Hello and welcome to my NOW O Drive bindings review.
In this review I will take a look at the O-Drives as freeride snowboard bindings.
As per tradition here at SnowboardingProfiles.com I will give the O-Drives a score out of 100 (based on several factors) and see how they compare with other Freeride bindings.
Bindings: NOW O-Drive 2021
Price: $569 (USD recommended retail)
Other Uses: Aggressive All-Mountain
Flex: Stiff (9/10)
Rating Score: 84.5/100
Compared to other Men’s Freeride Bindings
Out of the 10 Men’s Freeride bindings that I rated:
- The average score was 85.5/100
- The highest score was 92.3/100
- The lowest score was 79.9/100
- The average price was $443
- The O-Drive ranked 5th out of 10
Overview of the O-Drive's Specs
Check out the tables for the O-Drive ’s specs and available sizes.
Freeride, aggressive all-mountain
2 x 4 | 4 x 4 | needs a separate disc for channel mounting
US BOOT SIZE
EURO BOOT SIZE
Who are the O-Drive Most Suited To?
The O-Drive are best suited to those who like their bindings stiff and thier riding hard and fast.
They are best matched with stiffer boards and boots.
Definitely not for the beginner and not even intermediate riders. You want to be advanced to ride these bindings, and like you're riding to be to the limits.
The O-Drive in More Detail
O.k. let’s take a more detailed look at what the O-Drive are capable of.
Binding: NOW O-Drive 2021, M
Date: March 3, 2020
Conditions: Limited visibility. Started without snow but snowed most of the time, but pretty wet snow though.
Quite cold with wind. Think it was around -8°C (17.6°F) with wind. -2°C (28.4°F) without. My fingers were certainly feeling it. Quite windy.
Snow was pretty good for the most part. On groomer some harder spots but mostly medium. Off groomer medium with some crunchy spots.
Bindings angles: +15/-15
Stance width: 550mm (21.7″)
Board demoed with: Rossignol One LF 2018, 159
Baseplate Length: 24.4cm (9.6”)*
*measured on the top side of the footbed - a little bit of angle down to underside of baseplate which was 23.2cm (9.1").
Baseplate (footbed) Length fully extended: not applicable (doesn't extend)
Highback Height: 21cm (8.3")*
* from bottom of heel cup to top of highback. From bottom of baseplate to top of highback is 28.5cm (11.22")
Weight: 820g (1lb 13oz)
* for one binding, including screws and disc. The average weight of a small sample size of around 30 bindings (2019, 2020 & 2021 models) I weighed, was 895 grams. The lightest was 760 grams and the heaviest was 1,020grams. So the O-Drive is a good bit lighter than the average, and you can feel it picking it up and when riding/on lift.
Had some mounting issues with this and other NOW bindings I was testing. Note that this was on my test board and not necessarily going to be the case for every board.
Had to sync at least 2 screws without washers and even then one of the holes just wouldn't go with their screws and had to use one of my malavita screws.
Not sure if it was a combination of my board and their screws/discs or what, but was a little frustrating mounting them.
Really stiff - the highback has hardly any twist at all and just overall feel really stiff when riding.
Made my board feel more carvy - could definitely lay down bigger carves with these bindings on it vs my test bindings (Burton Malavita) but made the board a little less agile at speed vs my test bindings.
Not a lot of board feel. They are great for carving and for absorbing shock (see later) but don't get a lot of board feel in them, for those that like to feel the flex of their board underneath them.
Felt they had slightly less in them for popping/ollies vs my test bindings. This is a fairly subtle thing and often I don't notice any difference, but in this case they were a step down.
There are some unique things you can do with these bindings, like other NOW bindings, but there is also a lack of adjustability in other areas.
Heel Cup: No
Stance Width: Can run disc vertically or horizontally, so if they work as is in terms of centering your bindings across the board, then there is good stance width adjustability (i.e. when you can run the disc horizontally). However, with no heel cup movement or any gas pedal adjustments, there's less chance of getting that centering right without having to run the disc vertically.
Highback Lean: Semi-tool-less. I say semi because you can flip between 0 degree lean and 12mm lean tool-less, but if you want a 4mm or 8mm lean, then you need a screwdriver.
Ankle Strap Position: no
Toe Strap Position: no
Ankle and toe strap length: Yes tool-less
Gas pedal/toe ramp extension: no
Highback Rotation: no
Compatible with: 4 x 4, 2 x 4 - you can get a channel disc but it's sold separately.
So fairly minimal in terms of adjustability/compatibility, but you can:
- Switch the straps over so that you have either better ankle support, or more freedom of movement
- You can change out the bushings. So you can choose harder and softer bushings - for either more give or more responsiveness
- They come with NOW's Kingpin system which enables you to switch bindings between boards without the need of a tool and in a fast way, which is pretty cool.
Whilst the footbed on the O-Drive feels harder than it does on some other NOW offerings, the shock absorption is still next level.
Despite that harder feeling footbed, the O-Drive absorbs shock from flat landings and from chatter really really well.
A large part of that is down to the "Skate Tech" they use, which allows the bindings to pivot as you move from edge to edge. And another part is the bushings which sit in all four corners of the bindings.
Pretty smooth ratchets without being ultra smooth.
All round pretty comfortable, but a couple of things that weren't as comfortable.
Ankle Strap: Not the greatest ankle strap I've ridden. This, IMO, is an area for improvement. I like the fact you can switch the straps for extra feel, but if that's coming at the cost of a nicer ankle strap, I'd take the better ankle strap and forgo that.
Toe Strap: Not a big fan of the toe strap. Again, another area for improvement, IMO.
Canted Footbed: No canted footbed, but the skate tech is supposed to deal with fatigue, so no issues there.
Padded Footbed: It's got some good padding. Harder than on most NOW bindings, but that doesn't take away from the overall shock absorption as mentioned above.
Highback: Highback has some good padding on it. Covers pretty much the whole highback. Did have some minor calf bite though. I had it set to a zero highback lean, but it still felt like there was some lean in the highback.
Decent ankle support. I had the straps on the "ankle support" or "freeride" setting. There would be less ankle support in the "surf mode".
Score Breakdown and Final Verdict
Check out the breakdown of the score in the table below.
Contribution to Final Score
TOTAL after normalizing
Overall, if you've got the budget (really up there in terms of price), want something super carvy/bombing, like your ride to be as damp and chatter free as possible and aren't too concerned with butterability, then the O-Drive are worth a look.
They're very light bindings, that just feel super high quality when holding and looking at them. The straps let them down a little bit though, IMO. Not my favorite straps.
More Info, Current Prices and Where to Buy Online
If you want to check out some other freeride bindings or want to see how the O-Drive compare to other freeride bindings, check out the next link.