Union, the newest kite of Airush has a lot of different applicabilities. This kite is fulfilling the most important goal on top of everything: to have fun out there. Good in almost everything but not the best at any of the specific kiting disciplines. Nonetheless the Union is one of the best five kites we have tested for every day use.
The Airush Union
After having a friendly chat with the laid back Spanish former world freestyle world champion Alex Pastor and his colleagues at the Tarifa Airush shop Alex Pastor Kiteclub we where offered to try the all new Airush Union. Being truly interested in our opinion we got two 2016 Union kites and a brand new 2016 Airush Core bar for a test. We know not a lot of formal world champions who are so committed to his products. If you have the chance you certainly should visit him and have a chat.
The Airush Union, which more or less replaces the Airush Varial X from 2016 on, has 3 struts, perfect one pump with big inflate, and no battens. On the tips the steering lines can be set at three different settings
and the steering lines also have different knots to adjust the power (which we actually did change a couple times).The very long bridles have 3 pulleys each and can be set at two different settings on the leading edge. The pulleys have wheels, which can cause damage on the long run on the bridles. We prefer pulleys without wheels, but a good alternative to avoid clocking of a pulley is to regularly check if all wheels still turn. The Union comes with 24m lines, which can be shortened by taking off the 3m extensions to 21m.
Something unique to this kite is the so called Dyneema Load Frame. This frame is referring tot he spider web of strings which is easily recognizable in the canopy of the Union. It should basically give a more stable and longer lasting kite.
We could test the Union 2016 9m and 7m several days in Spain, Tarifa. We have had a variety of conditions while testing from underpowered 15 knots, the sometimes very gusty Levante till 28 knots in choppy water and with waves up to 2 meters. We could use them along side with a 2016 North Dice and the F-one Bandit IX 2016 version on several different types of twintips. Unfortunately there was no chance to test it on a wave board.
Before stating any test results it is really import to stress out the Union has two options which influences the results a lot; Most important is the used line length and the choice of the setting of the bridle to the leading edge. Each type of usages requires different settings. For example in low winds, (just) jumping or old school moves can certainly better be done with the 24m lines. It is also such a nice feeling to get the exact bar pressure as you prefer. On which we think anyone can get, since we already liked the medium to soft bar pressure on the average settings.
We talked about these results with Alex Pastor himself and together we both checked again why there was so little information on our 9m bridle settings. With a big smile we opened up the 7m and saw that it actually explained what we felt (see the picture) on the 7m Union kite; a bridle setting with medium and soft bar pressure. Just before we got back to the raw footage of his 14+ meter jumps that day we realized the 9m was a prototype which missed out the details the final Union (like the 7m) has.
When we saw the big bridle on the Union we assumed -wrongly- that we would be dealing with a slow and heavy pulling low end kite, but this is certainly not the case. The Union, even on the 24 meter lines, when set on the proper bridle settings (medium), is remarkable reactive. The pop while loading for a jump is very predictable and medium to soft to get you in the air and it will keep you there longer than most other kites. Stalling will only happen in really dipping winds. Long before it stalls the kite starts to look really over sheeted (and gets a bit of a ugly appearance).
Kite Looping is really not something to recommend on the 24m lines. The Union make a medium to big sized circle (probably affected by the low split point) and is quite soft and steady in its pull. On the 21m lines it is all a bit smoother and somewhat more natural. Both at a radical kite loop and in strong (gusty) winds there is a tiny bit of a jelly fish feeling, not something to worry about but it once more tells you the Union is there to be your friend and doesn’t come really close to a C-kite slammer.
Compared to other kites
The Union certainly has a longer hang time than the Bandit and the Dice. It also deals better with the gusty winds and it has the best wind range (almost as close to the Cabrinha Switchblade). What stands out most from the Bandit and the Dice is that the Union has much more options to set the kite (for example the bar width, bridle and line lengths) for a certain aim. The Dice is more aggressive and feels more firm than the other two. The Bandit has the best high end reach (but worst low end). The Union (on 24m lines) comes quite close to the happy feeling we got from the Ozone Catalyst 2015 which happen to come also with quite similar set up on 25m lines (not to be mistaken with the newest version, which is completely different).
Anybody can enjoy this kite, from beginner till advanced wave riding although some advanced kiters will miss a bit of aggressiveness in the Union (for example to perform radical freestyle moves). The Union is really a simple but effective kite. There is no need to getting used to it, If rigged the right way (bridles and line length) it does almost by itself what you expect.
