I just rode the Slingshot Recoil 138 with the closed toe driver bindings (of course) yesterday. For those interested here are my lengthy comments
HISTORY BEFORE RIDING: I have searched out as much information as I could about Sling Shot since I first saw the cheap introductory web site back in September. Earlier I checked one of the biggest shops here in Utah (Marine Products) to see if they would be carrying Slingshot. They told me they had plans to have them in their bigger store in Salt Lake the next month. Later I checked the store to find that they backed out last minute according to one of the employees. The guy I talked to had nothing good to say about Slingshot. (though he did say the boards were ok, but not a must have item) He was especially negative about the bindings, labeling them as “K-mart” sold bindings. He told me they would have carried at least the boards if they could figure out a way to mount other bindings to the board (Duh can’t). All his negative talk did not convince me (I did feel slightly down about it, simply because of the negative vibes) ... any time someone can only talk trash about anything usually shows some degree of bias. Finally I checked the one and only store in Utah that carries Slingshot (Utah Water Sports) and had a lengthy conversation with the store representative there. Prior to stocking Slingshot he had mixed feelings about the gear, but now he seems converted to it as well as others that he knows. So far no boards have broken or any such issues under warranty (except the ones broken on rails that have been mentioned in other threads, but rails don’t count) The store let me take the board out for free. He said “give me a date”… I was expecting to only have one day with it.
RIDING CONDITIONS: first off, my skill level includes HS backroll, TS front roll, wrapped 360, but enough air that I could pull anything if I were not such a pansy. I don’t have my own boat so I hitched a ride with an awesome bunch of strangers. The boat was an older tige with a “TEN FOOT POLE” The water conditions were not the best as it was the first Saturday after most schools ended and so the boat population was high. I would consider this day to be my season breaking run too.
BOOTS (DRIVER): I tried the boot on in the store and initially was not that impressed. But I was determined to at least give the equipment a try to satisfy my curiosities. Once I was in the water my feelings changed about the fit of the boot. (I now can say that trying on boots in the store may not be the best way to get the true characteristic of a boot, regardless of board control) It felt like the boot began to mold to my feet, wrapping completely around my foot from toe to ankle like a sock... a well supported sock. Never have I felt so “attached” to the board before. I felt like my feet from the ankle down were actually part of the board. There was no heel lift/movement whatsoever. The liners have large awesome heel kidneys that add to the whole effect. The laces are indeed a pane in the butt. There is an interior lace for extra heel hold and there is a bi-level lace system on the exterior. Though a pane out of the box, the laces can be removed to fit individual rider styles and are relatively easy to get used to. If you like a stiff ridged boot; ride the boots out of the box, if you prefer a simpler/ looser feel, remove the interior lace and maybe modify the front to make it a single lace system. What Slingshot has done is essentially made 3 or more styles of boot in one. My first run of two sets I tightened all the laces and my toes started falling asleep a bit. The second run I tightened only the exterior laces (but not as much as the first time) and felt better, but still felt like the hold was just as good, even in the heels. This has also been my first Closed Toe experience. Like many others out there I have been worried about getting my toes smashed. I am positive I had one or two landings/crashes that would have been a foot out the front experience and I felt only a little extra pressure on my toes as if kicking a ball. I can now side with those who say, “your toes will be fine as long as your wearing the right size.” When wearing closed toe your toes should be touching the end of the toe box. If there is space then there will be opportunistic space to create toe crushing momentum. If toe smashing was REALLY an issue, than snowboard boots would get the same complaints right? I don’t think I am a “closed toe forever” kind of guy now, but I definitely agree that closed toe is here to stay and maybe may become the standard with time. Slingshot boots come in single size increments, which I think is better for closed toe boots. Other companies that have a range of foot sizes (like 10-11) for each boot which allows for some people to have more space in the toe box which is not good.
SUGGESTIONS: the ankle exterior lace has a hiking-boot-like hook with teeth on the lace loop. When tightening AND LOOSENING pull the laces straight up vertically and not laterally, otherwise the laces will catch the teeth and not move. I struggled to loosen the laces until I discovered this. Also, to keep the laces from getting tangled you might try keeping the lace handles clipped to the back of the binding and then pulling on the bare laces, or unclipping the lace handle off the binding momentarily.
On another note, I think the duck adjustment switch is the best thing yet. I thought liquidforce and hyperlite and cwb had something with the teeth and bolts system, but I no longer think so. The four hole pattern is not only good for boot-to-board response, but is also good for lack of bolt loosening with use. If I were using my board I am sure I would have had to tighten the bolts between each run (if I didn’t have lock tight thread locker that is) .
BOARD: the landings are AMAZINGLY soft, like a dream, especially if you set the tail in first. I used to think that center spines were the next best wakeboard development, but in comparison to the Future Response Technology center spines are hard as a rock. The boat was small and older and was equipped with a normal ski line cheap wake handle, but despite this I felt like I was still getting great pop, so I would have to say that pop was excellent too. There was only once in the day that I could try a “wheelie”/ tail slide/ manual and I was surprised to find that it was soo easy to initiate it that I found myself on my back swimming. The board is slippery when you want it (doing surface trix) and tracks well when you want it to too. It did take a while getting used to. At first I was worried about it being slippery with the flat bottom, but I was surprised to find it as controllable as any other board I’ve ridden… but maybe more so. The majority of the day I was riding in trafficked chop. Considering I am writing this now with little to no leg/knee soreness I would have to say that the board takes chop very well.
I have not tried a roam, so I can’t give comparisons there… sorry.
I think I’ll consider switching to Slingshot, but not until a year or more. I usually only buy new gear once every other year for financial reasons, and usually switch off from new bindings to new board to new bindings every other year or so. Not long ago I got the CWB Zeus, and so far I have liked them a lot (one tub try-on and once in use at powell) and will be happy with them and my Byerly board from 2004 until my future choices. Till then I will have my eye on Slingshot.