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Exclusive: The History of the Salomon Driver Series of Bindings

Recently, we had fun doing some retrospective articles of iconic collections including the Look Pivot and the Salomon SX Series of boots. With the help of former Salomon employee/rep/racer, Jim Schaffner, we had another chance to go back in time to look at the Salomon Driver series of bindings, starting with the S727 of the late 1970's to the modern Sth2 16. We also peered past the S727 and talked about the predecessors, the S444 and S555.

To some, Salomon is still a binding company that expanded past fixation devices into a full line company that can outfit a skier with every piece of gear or clothing they could want. But many do not know that well before we thought about releasable bindings, Georges Salomon started the brand by making ski edges.

727pair.JPG
1970's
The 70's is when we really started seeing a lot of attention to bindings as not only a release mechanism but also performance enhancer. Sure, in the 60's we started seeing some offerings but the 70's started the binding revolution. Two of the most popular bindings from that era were the Salomon S444 and S555, which derived from the S404 and S505 respectively. But it was the late 70's when bindings went from black and white for Salomon, and like Dorothy entering the land of Oz, into full technicolor. The S727 offered many firsts in binding features. It was the first non-plate binding to offer multidirectional release from the toe, the first to be designed completely from the ground up with a retractable brake, and the first non-DIN binding to be able to be set to DIN standards. The S727's two-stage three piece heel is also a design copied by every other binding manufacturer today.

747mag.jpeg
1980's
The decade started off with the S727 series which quickly evolved to the short-lived S737 series. This then gave way to the wildly popular S747 series. The S747's triangular toe and Multi Control release became one of the best selling bindings of all time. The S747 collection then moved aside for the S957 series which moved Salomon's top bindings from merely color TV to High Definition. What made the S957 that much better? Salomon extended the toe wings to create some of the highest elasticity of any binding, but also a much smoother level of release combined with balance in retention. Salomon also started offering removable brakes and a mounting pattern that would be used for two decades.



957R.JPG
1990's
Color was king in the 1990's and Salomon was at the forefront of offering their bindings in multiple color ways to match almost every ski out there. Along with color, Salomon was also a leader in binding lifters to help create more leverage. Adding leverage was very important with the advent of the newfangled shape skis that were hitting the market. Salomon also offered lift devices, such as the Suspension and Pro-Pulse, that were performance enhancers.

IMG_2613.jpeg
2000's-Present
Salomon didn't fix what wasn't broken with the Drivers into the 2000's other than renaming the collection as the Sth, which was commonly referred to as "Stronger than Hell." It was Sth all the way until we reached the mid 2010's when the Sth was replaced by the Sth2, a mostly whole new collection that took many of the attributes of the original Driver/Sth and modernized it.

While the Sth2 is still in Salomon's collection, Salomon has refocused their attention to the new Strive offerings which have many of the attributes that created the loyal following of the Drivers. According to Salomon, the Strive series has a much more reactive toe with a center of gravity (COG) 1/3 lower than the Sth2 toe, creating more steering responsiveness.

Please watch the attached video where we hear Jim Schaffner, who worked with Salomon in the early years of the Drivers, explain how their bindings evolved through the years.
About author
Philpug
I started skiing in the mid-70s in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania; from then on, I found myself entrenched in the industry. I have worked in various ski shops from suburban to ski town to resort, giving me a well-rounded perspective on what skiers want from their gear. That experience was parlayed into my time as a Gear Review Editor and also consulting with manufacturers as a product tester. Along with being a Masterfit-trained bootfitter I am a fully certified self proclaimed Gear Guru. Not only do I keep up with the cutting edge of ski gear technology, but I am an avid gear collector and have an extensive array of bindings as well as many vintage skis.

Replies

Excellent !

I would go back to the Salomon 555 anytime ... I started skiing on 404 then graduated to 444 and then to 505 ... best and easiest binding I ever had . Well , the early Tyrolia Diagonal were nice too as you could impress girls by releasing them without stopping and jumping out of your skis :)
But the Salomon were easier to reenter in deep snow , after a fall .

Now , for your next feature , why not something about poles ?
I ski with the same Kerma since the end of the '80 ... you know what model I am talking about , I am sure !

Good job !
Bring back the SX 91 Equipe , the 555 and the Kerma and tell the manufacturers to stop adding ''features'' that means nothing and add costs , making skiing unaffordable for the masses ... I bought my first skis for $25 ( with the 404 on ) ... the Toni Sailer ... yes , I know , they were worth $25 ... but I was able to learn and then buy a pair of Blizzard ... $20 for my blue Koflach ... Canadian Tire poles at $4 ...

Life was good !!!
 
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bought my first skis for $25 ( with the 404 on ) ... the Toni Sailer ... yes , I know , they were worth $25 ... but I was able to learn and then buy a pair of Blizzard ... $20 for my blue Koflach ... Canadian Tire poles at $4 ...

Life was good !!!
Totally goes with your username. Love it.
 
