Black Diamond Cyborg Pro Crampons

When I hear the word Cyborg it always brings up images of things like Robocop and Terminator. Human beings with special mechanical implants and extraordinary powers. So did Black Diamond's Cyborg Pro crampons give me any special powers? Well, not quite but I did find them to be pretty damn good!

Testing the Cyborg Pro on Bowfell Buttress  © Kevin Avery
Testing the Cyborg Pro on Bowfell Buttress
© Kevin Avery

Okay so first of all, what are they? The Cyborg Pro is a technical crampon for ice and mixed climbing made from stainless steel (more about this later!) It is modular which means you can change between having two front points or just one (mono-points). It is a semi-rigid crampon with flat rails, which means it is positioned closer to the sole of your foot. The Pro version that I tested is a clip-on (step-in) crampon suitable for fully stiffened B3 boots with toe welts. Black Diamond make a strap-on (Clip) version too which are suitable for boots without toe welts. They also feature an integrated anti-balling plate.

"...They are perfect for days on the Ben, mixing it up in the Northern Corries, busting your biceps on foreign cascades or dry-tooling at White Goods!..."
The Cyborg Pro vs tricky mixed ground on Engineers Slabs  © Kevin Avery
The Cyborg Pro vs tricky mixed ground on Engineers Slabs
© Kevin Avery

Stainless Steel. Why?

Black Diamond are making quite a big deal of the fact that they are now producing crampons from stainless steel. So what are the benefits?

Well, firstly stainless steel doesn't rust and it is more durable so your points don't wear out as quickly. It is also lighter which is always desirable when pushing yourself in the mountains. On top of this it is apparently more resistant to balling up with snow (although I'm not sure I really noticed this) as well as being kinder to the environment.

How long have I used them for?

I used the Cyborgs all last winter on everything from mixed climbs in the Cairngorms and the Lake District, to giddily steep pillars in Italy's Val Di Cogne. I have found them to perform excellently on all of these types of terrain. In fact I absolutely love these crampons!

They fit my lightweight asymmetric boots (Sportiva Extreme Evos) perfectly and the flat frames mean that I get good levels of sensitivity when climbing on rock. Well, as much as you're going to with some metal toe extensions anyway! I suppose what I mean here is that the crampon feels more like an extension of my foot than I found with many other crampons, particularly the meccano set, vertical-railed types.

The first thing I did was change the Cyborgs from dual to mono-points. I much prefer the benefits of mono-points for both ice and mixed climbing. For me mono-points are streets ahead on mixed ground and on ice they are certainly no worse than having two. In fact I personally prefer monos on ice as well.

So what are the advantages? Well, firstly on mixed ground you can stand more securely on small edges as there is none of the rocking around that you get with two points. You can precisely place a mono and all that happens when you move around is that it pivots a little bit. This then enables you to execute "drop-knees" and "back-steps." You also have the added bonus that you can stick the single point into narrow icy cracks.

"...This was not as straightforward as I'd have hoped and involves a hacksaw..."

On ice the benefits are the same so you can climb steep pillars more smoothly and on thin and brittle ice there is less chance of shattering (as long as your points are sharp) as you're only making one hole. You can even stand in the holes that you have made with your picks! Finally, keeping your heels low enables the secondary points to bite which means you get a stable "tripod" effect in the ice.

Black Diamond Cyborg Crampons  © Black Diamond

Black Diamond Cyborg Crampons

The Black Diamond Cyborg is a high-end ice and mixed climbing crampon with a lightweight stainless steel design. Optimized for steep waterfall ice, mixed climbing or hard mountain routes, the Cyborg's semi-rigid design offers maximum control for precise placement with minimal weight. Used in mono- or dual-point configuration, the modular, hooded vertical frontpoints perform flawlessly.

  • Distinctive stainless steel construction doesn't rust, is more durable, resists snow balling and saves weight
  • Low-profile micro-adjust heel lever offers precision fit
  • Adjustable, hooded frontpoints and aggressive secondary points
  • Pro version accommodates boots with a toe welt
  • Clip version features flexible toe strap for boots without a toe welt
  • Includes dual-density ABS

The only problem with the Cyborgs and converting to mono-points is the fact that you have to modify the anti balling plates. This was not as straightforward as I'd have hoped and involves a hacksaw. The plates are very difficult to cut and the process is very fiddly. Once you have done it there is no going back and if revert to dual points then you have a hole in your plates. Surely for £150 BD could provide you with a mono and a dual section?

