Hello and welcome to my NOW Drive snowboard bindings review.
In this review, I will take a look at the Drive as all-mountain-freeride snowboard bindings.
As per tradition here at SnowboardingProfiles.com I will give the Drive a score out of 100 (based on several factors) and see how they compare with other all-mountain-freeride bindings.
Binding: NOW Drive
Flex Rating: Stiff (8/10)
Flex Feel on Snow: Medium-Stiff (7/10)
Rating Score: 78.2/100
Compared to other Men’s All-Mountain-Freeride Bindings
Out of the 17 men’s all-mountain-freeride bindings that I rated:
Overview of the Drive’s Specs
Check out the tables for the Drive’s specs and available sizes.
Just on the Lighter side of Normal
2 x 4 | 4 x 4 - needs a separate disc for channel mounting
US BOOT SIZE
EURO BOOT SIZE
Who is the Drive Most Suited To?
The Drive are best for anyone looking for a binding that has a smooth feel to it, with good response, and one that can hold on to a carve well. Also for someone that wants a binding that absorbs shock well, and smooths out the bumps well.
Not for a beginner - too stiff for that. Also not for anyone looking for a lot of board feel or who like to butter a lot.
The Drive in More Detail
O.k. let’s take a more detailed look at what the Drive are capable of.
Binding: NOW Drive 2020, M
Date: March 15, 2019
Conditions: Overcast but good visibility.
Snow was quite cruddy and slushy/sticky in places. But was harder in other places. Started to harden up as it moved into evening, and got better for speed and response - but was quite sticky earlier in the day.
Bindings angles: +15/-15
Stance width: 550mm (21.7″)
Board demoed with: Rossignol One LF 2018, 159
Baseplate Length: 24.3cm (9.6”)*
*measured on the top side of the footbed - a little bit of angle down to underside of baseplate
Highback Height: 20cm (7.87”)*
* from bottom of heel cup to top of highback
Height from Bottom of Baseplate to top of Highback: 29cm (11.42")
Weight: 860 grams (1 lbs, 14 oz)*
*of one binding, including screws and disc. The average weight of a small sample size of 26 bindings (2019 & 2020 models) I weighed, was 894 grams. The lightest was 760 grams and the heaviest was 1,000grams.
NOW rate these as 8/10, but I felt them a little softer than that. They're certainly more than medium, but not quite 8, by my feel. I would say 7/10 is a more accurate description of their flex.
They don't have a super snappy response, but they do respond well - and that response is smooth, even and predictable. On top of that, I felt that I could hold on to a carve a little longer than the average binding, and really lean into it, so that's definitely a big plus there.
This is probably the weakest point of the binding. Not necessarily what a binding of this type is going for, but personally I still like a good bit of board feel, even in a stiffer binding that's more directed at freeriding and aggressive all-mountain riding.
That kingpin skate tech works well for other things but not so much for board feel. Side to side there's quite a dead feel and it doesn't make buttering easy, even on a board that's quite buttery.
I didn't really notice any difference between these and my control bindings (Burton Malavita), but that's not a bad thing as the Malavitas have pretty good pop/ollie power. Could maybe get a bit more out of them with a canted footbed but overall pretty good.
Next to board feel, the adjustability is the next most lacking thing with these bindings. But if they fit fine and you don't find you need any extra adjustability, then it's not a big issue. But if you really like to tweak things, then it could be.
Heel Cup: No
Stance Width: Can run disc vertically and horizontally
Highback Lean: Yes, tool-less
Ankle Strap Position: No
Toe Strap Position: No
Ankle and toe strap length: Tool-less
Gas pedal/toe ramp extension: No
Highback Rotation: No
Compatible with: 2 x 4 | 4 x 4 - Not compatible with channel without separate disc
So basically the highback lean, the tool-less ankle and toe strap length and the fact you can run the disc both vertically and horizontally are the only real things that adjust from this list.
However, there are a couple of things that do adjust that most other bindings don't do.
- You can flip the ankle strap between the left and right bindings, which changes the feel - one way it gives more ankle support and the other way allows for a bit more freedom.
- You can get separate bushings and they can be swapped out. This allows you to adjust the flex feel of the bindings.
Let’s Break up this text with a Video
One of the top features of the Drive, IMO, is the way they absorb shock. This is achieved in a couple of different ways.
Firstly: There is a good amount of padding underfoot - which is the way that most bindings deal with shock absorption - and this part of it alone does a good job. The footbed is harder than other NOW bindings I rode, but it's still fairly thick - and that extra hardness probably helps with it's response. On other NOW bindings I would likely give 5/5 for shock absorption just for this factor, but the Drive would probably get more like 4/5. But the next factor bumps them up, and is part of what makes NOW quite unique, when it comes to shock absorption.
Secondly: NOW's kingpin Skate Tech does a great job at absorbing crud, bumps, chatter you name it. It gives the Drive a really damp, smooth feel when you're riding, and on landings from jumps.
The ratchets on all NOW bindings I've tried function really well. They're not the smoothest on the market, but they work - and aren't sticky or anything like that. The ankle strap somehow felt smoother than the toe strap.
Overall, a good amount of comfort - didn't feel any pressure points or get any other kind of foot pain from them - which is the main thing.
Ankle Strap: It's a quality ankle strap. Not what I would rate as one of the best I've tried, but very good nonetheless.
Toe Strap: Again, not the best I've tried but good enough
Canted Footbed: No
Padded Footbed: Good amount of padding - and the heel has a little extra (which, IMO, is where you need it most).
Highback: There's a little bit of something, other than just hard plastic on the high back, but not heaps, but most importantly didn't feel any pressure points or any issues with it.
