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keenwesh

BD heel piece discussion V2

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I talked to Bill a couple days ago. He told me that the heel piece that I just received used a harder alloy and different plastic design than previous generations. I haven't actually gotten to use them yet (no boots) but on first glance they look much better. the plastic piece is designed to pop onto the heel with more accuracy (there's a secondary raised area that helps place the plastic piece on the correct part of the heel welt).

 

As for the harder alloy, I guess BD has only received 2 complaints, one from Joe, and the second from me. I had no idea that was the case. Talking with bill he estimated a total of 150,000 pairs of BD crampons with heel levers in circulation, and only two complaints received. That really puts it in perspective. This isn't a very big problem, and they are handling it very professionally. I guess he has about 20 blanks of the harder alloy (of which two were put into the heel pieces that I received). I wear size 48 boots and I heard through the grapevine that Joe wears size 46. This leads me to believe that the soft alloy is only really a concern if you have large feet.

 

Has anyone else besides us two noticed deformation in the heel pieces of their BD crampons?

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Mods, feel free to incorporate this into the previous thread once you get through sorting it out.

 

Dane "Burning down the house" and John "Free gear whore" feel free to chime in, as long as you're civil. Both you guys have helped me out in the past, so I think you're rad. please act in a way that would allow me to continue to think that.

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"the heel piece that I just received used a harder alloy and different plastic design than previous generations....on first glance they look much better. the plastic piece is designed to pop onto the heel with more accuracy"

 

Only two known failures? The first in public mid Dec 2012. Nice of Joe to give us all a heads up on what to look for. And your second warning Keenan. An anomoly I am sure. Now a new heel piece design from BD. Seems like an over reaction for just two. But a new fix? How can I complain. Hard to keep up on all the problems and the resulting redesigns/fixs being done for so few failures.

 

You seem to imply this is only a larger size boot issue? 46 and larger by your implication? Or just not an issue...until it is an issue?

 

I only ask because you and Joe brought the heel lever failures to the public. Joe ended up dumping his from what he said in his last public accounting. You now seem satisfied with yours.

 

Seems what I get from this is we are back to, "inspect your gear" and some gear just requires you to "inspect it more often".

 

May be the lesson is gear fails, complain on the Internet until the company calls you and fixes their shite. Then go back on the Internet and make nice. Tell us how good the stuff really is once fixed.

 

Side track here..in case there is any misperception.

I have no loyaities to any gear manufacture. And no bone to pick personally or professionally with any gear manufacture. Much to the consternation of a few that have commented. I simply keep track. And I rely on my own gear to not fail.

 

Two BD heel levers obviously fail. 2 months later we get 2nd hand word of may be a new design to solve a problem that may be is caused by using bigger boots. Not sure wher that leaves me with my heel levers but OK...I've been warned anyway, thanks to Keenan and Joe. And the Internet.

 

All too familiar territory and scenario imo, if you are keeping track.

 

The flip side?

One broken connecting bar on a well worn (worn out!) Grivel G20 comes to light at Grivel. No Internet fuss. Just a simple email to Grivel. Grivel replaces the entire crampon in trade for the pair with one broken connecting bar. Couple of months later totally new design on the connecting bar. Grivel makes a public statement of the improvement and offers free replacements for anyone in the older G20s or G22s.

 

Just to go a little further. I still own BD Sabertooth and Serac crampons. If I could simply trust them to NOT FAIL I would climb everything from hard M to WI6 in Sabers. I like how they climb and have done both in them. But in the current stainless versions, from experience (rememeber I keep track) I simply don't trust them to be reliable. That started with the first failures reported back in the winter of 2010/2011. I continue to read reports of their failures today. Never been any word as to why they fail. May be it is the big boots, soft boots, beginner climbers, walking in them, climbing in them (seriously?) or the other paultry answers BD "officially" pronounced early on. But never a faulty crampon...just more "fixes" never acknowledged, that are still failing on occasion.

 

Now folks (such a gentle term) on the Internet tell me that horizontal crampons are not made for techncal climbing and that big feet cause crampon failures. Which of course defies history and common sense. Or that some of the best and most well respected alpine climbing boots ever designed are NOT appropriate for use with that crampon.

 

Better yet some want to quote the statistical failure rates based on the manufacture's information. If the company had a history of being open and transparent I might take those numbers to heart. Grivel and Petzl for example..seem pretty open about gear failures.

 

Only statistics that concern me are the ones I generate from my boots and my crampons. Those numbers I trust and are the only ones meaningful to me when I clip on my crampons.

 

I may have fallen of a turnip truck. But thankfully I didn't fall off yesterday.

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Has anyone else besides us two noticed deformation in the heel pieces of their BD crampons?

 

Yes, though not my crampons - a climbing partner's. This was a pair of pre-SS Cyborgs about 7 yrs ago. The plastic heel piece was deformed and the wire bail popped out of place inside the mechanism. I assessed it for my own purposes as a fundamental design weakness in that component. I chose to look at other models and brands that seemed to be a more robust design when it came time to replace my own crampons.

