Lange Boot fitting experience--how it should be done(?)

Jed Peters

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Guys and Gals:

Last season, I was dealing with worn out liners that were getting increasingly more and more uncomfortable. Also, the stronger I got, the more the boots actually increasingly becoming too soft. Note the buckle overlap from the third to second buckle.

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So, upon realization that I need new boots mid-to-late season last year, I set my sights out on getting set up for the 2016-17 season.

So that meant getting various insights, info, tips on what might be good, etc. I set my sights on my local shop that did this last pair of boots, the Start Haus in Truckee, CA.

Speaking with Jim Schaffner, the owner, and showing him videos of my skiing, along with speaking with an employee of the shop who has spent a lot of time skiing with me, it was suggested that I needed a stiffer boot, with a more upright stance.

Jim suggested that I go with a Lange ZB, which is a plug boot, but the boot would be at measured length, not downsized.

So, fast forward to early October, and I go in and see Jim after he special ordered my boots, and I had my initial fitting.

Jim inspected my boots to re-aquaint himself with my boots in preparation of our fitting:

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And determined that I would need a new footbed, as my existing one was built for a downsized boot shell and quite a bit shorter than the liner of my new boot.

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He then prepped the footbed machine:

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We then measured my foot. (Not shown is the poking and prodding around my foot, my calf, checking mobility, soreness, etc.)

First on a Brannock for length and width:

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Then he checked instep volume:

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And finally width:

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The footbed was made (Sidas Race), and while I was sitting waiting for them to be ready, Jim then ground the Zeppa (footboard) perfectly flat to remove and lumps, bumps, or inconsistencies, before I even put my foot into the boot:

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And the end result:

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Due to the fact that it was determined that I needed heel lifts and an upright stance because of HORRIBLE dorsiflection, the heel lifts were installed and the footbed was trimmed and ground to match the interior of the boot...and there is a little extra under the heel of my footbeds and a little less off the forefoot even!

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We then had a platform to start. The zeppa and footbed was inserted into the boot, and the foot prepped to show pressure points within the boot shell.

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And the foot being prepped:

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Once the foot was prepped and completed, Jim provided a fitting tongue (cut out of and old boot) and had me insert my foot EVER-SO-CAREFULLY into the fully spread boot with tongue:

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Where the boot was tightened all around my foot to as tight as I would EVER want to have it, in order to get a good impression of my foot and pressure points on the interior of the boot shell.

So far, my fitting has been 2 hours, and at this point we already knew what boot we were going to purchase (I pre-purchased it)!

After we had completed this prep work on both boots, we next tried on the liners, and started on those.

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The impressions that he's making show where the leather is going to be removed to create more room over the top of the boot. Every millimeter makes a difference!

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After that, I went home. so far, we had a 3 hour session, and he had a bunch of work on the boots to do before we got to step 2, which would be more stretching and grinding, cuff canting and alignment, sole canting and planing, misc. work like running the cords for the heater, positioning the booster strap, etc.

My SECOND trip to Start Haus...

There wasn't much snow yet on October 21st:

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Jim took copious notes on my second session, which was another two hours, during which we stretched the boot more, did a little more width grinding, lowered the mount point for the booster, etc:

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Here's the finished work of the liner, which I think is kinda cool:

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I then left again only to pick them up a couple weeks later......
 
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Jed Peters

Jed Peters

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So, you may ask....how much does it cost to get Lange Boots, footbeds, new heating elements, and canting and lifting done? (I used my old battery mount and booster strap)

Well, it was:

$1342

Yep. Let's break it down:

$892: MSRP, plus tax, for Lange ZB boots
$211: Footbeds including tax
$39: Hottronic heating elements
$200: Canting and sole planing work.

YOUCH.

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So, what CUSTOM things did I get done?

Well, my heaters are effectively built INTO the sole of the footbed, and integrated CLEANLY I must say....


Other little tweaks:

My boot batteries and Booster strap were installed 1cm lower on the shell to overlap the 4th buckle better....

