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2012 FREERIDE GEAR REVIEW


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THE TKB FREERIDE 2012 REVIEW:

A NEW WAY TO TEST Welcome to the 2012 Freeride Gear Review!

For this review, we selected seven average kiteboarders to join us in beautiful and windy La Ventana along with a huge pile of brand new 2012 kiteboarding gear. We trucked 25 different kite models and 28 boards (no small feat itself) one thousand miles south of the border and spent a week putting it all through its paces. The information here comes straight from our testers’ review forms along with some input from members of the TKB staff. After struggling for years on the subject of how to come up with a fair and balanced way to review kiteboarding gear, we think we’ve hit upon the most balanced way possible. This test was opened up to all kiteboarding brands, regardless of their status as an advertiser with The Kiteboarder Magazine and you’ll notice that there are no kite or board advertisements from manufacturers in this review. Separating the gear reviews from the print magazine has allowed us to be as objective as possible in reviewing gear. We’ve always tried to be as honest as possible in the past, but there is a definite conflict when the people who make the gear to be reviewed are the same ones who pay the bills. To produce reviews that are as free of bias as possible, we selected a test team made up of everyday kiteboarders who had no brand affiliation at all (with the exception of one tester). Our plan is to conduct more tests in this same manner in the future, including an upcoming light wind review and a surf-specific gear review. Because of the very small amount of advertising we allowed here, we are depending on reader support to continue testing gear like we’ve done in this report. By keeping our reviews reader-supported, you can help us avoid the magazine-advertiser conflict that is so common in print magazines. Encourage your friends to download this review magazine and help us make The Kiteboarder Reviews the only readersupported reviews in the kiteboarding industry!


The test crew for the first ever TKB Test Week.


On the way to Cerralvo Island with a boat load of gear!

Greg Gnecco stops by to give a short talk about the Liquid Force CPR control system.


WHO ARE THE TESTERS? HOW WERE THEY CHOSEN? Our seven testers were chosen from the 30 or so riders who applied to join us for the TKB Test Week in La Ventana. We put together a crew with a wide range of skill levels, ages, and weights. Our goal was to assemble a team that represented a selection of normal everyday kiteboarders and we feel we were very successful. We also had a few guest testers stop by to help out and used some input from members of the TKB staff.

WHAT WERE CONDITIONS LIKE FOR THE TEST? We lucked out and had solid wind for our entire test week. The wind ranged from 15-25 knots and was usually fairly steady with a few gusty afternoons. Conditions on the water ranged from medium to large chop. When reading reviews, keep these conditions in mind, especially for the boards. The choppy conditions meant that boards that are especially smooth in the chop had a built-in advantage for the conditions.

WHAT’S ALL THIS MEAN? HOW DID YOU CHOOSE WHAT GEAR TO TEST? We decided to open up this test to all brands regardless of whether they advertise in The Kiteboarder Magazine or not. Non-advertisers were allowed to send us one piece of gear to test while manufacturers who advertise in the print magazine could send us any gear suited for the freeride category. To choose individual kites and boards our staff looked at every manufacturer’s product line and suggested what we felt would be best suited for this test. In most cases, that was the gear we were sent, but in other cases the manufacturers substituted other gear or it was not available during the test week. HOW WERE THE REVIEWS WRITTEN? To compile the reviews here we took information directly from the feedback forms our testers filled out during the test week. This is unfiltered true feedback directly from the people who rode the gear. WHY DO SOME KITES AND BOARDS HAVE MORE REVIEWS THAN OTHERS? Our goal was to get as many riders on each kite and board as possible, but conditions and kite/ board sizes didn’t allow every rider to spend time on every piece of gear. Also, we didn’t want testers to give us feedback unless they felt they had enough time on a kite or board. Most of our testers rode each item they reported on a number of times to be sure of their thoughts on it. WHAT DO THESE RECOMMENDATIONS MEAN? At the bottom of each test form was a simple yes or no question: Would you recommend this kite/board to a friend? The number of recommendations comes straight from the test forms and mean that many testers would recommend that item after riding it in the conditions we had in La Ventana.

WHAT ARE THE PRICES LISTED IN THE REVIEWS? The prices are manufacturer suggested retail prices and prices on kites are for a complete kite with control system. Board prices are for a complete board with pads and straps. For boards with multiple strap/pad options, we priced the board as tested with the straps and pads it shipped to us with. WHAT DID THE KITEBOARDER LEARN FROM THE TEST? A lot! This was the first time for us testing gear this way and we are very happy with the feedback we received from our testers. We will be continuing to test equipment in this same way, but one major thing we learned is that boards are very hard to test in really choppy conditions. Honestly, we feel the conditions created a strong bias towards extremely smooth riding boards. We also learned that it’s difficult for someone used to a particular setup to test both kites and boards at the same time. For future Freeride Gear Tests, we will probably only test kites and have testers ride boards they are familiar with to make it easier to feel differences between kites. WHY DIDN’T THE KITEBOARDER CHOOSE A WINNING KITE OR BOARD? We didn’t choose a winner because every tester had different opinions about what they liked and disliked. While there were a few items that really stood out according to our testers’ reports, it was surprising to us that there was no gear that was universally hated by our testers. Even if one tester hated a certain kite or board there was another tester who liked that same piece of gear. These different views and opinions make it impossible to fairly choose a winning kite or board.


MEET THE TESTERS HENDRIK DAHLKAMP “I’m a Bay Area techie who can’t believe he only discovered kiteboarding last summer.”

FAVORITE KITES AND BOARDS: • North Fuse • Ozone Edge • RRD Vision

Age: 32 Hometown: San Francisco, California Weight: 180 lbs. Riding: Since July 2011 Typical Riding Conditions: Usually ride at Sherman Island or 3rd Avenue in the SF Bay Area —typically 20mph wind and some chop. Riding Style/Level: I love freestyling and learning new tricks and have been able to progress to backrolls, kiteloops, grabs, and the likes. I am looking forward to learning unhooked moves this season.

• F-One SK8 • North X-Ride • F-One Trax

What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear by testing so much of it? I’m excited by just how good 2012 gear has

become - in fact the difference between my personal 2009/2010 kites is much bigger than between the latest kites we tested. It’s now less about brand A being universally better than brand B and more about your riding style and personal preferences. Dream Kite and Board: I participated in this test week because I’m shopping for a new kite and it’s going to be the North Fuse. I liked it most because it was the most floaty of all the kites I tested and because it behaved very predictably and smoothly. Staying with the big-air theme, I tend to like boards with good pop and soft landings. It’s much harder for me to pick a winner here, but I think it’s going to be the F-One Trax.

FREDERIC STEMMELIN “Disclaimer: I’m a Naish Kiteboarding Rider.”

FAVORITE KITES AND BOARDS: • Airush Lithium • Wainman Hawaii Mr. Green • F-One Bandit 5 • Naish Momentum • F-One SK8

Age: 42 Hometown: Los Altos Hills, California Weight: 160 lbs. Riding: Since 2001 Typical Riding Conditions: Flat water at 3rd Avenue or waves at Scotts, Half Moon Bay, and Waddell. Riding Style/Level: Expert level, unhooked, big waves, wakestyle, strapless. What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear by testing so much of it? There is (almost) always a trick or something you do better with every specific kite and board, no matter what design and purpose it has, even if it doesn’t fall into your preferred style.

Dream Kite and Board: I choose the Airush Lithium and the Naish Momentum. The Lithium just performed very well. The loops are very fast and predictable, the well-designed extendable bar has gentle bar pressure and plenty of depower, and the kite has a great upwind ability and provides awesome power throughout the turns. This kite is both safe and fun and can really fit beginner to expert riders in any conditions. The Naish Momentum is an all-around freeride board with comfortable and well-designed straps and pads and a smooth ride through the chop. This very well-balanced board provides great pop and agreeable landing to fit the needs of beginner to expert freeriders.


The Palapas Ventana Electroshock Wind Machine delivered windy conditions. The more current you can handle, the windier it will get. A word of warning, this device goes to 11!

VALERIA RYTOVA “I call it (life) ‘The Adventures of Valeria’.”

FAVORITE KITES AND BOARDS: • Airush Lithium • Cabrinha Vector • RRD Vision • CrazyFly Raptor LTD • Liquid Force Bliss • F-One SK8

Age: 24 Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia Weight: 115 lbs. Riding: For nine months Typical Riding Conditions: Flat water and a steady 20 knots Riding Style/Level: Freestyle, trying unhooked tricks, just learned how to backroll-kiteloop. Working on S-bends and handle-passes. What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear by testing so much of it? Different people = different opinions, so just because your buddy says something isn’t ballin’ doesn’t mean you won’t fall in love with it once you give it a try!

Dream Kite and Board: Airush Lithium - quickest response and fast on turns and tricks despite the overall stability and safety of the kite. Decent bar pressure, which allows for a perfect feel of the kite. Spectacular boosting ability and good hang time. Solid kite all-around! For the board, I chose the CrazyFly Raptor LTD 132cm. Sweet board, easiest on the landings, cuts through chop like crazy, great pop and stability, and perfect dimensions for me.


NATASHA ROMERO “I want to see more girls kiting! This sport is such a sausage fest!!”

FAVORITE KITES AND BOARDS: • Airush Lithium • Liquid Force Envy • Cabrinha Vector • Shinn Supershinn • North X-Ride • Naish Momentum

Age: 27 Hometown: Vancouver, British Colombia Weight: 145 lbs. Riding: For a year and a half Typical Riding Conditions: Squamish Spit, consistent almost-daily wind during the summer (20-25 knots is pretty average), flat honey hole, and a choppy bay with smooth sections at the river mouth. Riding Style/Level: Jumping, grabs, freestyle, mellow cruiser. What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear by testing so much of it? There are massive differences between kite brands and models. Same goes for boards. What someone likes or recommends may or may not work for someone else so it’s imperative to try out as much gear as possible. I never really bothered

demoing gear but after this week of testing and realizing the range and diversity of gear that’s out in the market, I really think it’s key to try out as much gear as you can at expos and demo days. Dream Kite and Board: The Airush Lithium - allaround amazing kite, turns super fast, wicked easy relaunch, powerful, and good hang time. It was the one kite that really blew my mind. For my board, I chose the Shinn Supershinn. One of my must-haves in a board is its ability to provide a really comfortable and gentle ride through chop and this one delivers in a big way! I have pretty bad back problems so soft and smooth really makes a big difference. It has great pop, doesn’t spray in awkward ways, and fast/aggressive turns. It’s stable and has super-comfy straps/pads and soft and forgiving landings. This board was a real pleasure to ride!

JONATHAN DIXON “Avid surfer, old school slalom skier, and wakeboarder who finally took the plunge into kiting.”

FAVORITE KITES AND BOARDS: • F-One Bandit 5 • Ocean Rodeo Cypher • North Evo • Nobile NHP • North Jaime • North X-Ride

Age: 44 Hometown: San Francisco, California Weight: 185 lbs. Riding: Beginning my third season of riding Typical Riding Conditions: Flat water, chop, and waves Riding Style/Level: Freeride, boosting What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear by testing so much of it? For me, there were several standout products, both good and bad, but a greater amount of gear was very similar.

Dream Kite and Board: My dream kite and board were the Ocean Rodeo Cypher and the Nobile NHP. The handling on the Ocean Rodeo was simply more nimble and direct than anything else I rode and it boosts well. The Nobile NHP was my board of choice due to the comfort of its bindings, the way it carved like butter through the water, and the effortless feel it gave when loading for pop.


KEN KERR “White caps make me...hungry?”

FAVORITE KITES AND BOARDS: • Ozone Edge • North Evo • Matrixx HQ • Jimmy Lewis Model 3 • F-One SK8 • Naish Momentum

Age: 44 Hometown: Aliso Viejo, California Weight: 190 lbs. Riding: For 3.5 years Typical Riding Conditions: Chop, surf, stingrays, and bacteria, 15-20 mph winds Riding Style/Level: Big air, waves, hooked in tricks. What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear by testing so much of it? It takes a lot of time. Having experienced testers like the TKB staff on hand to help tune lines and bridles or a manufacturer’s representative to demonstrate the peculiarities of their bar or foot pad system was a major benefit that turned some “bad” gear into “good” gear. You’ve gotta give it awhile before you give your “final answer” on how

it performs, but don’t ignore your gut feelings! Tuning, tweaking, and making some adjustments is fine, but every so often you’ll pick up a piece of equipment that puts a big smile on your face from the very first power stroke. That’s the gear you want to add to your quiver. Dream Kite and Board: I chose gear that is completely different than the equipment I currently ride and the kiteboarding style I generally pursue. The Ozone Edge is an entirely different kiting experience than the North Evo I usually ride, while still letting me boost big airs! The Jimmy Lewis Model 3 board was surfy and forgiving, allowing me to stuff the nose and tail underneath waves without being dealt the standard punishment of a face plant.

