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May 7, 2013
OK, so the new BD X4s are out.

This question is about hard specs, not about 'how they place' or whatever.

Since for many the relevant comparison will be vs. Aliens, I noticed that the smaller sizes are like Aliens but lighter, and the larger sizes are like Aliens/C4s in weight. Anyway, my question is about their strength, which overall seems diminished. Here is an example:

Purple 0.5 C4 camalot:
Range 19.6-33.5mm 97 grams, 12 kN

Red 1" Alien from Fixe (i.e. hopefully real-world on-the-market #s):
Range 19.8-33.8mm 88 grams, 12 kN

Purple 0.5 X4:
Range 19.6-33.5mm 91 grams, 9 kN

Any thoughts? Anybody care? Why would it be weaker? Is it just a removal of unneeded strength? Would an anchor of two bomber purple X4s be considered 'sufficient' for, say, taking newbies climbing?

(similar numbers for, say, purple C3 vs black Alien vs X4 - X4 is 5kN vs 8kN for the Alien - so saith Fixe)
tradjunkie
Joined May 18, 2011
0 points
May 7, 2013
tradjunkie wrote:
OK, so the new BD X4s are out. This question is about hard specs, not about 'how they place' or whatever. Since for many the relevant comparison will be vs. Aliens, I noticed that the smaller sizes are like Aliens but lighter, and the larger sizes are like Aliens/C4s in weight. Anyway, my question is about their strength, which overall seems diminished. Here is an example: Purple 0.75 C4 camalot: Range 19.6-33.5mm 97 grams, 12 kN Red 1" Alien from Fixe (i.e. hopefully real-world on-the-market #s): Range 19.8-33.8mm 88 grams, 12 kN Purple 0.75 X4: Range 19.6-33.5mm 91 grams, 9 kN Any thoughts? Anybody care? Why would it be weaker? Is it just a removal of unneeded strength? Would an anchor of two bomber purple X4s be considered 'sufficient' for, say, taking newbies climbing? (similar numbers for, say, purple C3 vs black Alien vs X4 - X4 is 5kN vs 8kN for the Alien - so saith Fixe)


BD purple is a #0.5 not 0.75 so I don't know what to do with the comparison until you have the correct size /color/ specs up
DrApnea
From Wenatchee, WA
Joined May 24, 2011
191 points
May 7, 2013
You're not going to break them. Only when stuff goes under 4kn do you have to worry about aid only stuff. NorCalNomad
From San Francisco
Joined Oct 6, 2011
116 points
May 7, 2013
Good question. At first I think the reduced strength might be partially because of the hollowed out lobes (for the internal springs), but at the same time, I think the wires usually break before anything else. I'm personally fine with the strength rating -- it's actually not that much less than master cams. John Peters
Joined May 3, 2013
0 points
May 7, 2013
Aliens and C4's use the same gauge cable for all sizes, BD uses smaller gauge cables on the smaller X4's, hence the lower strength rating.

Doesn't matter anyway, you're not gonna break them.
half-pad-mini-jug
From crauschville
Joined Apr 8, 2008
1,971 points
May 7, 2013
The Cathedral Spires in RMNP, left to right: Stile...
tradjunkie wrote:
Would an anchor of two bomber purple X4s be considered 'sufficient' for, say, taking newbies climbing?


Are newbie's lives more important than those of your experienced partners?

Do you regularly build two piece traditional anchors?
Marc H
From Lafayette, CO
Joined May 10, 2007
280 points
May 7, 2013
DrApnea wrote:
BD purple is a #0.5 not 0.75 so I don't know what to do with the comparison until you have the correct size /color/ specs up


Spurious 7s deleted.
tradjunkie
Joined May 18, 2011
0 points
May 7, 2013
Flaming Pumpkin
Marc H wrote:
Are newbie's lives more important than those of your experienced partners? Do you regularly build two piece traditional anchors?


FTW
Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Joined Dec 10, 2010
145 points
May 7, 2013
OTL
Marc H wrote:
Are newbie's lives more important than those of your experienced partners? Do you regularly build two piece traditional anchors?


No.
Yes.

Aww, crap - I always get these confused - yes and no? Wait, does traditional involve bolts? F#ck. Yes and yes?

Wait, got it:

False and True!
Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Joined Oct 20, 2010
345 points
May 8, 2013
half-pad-mini-jug wrote:
Aliens and C4's use the same gauge cable for all sizes, BD uses smaller gauge cables on the smaller X4's, hence the lower strength rating. Doesn't matter anyway, you're not gonna break them.


Not quite- C4s actually have a cable that runs down the stem, through the loop, and back up the stem, which means they do not have a swage anywhere in the body of the cam- only at the boss where the stem connects to the axles.

The X4s are similar in construction to the Master Cam and Alien. If I had to guess, I would say that BD rated them lower because they believe the swage as a point of weakness compared to the C4 construction. As to whether they pull significantly weaker than a C4, I'd tend to doubt it.

