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.
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.
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.
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.
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.