DAVE PERRY “I’m a sucker for good flow.”

FAVORITE KITES AND BOARDS: • Airush Lithium • F-One Bandit 5 • North Fuse • Nobile NHP • Wainman Hawaii Blunt • Any CrazyFly Board

Age: 40 Hometown: Mt. Hood, Oregon Weight: 200 lbs. Riding: For 2 years Typical Riding Conditions: Flat water or medium chop Riding Style/Level: Just starting to do my first jumps and fast transitions What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear by testing so much of it? I learned that I like almost all the kites out there, but not all the boards.

Dream Kite and Board: I chose the Nobile NHP and the Airush Lithium. I like the Nobile because it is so plush. The foot straps were more comfortable than anything I tried and the board had a nice buttery feel in the heavy La Ventana chop. I really enjoyed the Lithium as it seems extremely safe and everything is easy–easy relaunch, easy flying, and easy turning. However, the lift on the North Fuse and Flexifoil Hadlow ID is hard to pass up. I really need a quiver of lots of kites and boards!


KITES


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 AIRUSH LITHIUM KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Very stable • Fun and easy to fly kite • Fantastic all-around performance

CONS: • Bar pressure might be too high for some users • Wingtips can flap during hard turns, especially when depowered • Trim system was difficult for some testers to use


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “What a pleasure to ride! A little twitchy due to the small size (6m), but very responsive!” –Natasha Romero “Very stable, amazingly predictable boost, and great hang time, but seemed a little doggy in light wind (12m).” –Jon Dixon

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“Nice power through the turns – turns fast and reliable. Good power for a 9m, but bar pressure a little high.” –Fred Stemmelin

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“Powerful kite (9m), easy to control, and very responsive! Too much bar pressure, but biggest boost and hang time ever!” –Valeria Rytova

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BAR COMMENTS: “I like the bar – good grip.” –Dave Perry “I didn’t like the trim system at all. It was hard for me to reach.” –Natasha Romero

AIRUSH LITHIUM

Sizes Available: 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14m Sizes Tested: 6, 9, 12m Price: $1,319 – $1,799

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Maintaining the characteristics that made the Lithium such a successful kite in 2011, the 2012 Lithium introduces a new three-strut platform with more power, increased range, decreased bar pressure, and improved hang-time. The Lithium 2012 possesses the fast turning-speed, easy relaunch, and power house low-end that has made it a proven all-around performer. Standing out as the easy choice for all levels, from beginner to advanced, excelling in all conditions.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Airush Lithium is a fairly low-aspect 3-strut kite and is targeted as an all-around performer. Our testers liked the fast, responsive handling and surprisingly good jumping performance. In the sky, the Lithium is amazingly stable and is a very easy kite to fly that most riders will be able to jump on and immediately feel comfortable with. It relaunches from the water very easily. The Lithium uses the Airush SMARTBAR III which features a push-away quick release, below-bar swivel, and multiple line length options. It also features an above-bar depower strap that some testers said was difficult to reach or felt like a lot of clutter. The SMARTBAR is adjustable from 45-55 cm and adjusts by way of a unique quick release. To extend the bar, you remove both ends and add extensions to the bar itself before reattaching the ends.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 BEST KAHOONA KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Amazing low end power • Very stable easy-to-fly kite • Extremely easy to relaunch

CONS: • Can have a tendency to backstall in underpowered situations • Canopy flutters through sharp turns, especially when depowered


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Very stable in the sky, great relaunch, and good boost and hang time.” –Jon Dixon “Peppy, powerful, excellent upwind, but tended to backstall a little. Thumbs up!” –Dave Perry “Floaty jumps, but the wingtips flapped and it was a little easy to backstall.” –Ken Kerr

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“Very stable and easy to fly, but the wing tips tend to flutter during sharp turns.” –Natasha Romero

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BAR COMMENTS: “Bar is good, but the pull-pull depower makes it difficult to fine tune the amount of depower.” –Jon Dixon “The below-bar swivel worked well, but the red release cuff felt a little cheap.” –Ken Kerr

BEST

KAHOONA PLUS V4 Sizes Available: 3.5, 5.5, 7.5, 9.5, 11.5, 13.5m Size Tested: 9.5m Price: $1,228 – $1,718

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: With a reputation for surprising hangtime and great low end power it’s no wonder riders return to the Kahoona season after season. With more responsive handling, reduced bar pressure, and best in class stability, the V4 is our most advanced Kahoona yet. The Kahoona delivers the perfect mix of freeride, new school, and wave riding performance. The V4 combines rock-solid stability, smooth power delivery, endless depower, and precise handling, making it the perfect kite for advancing your riding level regardless of your preferred riding style.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Best Kahoona Plus V4 is a 4-strut medium aspect kite. Our test Kahoona was the Plus version meaning that it was equipped with a single-point inflation system, something that has not been available on the Kahoona in past seasons. Out testers noticed the Kahoona’s wide wind range, especially its low-end power. They also commented that it is very easy to relaunch, goes upwind well, and has surprisingly good jumping performance. At the low end of its wind range, our testers noticed the Kahoona has a tendency to backstall in certain situations if you have the bar pulled all the way in. The Kahoona uses the new Best RP Bar V2. It features a push-away quick release, belowbar swivel, soft ends, adjustable stopper, and an above-bar depower strap. It also features a sacrificial wear insert to prevent depower line wear, but we weren’t able to test its effectiveness during our week-long test.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 BEST TS KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Good upwind and jumping performance • Good low end power

CONS: • Relatively slow turning • Not the most stable kite • Comes with a simple bag that is a little too small


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Nice direct feel through the turns. Turning is slow (12m) but direct. Good depower.” –Fred Stemmelin “Pulls hard like a truck, but also drives slow (12m) like a truck.” –Ken Kerr “Flew far forward in the window, but generated good power.” –Jon Dixon

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“I was surprised how easily the kite got upwind (9m). Good overall kite.” –Ginette Buffone (TKB staff)

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BAR COMMENTS: “The quick release is easy to rebuild and the bar feels very comfortable.” –Jon Dixon “The trimming system was a little cumbersome, but the quick release is simple. The cuff on the quick release feels a little flimsy.” –Ginette Buffone (TKB staff)

BEST TS

Sizes Available: 4, 5.5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17m Sizes Tested: 9, 12m Price: $1,278 – $2,228

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Every size of the TS is uniquely engineered for a specific set of riding conditions allowing the TS range to cover all riders and riding styles. Every aspect of design, shaping, material selection, and construction in the TS has been refined to bring each size closer to perfection. New-school riders searching for blistering performance will be blown away by the improvements in handling, power delivery, and jumping from the mid-sized TS kites. Hooked or unhooked the 7m -14m TS kites deliver greater stability, precise feedback, and more performance than ever before.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Best TS is the next generation of the 2011 Taboo and is a medium aspect kite. Our testers reported that both the 9 and 12m generated a lot of power and handling was a little slow, but direct. Our testers felt like the TS had better upwind and jumping performance than the Best Kahoona, but wasn’t as stable. Testers also commented about the bag included with the TS. It’s a simple stuff sack, but our testers felt it was a little too small to easily fit the kites into. The TS uses the new Best RP Bar V2. It features a push away quick release, below-bar swivel, soft ends, adjustable stopper, and an above-bar depower strap. It also features a sacrificial wear insert to prevent depower line wear, but we weren’t able to test its effectiveness during our week-long test.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 BLADE TRIGGER KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Fantastic low-end power • Good jumping and upwind performance

CONS: • Easy to backstall in low wind • Not the best depower for a 10m kite


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Very powerful kite, nice design, sweet bar. Not the fastest turns.” –Fred Stemmelin “I had fun on this kite. Good power, stable, and the swivel worked!” –Ken Kerr “Good boost and hang time. Great for big air and old school tricks.” –Valeria Rytova

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TRIGGER

Sizes Available: 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14m Size Tested: 10m Price: $1,238 – $1,708

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION:

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“Seems like it has a big range. Possible one-kite quiver! I was so lit up, but it did seem like depower might be a little limited.” –Jon Dixon

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BAR COMMENTS: “I liked the bar grip material, very smooth.” –Hendrik Dahlkamp “Good depower system, comfortable bar.” –Valeria Rytova

We designed the Trigger to promote progression especially for riders who are powerful, playful, and dynamic. If you like to do a little of everything on the water and like to be actively in control of responsive high-energy fun, the Trigger was designed to be your ideal kite. The 4th Generation Trigger continues to excel as a fast, nimble, and powerful all-around performance kite.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Blade Trigger is a 3-strut medium aspect kite. Our testers commented that the Trigger is a very powerful kite and it actually felt like a larger kite than a 10m. Our testers reported medium bar pressure, medium upwind performance, medium turning speed, and good jumping performance. The Trigger uses the Precision Blade Bar which features a push-away quick release, adjustable stopper, and above-bar depower strap. Our testers commented that the bar’s grip was comfortable but a little thick in the middle.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 CABRINHA VECTOR KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Excellent stability • Quick handling • Easy relaunch

CONS: • Bar pressure too high for some riders • Medium upwind and jumping performance • Quick release reassembly unlikely in the water


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Amazing kite – love how it flies, quick turns, and powerful downloops.” –Natasha Romero “Jumps good with good depower, but the bar pressure was a little too high for me.” –Hendrik Dahlkamp

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“Very nice kite for a beginner – nice turning, good power, very stable, fun to ride!” –Fred Stemmelin

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“Great turning speed, good boost, but not much hang time. Very responsive and good for practicing tricks.” – Valeria Rytova

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BAR COMMENTS: “The complicated quick release system scares me – looks like no chance to put this back together in the water.” –Natasha Romero “Comfortable bar, but resetting the quick release is difficult and I found it hard to pull the small power/depower balls.” –Hendrik Dahlkamp

CABRINHA VECTOR

Sizes Available: 3.5, 5, 7, 9, 11, 14m Sizes Tested: 7, 9m Price: $1,359 – $1,819

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The Vector kite will ride any conditions the ocean decides to dish out with consistency and ease. The Vector is made to simplify the kiteboarding experience. Easy handling, easy steering, easy relaunching, and an intuitive security system. This is the backbone of the Vector DNA, and this puts this kite in a class all by itself. If you are looking for a kite that will hone your kiteboarding skills in a safe and secure environment, the Vector is the kite for you.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Cabrinha Vector is a 3-strut medium aspect kite that features a large inflate/deflate valve. Our testers liked the Vector’s quick and direct handling and its ease of relaunch. The Vector is very stable and our testers feel this is a kite many riders could feel comfortable on immediately. They also reported mediumheavy bar pressure and average upwind and jumping performance. The Vector uses Cabrinha’s Quicklink IDS control bar which features a push-away quick release, below-bar swivel, soft ends, and a unique springloaded power-depower system that eliminates any loose line in the system. Our testers liked the bar but were a little intimidated by the quick release, which features a lot of parts. Our testers were unanimous in feeling this system would not be able to be put back together in the water.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 CRAZYFLY SCULP KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Light and crisp handling • Fast turning • Easy relaunch

CONS: • Not a lot of low end power • Safety line follows one of the front lines but has some slack in it


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Fast kite, easy looping, quick turning, but not very powerful.” –Ken Kerr “Light bar pressure, great boost and hang time. Good depower system and very stable.” –Valeria Rytova

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“Fast and direct handling are really nice, but the Sculp doesn’t generate a lot of low-end power.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

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“The handling made it feel a little small for a 9m kite.” –Natasha Romero

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BAR COMMENTS: “Bar is very simple and light. Very easy to keep center lines unspun.” –Ken Kerr “The light bar feels great in your hands, but the long safety line has slack in it and was distracting.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

CRAZYFLY SCULP

Sizes Available: 7, 9, 11, 13m Size Tested: 9m Price: $1,369 – $1,549

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The Sculp is a high performance kite suitable for almost every rider. It performs exceptionally well in so many aspects. The Sculp is amazing for freeriding with unbelievable upwind ability and it is superb for freestyle because of its huge hang time and speedy profile for quick kiteloops. This kite is perfect for riders looking for a comfortable freeride kite and also for riders looking to progress in their freestyle skills. The Sculp is all about fun, power, speed, and performance.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 CrazyFly Sculp is a moderately low aspect 3-strut kite. Our testers commented on the Sculp’s fast and direct handling, easy relaunch, and great stability. They also felt like the Sculp does not have great low end power and has average upwind and jumping performance. The Sculp uses the CrazyFly Sick bar which is an all-carbon bar produced in Europe. It features a push-away quick release, below-bar swivel, and a simple above-bar depower cleat. Our testers liked the simple layout and light weight of the bar, but also commented on the safety line. It follows one front line about halfway to the kite but is distracting as it has a little bit of slack in it.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 EPIC SCREAMER KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Great jumping performance • Very stable • Great upwind performance, especially when riding powered