IMG_1717.JPG


...my second buckles are longer length off another lange boot (the shell was stretched so much in that area I couldn't buckle with the stock buckles, my "Team America" Sidas buckle was installed, all spoilers and forward lean shims were removed, and perhaps my favorite, matching vibram lift plates cut to match the boot sole so I (hopefully) won't slip on ice and fall on my ass this year!

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So, here's to a good ski season.

I'll update this thread as soon as I get on snow regarding fit, performance, and all around how good the boot is for me.

In other words, I'll post a more through, in depth review as I actually get some on snow time.
 
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chemist

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@Jed Peters: Nice pictorial! Some questions:

1) What methodology did Jim use to determine the sole canting and cuff canting?

2) When he checked your fore-aft balance in the boots, did he recommend a certain delta for the bindings?

3) Were there other contenders that Jim was considering before he decided on the ZB's, and what was his rationale for going with the latter?
 
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Jed Peters

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@Jed Peters: Nice pictorial! What methodology did Jim use to determine the sole canting and cuff canting? And when he checked your fore-aft balance in the boots did he recommend a certain delta for the bindings?
He had me take my stance in boots with no liners, but my Zeppa and footbeds, and then used a set of straight edges and what not to alight the cuff (only one leg needed anything).

We then got in the boots and took my stance on his square and level platform. Again a set of tools were used to test alignment (I don't know particularly what he uses, but I presume it's what he uses when he teaches other fitters at seminars) and then he put various shims under the boots to test "square".

Regarding binding fire-aft, he didn't spend that much time on it with me. I am not a racer, and don't ski enough really to experiment with different ramp angles and the like.

@Philpug should be able to say EXACTLY what tools he uses as Phil is familiar with his methodology.
 
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Jed Peters

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@Jed Peters: Nice pictorial! Some questions:

3) Were there other contenders that Jim was considering before he decided on the ZB's, and what was his rationale for going with the latter?
@chemist sorry, I didn't see this last night...

Regarding the BOOT CHOICE....yeah, that's a good question.

First off, I wanted NOTHING to do with "plug" type race boots. I actually REALLY REALLY wanted the Head Raptor 140 (off the shelf boot) since I am a sucker for marketing and love that aspect of the Head ski team. I wanted warm and comfortable and yet performance oriented (yes, I know that doesn't really work out that well). And yes, the issue really is shouldn't someone like Jim Schaffner pick the boot FOR me rather than me picking what I think I need? Probably best to take my own advice I've given to countless others and just "trust the pro's" right?

Second, when it was decided by the guys in the shop (based off having skied together, body type, morphology, and videos) that I would need something a little stiffer than what's available on the market. So, this meant I would have to go with a Plug, in a "real" 130 flex range. (Note that a plug boot 130 is a little stiffer than pretty much anything that you can buy at your local ski shop...)

So then, I asked if I could get a Head Raptor RD boot. I had this boot about 10 years ago and LOVED it. The response was "yes, I could make it work, but it's not right for you".

I then opened up my mind and my ears. I was told stance and ramp angle were important. I needed to elevate my heel, but open up my ankle, allowing for increased dorsiflection. The Lange is the most upright as I understand it; the Head gives only limited range as it's got a more forward cuff angle, which would cut off my range of motion.

Apparently I don't want to look at Atomic, and the Rossignol boot is the same as the Lange, only white. I don't know why nordica or technica were not options.
 

chemist

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We then got in the boots and took my stance on his square and level platform. Again a set of tools were used to test alignment (I don't know particularly what he uses, but I presume it's what he uses when he teaches other fitters at seminars) and then he put various shims under the boots to test "square".
I was particularly wondering about the procedure he used -- did he do it dynamically, having you stand on one leg and adjusting the shims under the boot until you achieved maximum stability (minimum lateral knee waver); or did he do it statically, measuring where your knee fell over the boot with a square or plumb bob?



Surprised to hear this — I tried on a ZB last year, and found it on the soft side; certainly much softer than my Dalbello SR130's. Consistent with this, a couple of years ago, while looking for some shims, I spoke briefly with the Start Haus boot dept., and was told the ZB is comparable in stiffness to a Lange RS130, which I understand is softer than a Head 140RS (especially if you use both screws, which bumps it to a [relative] 150). [Another expert told me it flexes in the shop softer than the Lange RS140, but feels like it skis stiffer, possibly b/c of the rebound.]
[QUOTE="Jed Peters, post: 72826, member: 29"][USER=1113]
Apparently I don't want to look at Atomic.
[/QUOTE]
Did he give a reason for this?
[/user]

P.S.: Don't know why the website is treating my text as hyperlinks.
 