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I guess the bottom line for me is this:

 

Nobody, well almost, is climbing in the totally rigid boots of yesteryear, and the takehome is that most modern boots, due to demand and construction are getting silly light (imho a great thing) and thus they have a little flex.

 

So I would hope all crampon designs would take that into account, rather than blaming the boot.

 

Petzl handled the rather similar breakage issue with the 1st edition Sarken admirably: offering a recall for replacement, and a change in design as well as a new heat treatment and clear stamping on the frames of all V2 Sarkens.

 

Ice climbing, alpinism and especially any of the above at altitude demand 100% confidence. Adding a few ounces of metal to ensure that reliability seems to outweigh marketing your product as the "lightest".

 

Interesting that the new Petzl Lynx matches the Saber with 14 points, 12 of them down.

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Has anyone else besides us two noticed deformation in the heel pieces of their BD crampons?

 

Yes, though not my crampons - a climbing partner's. This was a pair of pre-SS Cyborgs about 7 yrs ago. The plastic heel piece was deformed and the wire bail popped out of place inside the mechanism. I assessed it for my own purposes as a fundamental design weakness in that component. I chose to look at other models and brands that seemed to be a more robust design when it came time to replace my own crampons.

 

So 3 total screwed up heel bails? anyone else?

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Has anyone else besides us two noticed deformation in the heel pieces of their BD crampons?

 

Yes, though not my crampons - a climbing partner's. This was a pair of pre-SS Cyborgs about 7 yrs ago. The plastic heel piece was deformed and the wire bail popped out of place inside the mechanism. I assessed it for my own purposes as a fundamental design weakness in that component. I chose to look at other models and brands that seemed to be a more robust design when it came time to replace my own crampons.

 

So 3 total screwed up heel bails? anyone else?

 

Not BD but two Grivel in the same week. Both on a pair of Rambo 4 with Scarpa Phantom Ultra, size 46.

 

The first time the plastic holding the wire deformed, just like on the BD ones this thread is about. The second time I think I had them set to tight and the yellow plastic at the bottom got bent. I was actually in Italy at the time, just an hours drive from the Grivel factory but the local gear shop in Cogne had replacements so I just bought a new set and never involved Grivel.

 

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At the risk of not being rad...

Since you have decided to start counting lets be fair and add the number in this thread:

 

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2012/12/black-diamond-heel-lever-concerns_19.html

 

Not that those numbers are anyway definative. I seem to remember others having a similar problem in the deleted thread. Hard believe I am the only one here that remembers that. BD says it is only "two". That would be 1+1. In case anyone missed remedial math.

 

I've suggested using BD heels (because they are mostly metal compared to Grivel) on any crampon. In 2011 alone at least three times on CT.

 

"I own 5 pairs of boots from La Sportiva and Scarpa currently. And 6 pairs of technical crampons. The crampons are from Petzl, Black Diamond and Grivel. I mix and match heel pieces and toe bales on each brand to get the best fit possible"

 

I use BD levers on Petzls because I like the levers and strap position and heel contact surfaces better. I haven't changed mine...but I have checked them. Thanks to Joe's original post. Might be a mistake suggesting anyone changing heel pieces to get a better and more reliable crampon fit. I had that happen, a mistake..being wrong before, but only "2" times.

 

In case anyone is counting.

 

But have to admit that is some simply amazing customer service to see a totally new heel lever design over just "two" failures.

 

Obvouisly a full up turnip truck in Boseman these days. For heaven's sake, be sure to hold on tight.

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Here are my heel pieces from pre-stainless Cyborgs with probably 50 days of use on size 44 Nepals. I have a similar thing going, but less severe, on my 2012 stainless Sabertooths. I wouldn't call this a failure by any stretch of the imagination, but they are wearing out.

 

IMG_8494.JPG

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Mine have less wear than those pictured above but have a small amount of deformation (Pre-stainless Sabretooths). Wearing out a bit slower than the crampons in general.

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It looks like the failure comes from trying to wrench the heal lever on when the boots aren't completely lined up in the crampons.

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yes, or the wire pulls out of the metal piece when you are ratcheting it onto your heel correctly. Once it is on the direction of pull is more into the metal and there aren't really any extra forces that could cause it to pop off, meaning that your crampons are probably very secure on your heel even if the metal is deformed. At least that's what I'm deciding to believe.

 

Just have to wait another 2-4 weeks (hopefully) and I'll be able to go out and test the new heel pieces!

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Mine (pictured above) popped out when I was putting it on this morning. The field repair is to slide the bar out of the plastic housing, reposition it, and reinsert it where it should be. Then it stayed on all day. Thankfully, it happened while I was chatting with a British guide. He'd seen it a bunch before and knew the fix...

 

I will be ordering a replacement, however.

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