CONS: • Relatively slow turning speed • Bar pressure a little heavy for some riders


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Stability is unbelievable. Stays put in the sweet spot, but turns slowly.” –Natasha Romero “Powerful, nice steady loops, but the bar pressure was too high for me.” –Fred Stemmelin

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“Very smooth through the gusts, average turning, easy to feel comfortable on. Feels like it likes to be ridden very powered up to get the best performance.” –Marina Chang (TKB staff)

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“Slow on turns, needed to apply a lot of force to get it to turn quickly. Very stable.” –Valeria Rytova

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BAR COMMENTS: “Everything on the bar is color coded, so it’s very easy to figure out.” –Natasha Romero “The bar grip is nice, but it’s a little thick so it’s better suited for larger hands.” –Fred Stemmelin

EPIC SCREAMER

Sizes Available: 7, 9, 12, 14m Size Tested: 9m Price: $1,330 – $1,670

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: You wanna talk sick graphics package? Check out the 3G Screamer. We’ve been keeping our designers busy, but the payoff is the best looking kite in the sky. The 3G Screamer is the evolution of the 2011 LTD kite. We’ve used a creative strut design and tricked it out to be even more powerful and a little less fussy. The 3G Screamers are like a day at the rodeo... once those gates open – BOOM! It’s a fun, wild, and exhilarating ride that you go home and brag to your friends about. We’re talking balls to the wall hang time, to the moon height, and enough stoke to last a lifetime.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Epic Screamer is a moderately high aspect 5-strut kite. Our testers commented that the Screamer is stable and has good jumping and upwind performance, especially if you ride the Screamer really powered. Our testers also commented on the good amount of power, relatively slow turning speed, and moderately heavy bar pressure. The Screamer uses the Epic XTEND bar which features a push-away quick release, below-bar swivel, adjustable stopper, adjustable ends, and an above-bar depower strap. Our testers commented that they liked the soft grip and obvious color coding but felt like the bar might be a little thick for some users, especially in the middle.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 F-ONE BANDIT 5 KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Fantastic all-around performance • Great stability, easy to relaunch • Fast and predictable handling

CONS: • No color coding on the bar • Slight hesitation when initiating turns • Average upwind performance


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Very powerful and fast turning for a 12m. Stable, amazing all-around performance.” –Jon Dixon “Easy to depower, very responsive (10m), felt like an extension of my mind.” –Dave Perry

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“Great kite! Fast turns (10m), good jumps, very fun!” –Hendrik Dahlkamp

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“Great lift and hang time (8m). Good range, smooth through gusts, fast turns, stable, and easy to relaunch.” –Valeria Rytova

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BAR COMMENTS: “Nice small bar for such a fast turning kite.” –Fred Stemmelin “The bar felt nice in my hands, but I didn’t like the low-tech velcro quick release.” –Jon Dixon

F-ONE BANDIT 5

Sizes Available: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14m Sizes Tested: 8, 10, 12m Price: $1,439 – $1,889

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Since the first generation Bandit we have been committed to offering one single kite for our range. Our goal is not to offer just a “versatile” kite but rather the best kite for each discipline and style of rider from the beginner to the pro rider. Each year, we test more than sixty prototypes to meet all these criteria and spend more than 120 days on the water to develop each new collection. Our initial objectives have been largely achieved with the B5 over the B4. It’s lighter, more maneuverable and responsive, even more forgiving, and ultimately more enjoyable and effective regardless of the category you are in.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 F-One Bandit 5 is a 3-strut Delta kite targeted for all styles of riding. Our testers liked the fast turning, medium-light bar pressure, and great all-around performance. Our testers feel that the Bandit 5 is a kite that will work well for most riders. They also commented on the Bandit’s easy relaunch, great stability, and good jumping performance. The Bandit 5 uses the F-One Airlite bar which is unique in the fact that the Airlite bar is formed from one solid piece of aluminum. Our testers reported that it felt light in their hands and liked the small diameter and small size of the bar. The bar features an above-bar depower cleat and a velco pull tab style quick release that can only be operated from one side. Our testers also pointed out that while the leader lines are colorcoded for left and right, it would be nice to see color coding on the bar as well.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 FLEXIFOIL HADLOW ID KITE VIDEO

PROS: • C-kite feel • Good jumping performance • Great low-end power

CONS: • Relatively difficult to relaunch • Bar can be difficult to use for people without long arms


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Stable and powerful, but bar pressure was a little high for my tastes.” –Fred Stemmelin “Cool graphics and C-kite feel. Great power and boosting performance.” –Dave Perry

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“Stable, direct turning, and great low-end power, but I found it a little difficult to relaunch.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

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“Direct feel, fun to fly, tons of power, but not super easy to relaunch.” –Josh Viner (guest tester)

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BAR COMMENTS: “Even with my long arms I had trouble reaching the power/depower straps.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff) “I liked the safety system but found the texture on the bar to be a little too rough.” –Dave Perry

FLEXIFOIL HADLOW ID

Sizes Available: 6, 8, 10, 12m Size Tested: 10m Price: $1,255 – $1,495

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: 11 years ago Aaron Hadlow started a kitesurfing journey with Flexifoil. Now he shares that journey with you, presenting a kitesurfing kite that will take you there to join him, to share that identity, that success, that image. Stemming from the existing Hadlow Pro, the Hadlow ID adds a kite to the HADLOW Collection firmly within the reach of all aspiring kiters. With increased depower, easier relaunch, and phenomenal performance in freestyle, freeriding, and wave riding the Hadlow ID is an expansion on the HADLOW Collection that gives you the tools to grow and be a part of the HADLOW movement from intermediate to pro riders alike.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Flexifoil Hadlow ID is a 4-strut medium aspect kite. It features a thin leading edge, C-like profile, and big wingtips. Our testers commented on the Hadlow ID’s quick and responsive handling, good jumping performance, good low-end power, and excellent stability. They also said it was easy to get upwind and had mediumheavy bar pressure. The bar used by the Hadlow ID features a pushaway quick release, below-bar swivel, and an above-bar depower strap that our testers commented was a little difficult to reach. The bar diameter is relatively thin and features a grip that some testers thought was a little too aggressive.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 GENETRIX ORIGIN V2 KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Great all-around performance • A do-anything kite that many riders will feel comfortable on

CONS: • Small dump valve in wingtip makes deflating the kite a little difficult • Average turning speed and upwind performance


TESTER’S COMMENTS:

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“Fun kite, super steady turns. Flies very well and has a ton of depower.” –Fred Stemmelin

GENETRIX

“Great boost, lofty with good hang time. Fun kite!” –Ken Kerr

Sizes Available: 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15m Size Tested: 11m Price: $790 – $1,400

“Their name sounds like a biotech company, but I really liked the kite. Was surprised by how well it went upwind with that large leading edge.” –Jon Dixon

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“Very nice, quick turner, powerful. Good jumping performance.” –Dave Perry

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BAR COMMENTS: “Very functional above-bar depower with full flag-out safety that releases to a single front line.” –Jon Dixon “Nice bar, but the leash system is a little bulky.” –Fred Stemmelin

ORIGIN V2

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The second version of the Origin is the result of a long process of development and testing done by our design team and riders. This 4-strut kite combines stability and maneuverability in a streamlined design. Its intuitive steering and spontaneous handling properties provide immediate fun, allowing the rider to push the boundaries of the sport in complete safety and comfort. Its wide range of uses makes any ride enjoyable, regardless of the rider’s ability level. The Origin will not only satisfy wave riders and hard core freeriders, but will also meet the expectations of intermediate riders who are looking for an easy-to-fly and responsive kite.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Genetrix Origin V2 is a 4-strut medium aspect kite. It features a large leading edge and a relatively small wingtip dump valve. For the most part our testers were surprised by the performance of this kite. They commented on the Origin’s great stability, surprisingly good jumping performance, easy relaunch, and medium bar pressure. Overall our testers felt the Origin has very good all-around performance. The bar used with the Origin features a push away quick release, below-bar swivel, and an above-bar depower cleat. It also features unique webbing adjusters to allow easy adjustment of each of the outside lines. Our testers thought this was an interesting feature but weren’t sure of how necessary it is. They also commented on the way the leash system is routed through the bar, as some testers thought it was a little bulky.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 HQ MATRIXX KITE VIDEO

PROS: • No need to pump! • Very efficient, generates a lot of power as you build board speed • Great upwind performance

CONS: • Slow turning speed compared to inflatable kites • Totally different riding experience compared to any other kite in the test


HQ

TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Are those all bridle lines? Yep. Packs down small, no pumping, has a very efficient feel to it. Feels like a whole new skill set to ride this kite.” –Ken Kerr

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“Flies completely different than an inflatable kite, but it’s actually pleasant to ride once you get used to it. Very impressed/surprised I was able to relaunch it from the water.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

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MATRIXX

Sizes Available: 9, 12, 15m Size Tested: 12m Price: $1,349 – $1,499

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Equipped with a super efficient profile, extra thin bridle lines, and intelligent speed system, the Matrixx is fast and agile. If you want to ride in light winds, this is your ticket. The remarkable power per square meter allows riding on water in about 10 knots. Move the Matrixx through the wind window to enjoy its full potential. Only high-quality materials known from the paragliding industry are built into this great kite.

TKB SUMMARY:

BAR COMMENTS: “Even though the kite flies totally different that anything I’m used to, the bar was familiar and looked like any other bar with the addition of the braking strap.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

The HQ Matrixx is a foil kite, and that made it completely different than any other kite in the test. Because of how different it was, we were only able to get two testers out on it long enough to give good feedback. Our testers were intimidated by the huge amount of bridle lines, but we simply left the lines attached all week and had no problem with tangles. The Matrixx is a very stable kite in the sky, but it turns slowly. On the water our testers reported that the Matrixx was a completely different experience and took some new skills to ride. Power seems to be driven by board speed, not by simply diving the kite as you would with an inflatable. Our testers were nervous to try, but the Matrixx is relaunchable from the water. Our testers urge anyone interested in buying a foil kite to try one first, as it’s a totally different feeling compared to flying an inflatable kite. The Matrixx uses a bar that looks familiar to inflatable kite users with the addition of a braking strap that is used to land the kite backwards. It features a push-away quick release, below-bar swivel, and above bar depower cleat.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 LIQUID FORCE ENVY KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Great all-around performance • Very easy to fly user-friendly kite • Maxflow inflation system

CONS: • Average upwind and jumping performance • Turning speed slows noticeably when depowered


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Very stable, turns well (12m), good boosting and upwind performance. An above average freeride kite!” –Jon Dixon “Big fat kite (12m) with good turning speed. Fun to fly and fun boosting.” –Ken Kerr

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“OMG How amazing is this kite (9m)? Excellent bar pressure, steady, reliable, safe feel to it. Instant love!” –Natasha Romero

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“Fast on turns, freestyle feel, and very stable. Wish it had better jumping performance.” –Valeria Rytova

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BAR COMMENTS: “Bar felt light and the release felt solid. Bar floats were in my way when I rolled up the lines.” –Ken Kerr “I liked the feel of the bar and the soft ends. The quick release is easy to use, but the depower line can get really jammed into the cleat.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

LIQUID FORCE

ENVY

Sizes Available: 5, 7, 9, 12, 15m Size Tested: 9, 12m Price: $1,399 – $1,799

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Rock solid stability, directional float, pivotal turning, and effortless relaunch highlight the Envy’s “beyond delta” design for all-around performance. This ultra lightweight threestrut platform gives light, responsive bar feel with impulse pivotal turning. The Envy’s flight characteristics blend to produce a distinct “set it and forget it” feel. This makes it the perfect kite for everything from progressive wave riding to kite-low freestyle domination.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Liquid Force Envy is a relatively low aspect 3-strut all-around kite. It features the Liquid Force-exclusive Maxflow inflation system that our testers were very impressed with. We could actually inflate the Liquid Force kites faster with the included pump than with compressed air. Our testers reported medium bar pressure, very easy relaunch, medium turning speed, and medium jumping performance. Overall our testers agreed that the Envy is a fun, easy-to-fly kite that many riders will feel comfortable on. The Envy uses the Liquid Force CPR control system. It features a push-away quick release, below-bar depower cleat, adjustable stopper, and soft foam ends with integrated bar floats. Our testers reported that the depower line was a little difficult to trim, especially if the line is wedged hard into the cleat.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 LIQUID FORCE NRG KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Great upwind and boosting performance • Great low-end power • Maxflow inflation system

CONS: • Relatively slow turning • Not as easy to fly or user-friendly as the Liquid Force Envy


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Pulls like a truck! Stable, but slow turning.” –Josh Viner (guest tester) “Big puller! Always felt powerful.” –Ken Kerr

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“Definitely not as user-friendly as the Liquid Force Envy, but also has better upwind and jumping performance than the Envy.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

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“It was stable and fun, didn’t have to think much about flying it. Easy to get upwind, but a little difficult to relaunch.” –Dave Perry

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BAR COMMENTS: “I liked the bar – easy to use, obvious colors, and a quick release that’s easy to put back together.” –Dave Perry “The bar felt really nice in my hands and the soft ends are a nice touch. The quick release is easy to use, but the depower line can be a little hard to trim sometimes.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

LIQUID FORCE NRG

Sizes Available: 6, 8, 10, 12m Size Tested: 10m Price: $1,599 – $1,899

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: New for 2012 is the Liquid Force NRG. The design directive was easy: make the most powerful kite Liquid Force has ever produced while remaining efficient through the wind window. It took out of the box thinking and countless prototypes to come up with the perfect equation. What was born is a kite that utilizes a flatter profile, unique bridle geometry, and a 4-strut platform to deliver the wanted performance markers. Combined with the reliability of the Liquid Force Diamond Wingtip the NRG relaunches automatically and boasts a massive wind range. If you are looking for unsurpassed power with deep low end and lift for huge jumps, the NRG is your kite!