Climbing in the Cyborg Pros has been a joy and they tackle any terrain with ease. The aggressive front-point set up is extremely stable on ice, giving plenty of bite. The monos tackle rock with precision and don't shatter brittle or thin ice. The rest of the points give lots of stability when standing flat -footed or walking down steep neve slopes.

Conclusion

The Cyborg Pros are superb technical crampons that will do everything that the UK winter climber wants them too. They are perfect for days on the Ben, mixing it up in the Northern Corries, busting your biceps on foreign cascades or dry-tooling at White Goods! Apart from the anti-balling plates they are really well designed and build quality is excellent. I really can't wait to put mine on again!

PRICE: £159

MORE INFO: On the Black Diamond Website


About Kevin Avery

Kevin Avery  © Dave Pickford
Kevin Avery
© Dave Pickford

Kevin Avery is 30 and lives in Wilsden, West Yorkshire. He has climbed obsessively for 15 years now and would like to think of himself as a bit of an all-rounder enjoying all aspects of the sport equally. He is a teacher by trade but also dabbles with writing articles and gear reviews, coaching down the local wall, and even taking the odd photograph when time allows.

Kevin can be regularly found sport climbing on the local limestone, scaring himself on trad, freezing on frigid winter belays and bouldering (or is that blundering?!) on the grit. Highlights include climbing the famous Brandler-Hasse route in the Dolomites (on-sight) last year, the beautiful ice of Repentance-Super in Cogne back in February, linking three big ridges on the Ben in a day, oh and managing to on-sight F7c+ and redpoint F8b.

BUY NOW from:
logoCyborg Pro and Clip in Stock - Best UK Price!
See this product at the Elite Mountain Supplies shop
logoUK's best range of ice gear + free shipping.
See this product at the Needle Sports shop
logo£160.00. Free UK Delivery!
See this product at the Outside Ltd shop


For more information visit Black Diamond


4 Nov, 2010
I'd be intersted to know how these compare to the Grivel G-14s as they seem to be closest market rival, shame this wasn;t mentioned in the review. anyone got any experience of both makes?
4 Nov, 2010
to be honest it doesn't really matter how 'good' they are. The fundamental characteristic of a crampon which will define whether you buy them or not is if they fit your boots.
4 Nov, 2010
In comparison to the other crampons I have used recently: The Grivel G14 felt very similar in my opinion although I used these solely with a pair of SCARPA Cumbre boots which were perfectly compatible. The fact that G14s are not stainless made little if no difference to performance (in my opinion). The Petzl Dart is a crampon which i used extensively before the Cyborg. This is probably still my favourite crampon for ice and mixed. It is different to the G14 and Cyborg, it is not modular, it is light and very precise but you can't change between duo and mono. Paired with Sportiva Evo Extreme boots it has provided me with the best level of performance and almost what I'd call "sensitivity" if such a thing is possible from a crampon/winter boot combo. Read my review of these here: http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=1789 As has already been pointed out, boot/crampon compatibility is very important when making any choice so I would advise looking closely into this before purchasing. Hope this helps but feel free to fire any more questions my way. Kevin Avery
5 Nov, 2010
In reply: I've got G14, Darts and had Cyborgs. All good crampons, but the Darts are the ones I prefer for pure ice routes. I liked the Cyborgs, but it's the boot fit thing again. I found the front points in dual point mode just too long. They were wonderfully secure, but kind of got stuck and took effort to extract your foot back out of the ice. I didn't try them in mono-mode, because I didn't attempt the hacksawing job on the anti-bots. On really hard ice I couldn't to get the points far in, and so it allfelt a bit teetery. I found the points on the G14s a bit short once they'd been filed a few times, so now keep them for mixed Scottish stuff, where they're great. I understand why Kev in his review wanted to test the Cyborgs in the full range of winter environments, but that's a formula to wear them out very quickly. My icefall pair are kept scalpel sharp and cosseted from ever meeting rock, whereas at home you can spare the file because pretty much anything vaguely spikey in mono mode will do the job for relatively mushy British conditions.
5 Nov, 2010
Thanks Kevin, interesting stuff. Be interested to hear your views on what another poster has mentioned re length of points, which crampon points are too long/short for differnet activities. Leaning towards the G-14s as much easier to change between mono/dual point, but definitely taking on board that most important factor is what fits my boots best, cheers.
More Comments