2016 Core Bar and lines
We used a brand new Airush 2016 Core Bar. It changed from the 2015 in some details. The bar has not only a smaller diameter but also different width settings by a clicking system.
The front lines (with a low split and a total flag out -as all safety systems should be- when released) are thicker as the steering lines (similar to Slingshot). The lines have extensions, but on the Airush website there is no mentioning of the line lengths. After checking with Airush we now know it is 24 meter which includes 3 meter of extensions. So either ride the Union with 24 or 21m lines. For the test we tried both line lengths. Since it influences the way the kite is usable quite a lot, we wonder why there is not more explanation on the Airush website on the influences of the set up. It would make the versatility claims of Airush on the Union so much more valuable. The same goes for the bridle settings on the leading edge. The depower system, which is similar on the 2015 and 2016 Core bar, is something we don’t particularly like. You need to pull on a plastic triangle (either in red for less power, or blue for more) with quite some force, which adjusts a strap. We think not all people (girls?) will have enough strength in their fingers to get this system going as they want to. All testers agreed it is not easy to see how the (de)power is set. All in all It is a minor thing and is a bit of a matter of preferences instead of something that is good or bad.
The (two) depower ropes are nicely covered with plastic against wear out and comes with a stopper ball on the fly. The depower rope is manually twistabel so you can untangle your front lines to avoid any blocking of the lines when using the safety system. Though it is not that easy to twist it since it is missing a proper feature to actually turn it (so you need to turn it by turning the two depower lines). A de-twisting feature which, if you think about it, for safety reasons should be on any bar. Mainly since we have not seen any brand with a swiffel (split of front lines) which works properly.
Airush Union 9m (kite only)1369,- US Dollar (for sale 1077,- Euro)
Airush Union 7m (kite only) 1249,- US Dollar (for sale 994,- Euro)
Airush Core bar and lines 530,- US Dollar (for sale 414,- Euro)
Reaction from Airush on the review
It was a really solid test, and we gonna update the website about the bar
Good step to go from Switchblades to a Union!
We haven’t tested a ’16 to a ’17 version back to back, so to be honest we can’t tell very well how much differences there are. The ’16 version should be the same as the ’15 version, if we are informed correctly.
Our advice would be to take the ’16 version if it has a significant price difference 🙂
We Test Kites
Hey! Thanks for the great write up!
Can you give any tips on how the 2016 compares to the 2017 Union? I tested a ’17 and LOVED it but found a deal on a used ’16 (I’m broke and can only occasionally afford to indulge in used kites once every few years). I am just learning my first unhooked raleys, backrolls, and hope to start handlepasses soon (so looking for a kite that can get some slack without sacrificing too much wind range). Ready to get rid of my Switchblades 🙂
On 24m lines (compared to shorter line) the loop is bigger and longer. This means it takes longer, has a smoother peak but most important the chance you already landed before the power is back on it again to break the landing is quite big. Which means rough landings and possible injuries. It simply is more fun or more aggressive with shorter lines.
Take a look on Steven Akkersdijk’s videos looping it with 20m or even shorter lines. The momentum is immense, although he will loose some of its air time compared to longer lines.
We Test Kites
Why do you not recommend kite looping on 24m lines?
Thanks for asking!
I would think it may be a slight improvement, but probably it isn’t different enough.
A North Evo or Cabrinha Switchblade may be a better solution.
We Test Kites
Thanks for the review.
I am a long time bandit user… I need a new small kite to handle the gusty, strong conditions of Cape Town.
I am keen to find something slightly less aggressive (fast, responsive) than the bandit as I am working on improving my jumping and general kite skills.
Would the union be moving in the right direction in terms of a little easier to fly/control?
Thanks for sharing.
This is one of the reasons we started out the We Test Kites blog. Such settings are at best poorly described or to be found even at the website from the manufactures. Adjustable bridles and/or line lengths can give a completely different experience. We even had a substantial donation from a reader who was planning to ditch his RPM. But after our suggestion to reset his bridle he was completely happy again.