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Liquid Force NRG is a very flat 4-strut high-aspect kite. It features the Liquid Forceexclusive Maxflow inflation system that our testers were very impressed with. We could actually inflate the Liquid Force kites faster with the included pump than with compressed air. The NRG is a brand new kite and is positioned as an upwind/boosting kite. Our testers reported great stability, light-medium bar pressure, great upwind performance, and felt that it was not super easy to relaunch. Our testers felt that jumping on the NRG wasn’t as forgiving as the Envy, but you are rewarded with much larger jumps and longer hang time when you get the timing right. Our testers also reported relatively slow turning speed. The NRG uses the Liquid Force CPR control system. It features a push-away quick release, below-bar depower cleat, adjustable stopper, and soft foam ends with integrated bar floats. Our testers reported that the depower line was a little difficult to trim, especially if the line is wedged hard into the cleat.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 NORTH EVO KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Great range • Very easy to use user-friendly kite • Great jumping performance

CONS: • Upwind performance not as good as Fuse and Rebel • Battens make it difficult to pack the kite small


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Predictable, well-engineered kite. Amazed at how stable it was even in overpowered situations.” –Jon Dixon “Great boost and hang time, stable, good bar pressure, nice feeling kite!” –Valeria Rytova

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“I like the grunt, power, boost, and speed. Solid construction, fun kite.” –Ken Kerr

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“Lots of depower, feels fast, very stable, easy to use and get used to.” –Natasha Romero

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BAR COMMENTS: “Clean bar, but the lines are a little fuzzy which makes them a little more difficult to untangle.” –Ken Kerr “Love the bar and the depower system!” –Jon Dixon

NORTH EVO

Sizes Available: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14m Size Tested: 9m Price: $1,399 – $1,929

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The Evo is quite possibly the most versatile kite in the North range; a crossover kite that performs as well in the surf as it does for unhooking and throwing the latest new-school tricks. Smooth, predictable power delivery and steady C-like bar feel invite you to unhook and push your newschool moves to the next level, throw massive kite loops, or boost big airs. The Evo also offers excellent depower ability and quick, predictable turning and drift ideal for surf-minded kiters. Whether you´re into stomping freestyle tricks, shredding waves, jumping, cruising, or all of the above, the Evo´s got you covered!

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 North Evo is a 5-strut low-aspect delta-style kite and is targeted as an all-around kite. Our testers commented that the Evo is very stable, has medium bar pressure, and is very easy to relaunch. Our testers also reported medium turning speed, great low-end power, and very good jumping performance. This is a very fun and easy kite to fly that a lot of riders will be able to immediately feel comfortable on. The Evo uses the North 4-line trust bar, which is very similar to the same bar North has been using for a few seasons. It features a pushaway quick release, below-bar swivel, abovebar depower cleat, adjustable stopper, and is adjustable to accommodate different kite sizes.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 NORTH FUSE KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Great range • Very stable • Great jumping and upwind performance

CONS: • Battens make it difficult to pack the kite small


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Great kite, highest jumps ever! Felt very predictable and smooth.” –Hendrik Dahlkamp “Awesome power and boost!” –Dave Perry

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“Jump high and enjoy the balloon ride! Easy upwind, high-quality construction.” –Ken Kerr

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“Stable, predictable, a little slow, but very very good hangtime.” –Jon Dixon

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BAR COMMENTS: “Clean bar. I liked the grip.” –Hendrik Dahlkamp “Awesome bar and depower system!” –Jon Dixon

NORTH FUSE

Sizes Available: 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14m Size Tested: 10m Price: $1,469 – $1,999

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The Fuse is a dedicated free-ride/wave kite that is sparking the future of 4-line performance. The Fuse is an easy kite for freeriding and waves with a huge wind range, light predictable feel, and great jumping qualities. Its unique and simple Attack Control Bridle gives the Fuse smooth, reactive steering that is especially evident when depowered, making it a huge step forward in terms of maneuverability and directness on 4 lines. Easily accessible low-end power and extreme resistance to backstalling gives the Fuse great light wind capabilities while the AC Bridle ensures direct depower and a crisp bar feeling even in strong winds with easy push and pull power.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 North Fuse is a 4-line 5-strut kite. It is very similar to the Rebel, with the main difference being that the Rebel is a 5-line kite. Our testers reported fantastic stability, great range (both low and high-end), great upwind performance, and great jumping performance. They also mentioned medium-light bar pressure and medium turning speed. This is another kite that our tester’s feel most riders will be able to immediately feel comfortable on. The Fuse uses the North 4-line trust bar, which is very similar to the same bar North has been using for a few seasons. It features a pushaway quick release, below-bar swivel, abovebar depower cleat, adjustable stopper, and is adjustable to accommodate different kite sizes.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 NORTH REBEL KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Great range • Very stable • Great jumping and upwind performance

CONS: • Battens make it difficult to pack the kite small • 5 lines take more time to untangle than 4


NORTH

REBEL

TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Raw power, good turning, big jumps. Dislike having five lines to run out.” –Dave Perry “Goes upwind like crazy, huge range, flies really well even when depowered.” –Fred Stemmelin

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“Quick on turns, very responsive. Easy to relaunch, good boost, stable kite, light bar pressure.” –Valeria Rytova

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“Great kite, very predictable and smooth, but I prefer the Fuse because I like four lines better than five.” –Hendrik Dahlkamp

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BAR COMMENTS: “Release system is simple and easy to put back together.” –Natasha Romero “Nice simple bar system that is common across the entire North line.” –Ken Kerr

Sizes Available: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14m Size Tested: 9m Price: $1,499 – $2,029

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The 2012 Rebel remains North’s flagship kite, combining all the ingredients you need to cover a huge wind range, rip apart any size surf, boost huge airs, and ride comfortably in nearly all conditions. It is quite simply our best interpretation of what a modern freeride/wave kite should be and it’s really no mystery why the Rebel is THE most sold kite ever. The 2012 Rebel remains a loaded 5th line kite, offering its most acclaimed performance attributes like a short bar stroke, crisp, direct feeling, rock solid stability in all conditions, and it’s unique ability to steer while depowered. Size-specific tuning ensures that the big sizes feel crisp and lively and the small sizes feel forgiving even in blistering wind. The Rebel also features a simple back-line adjustment to tune for greater or lesser bar pressure to suit your desired feel.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 North Rebel is a 5-line 5-strut kite. It is very similar to the Fuse, with the main difference being that the Fuse is a 4-line kite. Our testers reported fantastic stability, great range (both low and high-end), great upwind performance, and great jumping performance. They also mentioned light-medium bar pressure and medium turning speed. The Rebel is a kite that our tester’s feel most riders will be able to immediately feel comfortable on in a wide range of conditions. The Rebel uses the North 5-line trust bar, which is very similar to the same bar North has been using for a few seasons. When you release the bar, it releases onto the 5th line, which instantly kills all the power in the kite. It features a push-away quick release, below-bar swivel, above-bar depower cleat, adjustable stopper, and is adjustable to accommodate different kite sizes. For most of our testers, this was their first time riding a 5-line kite and in our opinion their unfamiliarness with 5-line systems led them to prefer the Fuse over the Rebel.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 OCEAN RODEO CYPHER KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Fast handling • Very direct feeling

CONS: • Not great low-end power • Average jumping performance


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Handles gusts well, fast and steady turns, great depower.” –Fred Stemmelin “Turns faster than any 10m I’ve ever been on, light bar pressure, great upwind, average jumping.” –Jon Dixon

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“Nice, good depower, felt responsive and fast. Very stable.” –Dave Perry

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“Super fun, steady, stable, turns quick, wicked downlooping!” –Natasha Romero

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BAR COMMENTS: “Keep the stopper within reach or you’ll have a really hard time reaching the bar if you let go.” –Natasha Romero “Release system is easy to put back together in the water, but the trim line is a little hard to grab. The grip on the bar was a little too aggressive for me.” –Fred Stemmelin

OCEAN RODEO CYPHER

Sizes Available: 5, 7, 9, 10, 12m Size Tested: 10m Price: $1,274 – $1,674

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The 4 strut Cypher is a rock steady and forgiving kite for handle passes, sliders, and unhooked riding. The Cypher sits deep in the window and flies well off the back lines, and is fantastic in the park or unhooked down the line. All 2012 kites fly perfectly with any of our 3 bars, Freeride, Fusion, or Freestyle and all kites feature our unique Direct Depower System, designed to fully roll over and disable your kite in the event of an eject or total depower.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Ocean Rodeo Cypher is a 4-strut medium aspect kite with a C-like profile. Our testers felt it was a good all-around kite and commented on its very fast turning, direct handling, and great upwind performance. They also mentioned light bar pressure, average jumping performance, easy relaunch, and good stability. Our test Cypher shipped with the Ocean Rodeo Freeride bar which has a unique look to it due to its curved profile. It features a push-away quick release, below-bar trim cleat, adjustable stopper, soft ends, and is adjustable to accommodate different kite sizes. Our testers commented that the trim line was a little difficult to use. The sheeting system is unique in that you can depower the kite 100% by simply letting go of the bar if the stopper is pushed up high enough. Our testers commented that this felt very safe, but it’s difficult to reach your bar again after letting it go.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 OZONE CATALYST KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Good upwind performance • Easy relaunch • Easy to fly all-around kite

CONS: • Skinny leading edge needs lots of pressure to avoid deforming • Seems to take a lot of board speed to really make it come alive


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Stable, easy to relaunch, seemed to do everything well.” –Dave Perry “Impressive, kite almost flies itself! Great upwind ability, easy to fly, great speed.” –Fred Stemmelin

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“I didn’t really like it until I let it pull me as fast as I could go. Then it was game on!” –Ken Kerr

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“Smooth turns, responsive, should fair well in any conditions.” –Josh Viner (guest tester)

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BAR COMMENTS: “Nice grip on the bar, but I found the depower hard to grab when fully powered.” –Dave Perry “Simple control bar, but feels a little thick in the middle. The quick release is a pull-to-release as opposed to the more common push-to-release.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

OZONE

CATALYST

Sizes Available: 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14m Size Tested: 10m Price: $1,149 – $1,799

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: “The Catalyst never fails to impress me. I ride a lot of different kites but every time I jump back on a Catalyst it brings a smile to my face. It is so versatile and performs very well in all aspects. It’s got something for everyone. For sure it’s a fantastic kite for entry level riders because it is easy to use and delivers smooth predictable power with progressive handling and simple relaunch. If you are already a seasoned kiter then this kite can take you where you want to go—boost, ride waves, or freestyle. No matter what your passion might be the Catalyst will deliver.” Rob Whittall, Ozone Kites Designer

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Ozone Catalyst is a 3-strut medium aspect kite with a thin leading edge our testers found likes to be pumped up hard. It features a large inflate/deflate valve that we found should be tightened after you inflate the kite to prevent leaks. Our testers commented on the Catalyst’s light-medium bar pressure, easy relaunch, medium turning speed, and medium jumping performance. They also found the Catalyst easy to get upwind on and very easy to fly. The Catalyst uses the Ozone Contact Water Control System which features a below-bar swivel, above-bar depower cleat, and a pull-torelease quick release. Our testers commented that the bar felt a little thick, especially in the middle, and some found the trim line difficult to grab when set at full power.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 OZONE EDGE KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Amazing upwind performance • Great wind range • Great jumping performance

