Versatile performance: a binding quiver in one
I first reviewed the K2 Lien AT back in 2018 and was so impressed with the versatility of the Tripod chassis and the overall ride that I bought an extra pair. Since then, I’ve kept an eye on the yearly Lien AT iterations and have been looking forward to trying the new improvements, notably the Sender strap and the LockOut Block. The K2 Lien AT are rated a 7 out of 10 on K2’s stiffness scale, just a touch stiffer than the 6 out of 10 K2 Formula we reviewed last year. This year the Lien AT come in a grey Pat Moore colourway in addition to the classic black we reviewed.
The Sender Ankle Strap is a padless low-profile strap. It is firmer than the Bender strap of the K2 Lineup bindings, however it is flexible enough that when tightened it stretches a little to really wrap around the shape of your boot. I don’t miss my old leather straps anymore.
The Perfect Fit 2.0 toe strap is a minimalist toe strap that is used on all of the high end K2 bindings. For good reason too, as the two adjustment points make them conform to any possible boot shape.
The straps all have Cam Lock Center Adjusting tabs. These are really simple and easy to adjust clasps to instantly change the length of the straps. Day one set up out of the box is quick, as well as any needed adjustments on hill. They are particularly useful when switching boards with a buddy with different sized boots.
The ankle strap has a hinge mount which allows the strap to naturally fall away from the footbed when unstrapped, making it easier to get your boot into the binding. Keep this in mind before sticking any stomp pads on your board (if you’re into that) as the strap will likely come to rest over the usual stomp pad location and impede use.
The K2 Lien AT have minimalist cored-out highbacks, which are on the stiffer side of medium. They’re comfortable and don’t dig into your calf, all the while providing quick response. For riders who prefer a softer highback, switching to the included softer pods on the Tripod chassis (discussed below) will give the whole back end more play, in effect loosening the side to side flex of the highback.
Forward lean adjustment is done without tools and it sits well when it’s been adjusted. After using K2 bindings for a few years now, I can change my forward lean pretty quickly, and even do it on the hill between runs.
Highback rotation is also done with the forward lean adjustment levers. There are three holes to move between on each side of the heel cup, and this can be time consuming if you are doing a major rotation that requires changing holes on both sides.
The K2 Mini MC disc works on 2×4 inserts and the channel system. There are 5 holes so you can adjust your stance in 1 cm increments, which is great for people who want to try new stance options. Lien AT’s also come with a pair of extra discs for additional edge-to-edge boot centering options. With a size 10 in Large Lien AT’s, my boots were centered, and I did not use these extra discs.
Tripod Chassis Technology
The K2 Lien AT are built on a TriPod Chassis that come with interchangeable pods of different stiffnesses. In the box are red pods (soft), yellows (medium) and blues (stiff), plus a LockOut Block for the heel. There are so many combinations you can make with the pods depending on whether you use two coloured pods and the LockOut Block or just go with the looser option of three coloured pods. Once you start getting fancy by mixing the coloured pods you can really customize your binding feel down to the smallest detail. I really like the LockOut Block as it actually fits in the heel area pod connection point and doesn’t fall off whenever you unscrew the bindings. It stabilizes the heel and increases response. Replacing it with a coloured pod will increase lateral motion and give the bindings more of a surfy feel. The bindings came with the stiffest blue pods installed and while they were initially really tough to remove, after that first go they loosened up enough to pop out just by grabbing the edge with fingers and pulling.
Use the reds for the most surfy, loose ride or yellows for a little less flex. Both of these colours are really good if you want to really tweak your grabs or stretch out some laybacks. That said, we’re just talking about lateral movement here – front to back the Liens are still providing full support. Blues are the stiffest and will give you the best power transfer, especially when coupled with the LockOut Block.
Above the Tripod Chassis, the K2 Lien AT have 3° canted footbeds which align your body better and ease pressure off your knees. I don’t notice the canting but maybe that’s by design – it’s supposed to feel natural.
How do they ride?
After testing some different combinations of stiffer and softer pods, I ended up sticking with blue pods plus LockOut Block on the front foot and yellow pods with LockOut Block on the back foot. This gave me a stiffer binding up front for quick turn initiation and increased power transfer. In powder, I didn’t notice them, but on hardpack there is a difference. Nowadays I don’t bother changing out the pods for different conditions, but I could see people throwing on the blues for a race or reds for spring mellow riding days. The beauty of the tripod chassis isn’t just limited to adjusting stiffness though, the ride feels great too. The pods provide a pleasing lateral flex, that gives a natural flow to the bindings as you move your weight forward and back through turns.
Even though I really liked the Precision ankle straps from the 2018 Lien AT’s, these Sender straps have won me over. They are supportive and tighten well against your instep. They have just enough give to let you crank them down tight while staying comfortable. As a bonus, they seem impervious to the nicks and tears that can ruin a leather strap.
The K2 Lien AT have always been a top level binding since their introduction in 2016 and this year’s model continues that legacy. They hit the sweet spot with board feel, performance and adjustability maxed out, in a comfortable and stylish package. Their chameleon-like ability to change from a highly responsive stiffer binding to a softer surfy ride just by switching out pods underfoot cannot be overstated enough. With this level of possible customization, you’re essentially getting multiple bindings in one. They fit K2 boots perfectly (obviously!) and with the adjustable gas pedal and Perfect Fit 2.0 toe straps, it’s hard to imagine a boot from a different brand not fitting. With the LockOut block they are worth an upgrade for the convenience from older Lien AT models and the natural flex of the Sender straps (and baseplate) make them a tempting step up for K2 Formula owners. For riders who have never tried K2 bindings, the K2 Lien AT are a highly recommended introduction to the latest tech the company has to offer.
Get more information on K2 Snowboarding at their official site.
Disclosure: The K2 Lien AT bindings were provided by K2 Snowboarding.