We Test Kites
After reading your review, I got curious about 21m lines. As I have 2 airush bars, I did set one w/o the 3m extensions, went kiting with it on a 12m 2016 Union in 15-20 knots and various waves conditions . I must say it was a fun experience, the kite is faster from one position to the other, so it makes transcients faster, the reduced lag makes a better control. It lost a bit of jump altitude, but it will become my setting for wave riding. I’m curious to test the same lines in high wind/ small kites. Important to say, the line length reduction came w/o any other adjustments, it is a no brainer. But it feels strange to have the kite so close:-)
Was using a Trax 42 TT 2016.
@Dirk, the 12m Union has no low end problem to me. It compares to the Lithium. Have you tried wider bar settings and shorter steering line adjustments ?
Or… get a bigger board :-))
The low end of the Union is indeed not its strongest point. Just to be sure, you do have the line extensions connected, i.e. which line length you are currently using?
You board doesn’t seem to be too big and depending of the width a bit small even?
But now for another kite; comparing it with a Ralley is not completely fair; it has an amazing low-end but is no fun compared to the Dice apart from any floating.
The Dice, Ts or Bandit will not give you much help, I think. A Switchblade or an Evo might be much better suited for you!
We Test Kites
Hi Dave, I have a 2016 Union in 12m that I bought some months ago, but I am becoming increasingly disappointed with the low end. I confess that I only kiteboard for 3y now, my board is 135 and I weight 87kg but compared to my previous kites I really struggle to have fun in low wind (compared to all kites that I know which include the Slingshot Ralley, Cabrinha Switchblade, FOne Bandit and Airush Lithium). As my 9m Lithium starts between 18 and 20knots, I really consider to swap my Union against something else whith more power in low end. Would you see the Dice as a solution? Or TS? Or Bandit in the end? I don’t go unhooked, but like high jumps and long airtime 🙂
Thanks for asking, nice question.
Each kite has pro’s/con’s.
Let me list a few pro’s and con’s.
– Airush Union – may be to soft for your feeling. Pro is that you can fool around with the line lengths and bridle settings
– North Dice – 2017 even more than 2016 (just tested it, review in a few days!) c-feeling/pop is great for you, 3 settings on tips make it feel softer or harder, on/off feeling feels very reliable for your gf . CON high V, bar with low split does not work on it. No bridle adjustments
– Best TS- Pro you will like it for freestyle, has a “steady” modes, CON may be to brutal / immovable for your gf.
I happend to share my kites to with my girlfriend. We chose for Dice.
You may consider the Enduro from Ozone or FX fro Cabrinha to, but the Dice will work for you guys.
I happend to share my kites to with my girlfriend. We chose for Dice.
We Test Kites
I’m considering a change in a whole quiver, because right now me and my girlfriend are riding different kites (C kites myself and deltas my girlfriend). So for me freestyle performance is essential, but also I’m getting into surf session, so I want a kite that could be used also for that (a few times a year). And lastly a kite that behaves friendly, so also my girlfriend could use.
I have 3 sizes in mind 12, 9 and 7. As far for which kite would be the right choice, I’m hesitating between:
– Airush Union
– North Dice
– Best TS
Do you have any PRO/CONS which I would take. Someone recommended me Dice, but I know that if I take Dice, I would be able to ride for example Airush Razor (if I feel need for a C kite again) with it, because of a different bar setup (low line split).
Thanks Dave, i will check Enduro and Dice for the best jumping and range of these two..
Evo higher than Union. If you are looking for more feed back /response Rebel is not the answer. It indeed is much too wide and makes huge turns and will be very slow for looping. Way too slow, slower than a Switchblade. Pivot is the other side, makes small turns but is very, very soft and will not be my recommendation. Maybe try a Dice or an Enduro?
We Test Kites
Evo jumps higher than….? And what other kite , you suggest, like evo that jump high but with more steering and compact feel? I was searching for rebel, but someone say problem with kiteloops, i searching for cab SB but its slow and the bar is not the right. Fx problem with low end , also need to move all the time.. I was looking for pivot naish but its soft and for high jumps you need to learn the point…
What I understood both bars haven’t changed from 2016 to 2017 much. So that is the same; we prefer the North version.
As for kite loops both are bot brilliant for it, the UNion may be a bit more tune-able for it. The Evo jumps/floats higher than the Evo.
Does this provide enough information?
Hi, i wonder how Union kite compares with evo, please notice except kites and the bar if you want. Likewise if i understand well you setup in medium bar pressure and the back lines in more soft-fast setup.. What is your suggestion for freeride, big air choise? And for kiteloops? Evo or union? And what about the bar? Could be better in 2017 version?