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Why your boots seem to flex inconsistently across brands or models.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
It seems to be a regular "Mistake" "Chinese Whisper" when it comes to ski boot flex ratings. Like many of you here, over many years and by many people i have heard that "X's 100 flex" isn't the same as "Y's flex." and whilst you may try on two different boots by different brands in a ski shop and feel a stark difference between said "Flex", this isn't because a brand's flex is different to anothers, more precisely two different boots from the same brand may feel different in the store. Here is why and how you feel the differences, but rest assured the machines, the tests are carried out in the same way across all brands, it would be hilarious to see them do different tests and get so close to the other's and just stick some number relative to a feel, albeit not exact and yeld a pretty close result.

So firstly the tests are carried out in the same way, using similar bespoke tools by all brands, again i stress i have, like many of you heard that's not the case, however I have had a play with many of these machines, and with the exception of maybe 3-4 brands they all are done the same. Those i've not seen would I expect to test identically, the chance that those that i haven't seen, doing things different would just be too much of a coincidence so I will assume, rightly or wrongly that to be the case.

Firstly the test is conducted to define the longevity of the boots, as well as many other things, such as your "flex rating" resistance and "flex pattern" smooth and progressive, however these results are just data after the fact, the lifespan of the "flex" is what's being tested.

So the test box is set to a temperature that is optimum for the plastics 22°c, it seems odd not to test the boots at the temperatures at which we ski, however the results here at let's say -5°c are simply too inconsitent due to many factors that we'll go into later.

Now that we have the temperature where we need it, the boot is placed inside the box and a false leg/piston is placed inside it. This is the part where most of the inconsisteny is, get the right amount of "fill" and tension on the boot is quite difficult, this is the first part where we may see "false" or untrue data. I can't remember the exact method used here, but if memory serves me right we're looking for the plastic to be under average tension "10nm" resistance to closure. (Not alot basically, but as much as you should theoretically need to close your boots and be secure.)

Ok, so now it gets easier, the boots will be pulled through a range of angles to start, around and upto 20° to calibrate the machine, and find the consistant flex pattern of the boots (where the range of motion is most consistant, when designed correctly from it's start through 10°).

Once calibrated and adjusted to the particular boot, the machine then flexes the boot 30,000 times. We reckon this is the equivalent to around 200 days skiing, depending on the amount of turns done, however temperature and tightness of the buckles, as well as the effects of UVA/B over the lifespan of the boots make this theoretical and almost mute, but we need a number to work with and a test of sorts, so this is the figure.

And that's it, tests done, the machine now gives us a reading and a whole bunch of data we can use.

It's important to add at this point that upto this point we only have one mould made, size 26.5 usually they cost a fair amount of cash, upwards of 100k and are often binned several times before we're fixed on it's production and the other sizes are made. This is again a slight problem, as smaller sizes may then keep certain dimensions and bigger ones too, delta angles are sometimes considered, often not, plastic thickness and relative dimensions heel to toe, heel to shin, can often change these test results too.

Now, let's look at these results, the ones that will designate your 130 nm Flex ski boot. The boot yelded a result of 130nm average between 126-134nm, after being flexed 30,000 times and the average resistance was 130nm. Total Energy divided by 30,000.
There are permitted margins. If a boot tests between 126nm and 134 NM it's stamped 130nm.
Thank feck for that, if they published exact results, you'd be coming to buy boots and trying 134,135,136,137,138nm it would be hell and carrying stock impossible, so, it's rounded up/down as needed for commercial reasons.


So, why do we have such varied feelings instore with these diffent models or brands??

Well firstly, as above, you could be testing a real 126nm or a 134nm and both would be classed 130nm

Ok, if you'll follow me here.

First let's take two identical boots, one black, one white. Same brand!

Room/Store temperature is assumed to be 27°c, let's agree it is. 5°c warmer than the environment at which the boots are tested.

So already at this temperature the boots are softer than tested, in a cold shop, like ours often is say 20°c the boots are stiffer.

Now, our white boot flexes less than our black boot, simple. The black boot absorbing more heat more quickly, the white reflecting, resisting it.

So, two identical boots of different colour yeld different results.

Now, let's keep the 130nm flex boots, keep them black and white and make the white one a high volume/wide boot and the black one, low volume/narrow. The two boots have exactly the same thickness of plastic, they are identical except colour and shape. Same brand!