Totally goes with your username. Love it.
You are right !
I am proud to ski on vintage gear until now . When I look at ( younger ) skiers with their fat skis on ( very ) groomed slopes , I am amazed . Yes , yes , I am laughing a little because someone sold them that crap and they went on with the fashion .
Obviously , I was no better with the Toni Sailer , the ski renowned for its non-turning abilities :) but I learned quickly and , after the first season and the destruction of the Sailer , I went to better boards .
Still , it was easier then to make a choice . No pressure from fashion or very little .
And the gear was still affordable even for someone coming from a very poor family .

Saturday , first day of the season , I skied in Vallée Junction , an old sand pit , with a pair of Authier from 1986 or around . They go as fast as anything sold today , believe me !

My username comes from my love of archeology and old things . The avatar comes from the cover of one of my books . My main character .

I imagine , Frenchman , that you are from a French speaking country ... I lived for a few years in Tacoma and was skiing at the Pass . A long time ago as I was part of the first ''Brain Drain'' . I imagine most readers here don't realize what is a ''vieux crouton'' !!!

Thank you ... I needed your comment today ... Sometimes , I wonder if I am alone in the world .
 
Bring back the SX 91 Equipe , the 555 and the Kerma and tell the manufacturers to stop adding ''features'' that means nothing and add costs , making skiing unaffordable for the masses ...
Unfortunately while gear costs have gone up, it has not risen to the extent of other sports gear and can still be had on the cheap .. but the point is gear is not what is making skiing unaffordable for the masses.
 
Unfortunately while gear costs have gone up, it has not risen to the extent of other sports gear and can still be had on the cheap .. but the point is gear is not what is making skiing unaffordable for the masses.
Bonjour Phil ! You are right ... I have been in procurement all my life so I know how to gauge the cost's drivers . Novice skiers will be rebutted by the cost of gear and then , later , they will be astounded by the prices of tickets and accomodations . Yes , it would look ''normal'' to them because they do not have the background you have : everything is very costly now . But if you consider the average wages in US ( and worse , Canada ) , you realise that even if you rent ski and boots , you are not out of the wood yet . Try to add up the total price for a season paid by an ''average'' 4 persons family . It is obvious you restrict skiing to the 15% higher income people . Be generous and say 25% to include the devoted maniacs ... How many will still ski in 5 years ? Kids grow and do they have the purchasing power of their parents ? I am paying $136 for a season pass at a municipal hill not much taller than me . In 1973 , my father paid $65 for my season pass and it was expensive for him and we were 3 kids . Thus we all went to the ski school and the patrol the second year to save money . Now ?? Very difficult to do so . $151 US for a day ticket at Stowe . This crazy inflation is thinning down prospective future skiers . The price of hard goods went up a lot ( even if they are now ''better'' , say who ? ) , the cost of fashion is pretty stable but the lift tickets and season passes are killing the mood !! :) For newcomers , the shock is right at the counter of the sporting goods store . The heart bypass is caused by the prices at the cafeteria of the ski lodge .... Now , do we need , on a ski hill , all these fashionable addendum ?? I saw my first snowmaking equipment end of the '80 and I prefer a chair for 2 that is fast instead of a slow bubble with six people on . Well ... maybe I am too old ... but I still have fun ... and that ''fun'' seems to lack in skiing now . Tomorrow I will get my ''new'' Kastle 205 National Team 1984 with real new bindings ... no , not really ... old full metal competition bindings ...
 
I had 2 pairs of the 727 e’s in the late 70’s. I didn’t remember how revolutionary they were at the time , only that they were bombproof and I never had any problems with either of them and I averaged 6 days a week then. Huge improvement over the triple 5’s which I could walk out of at a higher setting than the 727.
 
I imagine , Frenchman , that you are from a French speaking country ... I lived for a few years in Tacoma and was skiing at the Pass . A long time ago as I was part of the first ''Brain Drain'' . I imagine most readers here don't realize what is a ''vieux crouton'' !!!

Thank you ... I needed your comment today ... Sometimes , I wonder if I am alone in the world .
Je suis Aixois. Grew up skiing in Pra-Loup, then studied in Grenoble. Took the "brain drain" express in '97. Take care!
 
I have the 957 Equipe on many pairs of late 80's through mid 90's skis. This is my favorite Salomon binding ever. I like the Lab 914 but I just can't ski it with a starting setting of '9'.
 
I have the 957 Equipe on many pairs of late 80's through mid 90's skis.
As I said in the video, the 957 was the turning point in the Driver series. I would not hesitate to ski an all metal heeled 957E or 957R today. In fact it could easily be modified to accept wider brakes and even become GripWalk compatible.
 
Very informative and interesting video and written content. Really @Philpug you and the team out did yourselves here. A 45 minute production about bindings is first rate and I have not seen this topic covered anywhere else. I watch the entire video while relaxing at the airport while knocking back some beers and love this. For anyone that has a deep appreciation for the history of skiing through the lens of developing technology side this is for you.....Thank you. BTW, love that 727 shirt.
 

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