Friday, I was stoked. The new M9s from Flow were being delivered by UPS! I’ve heard both good and bad, as always, about the M9s, and it appears everyone has an opinion on Flow bindings generally. Unboxing the M9s is pretty much the same as unboxing any set of flows. I found setting them up on my board to be slightly easier than the flight series, well in fact much easier. The M9s actually have ratchet style clasps making tightening the unistrap settings much easier and quicker.
The bindings themselves are much lighter than previous year Flow models, and it appears year after year, Flow continues to make continous improvements in performance, functionality and weight with their bindings. The M9 isn’t the lightest binding of the bunch, but is definitely an improvement in the weight arena. Getting in and out of the binding is much easier than the flight series. The highback appears to be better adjusted, and tuned more so for experienced riders. Getting out of any set of Flow bindings can be a PITA, but I found the M9 to be much easier to snap down than the Flight series. The one true beauty of Flow bindings for me is being able to quickly strap them on while riding the lift up to the runs. I just ride off of the lift, and hit the runs I want, without having to sit down and strap in. This to me is worth the headache of getting out of the binding.
Few notes about the bindings. Plastic baseplate, and upper leather unistrap. Strap latches are indeed plastic, but apparently can be replaced with metal latches from Flow. The M9 support cable is held into the baseplate with a metal cap held against the bottom of the base plate. I often wondered if the plastic would keep up, or maintain support for the pressure applied to the cable. Once I started riding those thoughts faded, but alas, I’m still curious to see how much abuse these bindings can take before the plastic gives or breaks allowing the support cable to come loose. I’ll post an update after more aggressive riding.
Onto some riding notes. First the binding provides good support and I would give it medium response. The highback is comfortable, and has nice padding, more so than the flight series. I would expect better performance from the M9 than the flight series, and I was correct in that assumption. Flow bindings are generally ridden a bit looser than standard strap bindings, which can catch some people off guard. I found this to actually work quite well for me, as the binding kept my foot where I wanted it, but didn’t restrict me from moving in ways which I’m used to. The ride is a softer ride, due to the padding included on the base of the binding, but isn’t overly soft. The rider still has a nice feel of the terrain and response of the board. I’m not sure I’d want to ride any style of pipe riding with the M9s at this point, due to the loose fit I found working on all-mountain. Perhaps tweaking the binding to accomodate a tigherfit, would bolster my confidence with them on pipe.
The M9s are a step up in the flow line-up and are indeed fun to ride. While probably not strictly a park binding, I wouldn’t hesistate to catch a rail, or jumps with them, although as I said, at this point I probably would avoid the pipe with the M9s. The price point for the M9s can range anywhere from $120-200 depending on when you purchase them and if you’re purchasing 08’s or 09s. If you’re looking for a nice all-mountain, decent park binding and are a fan of the Flow line, definitely check out the M9s.