Now you will put your feet in the two boots, let's assume they are totally symetrical.
The white boot is too loose, so you buckle it up tighter, the black one a little to tight, so you buckle it up less.

Now, the black boot is both looser and softer due to temperature.
The White boot stiffer as it's white, but also, because you do it up tighter you remove alot of the inherant elasticity of the plastic, stretch it essentially.
The result is it is again stiffer for two reasons.

Now let's mix it up massively.

We keep the white boot, high volume, the black boot, low volume, however, now the black boot has thinner plastic, the white boot is a heavier, thicker plastic. Same plastic, let's say Poly Ether, a fairly stable plastic all said regards ski boot manufacture. There is more stable and many less stable. Same brand!

This adds to the effect of difference in temperature and tension over the buckles.

For the third time our two 130nm boots are subject to variables that effect their results at room temperature.

Now, let's change the final piece of the puzzle.

Change the materials too, a 4th variable and now these things feel different for a fourth reason.

The black boot is narrower, lower volume, thinner and now it's made of Polypropylene. Measuring 126nm
The white boot is wider, higher volume, thicker and made of Nylon/Grilamid. Measuring 134nm

Same brand!

There are now 5 reasons why two boots feel different in a shop, despite both being stamped 130nm.

Now, one last, oops two last points for use on the hill.

Different materials, different thinknesses and different colours react differently at different teperatures.

UVA and UVB will degrade your plastics, freezing temperatures, and blue sky days will damage your boots flex patterns and the results would be different quicker over those 30,000 flexes/200 days.

RECAP!

So, all manufacturers use the same tests.

The same manufacturer may make two boots that feel very different with the same rating in the store.

Conclusion/Correction.

Boots stamped with the same flex may feel different, "DIFFERENT MODELS" may feel different, not different brands, however you may feel a difference between brands, but really it's the "Model" that is different!!!!!!

Blush Blush Blush


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Thu 4-02-21 12:44; edited 2 times in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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@CH2O, great post - for years I have been wondering why doesn't someone like Blister just do independent flex reviews.

Test the same size shell of different manufacturers/models - at -20, -10, -5, 0 , +5, +10 Deg - It doesn't matter what the actual flex value is - no one needs to know what a true 100 Flex is etc.

What would be super useful is to have undisputed relative flex of boots/shells to one another - so I can compare my boots - something I have a good understanding of the flex and its behaviour at different temperatures to boots I want to buy.

All you need is the machine in the video below:


http://youtube.com/v/HwMcaLDIb4o
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CH2O wrote:
the machine then flexes the boot 30,000 times. We reckon this is the equivalent to around 200 days skiing

Thanks @CH20 very interesting. Is that 150 turns a day? Seems low to me?
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@extremerob, I wanted to include that video, but the graphs towards the end show a static point in the testing and distract from the variables.
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@pieman666, My calculations that makes 190 turns per day for 80 days a season, which is 30 too many!!!!!! Toofy Grin
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CH2O, Very interesting post, thanks for taking the time and trouble.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Do people really buy a boot by flex rating or is it just one of the pool of variables? How many recreational skiers (not racers or extreme freeriders or heavyweights) would or should turn down a perfectly fitting 120 boot simply because it's not a 130?
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Couple of other points regards boot flex.

The average plastic (Polyester) will become 5x Stiffer between -15°c and +15°c

ergo a 100nm flex boot will be around 500nm at -20°c

So stop bleating about 110nm over 120nm, it's total nonsense.

Weight and height are way bigger factors when choosing the flex of a ski boot than ability. Don't even get me started on ankle flex, ROM and Dorsiflexion.

Roughly speaking double your weight when chosing the flex of a ski boot, i appreciate it maxes out for the most part at 130, so you big guys at 100+ KG have to hope it's nice and cold out there!!!!

If your ski instructor tells you to buy a particular flex boot, unless it's high 100's or your under 10, change your ski instructor.

If you can't flex the boot 10°(ROM) in the store get your dorsiflexion checked out, don't drop the flex and buy some cowdoo Icecream tub. Any person over 40kg with good ankle flex should be able to flex a 100 flex boot with good rebound.

