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.
Going big, and really big, that is what the Rebel is mainly about. It is a potential Woo leaderboard wining, super stable and powerful, yet still pretty much on-off kite that is around for 10 years. The 2017 version isn’t any much different as the previous versions. We suspect the majority of it’s (older?) fans wouldn’t like that any way. It has a long history and large group of hardcore Rebel lovers who generally are not looking for changes. And that is exactly where we want to make a point. The Rebel is the opposite of a kite which can be thrown around. The (long) shape of the kite in combination of the amount of power makes it quite unattractive to do anything else than jumping.
The German designed Spleene 2017 RS 38 twin tip has been marketed as their freeride&freestyle board. The figures of the RS 38, with 42,5 cm wide, suggest a pretty big board. Good thing is that it feels much smaller and is surprisingly alive under your feet. The Spleene RS 38 would fit a typical freeride kiter from 75 kg’s and more, who wants to be triggered to bump&jump and play around very happily. But it is not a radical wakestyle board and neither a light wind miracle.
The Dice from 2016 was one of the favourites from all our tests. Its versatility, responsive reaction and easy on-off power control makes it truly the one that makes almost everybody having the most fun on the water. The 2017 version has been changed from the 2016 at some crucial points in te canopy and struts which makes the kite feel a bit more rigid but also a bit less sweet as in 2016. Small changes, but noticeable. A bit better for direct response and aggressive riding style and it asks a bit more input than last year.
Numerous shiny, outstanding colors to style your board from the -friendly prized- new brand Encore. We took two twin tips of them out for a test, both of them containing a carbon spine with a very specific, interesting shape. Carbon isn’t an automatic choice as we learned from Alvaro Onieva and Saul Customs which makes us very curious how the Encore Inferno and Paradise perform on the water.
The cheapest board we have ever seen. Just 300 Euro’s, including pads, straps, handle and fins. Is it just for beginners? Is it crappy build quality? Not for extreme moves? Actually non of them is true. It is nothing you would expect. It gives a strange feeling upfront when you know its price. It quickly became the talk of the town when we tested the just released Tribord Zeruko twin tip. Eye catching is the huge amount of channels on the bottom. It gives away what type of board it really is. It is not what you would expect from a store with just one board in their line up. It turns out to be a pretty extreme edging machine which could easily be used in a pure freestyle session!
After the Woo and the Xensr there is again a new tracking device for kiteboarding; PIQ. Supported by North Kiteboarding and introduced weeks ago, a lot of people wonder why? Why another tracking device? Although an interesting question, this won’t be the topic in this review. No, the most obvious question we dealt with is if this device comes up with similar results as the Woo. The Xensr clearly wasn’t comparable in our previous test, but for the PIQ looks perfect so far!
A kite for female’s, designed by the successful professional kiter Bruna Kajiya, which turns out not to be for pussies. Bruna’s Diamond got us a big smile on our face. Not because we had to laugh but out of big respect how Bruna, and other kite chicks, can perform with this (three strutted or should we say three legged) wolf in scheep’s cloth. Pretty fast, responsive in a almost nasty way and a lot of very direct bar pressure, may be even a bit too much for most (older) men. Think Vegas, or Torch as in C-kite and you get a pretty good picture, although her (!) sweet spot is small and not easy to find. The downsized bar is really a disappointment. The power/depower system is out of date and needs an update.
You will remember it when you have seen them. The Ronix Franks 2016 looks are very spectaculair; extremely flashy green. From orange/yellow in 2015 to this acid green, means people will stop for it and point at them even more. How is the ride on a kite board with these flashy boots? Well before you buy them you need to know one little detail…which leaves a little stain on the pretty expensive Ronix Franks 2016.