The incomprehensible North Orbit 2020

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North Orbit 2020
North Orbit 2020

It seems like it just cannot go wrong with so many legends -like Nick Jacobsen, Jesse Richman and designer Pad Goodman– working on the new North kites. The expectations for the Orbit? With five struts, ‘boosting’ as it trademark we think North Rebel, Core XR or Ozone Edge-ish. But our excitement -created by almost a hype- on the first version of the Orbit turned out into a disappointment. Its lack of low-end in combination with the strange quick and light turning kept us wondering what North is aiming for with this kite. Is it due to our kite abilities? Even the booster -Tarifenian Saul – couldn’t figure out the Orbit. We still have faith though that in the future North will bring a lot of improvements. It just needs time.

North Orbit 2020
North Orbit 2020

North and Duotone

We have to get Duotone in this picture. Duotone (or rather the owners Boards&More) was known under the name North until 2019. But the name North wasn’t theirs but only rented. North Actionsports Group ‘took back’ its name last year while deciding to keep the same logo and use the slogan ‘North is coming home‘. Which suggest North at least partly wants to lean on the past -which isn’t their credit. A (little) knife in the back of Duotone.

Announcement Duotone website
Announcement Duotone website

But as Duotone is getting close to dominate the sport it could be a good thing a serious rival is popping up. But so far the expected loss of 20% by the Duotone head quarter in Munich -due to the name change- did not take place.

Test

The Orbit isn’t a Rebel -we used the 2020 version back to back-. There are huge differences. For example the Orbit has a much tighter turning circle. More friendly but also less power from a kite loop. This aspect feels almost like a wave kite. But the shape -‘high aspect’- isn’t different from a Rebel. More differences are to be found in the power. Clearly lower for the Orbit. It needs a lot of wind. In low wind there are some back stalling issues on the Orbit. The power stroke (the distance where the power is felt) is longer and more graduate. Something we don’t like.

We prefer kites that can be powered on and off quickly. Like a FX, Bandit, Dice or Pivot. The fun factor is so much higher. Totally different kites from the Orbit. The bar pressure is low -like an Ozone Edge which makes it hard to feel where the Orbit is. So not really suited for beginners. None of the testers could understand what the Orbit is made for. A car with too much steering power gives a similar feelings. Let’s just leave it at that.

There is also some good news. On a directional the North Carve was preferred over the Neo 2020 riding waves. Which made us want to test the Pulse even more. Hopefully that turns out to be the one everybody love to ride on a twin tip. The rumour is that is will be out in January. We wonder why North didn’t start with that one. All in all very incomprehensible.

List prices

North Orbit 9m (Kite only) 1459,- Euro

North Navigator bar with 4 22m lines (without chicken loop) 499,- Euro

Chicken loop Freeride(standard) 39 Euro

16 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Matt,
    Which versions of the Orbit are you talking about. We wrote about the first one. And that had some very very clear issues to say the least.
    Dave
    We Test Kites

  2. I don’t know what was going with this review, the Orbit is a 5-strut kite that needs a certain amount of wind to create lift properly, so yes it’s ‘low end’ will be poorer than a Pivot which is a 3 strut kite. Comparing the two is fundamentally unfair. I have Pivot 9, 12 & 14m, and I have Orbit 7 & 11m. They’re different. The Pivot does not boost as high, but they both turn well. The Pivot is not as robust under high loads due to it’s 3 struts, but it’s low end is better (again due to less struts).

    As my Pivots age, I am replacing them with Orbits. Enough said.