CONS: • Relatively slow turning • Not super easy to relaunch


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Fast, fast, fast! Perfect bar pressure, super upwind ability, turns slowly.” –Fred Stemelin “Loved it! Easy upwind, very stable, great jumping performance.” –Hendrik Dahlkamp

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“Loved it! Highest jumps so far, everything was great.” –Dave Perry

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“I had a ball jumping on this kite. It’s an upwind machine and is super stable.” –Ken Kerr

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BAR COMMENTS: “I liked that there is a lot of red and blue on the bar so you can’t get confused.” –Hendrik Dahlkamp “The bar felt great in my hands, but the release system is way different than most other brands.” –Ken Kerr

OZONE EDGE

Sizes Available: 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17m Size Tested: 11m Price: $1,649 - $2,249

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: “The Edge has easily proven its pedigree over the past three seasons. It’s the kite to own if you are searching for ultimate performance, but the real magic for me is the fact the Edge is a joy to ride for any solid kiter that is looking for the ultimate boosting machine. If ripping upwind higher than you ever thought possible and reaching near orbit on your boosts is what you want then look no further. Sending it on the 9m in 25+ knots is awesome. It explodes off the water and gives me plenty of time and altitude to take it all in. The kite is stable and predictable in the air and super smooth which inspires confidence to go bigger and pull off engaging kite loops.” Matt Taggart, Ozone Kites Manager

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Ozone Edge is a high-aspect 5-strut kite. It’s widely known as a racing kite. It features a large inflate/deflate valve that we found should be tightened after you inflate the kite to prevent leaks. Our testers commented on its light-medium bar pressure, amazing upwind performance, and relatively slow turning. Our testers also really liked the Edge’s great jumping performance, something they were surprised by given the Edge’s known niche as a course racing kite. The Edge uses the Ozone Contact Water Control System which features a below-bar swivel, above-bar depower cleat, and a pull-to-release quick release. Our testers commented that the bar felt a little thick, especially in the middle, and some found the trim line difficult to grab when set at full power.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 RRD OBSESSION KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Amazing boosting performance • Great stability • Very nice construction details

CONS: • Turns take more aggressive bar movement to initiate • Not super easy to relaunch


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Turns fairly fast, boosts very well. Loved the construction.” –Jon Dixon

RRD

“Super boosty kite, soft landings, medium bar pressure, very good kite.” –Fred Stemmelin

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“Great kite for huge jumps and getting upwind. Ride overpowered and go big!” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

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“Great kite for big air! Great hang time and great stability, not a super-fast turner.” –Josh Viner (guest tester)

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BAR COMMENTS: “Good bar, great above-bar cleat, cool colors. Lines feel very high-quality.” –Jon Dixon “Clean control system with nice grip, quick release a little tough to reassemble in the water.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

OBSESSION

Sizes Available: 5, 6, 7, 9, 10.5, 12, 15m Size Tested: 10.5m Price: $1,419 – $2,119

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The 2012 RRD Obsession is our adrenaline-driven kite. It has gained worldwide recognition for being an RRD Icon. The Obsession MKIV is today the most advanced yet user friendly kite in the RRD range. We have upgraded the kite on important features like improved turning speed on big sizes and more neutral pull on kite loops. We have been able to create even a more stable kite with incredible low end power and improved easiness to ride unhooked. Perfect for kiteloops and power moves, great for every serious kiteboarder.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 RRD Obsession is a 5-strut mediumhigh-aspect kite. Our testers commented on the Obsession’s great jumping performance, medium bar presure, medium turning speed, great stability, and great upwind performance. Our testers feel that the Obsession has better upwind and jumping performance than the Vision. The Obsession uses the RRD Global Bar V3 which features a push-away quick release, above bar trim cleat, and is adjustable so you can use the same bar on all kite sizes. Our testers liked the bungee that helps take up slack in the depower line, but testers with short arms felt it was a little too far away to easily reach.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 RRD VISION KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Fast, nimble, direct handling • Good jumping and upwind performance • Great all-around do-anything kite

CONS: • Canopy flaps during sharp turns, especially when depowered • Comes with a simple stuff sack bag that can easily blow away


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Nice freeride kite – good boost, stable, turns quickly.” –Fred Stemmelin

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“Awesome kite! Quick turning, loops well, stable, responsive, bar pressure a little too high for me.” –Valeria Rytova

RRD

“Great all-around kite. Fast turns, responsive, might buy one for myself!” –Hendrik Dahlkamp

Sizes Available: 5, 7, 9, 10.5, 12, 13.5m Size Tested: 9m Price: $1,159 – $1,584

VISION

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“Fast handling, but the canopy flutters a lot when depowered.” –Ken Kerr

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BAR COMMENTS: “I liked the grip and simple, clean layout of the bar.” –Hendrik Dahlkamp “Good depower system, but the depower cleat was a little to high for me to reach easily.” –Valeria Rytova

The RRD Vision kite is amazingly fun and accessible from the minute you hit the water. Easy turns with super smooth power and acceleration. Perfect handling in gusty conditions, water relaunch is immediate and on the spot! Usable by the largest variety of kiters in the water today, there are no limits for the rider’s progression with the Vision kite in any conditions.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 RRD Vision is a 3-strut medium-aspect kite. Our testers noticed the Vision has a very stiff airframe once inflated. They reported very fast, nimble, and direct handling, good upwind and jumping performance, and medium bar pressure. Our testers felt the Vision is a great all-around kite that will do everything well, but the Obsession has better upwind and jumping performance. The Vision uses the RRD Global Bar V3 which features a push-away quick release, above bar trim cleat, and is adjustable so you can use the same bar on all kite sizes. Our testers liked the bungee that helps take up slack in the depower line, but testers with short arms felt it was a little too far away to easily reach.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 SLINGSHOT RALLY KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Great stability and very easy to fly • Very easy to relaunch • Relatively fast turning for a 14m • Great low-end power

CONS: • Leading edge needs a lot of pressure to prevent heavy riders from being able to distort the wingtips • Medium upwind and boosting performance


SLINGSHOT

RALLY

TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Wow, big kite and generates a lot of power! Very stable, easy to relaunch.” –Ken Kerr

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“Big size makes this tough to compare to the other kites, but the Rally is stable, generates a lot of power, and relatively fast for a 14m kite.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

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“Very stable and user-friendly. It just wants to sit in the sweet spot and pull me along.” –Marko Bartscherer (guest tester)

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BAR COMMENTS: “Very nice-quality lines, quick release looks solid. I like the below-bar depower, but wish the lines were not all white.” –Ken Kerr “Clean bar with a front line swivel that actually works. Trim line a little difficult to adjust.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

Sizes Available: 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14m Size Tested: 14m Price: $1,479 – $1,949

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The 2012 Slingshot Rally is the top choice for crossover freestyle and surf minded riders. Proven Delta features such as low end power, responsive pivotal turning, endless lofty hang time, effortless relaunch, and unbelievable range are matched with C-kite predictable power and uncompromising stability. The three strut design of the Open Delta C delivers smooth efficient power through the stroke and offers a lightweight balanced build for maximum flight stability. Our industry first pulley-less bridle lends itself to a direct feel, enhanced responsiveness, and unmatched upwind performance. The stroke at the bar combined with our pulley-less bridle lets you tap into a top end range that translates into complete control when the wind picks up.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Slingshot Rally is a 3-strut relatively flat delta kite. We tested the 14m, as that was the only kite Slingshot had available at the time of our test. This made it difficult to test (it was way too big for most of the conditions we had) and compare to the other kites. Our testers commented on the Rally’s great stability, easy relaunching, and great low-end power. Our testers also found that it performs best when inflated very hard as heavy riders can make the wingtips distort if the kite doesn’t have enough pressure in it. The bar used with the Rally features a pushaway quick release, below-bar trim cleat, adjustable stopper, and above-bar swivel. We were disappointed to see the red coloring on the right hand side of the bar (opposite from industry standard), but it turns out this was a preproduction bar and the red color was changed to blue for the final production version.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 SLINGSHOT Z KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Great stability and very easy to fly • Delivers a very steady pull • Super easy to relaunch • Surprisingly good jumping performance, especially when ridden overpowered

CONS: • Bar pressure too high for some riders • Relatively slow turning speed


SLINGSHOT Z

TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Solid grunt, instant relaunch, steady pull through loops. Great hang time, somewhat heavy bar pressure.” –Layne Mullard (guest tester) “Stable kite and great jumping performance, but bar pressure too high for me.” –Valeria Rytova

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“Good beginner kite. Easy to fly, good amount of power, easy to relaunch.” –Fred Stemmelin “Simple kite, clean bar, generates good power and a very steady pull.” –Ginette Buffone (TKB staff)

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BAR COMMENTS: “Bar is clean but the hard, bumpy grip was hard on my hands.” –Hendrik Dahlkamp “The bar has good grip and a nice safety system, but the trim line is hard to grab when at full power.” –Fred Stemmelin

Sizes Available: 6, 9, 11, 13m Size Tested: 9m Price: $1,159 – $1,584

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The fresh, versatile design of the Z kite gives consistent pull with controlled power and unmatched versatility. Stable and predictable in virtually all conditions, the Z kite produces huge boosts with good control and effortless relaunch. The Z kite is loaded with the latest innovative features. However, its most important feature is the “plug and play” usability you will experience every day. This includes features like our industry first pully-less bridle that delivers a direct feel, enhanced responsiveness, and unmatched upwind performance. Additional unique features like our Spherical-C Profile and Axis Wing Tip allow the kite to easily roll up off the water to relaunch.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Slingshot Z is a new 3-strut lowaspect kite. It’s being marketed as Slingshot’s price point kite and will be available in a package with a board for a very competitive price. Our testers reported great stability, medium turning speed, medium-heavy bar pressure, and very easy relaunching. They also commented on the Z’s very good jumping performance and very steady pull. The Z uses the Slingshot Z-Bar which is a very simple control system. It features a push-away quick release and below-bar trim cleat that our testers commented was a little difficult to use, especially when set at full power. Compared to the bar included with the Rally, there is no center line swivel and no adjustable stopper.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 STAR TAINA KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Relatively fast turning • Very easy to relaunch • Easy to use, easy to fly kite

CONS: • Average jumping and upwind performance • Very long bridle lines • Some testers did not like the graphics


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Fast turning, easy relaunch, good performer, but looked girly.” –Dave Perry “Handles well, nice medium bar pressure, nice quick turns, and stable.” –Natasha Romero

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“I liked it. Nice all-around kite, but I hated the ugly design on the canopy.” –Hendrik Dahlkamp

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“Fun to fly, fast turning, and very stable. Good jumping performance.” –Ken Kerr

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BAR COMMENTS: “The power/depower straps were slightly out of reach and tough to adjust.” –Natasha Romero “The bar felt nice in my hands, but the quick release and swivel seem like they could use a little more refinement.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

STAR

TAINA

Sizes Available: 5.5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14m Size Tested: 9m Price: $1,300 – $1,700

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The Taina is for riders who demand performance over the broadest range of conditions. However due to its incredible turning speed, grunt, and depower, this kite is specifically a dream come true for the wave riders. The Taina reacts so well that you can steer it with one hand on the bar. Due to its super easy relaunch and the ease of steering input, this kite is perfect for kite schools or beginners. Its profile is shaped in a way that it makes it very hard to backstall, allowing a student to focus on the ride instead of the trimming. All in all, the Taina is a perfect all-terrain kite with special performance for the waves.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Star Taina is a 3-strut low-aspect kite. Our testers reported medium bar pressure, fast turning, easy relaunching, and good stability. They commented that jumping and upwind performance are average. Overall our testers agreed that the Taina is a good all-around kite that most riders will be able to instantly feel comfortable on. The bar used with the Taina features a pushaway quick release, below-bar swivel, and above-bar depower strap that some testers commented was difficult to reach. Testers also commented on the quick release requiring more force than average to release.


CLICK HERE FOR THE 2012 WAINMAN HAWAII KITE VIDEO

PROS: • Smooth, predictable, direct handling • Great low-end power • Very easy relaunch and great stability

CONS: • Average upwind performance on the 10.5m • Pulls like a truck, and some testers didn’t like that


TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Wow, very different from all other kites (7.5m). Fast turns, great upwind, very zippy!” –Hendrik Dahlkamp “Super stable, fast turning (7.5m), very easy to relaunch.” –Ginette Buffone (TKB staff)

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“Very interesting kite. Powerful kiteloops, light-medium bar pressure, not as much depower as most other kites (7.5m).” –Fred Stemmelin.