As for an anchor of 2 bomber purple X4s vs bomber C4s of the same size- I would want a third piece for both anchors- purple C4 is right on the border for a 2 piece anchor, imho. I would totally be fine with a bomber green C4 and a bomber green X4 for an anchor.
John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Joined Feb 1, 2004
2,395 points
May 8, 2013
On a somewhat unrelated note, does anyone know how they were able to achieve the smaller head widths in the top 3 sizes compared to the C4's? cellige
Joined Dec 2, 2010
0 points
May 8, 2013
Grande Grotto
Contrary to the idea that "you won't break them" cams can and do break. All sorts of things can cause the cam to be loaded in "less than ideal" ways (ie NOT LAB conditions) resulting in forces that exceed a cams holding abilities. There's a whole thread (if not more) with pictures of mangled cams.

I'm with John, I think manufactures are being more conservative with their ratings. Sure it might pull to 12kN in a LAB test jig but real-world ratings (less) are likely the more prudent measurement. I think the Totem guys mentioned this in another thread asking why they spec'd out lower than an old CCH. I believe it was because they (Totem) were testing at 75% open vs CCH at 25% open.
mattm
From TX
Joined Jun 2, 2006
1,238 points
May 8, 2013
cellige wrote:
On a somewhat unrelated note, does anyone know how they were able to achieve the smaller head widths in the top 3 sizes compared to the C4's?


Given there is only one cable in the boss head rather than the 2 that the C4 has, that'd probably be part of it.

i'll look at them today and see if i can see the other differences (if there are any).

on another note- Metolius will not rate any of their cams higher than 10kn, even though the big ones will pull in excess of 18-20kn in the jig. Doug has this policy because you cannot account for rock strength in the lab.
John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Joined Feb 1, 2004
2,395 points
Administrator
May 8, 2013
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after...
cellige wrote:
On a somewhat unrelated note, does anyone know how they were able to achieve the smaller head widths in the top 3 sizes compared to the C4's?


Part of it is what John mentioned. The stem is slightly thinner, and so correlatively, so is the head. Also, the head that holds the axle(s) is a bit thinner and does not extend out from the stem as much as the C4s.

The biggest contributor though, is the fact that the springs on the X4s are incut into the lobes themselves, instead of being between the lobes and taking up their own space on the axles. They were able to subtract what looks to be a full lobe's width from the overall head width by making the springs "internal".

Compare in the pics and you'll see what I'm talking about. I couldn't find a good pic of .75 or lower from the front, but the #1 is close enough and is built the same way.


C4 with exposed springs
C4 with exposed springs



X4 head view
X4 head view




X4 head closeup
X4 head closeup
Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Joined Jul 30, 2011
1,004 points
May 20, 2013
I used ems sale + member reward or whatever it's called to buy a green (.75) and am pretty impressed. I held the new one next to my standard c4 and it's noticeably smaller and lighter. I think that the remark online about it being "one lobe smaller" is about right - it it much more narrow than the green c4. The one big/obviously/huge difference obviously, is that this is a downright FLOPPY cam. It's not quite as "spaghetti" as my aliens, but it's like night and day compared to c4s.

I'm excited to try it this weekend in the gunks, and am pretty psyched to have another good flexible stem cam that is roughly one size bigger than my red alien.

My climbing partner is currently considering purchasing a full run of x4s ("eventually"), but we are using this one as our test for the bigger sizes. Both of us like the c3's in the smaller sizes, but I can see him buying the smaller ones in the future.

(my non-serious climber girlfriend looked at the x4 next to my c4 and said "this is like the jetsons, and that, well, that's like the flinstones."
Rob D.
From Brooklyn, NY
Joined May 18, 2011
37 points
May 23, 2013
John Wilder wrote:
If I had to guess, I would say that BD rated them lower because they believe the swage as a point of weakness compared to the C4 construction. As to whether they pull significantly weaker than a C4, I'd tend to doubt it. As for an anchor of 2 bomber purple X4s vs bomber C4s of the same size- I would want a third piece for both anchors- purple C4 is right on the border for a 2 piece anchor, imho. I would totally be fine with a bomber green C4 and a bomber green X4 for an anchor.


Thanks John!

on another note- Metolius will not rate any of their cams higher than 10kn, even though the big ones will pull in excess of 18-20kn in the jig. Doug has this policy because you cannot account for rock strength in the lab./quote>

This is the kind of stuff behind the curtain that explains much....did anybody ever really want to take a 16kN fall on a Big Bro? :) [hey, at least it has no swages...]
tradjunkie
Joined May 18, 2011
0 points
May 23, 2013
I have to say, I picked up a full set and while I haven't put them through rigorous testing, I did have a chance to take them out in Eldo the other day and in short, I think they are awesome. The flexible stem is rigid enough that placing cams is easy, yet the cams almost never walk due to that flexible stem. The wide expansion range allows them to fit well in spots where no other cams can. Also, one thing I was surprised about is how well the cams "sit". That is, when I place them, they seem to find the ideal location and give me great confidence that I have found a bomber placement. I bounce tested both the biggest and the smallest size and both performed admirably.