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Muleski

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@Jed Peters, thanks for taking the time to post this. Should be very informative to many, many folks.

One of the reasons that Jim may have decided on the Lange ZB is a a pretty intuitive one. He probably looked at your foot and instinctively knew what would be the best route. These guys are boot whisperers, and rarely are they wrong. Goes for a number of pro's who are on the forum from time to time.

My boot fitter is the same way, also very experienced, particularly in race boots. When I went through this not that long ago, he ruled out a number of boots, as he knew that making them work might be futile. High instep is a deal breaker in some boots. Head was a no go for me. Would have taken forever for a "maybe" end result.

The ZB is also a somewhat unique animal in terms of flex. It's great for some of the strongest women. It's great for some younger men. Most top level men who do race in a Lange have a cut down ZC. Softened to be a touch stiffer than a ZB, with the more rigid ZC lower clog. I know a TON of great skiers who ski the ZB.

Working with a fitter who has off the charts experience with one or two boot brands in particular, and wants to work his magic on one of them is SMART. As I am sure @Philpug can attest, there is probably next to nothing that Jim can't do to a Lange Z plug to make an optimal fit for a client. He knows the boot and has seen and fixed/figured out/done it all.

Once you tweak then after skiing, you are going to be delighted with that boot. And not cheap, but a good investment. You're working with one of the best. Not very often do I equate "best" with cheapest. Other than some of my favorite dive restaurants!

Seriously, I know you have pointed out the cost before. In my experience, not better investment than the boots.

My daughter and son's GF both have the same Vibram lifters on their Langes. Good move!

Thanks for the post. Look forward to the on snow update!
 
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Jed Peters

Jed Peters

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I was particularly wondering about the procedure he used -- did he do it dynamically, having you stand on one leg and adjusting the shims under the boot until you achieved maximum stability (minimum lateral knee waver); or did he do it statically, measuring where your knee fell over the boot with a square or plumb bob?
Again, @Philpug would know. I remember he had me moving around, on one leg, both legs centered, etc. Sorry I'm not better in remembering.




Yeah, fairly certain no one that knows anything there would say that--at least not Jim, James, or Doug, the three guys I know. Perhaps @muleski can chime in on this one?

[QUOTE="chemist, post: 72967, member: 1113"][USER=1113]
Did he give a reason for this?
[/QUOTE][/user]Well, let's just say I got the impression they weren't in the same category as the other two.
 

Muleski

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Not going to post all of the quotes from Chemist's post above.

Specific to flex, the Lange RS 130 is actually similar and perhaps a touch softer, based on the experience of those skiing both, than a Lange ZA. Lange ZB is quite a bit stiffer. More like a true 130. RS130 is generally not considered to be in that real flex range. For example nowhere near as stiff as a Dobermann 130.

My daughter and my son's GF are both "retired" NCAA, NorAm, high level racers who were both in Lange ZA's {with a lot of custom work} for years. Both now rec skiers, and both doing some coaching. One in a RS 140, with the factory liner. One in a RS 130 with a foam aftermarket liner. They both feel that the ZA felt and flexed stiffer. And for them, with their flexibility, and non race all mountain skiing, they love the "softer" new recreational race boot.

My boot guy probably fits 300+ pairs of Lange plugs a year. He's told me the same thing. Fitted both ladies to their boots.
 

chemist

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Thanks @Muleski. I don't doubt your expertise, nor that of those you've mentioned, but at the same time I also spoke to the manager of the race dept. at Lange USA last year (I can PM you his name), and he said the ZB and RS140 were close in flex (in his case, he said the ZB was a little stiffer than the RS140, and the ZA was definitely softer than the RS140). Plus when I tried on the ZB (now maybe this was a defective pair, I don't know; or maybe it was a ZA mislabeled in a ZB box), I found them quite soft, so much so that I didn't think they'd work for me (they were new).