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“Perfect bar pressure, kite felt like an extension of myself (10.5m). Awesome, predictable boost.” –Jon Dixon

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BAR COMMENTS: “Sweet bar and lines. Love the thin lines and bright colors.” –Ken Kerr “Clean bar with a very nice feel. The swivel worked better than anything else I’ve ever used before.” –Ginette Buffone (TKB staff)

WAINMAN

HAWAII RABBIT GANG 2.0

Sizes Available: 5, 6.25, 7.5, 9, 10.5, 12, 14.5m Sizes Tested: 7.5 (Mr. Green), 10.5m (Punch) Price: $1,395 – $1,895

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Mr. Green: The natural gentleness mixed with his nuclear potential makes all enemies scared of asking the wrong questions. The best action belongs to him and he doesn’t need any help to win the game. And don’t be frightened, because with this green gentleman, all endings are happy. The 7.5m Rabbit will please every rider. It is a must for windy days! Punch: The Punch, a 10.5m gangster, the biggest of the “V” Rabbits that ever existed. A super powerful yet still very responsive and fun kite that will send you out of the ring...only if you ask for it. Be ready for the the Punch from nowhere...

TKB SUMMARY: The Wainman Hawaii Rabbit 2.0 kites are threestrut low-aspect kites. These were the only kites in the test to not have a single-point inflation system. They also feature bright graphics that some testers liked and some disliked. Our testers reported great stability, fast and direct handling, medium bar pressure, and great jumping performance. They felt like the 7.5m had better upwind performance than the 10.5m. More than any other kite, the Rabbit kites were very decisive and testers either loved them or hated them. These kites use the Carrot 2.0 control system which features a push-away release, above-bar trim cleat, soft ends, and an above-bar swivel that worked extremely well. Again, some testers liked the bright color scheme on the bar and lines while others did not.


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BOARDS


BEST ARMADA V3

Sizes Available: 131, 135, 138cm Size Tested: 135x40cm Price: $699

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The Armada sets sail once again with our high-end package of advanced build quality and performance features. The Supremo wood core uses a laminated Paulownia wood construction with a fiberglass-taped spine reinforcement. A PVC foam core-surround with integrated flex-tips gives you precise control underfoot and provides outrageous durability. The Armada delivers top-flight performance and construction quality once again. The blend of light weight, high strength, easy handling, and great looks make this the ideal freeride board for demanding riders.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Best Armada is a relatively lightweight and beautifully finished twin tip. It features thin, flexible tips and a shallow concave on the bottom. Our testers reported average upwind ability, excellent pop, and a very smooth ride through the chop. Tester’s commented that the Armada’s straps were comfortable despite being an older-style design. For a system with separate pads and straps, these were very easy to install onto the board.

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“Simple yet comfortable and very form-fitting straps. A smooth ride with comfortable landings and good pop.” –Jon Dixon “Fun board for new school tricks as well as big air. Can’t say anything bad about it! Would love to try a shorter one.” –Valeria Rytova “Comfortable ride, fun pop, good flex for landing, rides well toeside. Seemed to send spray up into my face as it cut through the chop.” –Natasha Romero

PROS: • Smooth ride in choppy conditions • Excellent pop and very forgiving landings

CONS: • One tester reported spray shooting into her face when riding through chop.


BEST SPARK V3

Sizes Available: 130, 135, 140cm Size Tested: 140x42cm Price: $469

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: With three different sizes in the Spark range, you are sure to find the perfect fit for your size, weight, and skill level. The Spark V3 is the perfect freeride board for riders who value quality and performance. With our Wood Flex Core, channel release tips, and tri-axial layup there’s no better board to help you maximize your progress. Priced lower than you would expect, it’s the perfect board for any beginner or intermediate rider. Designed with progress in mind, we are sure you’ll still love your Spark long after you have completed your first season.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Best Spark is a fairly wide board with wide tips and a channeled bottom. It’s very nicely finished for a budget board but it feels a little heavy. Our testers reported very good upwind ability and a forgiving ride. Even in the large chop, the Spark offered a comfortable ride, but didn’t cut through the chop as smoothly as the Armada. The Spark included straps and pads that our testers reported were not as comfortable as the straps on the Best Armada, but they were very easy to install.

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CONS: • The straps and pads that came with the Spark aren’t nearly as nice as those included with the Armada • Somewhat heavy construction

“This is a great beginner board – I wish I learned on it. It’s very comfortable and forgiving.” –Jon Dixon

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PROS: • Forgiving, easy to ride board that will suit beginnerintermediate riders well • Very good upwind performance

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CRAZYFLY ALLROUND

Sizes Available: 135, 138x40, 138x43, 145x41, 145x48cm Size Tested: 135x40cm Price: $609

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: If you are looking for a high quality kiteboard which performs well, looks cool, and remains at a very attractive price level, then the Allround 2012 is your best choice. Allround is a very comfortable board with soft flex, great upwind ability and quite a lot of pop. It is constructed from a CNC-shaped wood core, multiaxial fiberglass, and ABS rails. These three elements of highest quality enable this board to deliver unbelievable performance on the water. Allround construction is designed to fit a wide range of riders starting with beginners and finishing with intermediate riders. This is the reason why so many kiteboarding schools use this board.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 CrazyFly Allround is nicely finished with a clear finish that shows off the beautiful wood core. It features ABS rails and a single concave on the bottom. Our testers reported average weight, good upwind performance, average pop, and a forgiving ride despite not being the smoothest board in the chop.

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The CrazyFly straps and pads may look a little strange, but testers found them easy to install, adjust, and were comfortable for most riders. Some riders with smaller feet commented that their little toes didn’t fit over the pad’s toe ledge.

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TESTER’S COMMENTS: “I really liked it. Crispy, responsive feel with good upwind performance.” –Dave Perry “Not the smoothest board in the chop, but good upwind performance.” –Jon Dixon

PROS: • Very forgiving, easy to ride board • Good upwind performance

CONS: • Average jumping performance


CRAZYFLY GIRLS

Sizes Available: 127, 132, 135cm Size Tested: 132x39cm Price: $664

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The Girls board is quite unique in its details and everything is custom tailored to fit the needs of girls. This includes small straps, optimized stance, graphics, and balanced flex and pop. It’s not only special in its design, but also in construction. The combination of the finest-selection tip to tip CNC shaped wood core, multi-axial fiberglass, and ABS rails create a great balance of flex, stiffness, and pop. Softer flex provides very smooth and comfortable riding, soft landings, and eats up chop very well. To make you feel like you own another piece of jewelry, we have used special glitter paint.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 CrazyFly Girls board is a nicely-finished womenspecific twin tip. It features an all-wood core, ABS rails, and a single concave on the bottom. Our testers reported a forgiving and smooth ride through the chop, great upwind performance, and average pop.

PROS: • Smooth ride in the chop • Great upwind performance

CONS: • Average jumping performance

“Not as poppy as the Girls Pro, but I appreciated the smooth and forgiving ride and soft landings.” –Natasha Romero

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CRAZYFLY GIRLS PRO

Sizes Available: 132m Size Tested: 132x39cm Price: $739

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The Girls Pro is designed for girl’s freestyle competition and is one of the few high performance freestyle boards for girls on the market. Everything on this board is custom-tailored for the needs of the most beautiful group of riders. This includes small S-size straps, optimized stance, graphics and balanced flex and pop. This board is built with a strong CNC-shaped tip to tip wood core enhanced with carbon fiber reinforcements, which give the board a lot of pop. Multi-axial fiberglass allows the tips to flex and provides comfortable landings. Add it all together and you get an amazing board for girl’s freestyle competitions and aggressive riding with a beautiful girl’s design.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 CrazyFly Girls Pro looks very similar to the standard Girls model but is lighter and stiffer. It features an all-wood core, ABS rails, carbon reinforcement, and a single concave on the bottom. Our testers reported great pop, great upwind performance, and a ride that wasn’t as smooth or forgiving as the Girls board.

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TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Very light, great upwind, but the straps were hard to keep tight enough.” –Valeria Rytova “Great upwind, amazed by the easy pop. Not as forgiving as the standard Girls board.” –Natasha Romero

PROS: • Great upwind performance • Great pop/jumping performance

CONS: • Not as smooth in the chop or as forgiving as the CrazyFly Girls


CRAZYFLY RAPTOR LTD

Sizes Available: 132, 136cm Size Tested: 132x41cm Price: $849

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The Raptor LTD hit the market in 2011 and immediately became the top selling CrazyFly board. It is a masterpiece in every aspect: attractive carbon design featuring Gullwing Double Concave shape, unbelievable performance, and ultra-light weight. The Raptor LTD is a high performance freeride and freestyle board. Due to its shape, Raptor LTD handles chop extremely well. Say goodbye to water splash as the concave channels direct the water exactly where it belongs – away from the rider. This board has a lot of grip for easy upwind and loading up jumps.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 CrazyFly Raptor Pro features a very similar outline to the Raptor LTD but has a single-concave bottom. It features an all-wood core, ABS rails, and a double-concave bottom shape with a spine running the entire length of the board. Testers reported an amazingly snappy and responsive ride, great upwind performance, and great jumping performance, but they also feel this is the least forgiving of the CrazyFly boards. They also commented on its very smooth ride through the chop.

CONS: • Carbon finish is beautiful but hard to find in the water • Not a forgiving board

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• Great upwind performance • Very snappy and responsive feel when turning or popping • Surprisingly smooth ride through the chop

“Amazingly snappy response when carving or loading up for a jump. Not as forgiving to bad jumping technique as the other CrazyFly boards.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

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CRAZYFLY RAPTOR PRO

Sizes Available: 127x38, 127x40, 132x39, 132x41, 132x43, 137x41, 137x43cm Size Tested: 132x41cm Price: $719

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The Raptor Pro has been in our range for quite some and it is still one of the most popular boards we make. This full-carbon freeride and freestyle board with astonishing performance is simply a living legend. Crazy Flex Tips technology, developed by CrazyFly, is integrated in the Raptor Pro. The latest innovations in composite materials allow us to produce ultra-thin tips which are extremely flexible and very strong. Crazy Flex Tips make the board very comfortable and extremely responsive. They generate much more pop and provide the softest possible landings. You can load up this board and it really pops you up in the air.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 CrazyFly Raptor Pro features a very similar outline to the Raptor LTD but features a single-concave bottom. It also features carbon construction, a full wood core, and ABS rails. Testers reported a smooth and forgiving ride, great upwind performance, and good jumping performance. The CrazyFly straps and pads may look a little strange, but testers found them easy to install, adjust, and were comfortable for most riders. Some riders with smaller feet commented that their little toes didn’t fit over the pad’s toe ledge.

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“Easy-riding board, nice pop, easy planing. Rides fast and smooth.” –Fred Stemmelin “Fun and responsive board, smooth in the chop, but the pads were tough on my feet.” –Josh Viner (guest tester) “Fun, smooth riding board. Not as snappy as the Raptor LTD but more forgiving.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

PROS: • Great upwind performance • Very smooth ride through the chop • Good jumping performance and soft landings

CONS: • Dark graphics hard to find in the water • Pads not comfortable for all testers


CRAZYFLY SHOX CUSTOM

Sizes Available: 132, 133, 136cm Size Tested: 136x41cm Price: $699

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The Shox Custom is an ultimate upwind machine for freeriding with soft to medium flex for a comfortable ride. The new Double-U Concave bottom shape increases the overall all-around abilities of the Shox Custom. With this shape, the Shox Custom becomes the ultimate chop eater and the upwind ability of this board is just amazing. Together with the upgrade in performance, we have changed the look of this board. Only the Shox Custom features a custom hand-picked paint job spread directly on the wood core. This paint job is one of a kind in the industry.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 CrazyFly Shox Custom features an all-wood core, fiberglass construction, ABS rails, and a single concave bottom shape. Multiple testers commented that the board was especially hard to see in the water after recovering from a crash. Testers reported great upwind performance, a smooth ride, and average jumping performance.

• Great upwind performance • Very smooth ride through the chop

CONS: • It’s the color of the ocean – very hard to see in the water • Average jumping performance • Pads not comfortable for all testers

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“Very smooth and forgiving in the chop and very easy to get upwind on. This board happens to be the same color as the water in La Ventana!” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

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The CrazyFly straps and pads may look a little strange, but testers found them easy to install, adjust, and were comfortable for most riders. Some riders with smaller feet commented that their little toes didn’t fit over the pad’s toe ledge.