My one complaint is the thin dyneema sling. I just have concerns about the durability of the sling. Other than that, these are a great compliment to any rack that I think vastly outperforms the Mastercams.
TheBirdman
From Eldorado Springs, Colorado
Joined Jan 4, 2010
10 points
May 23, 2013
half-pad-mini-jug wrote:
Aliens and C4's use the same gauge cable for all sizes


Aliens DO NOT use the same gauge cable for all sizes. At least the original CCH design (which FIXE bought) didn't.
Will S
From Joshua Tree
Joined Nov 15, 2006
1,274 points
May 28, 2013
So I climbed with mine yesterday, and twice there were placements where the narrower width of the x4 fit, where the c4 wouldn't. Gunks horizontals and pebbles make x4 pretty wonderful. One of the placements was a very bad runout with a real chance of decking and it was either a sketchy tri-cam placement, or a pretty wonderful x4 placement that the c4 was slightly too wide to fit in. Rob D.
From Brooklyn, NY
Joined May 18, 2011
37 points
May 28, 2013
Rob Davis wrote:
So I climbed with mine yesterday, and twice there were placements where the narrower width of the x4 fit, where the c4 wouldn't. Gunks horizontals and pebbles make x4 pretty wonderful. One of the placements was a very bad runout with a real chance of decking and it was either a sketchy tri-cam placement, or a pretty wonderful x4 placement that the c4 was slightly too wide to fit in.

I have the X4 yellow, nice cam. To be honest, Metolius TCU performs a lot better at the Gunks than X4.
divnamite
From New York, NY
Joined Aug 1, 2007
223 points
May 28, 2013
A fine day at Reeds- Ejesta!
Impressions, pretty but $$. I love BD gear don't get me wrong but at a premium are they better than the competition- Metolius Master, Fixe Alien, Totem Basic.

One question- with respect to the .50 purple and .75 Green does anyone find them floppy? I had this issue with the Aliens and its exactly why I got rid of my Aliens larger than red.
squiddo
From Mountain View, CA
Joined Jul 28, 2008
63 points
May 28, 2013
squiddo wrote:
Impressions, pretty but $$. I love BD gear don't get me wrong but at a premium are they better than the competition- Metolius Master, Fixe Alien, Totem Basic. One question- with respect to the .50 purple and .75 Green does anyone find them floppy? I had this issue with the Aliens and its exactly why I got rid of my Aliens larger than red.


I didn't think it was anymore floppy than the red/yellow alien. I'm a fan of flexible stems though, and would be perfectly happy climbing with nothing but aliens, tri-cams, and nuts.
Rob D.
From Brooklyn, NY
Joined May 18, 2011
37 points
May 28, 2013
divnamite wrote:
I have the X4 yellow, nice cam. To be honest, Metolius TCU performs a lot better at the Gunks than X4.


I climb aliens and c3's for my smaller gunks sizes. I like the flexibility/stickiness of the aliens, and the c3's are more narrow than metolius tcu, so I like them for small pockets.

edit: I bought a green x4 specifically to supplement above red alien and am pleased. I don't know if I'll ever feel like I need the smaller x4's, and for the price I might just buy more aliens.
Rob D.
From Brooklyn, NY
Joined May 18, 2011
37 points
May 28, 2013
I like X4 better than C3, althought C3 has its value. So far, I like X4 better than the mastercam, whether it's worth the premium, I'm not sure. divnamite
From New York, NY
Joined Aug 1, 2007
223 points
Jun 1, 2013
squiddo wrote:
Impressions, pretty but $$. I love BD gear don't get me wrong but at a premium are they better than the competition- Metolius Master, Fixe Alien, Totem Basic. One question- with respect to the .50 purple and .75 Green does anyone find them floppy? I had this issue with the Aliens and its exactly why I got rid of my Aliens larger than red.


Got to play with some X4 while in yosemite, and now own a .1. The .5 and .75 are def not floppy.

They are worth it over master cams (smaller head width and better range) and fixe aliens (better price and smaller head). Against the Totems...that's a harder call. In the tiny aliens (blue black) it's def worth it.

I still love my c3's and can't wait to have a full set so that I'll have triples in thin/finger/ thin hand sizes.
NorCalNomad
From San Francisco
Joined Oct 6, 2011
116 points
Administrator
Jun 1, 2013
John Wilder wrote:
on another note- Metolius will not rate any of their cams higher than 10kn, even though the big ones will pull in excess of 18-20kn in the jig. Doug has this policy because you cannot account for rock strength in the lab.

As well as they wont rate their 00 and 0 above 5 kN for the same reason. The 8kN rating on the black Alien is misleading as it would be very hard to get a cam that small to hold 8kN in rock. Strength ratings are the last thing one should consider when buying gear, unless we are talking about small RPs. I have never even heard of a cam's maincable failing in the real world from excess load. Has there ever been a recorded instance?
20 kN
From Hawaii
Joined Feb 2, 2009
665 points


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