Of course, experts differ on various things all the time; but it's surprising to find such a divergence on something as (fairly) straightforward as relative stiffness. But if your boot guy has fitted 300 of them, he should know better than most of the other experts.....

This is of interest b/c based on fit and geometry, the ZB is a good candidate boot for me; I was just concerned it might be too soft. The ZC is not an option, b/c they don't make it in my size (except of course for custom orders they do for national team members, etc.).
 
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Muleski

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@chemist,

I'll PM you in a while, and we can chat about this. I'm just saying, the first hand experience that I have is pretty clear.

In fact @ScotsSkier has one of my daughters last pairs of ZA's and I suspect that he would agree on this topic. Perhaps another opinion.

I trust the two ladies I mentioned. Both were among the tops in the country, one has her masters in both kneisiology and PT. Just reporting their opinions. And the opinion of others.

You seem to be a data guy. Me, not so much.
When I get fitted, a nearly identical process to Jed, I'm finding the coffee, talking to the shop guys, asking my guy about his family, and generally paying NO attention to what he's doing and how he's going about his work.

So, no data. But I may be able to explain why you heard what you did. Hint for others....has to do with moving product, and sales.

I'll PM later on.
 

Philpug

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@chemist , there is a multitude of ways to check alignment for canting. Jim (Otto) does it statically like you are referring to. If you attend a Masterfit seminar, even their top guys have many ways and tools to measure from wands to various types of platforms and all will swear by their methods.

Don't get hung up if a boot is a plug or not a plug or what the flex number or letter is. Does it fit you and can you make the boot work. Numbers are irrelivent, they are s tarting point of reference. Just like @Jed Peters said, he went into a shop with an open mind and ended up in that boot. If you don't do that, you will make yourself crazy. Buy the boot that matches your foot, you will never be able to do that here or any place over the internet.

As far as the ZB being to soft for you, based on what? Jed weighs in at a SOLID 200 plus and they felt it was a good option for him, Chemist, IIRC, you are not near his size, you also to not push a boot like he does. Unless you have little or no dorsal range, I cannot see it being too soft for you. I stiffer boot should not be a right of passage of manliness or lift line cred. IIRC even top level skiers liek @Muleski and @ScotsSkier are trending back to slightly softer...errr better flexing boots.
 

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:) Wow! I take a day trip to mammoth and get called out twice..:)

Something being overlooked in the discussion of flex is that, while we all know the numbers can not be compared across manufacturers, the flex is also impacted by the boot design. Case in point, compare the Atomic Redster to the previous Atomic RT TI. Regardless of the flex numbers on the redster, it just does NOT flex in the same way as the old boot. NOT because it is stiffer but because of the difference in design (and one of the reasons MS is in the old boot).

And yes, having skied the Lange ZA, it is not from my experience a soft boot. Not quite as stiff as my Tecnica(Dobie) plug but certainly much more solid than the RS130 (and the 140 is basically the same boot as the 130 IIRC). Interestingly enough my tecnicas (a genuine team supply pair it seems) have NO flex marking on them - go figure!! . I Suspect i will have to cut them down a bit but need snow time to test.

Also, there is no simple stiff flex=good, soft flex=bad equation! Still one of the most common issues i see in Masters racers is too stiff a boot they can not flex!. Personally I like a nice progressive flex so i can work the front of the ski and make micro adjustments to line and pressure as necessary. I find with too stiff a boot it gets like an on/off switch. Not necessarily bad, it depends what works for the individual. And it may also be influenced by the "ski ideology" one subscribes to. My understanding of "he who must not be named" is that the approach is oriented more around a really stiff boot and a shorter ski. And obviously it must work for people following that (or there would be no business).

Horses for courses
 

Philpug

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You don't downsize for a plug boot, but you do for a regular one? Why the difference?
Sorry, the word "downsizing", can create the wrong image. You need to find a boot that matches the shape of the foot, irrelivent if it is your correct measured size ot smaller be it a plug or regular. I plug has just a thinker shell because the interior mold, called the plug is smaller and modifications are done commonly through grinding.
 
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