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 introduction of the new Click bar can be compared to the time when new cars got a remote control for opening and starting a car. Handy, but not necessary to get from A to B. So a game changer? No, of course not. You will not fly higher, ride harder or get more pop. But it is a refinement of the bar.
Compared to the standard bars of North, it is more than just the way you power/depower your kite. You may even safe money -although it costs 160 Euro’s more than the Quad bar- on the long run. For sure it is safer and more friendly to use. If sand will ruin the (de)power system, is hard to tell. It doesn’t look like it, but at least make sure you register your Click bar to get to the extra 6 month of warranty. Better be (18 months) safe than sorry,
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!
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.