  3. Hi Bryan,
    We agree for 99%. -the 2020- Orbit is a niche. It works in very overpowered situations for a certain -boosting- type of persons. Niche. It has been a long time since we got a referral to the North Rhino:) and yes we owned that one to, but we don’t think people will look for something like that! The 1% were we disagree is where you suggest we have a certain angle for North (we did love the Carve btw). That really hurts.
    Dave

  4. I”m really not sure if this is a proper review or a hating on the North guys… I really don’t like when mags review kites and don’t have any negative feedback, but this was a bit too much. I have been kiting for 15 years now, and have yet to find an even close match to my (old) North Rhino kites from ’07, which to this day have the biggest boosting capabilities, but they are closely followed by the 2020 Orbit kites. This is the first kite I’ve been happy enough with to purchase new at full price. The direct sheeting is different, and the Orbit takes more kite speed to create lift, but after getting used to that, it’s all fun. I’ve kited every Rebel version ever made, the Core XR, Switchblades, and Naish Park, and they don’t come close to the feeling I get from this Orbit. I do want to say that the XR is very good for boosting though, but their bar design is terrible…. I kite super overpowered and love to boost, which is why the 2020 Orbit is my choice over the 2021 version because of the lighter weight materials and adjustments made for the 2021. I want my kites to be stable and durable.

    Maybe the kites get more attention because of all the names behind the “New North”, or maybe the kites get attention because everyone behind the new kites have been in the industry for a long time. Either way, this review seems to be one sided.

  5. I have kited for 12 years. I’m 95 kilos. My favorite kite was the EVO. The North Orbit is now my new favorite kite. 5 strut kite that jumps high and also moves quick! This kite is truly amazing!!!

  6. I just finish to ride the Orbit 9M on 25-30 knots and it was fantatic. I hit 40 feets and the kiteloop were sweet ! The Kite have more hight end that a Dice or Fx. You cant ride it in gusty wind, It very stable. I’m riding the Fx for the past 4 years and I Will swich for the Orbit. It perfect for big air kiteloop. The FX and Dice is just to hard to ride when the wind is crazy.

  7. Hi everyone, I tried very little the new north Orbit, but my first feeling was very positive, especially having had Kite Cabrinha for a long time, I immediately felt at ease. Now, as I repeat, I have not traveled many hours with the North Orbit, but it seemed to me the continuation of the evolution of the Swichtblade which, as a Kite, I don’t think needs explanations, and the feeling of the Roman bar very similar if not identical to the Cabrinha kites, which I still prefer Duotone now. I hope that by 2021 North will bring innovations that will make a difference, and not just kites very similar to Cabrinha.

  8. They are the best riders of the World. But even god needs to feel its kite specially when he turns and send Big moves. Btw 9m doesn t look particulary oversized when you compare to thé other kites of thé contest. Thus you notice a poor low end for thé orbit.

  9. Hello Nab,
    If they are the same we don’t know. If we have to guess we don’t think they are different.
    That would be a very strange marketing move.
    But don’t forget who rode them (pro’s) and in what conditions they were using them (very overpowered).
    Dave
    We Test Kites

  10. Hello guys, with the orbit the pros riders did well at the 2020 kota. Difficult to der that thé kite IS unpredictable. IS it thé same kite, thé same setup?

  11. Good suggestion. But as the differences will not be very big we need some proper test time..So we will try to get them both for a longer time but that is not likely to happen soon. Sorry for that. More likes on FB etc. Will make us more important and hopefully brands will come to us more often.
    Dave

  12. Hi Francis,
    Thanks for your feed back. Very much appreciated,
    Duotone’s domination is mostly present at the GKA competition (Airton, Mikailia and Valentin); all Duotone champions this year.
    Market domination is more difficult to determine. Most people think they sell the most kites. What we do know for certain is that if any (small) brand is in their way they only have to call a factory (when Duotone is also a customer) to get them stopping to supply them.
    Dave
    We Test Kites

  13. Yo Dave! Interesting review, didn’t expect this coming, reading all other stuff. Good to see a different take?? Just wondering: you state that Duotone is getting close to dominating the sport. How did you come to that conclusion? I myself would find it hard to name a brand, just by looking at our beaches/spots that is. Curious to hear?

    Keep the reviews coming!

    Cheers,

    Francis

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