Always buy blue boots, they Be Nice please! rock.

If buying a touring boot, examine how the clog/lower shell interfaces with the Coller/Uppershell. If there is no overlap at the spine of the boot or a mechanism that creates rebound ignore it or chuck it in the bin, or better still give it to that ski instructor you just fired. I could list who and which boots but i'd have to Scarpa first if i wanted to get away with that Scott free.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Do people really buy a boot by flex rating or is it just one of the pool of variables? How many recreational skiers (not racers or extreme freeriders or heavyweights) would or should turn down a perfectly fitting 120 boot simply because it's not a 130?


You'd be surprised, that's why i've felt the need to pop up and post. This Covid nonsense is creating a huge amount of misinformation and am having to unravel so much misinformation spead during these times.

Often the 130 and 120 is identical, or 120 to 110, possible change in Power strap, liner yelds a tweek in test restults enough to drop to stamped rating.

Lange is a good example this year, take the XT3. The 140 is a different cuff/coller plastic than the 130, the 120 is the same as the 130, just a different power strap for you to pay an extra 100 euros for, I can order said strap for 2euros, and have plenty instock. That said, always always buy the blue boot!!!!!!!
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@CH2O, what shade of blue would improve my skiing most?
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@CH2O

Your Post = First Class, without the price tag.

Coincidentally, to reinforce what you said about buckling up variability, a few days ago I was watching Reilly McG’s take on his playing with that for advantage: any thoughts?


http://youtube.com/v/-orNCgbTnUU
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Excellent topic/post
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
looks like a case of covid lockdown resulting in extreme geekery...
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Fat George wrote:
@CH2O

Your Post = First Class, without the price tag.

Coincidentally, to reinforce what you said about buckling up variability, a few days ago I was watching Reilly McG’s take on his playing with that for advantage: any thoughts?


http://youtube.com/v/-orNCgbTnUU



Without the price tag????? Puzzled
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Meant as a compliment: Item + Postage, invoice £0.00 and I find stuff that has arrived for that is not often of so much value to me. I.e thanks. Looks weird now you mention it.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Fat George wrote:
Meant as a compliment: Item + Postage, invoice £0.00 and I find stuff that has arrived for that is not often of so much value to me. I.e thanks. Looks weird now you mention it.


Ah, ok, it'll come back to me at some point, we explain this 10x a day, at a different pace dependant on client. It really irks me, not that people are misinformed, but more that people refuse to be reinformed. Same goes for bindings, skis and the entire system. I intend to do a few more posts/blogs regards bindings and skis, help people understand the failures and prevent the spead of misinformation and confirmation bias that is too rife on sites such as Snowheads. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but you can't have your own science!!!! Too much time on my hands? Yes, too much time on everybody's hands, so it would appear.
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Luckily, there are few or even very few telemark boots for each binding type. Saves hours of worry and sleepless nights wondering if I have the right boots.
Phew.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@CH2O, It's a great post but your example of Black and White boots feeling different in store because of the temparature difference is a bit off. Unless you have a lot of radiant heat in your shop then the colour isn't going to have a significant impact on the boot temperature. They'll just sit at the same air temperature as heating from convection is unaffected by colour.
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I dunno. I remember distinctly when my mum took me shoe shopping that the red ones were always far more comfortable than the brown and black ones.
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Having skim read through all that, my main take away is that the colour of my ski boots is important Toofy Grin
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@CH2O, top job on explaining this (I assume it was my post on another thread that triggered this reaction)!

What I take from reading your post twice is that different model boots (same or different make) may feel different in terms of flex (materials, thickness, size, boot geometry, etc).
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I'm glad blue is the best colour as they will match my jeans.
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@pam w,
Quote:


I dunno. I remember distinctly when my mum took me shoe shopping that the red ones were always far more comfortable than the brown and black ones.


I'm sure we still do the same thing as adults. And then we blame the boot fitters if our ski boots don't turn out the way we want them. They can't win really.
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DB wrote:
I'm glad blue is the best colour as they will match my jeans.


You ski in jeans - like Donald Trump?
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Kelskii wrote:
DB wrote:
I'm glad blue is the best colour as they will match my jeans.


You ski in jeans - like Donald Trump?


Yes I ski in jeans wink but no I don't like Donald trump.

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