a clear knock out imo...rather TKO. If I was forced to own only one pair of tools..at the moment for my own needs it would be the newest FUSION. Better shaft by a long ways, you get both a hammer and spike (which I like for my own use) and a better grip platform on both lower and upper grip. All slight edges but they will make a difference in my own climbing...not much but some. Some times it only takes a "little difference to be a big help".

 

We are really comparing the best from Ferrari, to the best from Porsche here. It is all really, really good gear! The decision will most likely be price point, what specific detailing you require and what else you have in the closet at the moment.

 

"Disagree on this one. You need 2 different size allen keys to change the petzl pick (one for the bolts one for the head weight)... takes much longer IMO"

 

Easy to argue either side in much of my review including the level of effort on changing picks. My comments were from having changed both picks on my Nomics (from mixed to cascade with weights already attached) while my partner was leading a pitch on Polar Circus last winter. My only experience with the Fusion (but lots with other BD tools) to this point is sitting at my desk changing out a pick last night. I can say BITCH! Tiny bit different than the other BD tools. Lots of small parts to loose (more for Petzl) on either company's tool and both require specific tools (BD wrench..forget the pick as a lever or allen wrench..one or two depending on prep for Petzl) and you'll likely need a hammer (your other tool) as well to get the BD pick off and on if you can't lever the wrench off a flat surface.

 

Re: Quark and Nomic...Nomic is easier to change.

 

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Great review, Dane. I love my Nomics but it is hard to pass up the fact that the new Fusions seem to basically offer the same package but with more features and adaptability. The pick design on the BDs I'm not crazy about and the bite is different, so I'd have to relearn my swing a little and not feel as confident on the life of the picks - that and since I already have Quarks (go to alpine) and Nomics (go to pure ice), it just doesn't make sense to get a new set of tools so soon for just minor gains.

If I was getting new tools now it would be hard to pass up the Fusions as the best all around out there.

 

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Couple of things I did not know till this morning that are worth following up on.

 

Spike is good for 1000# pull weight

Fusion 2 and Nomic now have the same 32 pick to handle angle

Old Fusion is 33.5

 

Tiny bit more off set on the Fusion 2 lower handle. Should be a bit more stable on hard mixed because of it.

 

All the newest BD pick models (current production) have recontoured/shaved teeth, a slightly different upper bevel and nose. More overall strength and less effort for removal.

 

Old version on top..new on the bottom. Check out the detail.

 

aak.sized.jpg

New

 

Pick changes???...John and Fargo might well have a good point. Seems a 800# gorilla with a impact hammer at the BD factory bolted the picks on the first Fusions out of the gate. I wasn't the only one having a hard time. Shouldn't take that kind of effort 2nd time around. You'll want to do the first one at home..trust me. And while not obvious to me...at first....no tools are required to change a pick past what you bring...a spare pick, your extra tool and some little imagination. Intentional in the BD design work I am told :)

 

But as Kevino says..."how do they climb?" I'd bet they climb pretty dang good! Rob Cotter seemed to think they were decent. The rest of us will know soon enough

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Suspect I am misunderstanding your comment.

 

Source? Haven't checked past the web site. (nothing) Pretty sure the Nomic and Quark use the same aluminum alloy in their heads. Both are T rated. (head and shaft)

 

BD Fusion of course is investment cast Stainless. Way harder than Petzl's aluminum...which is how they can incorporate the hammer into the head instead of adding one as Petzl has to the Quark.

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Looks promising. At least it has a spike. I'd have to demo them on ice, but even not having done that, I'd guess that they'd most likely have the ergonomics that has distinguished BD ice gear since Chouinard was making it... My hunch is they are probably an improvement, but I doubt the improvement will be great enough to convince me to replace my DMM Rebels... - but then It was well past Y2k before I found tools improved significantly enough to justify replacing my 1989 Cassin Antares (equivalent, near as I could tell from demoing both, to the BD X-15, and far less expensive) - What I really like about the Rebel, is that the grip is truly functional without a leash, with meaningful trigger-finger support in addition to a matching support, and still streamlined enough for effective plunging. Even the new fusion grip pictured above looks to be, while effective, less versatile than the Rebel overall. Still, I withhold judgment until I can demo...

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Looks promising. At least it has a spike. I'd have to demo them on ice, but even not having done that, I'd guess that they'd most likely have the ergonomics that has distinguished BD ice gear since Chouinard was making it... My hunch is they are probably an improvement, but I doubt the improvement will be great enough to convince me to replace my DMM Rebels... - but then It was well past Y2k before I found tools improved significantly enough to justify replacing my 1989 Cassin Antares (equivalent, near as I could tell from demoing both, to the BD X-15, and far less expensive) - What I really like about the Rebel, is that the grip is truly functional without a leash, with meaningful trigger-finger support in addition to a matching support, and still streamlined enough for effective plunging. Even the new fusion grip pictured above looks to be, while effective, less versatile than the Rebel overall. Still, I withhold judgment until I can demo...

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Good link, thanks.

 

Worth remembering Fusions come with the Fusion pick which is, as Will noted, BD's pick specifically for hard M climbing.

The Laser pick is thinner and made specifically for water ice.

The Titan pick is an extremely durable all around pick suitable for the rigors of hard alpine.

 

Match the pick to your climb beforehand and you'll be much happier. Or mod the pick for your own use. That is good advice for any of the modern tools as most offer at least two picks with a number of subtle variations to choose from. A good hand file will offer even more options.

 

Gadd:

"The next 30M had some super nice ice--kinda thin, kinda detached, kinda dry, kinda wet, kinda steep, kinda lacking in pro, kinda what I needed. The new Fusions handled it well, but I'm going to change my picks out on those tools if I do any more serious ice climbing. The picks on the tools are made for drytooling so they have teeth on top; this makes 'em get stuck in the ice, which is not really what you want when run out on marginal gear. For hard drytooling you need the top teeth, and even on the M-whatever stuff low on the route the teeth were great for stein-pulls etc. Overall I was really happy with the tools, I'll need to put some more miles on the rock to really have a feel for them. But they climb ice a hell of a lot better than the old Fusions, that's for sure! We even had to pound a pin back in, they actually work for that. That's a key function on an ice tool for me, especially in the Rockies--pins are often the only solution. I think the Fusion will become my top choice for hard dry-tooling and multi-pitch mixed routes. It climbs ice well, drytools well, and you can beat on gear. I like it, I'll just switch picks around with my other tools depending on what's needed."

 

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Pulled the T rated picks and bolted the thinner Lazert picks on. Haven't done anything hard with them yet. Nice tools! Obvious advantage of a spike on the approach pitches.

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I've been climbing on these tools for quite a few pitches now.

 

They drytool very well and climb steep ice well once you get them into the ice.

 

That said, I'm actually bummed I sold my Nomics. These things bounce on any low angle ice and even some high angle ice, even modified laser picks get stuck really badly, and they just swing...funny. My Cobras swing much more naturally and don't stick with the same pair of modified laser picks.

 

The bolts on my pair refuse to stay tightened, especially because you have yard on the damn things so much to get the picks out. I have constantly been tightening the bolts on them, even mid-pitch.

 

I'd say less than a quarter of the days I've had them I haven't been cursing them. I'm hoping I can get things figured out...I ran into quite a few climbers (including BD athletes) here in Bozeman who are having the exact same issues as I am.

 

All said, I can't recommend these tools right now for anyone who doesn't plan on using them on WI5 and up or mixed ALL the time.

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