Upfront we expected to get an exciting test session on the best selling kite from Liquid Force; the NV. We almost didn’t bother to test the wave kite; the WOW. Luckily we did. Unexpectedly the WOW is a much nicer kite than the NV. Where the NV is restless, the WOW is more stable and firmer with less jellyfishing. We got a strong feeling the type of canopy, or the amount of Ripstop, had an important role in this test. Multilayered Ripstop seems to be not just a marketing pushed feature. While testing the single Ripstop NV back to back with the triple Ripstop WOW we have made another step towards believing single Ripstop really is something from the past.
Will 2018 bring some game changing kites? We were lucky enough to get our hands on four 2018 A-brand kites. We tested the 9 meters of the F-one Bandit 11th version, the Ozone Enduro V2, the North Dice 2018 and the Slingshot RPM 2018. We put them on the menu of our test team on a sunny and -more important- windy place, with varying conditions.
It is clear which gap Flysurfer wanted to fill in with the Stoke. From the outsider in the tube kite world, we would have expected a fresh and different angle for a mainstream tube kite. But it turns out to be a friendly, quite fast responding kite with an intuitive character, with little surprises. It has some nice features, like an adjustable bridle and a build in self launch system. And as a bonus it will get you higher in the air as you may expect. A beginner (or school) until a semi advanced kiter would be a good match for the Stoke. But we also have some remarks on some details of the Stoke.
Park and ride the Core XR5, just like a North Rebel. With impressive sweet long lasting jumps. The XR5, build according to Core’s high quality has a very firm, triple layered, kite cloth without any wrinkle what ever you do with it. But the XR5 is the opposite of a throw-around kite. Just as the Rebel or Ozone Edge you need to choose for this kite specifically to just go out cruise at impressive speed and make long floating jumps. Another acquaintance with the Rebel: It has exactly the same -quite high- price.
It will reward you sky wise and is a fraction sweeter as a Rebel. But it won’t challenge you to do anything outside of your comfort zone and it clearly isn’t made to go out on a directional for some slamming wave riding.
Sometimes you see a kite and you think that one can be a good one for me. In other cases you think, nah that cannot be much for me. For the KSP Charger and the Phantom it was for both kites exactly the opposite of what we thought. The Charger, with 5 lines and 3 struts, is much more radical wake style than we ever thought and way above of our -and probably 90% of our readers- level. The two strutted Phantom however, is so much better than any other two strutted kite we have ever tried. It even beats a lot of other kites. And that for a price which is roughly 40% lower than most other kites.
Years before the so called game changers North Click bar or the Cabrinha fireball F-one invented a real game changer; the revolutionary multi-purpose Bandit. It has a brilliant and unique capability in the way it quickly powers and depowers by just sending the bar a few centimeter up or down. This way the Bandit gives such an easy and being-in-control, predictable feeling which made it a very popular kite. Beginners love its low bar pressure and more advanced riders will enjoy the quick, snappy behaviour and high wind usage.
But the revolution has come to an end. No wide inflate, no re-adjustable bridles, no single flag out safety, no swivel below the bar, relatively weak lines and still with damaging pulleys on the bridles. Don’t get us wrong, it is a good kite, but it clearly is lacking progress in the evolution of its design .
The Lithium pops up in the Airush kite line in between the DNA lesson kite and the more advanced and allround performance kite Union. A bit disrespectful we could say that the Lithium is a beginners kite. It will get you going with smoothed out power changes, eases better through gusty winds and doesn’t need perfect timing for jumping. But still we want to point out most of us will benefit and have fun with other -more advanced- kites really quickly.
FHL: Designed an sold by the owners of Kitesurfshop.nl from the town Haarlem, The Netherlands. This new kite brand is created and on the market since a couple of months. The Harlem does have some similarities to other major brands but has its own unique light feel. Adding one major difference, its price tag; the Harlem is about 20% cheaper than comparable kites. And there is more to come in the near future from FHL, more sizes but also an Harlem Pro which caught our attention even more than the standard Harlem…
Agile as a Dice, snappy as a Bandit and unbelievable amounts of fun from its firm, fast and responsive feed back, that is what the Ozone Enduro is all about. A new, confusing and ugly name for the follow up from the 2015 Catalyst. The Enduro comes with a new feature which adjusts the bridle by a simple and remarkably small adjustment. It really adds value to the multi-purpose goal of this kite which for sure is going to be a hit. Most surprisingly to us was its firm, stable and steady 5 strut close to C-kite feel, in a very positive way. The Enduro is an almost faultless kite, where only the options on the line length leaves us puzzled.
The Evo is like a good friend; gently and always there for you due to it’s huge windrange. But the Evo is much more than that. On the King of the Air 2016 in Cape Town Tom Herbert made not only the highest jump with a North Evo 2016, but also one of the longest (18.8m/9.4 sec) of the contest.
It is a very mellow kite which could for some people be the best North kite. For example the ones that like to do old school tricks with board-offs and dead mans. It can be a good choice for many kiters who are looking for something a bit more alive than a Rebel. Less suitable for freestyle though, although North does claims it to be a freeride/freestyle kite.