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F-ONE SK8

Sizes Available: 132, 134cm Size Tested: 134x39cm Price: $749

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: This board has always been a real standout in high wind situations and two aspects have been improved for the 2012 version. Its early planning ability has been improved, thanks to a new shape with reduced drag as well as greater carving performance with the addition this year of the Twist Control technology. As a result, the SK8 has more flex with added liveliness, all this without added weight.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 F-One SK8 is a relatively narrow board that features a wood core and fiberglass construction. Our testers reported an amazingly smooth ride through the chop, great upwind performance, and a fun, responsive, and forgiving ride. This is a board that our testers felt really shined in the big La Ventana chop.

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The SK8’s straps and pads were easy to install and adjust for a wide variety of sizes. They received no comfort complaints from any of our testers.

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TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Light, easy to turn, easy to ride. Felt like I was zipping through the water quickly and easily.” –Ken Kerr “Soft landings, smooth ride, great upwind, 10 out of 10!” –Valeria Rytova “No spray, easy handling, goes upwind great.” –Hendrik Dahlkamp

PROS: • Incredibly smooth ride through the chop • Great upwind performance

CONS: • Does not perform well in underpowered situations


F-ONE TRAX

Sizes Available: 132, 134, 136, 140cm Size Tested: 134x40cm Price: $899

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The Trax is firmly geared toward performance. For 2012, we integrated a new double concave with a progressive V which improved early planing and quickened jibes, two qualities that are appreciated by freestylers and freeriders. This year we were particularly interested in an aspect often neglected in a board, the shape of the deck. Combining our Twist Control Carbon tech and a well thought out deck resulted in significant gains in rigidity, weight distribution, and improved general reliability. This structural combination gave the board a greater liveliness and longitudinal stiffness.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 F-One Trax is a fairly lightweight board featuring a double concave, large integrated X on the deck to control flex, and rounded ABS rails. Our testers reported a smooth ride (although not as smooth as the SK8), nice carving, great upwind performance, and great jumping performance.

• Great upwind and jumping performance • Smooth ride in the chop and soft landings

CONS: • Not as smooth as the F-One SK8 in big chop

“Smooth ride, soft landings, great pop. Smooth through chop and comfortable strap system.” –Valeria Rytova

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“Really liked the board and the very comfortable straps. Great turns and upwind performance.” –Hendrik Dahlkamp

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“Stable, fun, easy rider through the chop, loads well for pop, good board for progression.” –Jon Dixon

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The Trax’s straps and pads were easy to install and adjust for a wide variety of sizes. They received no comfort complaints from any of our testers.

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F-ONE TX5

Sizes Available: 132, 134, 136cm Size Tested: 136x40cm Price: $799

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: After several years of evolution, we agreed to not greatly change a shape that blends great performance, comfort, and ease of use. Only a size variation has been added to the mix with a 132x38cm added to the 2012 TX range. The 132x38 is a “small” board, either for a small rider or for a bigger one looking for a board to use in strong wind. It replaces the Trax 6 that offered the same size in 2011 and has gained a more concave/channel type base.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 TX5 features a single concave channeled bottom and and inverted ABS rails (soft on bottom, hard on top). Compared to the Trax it has a different bottom shape, more rocker, and harder rails and isn’t as wide. Our testers commented on the TX5’s very smooth, forgiving, and stable ride, good upwind performance, and good jumping performance.

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The TX5’s straps and pads were easy to install and adjust for a wide variety of sizes. They received no comfort complaints from any of our testers.

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TESTER’S COMMENTS: “I was super-confident on it immediately. Super-positive control and easy to ride in chop and wind swell.” –Ken Kerr “Forgiving board and great pads. Smooth in the chop, very good freeride board.” –Fred Stemmelin “Soft pads, good pop, soft on the knees when landing jumps. Good upwind performance and good turning.” –Valeria Rytova

PROS: • Very comfortable, easy to ride board • Very smooth in the chop • Great upwind performance

CONS: • Not as good jumping performance as the Trax


JIMMY LEWIS MODEL 3

Sizes Available: 125, 129, 133, 139, 145cm Size Tested: 133x39cm Price: $749

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Humbly stated, this is the greatest board of all time. Hand shaped rails and deep concave create speed with comfort, deep carve, and pop. Unlike sharp-edged wooden press-molded boards, Jimmy’s high density foam core Model 3 doesn’t deflect and block water. It wraps and releases the water. This is due to JL’s Dominatrix shaping.

TKB SUMMARY: The Jimmy Lewis Model 3 has been around for awhile and has taken on a timeless look as the shape remains unchanged. It features a deep single concave, thick round rails, and is fairly skinny in the tips. Testers commented that the Model 3 is an incredibly smooth board in the chop and has amazing carving performance. Jumping performance is average and upwind performance is good, especially when ridden very powered. The Model 3 came with straps and pads that were a bit of a challenge to install. These older-style straps and pads are basic, but most testers felt they were comfortable.

TESTER’S COMMENTS:

• Average jumping performance • Does not perform well in underpowered conditions

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“Holy smokes! Smooth ride! Amazing board for cruising or carving.” –Natasha Romero

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• Extremely smooth board in the chop • Very carvy turns, almost surfy-feeling

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“I liked it. Fun to turn on big swell, surfy feel. As soon as the wind began to drop I started feeling underpowered really fast.” –Dave Perry

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“Easy to transition and fun to turn. Forgiving and very fun.” –Ken Kerr

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LIQUID FORCE BLISS

Sizes Available: 129, 134cm Sizes Tested: 129x39.5, 134x40.5cm Price: $759

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Flex, shape, and feel tailored specifically to female riders. Not just a glittered-up beginner board, the Bliss comes from the same linage as the Influence with a touch softer flex, lighter weight, and smaller size. Tested and perfected by demanding girls who always show the guys up. Board highlights: soft flex, medium rocker, double to single concave bottom contour, wood/ composite core, liquid rail, and sublimated graphics.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Liquid Force Bliss is similar in shape to the Influence, but with woman-specific details. It features a single to double concave bottom, moderate rocker, soft flex, urethane rails, and beautiful glittery graphics. Our testers commented that the Bliss is very smooth and easy to ride and has good upwind and jumping performance. The Bliss came with the woman-specific Bliss straps and pads. The strap and pad installs as a single unit and might be the easiest to install pad/strap system of the test. Testers commented that they were very comfortable and sized well for female feet.

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TESTER’S COMMENTS:

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“Great board! Easy to transition and straps and pads are great for a woman’s feet.” –Ginette Buffone (TKB staff) “Very smooth – didn’t even feel the chop, soft landings, and nice pop.” –Valeria Rytova

PROS: • Great all-around female-specific board • Smooth in the chop • Good upwind and jumping performance

CONS: • Testers felt that the smaller 129cm Bliss was too small for most female riders


LIQUID FORCE INFLUENCE

Sizes Available: 133, 137, 141cm Sizes Tested: 133x41, 137x42, 141x42.5cm Price: $759

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Liquid Force pro rider Jason Slezak’s personal ride! Jason continues to have an undisputed influence in the kiteboarding world. He is the master of smooth style and powerful riding in all conditions. Jason and Jimmy Redmon put their heads together to make a board that will help any rider progress to any level. A dual stringer, wood composite core combined with slightly more rocker makes this board absorb chop, cut upwind, and handle jumps and transitions with ease. A single to double contoured bottom shape helps smooth the ride and soften hard landings. Board highlights: medium flex, medium rocker, single to double concave bottom contour, wood/composite core, Liquid Rail, sublimated graphics.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Liquid Force Influence features a single to double concave bottom, moderate rocker, and urethane rails. It’s very similar in shape to the Bliss, but obviously stiffer. Our testers reported good upwind and jumping performance and a very smooth, stable, and forgiving ride. Overall our testers felt the Influence is a board that will suit a wide range of riders and conditions very well.

CONS: • Adjustable toe bar on the foot beds can be uncomfortable if not adjusted for your own feet

“Wow, so smooth, effortless pop, quick turns, and really nice edging.” –Natasha Romero “Very smooth riding, goes upwind well, and jumps nicely. Seems to do everything well.” –Paul Lang (TKB staff)

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• Great all-around board that will suit a wide variety of riders and conditions • Very Smooth in the chop • Good upwind and jumping performance

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TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Nice! Good turning, snappy, and felt really poppy.” –Dave Perry

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Our test boards came with the Liquid Force Luxury straps. The strap and pad installs as a single unit and might be the easiest to install pad/strap system (along with the similar Liquid Force Bliss strap/pad) of the test. The pads feature an adjustable/removable toe bar that testers seemed to like as long as it was adjusted properly.

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NAISH MOMENTUM

Sizes Available: 132, 134, 136cm Size Tested: 134x42cm Price: $729

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: World renowned for its freeride versatility, the Momentum’s wide surface area, full rocker, quadruple tunnel on the tip area, and responsive flex provide easy planing, great edging, soft landings, and a smooth ride in chop. Its solid pop and smooth control make landing the craziest moves easier than imagined possible. The Momentum is one board that has it all for performance freeriding: smooth edging, balanced power, consistent planing, and limitless performance – everything a rider needs to take it to next level.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Naish Momentum is a fairly wide board featuring moderate rocker, a full wood core, and a channeled bottom. Our testers reported great pop, great upwind performance, and a responsive feel. They also commented that it was not the smoothest board in the chop and might perform best in smoother water than the large chop of La Ventana.

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The Momentum comes with the Naish Ally binding which is very easy to install. The strap and pad installs as a single unit and the Ally was comfortable for most testers. Those with small feet found they didn’t get quite tight enough for their liking.

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TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Super responsive, really easy to pop, all-around feel-good board.” –Natasha Romero “Good freeride/freestyle board. Turns very well and feels comfy.” –Fred Stemmelin “Epic turning and pop, nice bindings, but a little bit of a rough ride for me.” –Jon Dixon

PROS: • Great pop • Great turning performance

CONS: • A little bouncy in large chop


NOBILE NHP

Sizes Available: 128, 131, 134, 137cm Size Tested: 134x42cm Price: $899

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: For 2012 we’ve accomplished what seemed to be impossible we improved the NHP. This board has always set the standard in kiteboarding technology. Massive pop, limitless grip , impressive top speed, comfortable landings, smooth control, and easy ride made the NHP one of the best selling high-performance boards on the market. By combining our unique 3D Construction with Pre-Stress technology, we raised the bar even higher. Believe it or not, all the features that makes the NHP so powerful have been improved and taken to the next level.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Nobile NHP is a unique and fairly wide board. It features a wood and honeycomb core, wide asymmetrical outline, and channeled bottom. This board’s fins install with a unique cam-lock screw that means you don’t need any tools to install or remove the fins. Our testers were unanimous in proclaiming this the smoothest-riding board in choppy conditions. They commented on the smooth and forgiving ride, great upwind performance, and average pop. The NHP uses the Nobile IFS Pro straps and pads which testers commented were comfortable and easy to install. You can use standard screws or cam-lock fasteners for a tool-free installation.

TESTER’S COMMENTS:

• Average jumping performance

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“Nice construction, great pads and straps. Goes upwind really well and very comfy to ride. Average pop.” –Fred Stemmelin

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• Amazingly smooth ride in choppy conditions • Great upwind performance

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“Best board I have ever ridden. An incredibly smooth and forgiving ride. Takes boards to a whole new level.” –Jon Dixon

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“Plush butter! Upwind animal, turns felt magical.” –Dave Perry

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NORTH JAMIE

Sizes Available: 130, 133, 136, 139cm Size Tested: 136x41cm Price: $950

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: There are a number of reasons why the Jaime is the longest running and best-selling twin tip model of all time. It could be its super versatile feel, all-round performance, and ability to adapt to a huge range of conditions. It could also be its incredibly smooth feel through choppy water and butter soft landings. Some even say it’s the fact that despite the Jaime’s comfy and easy free-ride feel it is still able to produce explosive pop similar to our more powerful new-school boards. But it’s probably mostly due to the fact that Jaime (the man himself!) continues to relentlessly strive year after year to refine and improve his model not only for his own personal enjoyment and progression as a rider, but to please all those loyal fans out there!

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 North Jaime features a moderate outline, double-V bottom, and a new track system that allows you to adjust your stance to your exact preference. Our testers reported a very smooth, predictable, and stable ride, good jumping and upwind performance, and excellent turning. Overall our testers felt the Jaime will suit a wide range of riders and conditions very well. Our test board included the North NTT straps and pads which were very easy to install and adjust to the North track system. The pad and strap installs as a single unit and features two separate adjustment straps. Our testers commented that this was a very comfortable and easy to adjust system.