There's good ankle support but not amazing - the ankle strap is good, but found it sat too low on my ankle to really feel hugely supportive - which is where I think a higher ankle strap position option would be good to have. But still not bad either, not super loose or anything.
I was going to give 3.5/5 for ankle support, but then I remembered that you can flip the ankle straps over for more support. I was riding them in the position where you get more freedom of movement (which I like in more freestyle bindings, or surfing powder, but prefer a bit more support if I'm going to be charging in harder conditions). I didn't get a chance to ride them with the straps flipped, but assuming they give more support, I bumped the score a little, but they could be even better than 4/5 suggests, but since I didn't get a chance to ride them in that other position, that's what I've gone with.
Price/Value for Money
They're a little cheaper than the average binding in this category, and for this kind of flex range.
Score Breakdown and Final Verdict
Check out the breakdown of the score in the table below.
TOTAL after normalizing
Overall, the Drive's a very solid binding - and is great for anyone who likes a smooth, chatter absorbing ride, and likes to lay deep into a carve.
It has some unique adjustability options (like the flip-it straps and the changeable bushings) but doesn't have some of the more traditional adjustability options. Also, there isn't a lot of board feel, for those who like to feel the board, and butter a bit.
If those two things aren't an issue for you, and you like the idea of a smooth, damp, yet responsive ride, and you want to save a bit of cash vs most others in this category, then the Drive might be a great option for you.
More Info, Current Prices and Where to Buy Online
If you want to learn more about the Drive, or if you are ready to buy, or if you just want to research prices and availability, check out the links below.
If you want to check out some other all-mountain-freeride binding options, or if you want to compare how the Drive compares to other all-mountain-freeride bindings, then check out the next link.
I was looking to purchase these and was trying to decide between a medium and large. Im currently wearing a size 11 Burton kendo boot. Do you think I can get away with a medium? Thanks
You might get away with the medium, given that the Kendo is a lower profile boot. But no guarantees. Large is the safe bet. Depending on your board’s width, the Large might be the better bet, anyway.
Would this pair well with a K2 Excavator?
I have Select Pros for my Dancehaul but figured something a tad stiffer would work best with the Excavator.
I also already own Katanas but have been loving skatetech.
Thanks for your message.
I haven’t ridden the Excavator but assuming its flex rating of 7/10 is accurate, I think the Drive would work well with it. The Select Pros would be OK too, if you wanted to just switch bindings, but the Drive is a slightly better match, IMO, if you wanted a pair for each board and wanted to optimize the board a little more.
Currently ride ‘18-19 Jones Flagship + Now Drive Bindings.. quite like the edge transfer responsiveness.
Looking for a surfier, more playful board to pair with it. Looking at your Surfy Freestyle list… the Arbor Single, Jones Mind Expander, or even Mind Expander Twin looks right up my ally. The idea of a board that can do Pow butters well sounds like a lot of fun!
Anyways, do you think if I get soft bushing on the Drives, keep straps in surf mode… is there enough lateral movement for small tweaks and butters? Or would the highback/baseplate still be too stiff in your opinion.
Thanks for your message.
I think you could get away with the Drives on something like the Single or Mind Expander, but I would definitely put the soft bushings in there. I haven’t tested NOW bindings with different bushings side by side, so I don’t know how much difference it makes (something I will certainly try to do next time I have my hands on some NOW bindings – thanks for the idea!), but it should help to soften their feel up a bit. Not sure you’re going to get a lot of lateral movement out of them. I don’t find they’re great with that particular quality, but the softer bushings should help with that, in theory.
Hi Nate! What are your thoughts on the Drive vs Jones Mercury as a freeride/All mountain binding. Which one is the most versatile binding out of the two? Are they equally stiff? I’m looking for a binding to match up with my Yes PYL (160 w) and although I’m looking for a freeride binding I still want it to be as versatile as possible while still matching up to the stiffness in the PYL. Would be interesting to here your thoughts on this. Also I’m riding a pair of vans verse.
Thanks for your message. ‘
Both are very similar bindings, to be honest. Certainly not exactly the same and overall, I preferred the Mercury, but very little in it. Just found the Mercury’s slightly more comfortable. There is some versatility to both. Both in terms of flex – both around 7/10 flex, so they are, IMO, stiff enough to drive the PYL, but do have some forgiveness to them. They also have a couple of other things:
– Switchable straps. In one position they give a more locked in feeling and the other position a slightly looser, surfier feel
– Exchangeable bushings. So you can use harder or softer bushings to get a slightly more rigid feel or a slightly more forgiving feel. So you can adjust the flex and feel a bit using those things.
I would go Mercury, just because I found them slightly more comfortable, but both are very similar, and both would match your setup, IMO.
Hope this helps
Ok, thanks Nate! Was pretty set on the Drives before but not so sure anymore. Seen a couple of other sites also recommending Mercury over Drives. What do you think of the Mercurys new highback for this year?
I didn’t get on the 2021 Mercury yet – just got on the Apollo in the 2021 model. So I’m not sure the difference the new highback on the Mercury makes.
Ok, final question. I saw a review mentioning some issues with the base plate when it comes to pressure on the arch and some pressure points if the sole of your boots is softer. Apparently the sway bar under the gas pedal caused some upward pressure on the front o the foot that puts stress along the arch. Ever experienced anything like that with Skate Tech? What boots did you ride when testing Drive’s or Mercury’s?
I didn’t experience this personally with the Drive or Mercury. Not to say that it’s not possible but I didn’t feel that when I rode them. I rode both with 2016 Vans Auras.