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TESTER’S COMMENTS:

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“Great board for the conditions, smooth in the chop, great upwind performance, and comfortable straps and pads.” –Josh Viner (guest tester) “Great all-around freestyle board. Very comfortable bindings, cuts easily through the chop, and very soft landings.” –Jon Dixon “The two separate adjustment straps made the straps very easy to adjust perfectly to my feet in the water.” –Hendrik Dahlkamp

PROS: • Great all-around board that will suit a wide variety of riders and conditions • Good jumping and upwind performance • Very smooth and stable ride in the chop

CONS: • Not as smooth in the chop as the North X-Ride


NORTH X-RIDE

Sizes Available: 130, 133, 136, 139cm Size Tested: 133x39cm Price: $850

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The X-Ride is an all-terrain twin tip that blazes through the roughest chop with ease and comfort. The round template and curvy scoop line are responsible for the X-Ride’s unique blend of comfort and smoothness while also promoting its superior carving abilities. The X-Ride is a blast to shred with in the waves and a perfect transition board to get you out there exploring the surf. The slightly larger swept back fins are not only great to drive you through high speed carves, but also for loading up hard and boosting massive airs at will.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 North X-Ride features a more narrow outline than the North Jaime, a single concave bottom, and a new track system that allows you to adjust your stance to your exact preference. The fins have small cutouts which make look similar to mini surf fins. Our testers reported a very smooth, stable, and responsive ride, good jumping performance, great upwind performance, and fun and carvy turns. Our test board included the North NTT straps and pads which were very easy to install and adjust to the North track system. The pad and strap installs as a single unit and features two separate adjustment straps. Our testers commented that this was a very comfortable and easy to adjust system.

CONS: • Not as good jumping performance as the Jaime • Does not perform well underpowered

“Jumps great, handles chop well, goes upwind great. One of my favorite boards in the test!” –Hendrik Dahlkamp

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• Very smooth and stable ride in the chop • Great upwind performance • Fun board to carve and ride fast on

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“Good for upwind, soft landings, cuts nicely through the chop. Fast turns.” –Valeria Rytova

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“Fast, good chop handling, comfy pads and straps, awesome upwind performance. Watch out for the sharp fins!” –Natasha Romero

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RRD BLISS

Sizes Available: 133, 135, 137, 139cm Size Tested: 137x42cm Price: $659

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: A great blend of performance, control, and upwind performance. The Bliss will help any new rider to use the board in any conditions without needing to get used to it. Simple, fast, and maneuverable, the Bliss incorporates all the features a rider needs on his “one and only” board. Mixing freeriding with the search of upwind rides and speed with the ease of landing after jumps and uncontrolled maneuvers, the Bliss will always be there for you at any given time you look for safety and control of riding.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 RRD Bliss features a wide outline, full-wood core, ABS rails, and a single to double concave bottom with a prominent bottom spine running through the middle of each tip. Our testers commented that the Bliss is a very easily-driven board that doesn’t take much power to get going and to get upwind on. They also reported a stable and predictable ride, average pop, and a somewhat bumpy ride through the large chop.

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The Bliss uses the RRD Screwit V2 strap/pad system which is unique in the fact that it easily installs without the need for tools. Some testers felt the straps were really comfortable while others felt they did not fit their feet well.

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TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Very forgiving board that felt solid under my feet.” –Dave Perry “This board will get you going in lighter conditions. Good upwind performance.” –Jon Dixon

PROS: • Stable, easily-driven board that doesn’t take much power to get going • Great upwind performance

CONS: • Blue and black graphics make it difficult to see in the water • Average jumping performance • Not a smooth ride in big chop


RRD JOYSTICK

Sizes Available: 133, 135, 136cm Size Tested: 136x42cm Price: $659

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Super maneuverable, fast, and easy, the Joystick is ready to help improve your level of riding from classic freestyling to new school maneuvers. Reverse rides, low air tricks, spins, kicks, surface handle passes, the Joystick if the board that incorporates all the features of a good freestyle board, but being slightly flatter and longer, it helps to throw some new maneuvers and try to push your new limits.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 RRD Joystick features a wide and relatively square outline, full wood core, ABS rails, and a deep center concave on the bottom. Like the Bliss, testers found that the Joystick is a stable and easily-driven board, but felt that the Joystick is a much smoother riding board in the chop. They also reported great upwind performance, a stable and forgiving ride, and average pop.

• Amazingly smooth ride in choppy conditions • Great upwind performance

CONS: • Average jumping performance

“A forgiving and stable board, handled nicely through the chop.” –Josh Viner (guest tester)

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“Rides smoothly for a bigger board. Rides well, very easy to get upwind on.” –Jon Dixon

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Like the Bliss the Joystick uses the RRD Screwit V2 strap/pad system which is unique in the fact that it easily installs without the need for tools. Some testers felt the straps were really comfortable while others felt they did not fit their feet well.

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SHINN SUPERSHINN

Sizes Available: 134, 135, 136, 137cm Size Tested: 135x41cm Price: $799

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Tired of having to choose between performance and comfort? Us too, it’s time for something new, a board that breaks the rules and opens the doors for riders to push themselves and their limits. No board can offer so much performance in such an accessible package. We’ve combined the highly-developed freestyle outline, tweaked the successful Constant Curve rocker line first seen on the Monk, incorporated the incredibly popular Squoval mold, and added into the mix our new Hydro-Flo tail conduits.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Shinn Supershinn is a very flexible thin-edged board. It features a full wood core and subtle channels in the tips. Testers commented on the Supershinn’s quick and responsive feel, smooth and forgiving ride, and great upwind performance. They also mentioned fast, snappy turning, and average pop.

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The Shinn came with the Sneaker S strap and pad combo which was easy to install. The pad is relatively thick and received high marks from our testers in terms of comfort.

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TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Smooth ride, solid feel to it. Cuts through chop, turns fast and smooth. I felt really in control.” –Natasha Romero “Great pads and straps, smooth ride, very soft landings, fast on turns.” –Valeria Rytova “Great upwind, decent in chop, comfy pads and straps, fun easy ride.” –Josh Viner (guest tester)

PROS: • Very stable and smooth • Great upwind performance • Quick, responsive handling

CONS: • Dark graphics can be hard to see in the water


SLINGSHOT DARKO

Sizes Available: 132, 135cm Size Tested: 135x41.5cm Price: $649

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: The 2012 Darko excels in flat to semi flat water progressive riding! Lead designer Tony Logosz has increased the single concave and rail channels for increased grip and maximum pop while still giving it that aggressive outline and efficient ride that top riders all over the globe demand.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Slingshot Darko is wide and relatively stiff and heavy. It features a squarish outline, full wood core, single-concave bottom, and Fastrack system that allows you to adjust the stance to your exact preference. Tester’s commented on the Darko’s great upwind performance and amazing amount of pop. They also felt it was a bouncy ride in choppy conditions with a few testers commenting that the square tips threw up a lot of spray in the chop.

“Nice board, rides fast, pops and goes upwind really well.” –Jon Dixon

PROS: • Great upwind performance • Great pop

CONS: • Bouncy ride in big chop

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The Darko came with the Slingshot Bolt-On 3 pads and straps which install very easily to the Fastrack system. The strap and pad is a single unit that most testers found comfortable and easy to adjust.

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SLINGSHOT MAYHEM

Sizes Available: 132, 136cm Size Tested: 136x42cm Price: $649

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: New for 2012, Slingshot introduces groundbreaking twin tip board performance that caters to the top PKRA riders and aggressive intermediates to offer insane grip, pop, speed, and control in an outline that lends consistent flex and unreal loading capabilities. The Mayhem has a contoured outline from tip to tail and precise thickness which allows hard carving.

TKB SUMMARY: Compared to the Darko, the 2012 Slingshot Mayhem features a more rounded outline and a channeled bottom. It also features a full wood core and the Fastrack system so you can put the straps exactly where you want them. Testers reported great upwind and jumping performance and a smooth ride through the chop. They also reported that this is a fast and fun board to carve on.

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The Mayhem came with the Slingshot Bolt-On 3 pads and straps which install very easily to the Fastrack system. The strap and pad is a single unit that most testers found comfortable and easy to adjust.

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TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Smooth ride through the chop, great freeride board, nice straps and pads.” –Josh Viner (guest tester) “Comfortable straps and pads, great upwind performance, fun turns, excellent jumping. “I liked it!” –Dave Perry

PROS: • Much smoother in the chop than the Darko • Great upwind and jumping performance

CONS: • Doesn’t perform well underpowered


UNDERGROUND FLX

Sizes Available: 132, 135, 138cm Size Tested: 135x41cm Price: $699

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Still the benchmark in supreme edge control, we’ve simplified the sizes and refined the state-of-the-art flex-tuned lamination technology. Smooth 3D design has created ever thinner bat-wing tips that offer outstanding control in overpowered conditions. Virtually indestructible, there are a lot of fully lit sessions packed into every FLX and your excitement will grow as the whitecaps increase. Virtually weightless in the air, you’re free to ride the way nature intended and to reach for your dreams with this impressive and versatile flex-bomb!

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Underground FLX is a relatively light and flexible board. It features a full wood core, ABS rails,and a quad concave bottom shape. Testers reported a smooth, fun, and stable ride, easy and agile turning, and felt its a board that can do anything well. They also commented that its jumping and upwind performance are average. The straps used on the FLX are relatively simple, but most testers found them comfortable. Installation was a bit challenging but Underground said they did not send us 2012 production straps/pads as they were still in development. Testers found that they didn’t tighten quite enough for small feet.

TESTER’S COMMENTS:

• Great all-around board to suit many riders and conditions • Smooth and stable in choppy conditions

CONS: • Average upwind and jumping performance

“Nice turns, smooth pop, agile, lots of fun to ride. Pads and straps were comfy but didn’t tighten enough.” –Josh Viner (guest tester)

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“Light, easy turning, fun in the wind swell, fun to ride.” –Ken Kerr

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“This board is comfortable, forgiving, and did everything well. A very wellrounded performer.” –Jon Dixon

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UNDERGROUND STYX

Sizes Available: 128, 132, 135, 138, 142, 148cm Size Tested: 135x41cm Price: $849

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Precision engineered for elite-level technical freestyle, the explosive Styx allows you to write your name across the sky and stomp the heaviest landings like you mean it. Bristling with technology including Paulownia wood core, ABS rails, BIAX glass, and carbon asymmetric flex control, this potent combination takes the heaviest loading and satisfies the most demanding rider. Everything flows smoothly from the precision tip-twist to the 3D shaped and tapered rails, enabling faster, more precise moves, and effortless pop. Boasting triple spine/quad concave and rail channels on the business side, flip this baby over and check out the deck spine.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Underground STYX is similar in outline to the FLX but is definitely a stiffer board. It features a full wood core, ABS rails, carbon reinforcement, and a quad concave bottom. Our testers reported a quick and responsive ride, great pop, and good upwind performance. They also felt it didn’t provide as smooth a ride as the FLX in large chop.

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“Fun board that does it all well. Great pop, easy to get upwind on, fun to turn on. Feels fast and responsive.” –Jon Dixon

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“Felt similar to the Underground FLX but with better pop and a more responsive feel.” –Josh Viner (guest tester)

PROS: • Very responsive and lively-feeling ride • Great jumping performance

CONS: • Not as smooth in the chop as the Underground FLX


UNDERGROUND TAHEE

Sizes Available: 129, 134, 141, 146, 152 Size Tested: 134x40cm Price: $549

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Kiting is all about fun and the more you’re having, the easier you’ll fly through the challenges.We’ve optimized sizes and molds to make everything about the Tahee easy and fun. This year’s Tahee is slightly wider and stiffer with an intelligent flex to smooth your ride. Anything that you can do in the waves, flat water, or air, this deceptively simple board can do it better and will continually satisfy as you progress through your trick list.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Underground Tahee is a nicely finished board targeted towards beginner-intermediate riders. It features a moderate outline, ABS rails, and a full wood core. Testers commented that the Tahee is a very stable and easy to ride board with good allaround performance. They reported a smooth and predictable ride (though not as smooth as the FLX), easy handling, and average jumping and upwind performance.

CONS: • Big jump in sizing from 134cm to 141cm • Average jumping and upwind performance

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PROS: • Great all-around easy-to-ride board for beginnerintermediate riders • Very stable and predictable ride

“Very happy with it! Fun to turn and a pleasure to ride, but I had trouble keeping the straps tight enough.” –Dave Perry

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The straps used on the Tahee are relatively simple, but most testers found them comfortable. Installation was a bit challenging but Underground said they did not send us 2012 production straps/pads as they were still in development. Testers found that they didn’t tighten quite enough for small feet.

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WAINMAN HAWAII BLUNT II

Sizes Available: 125, 130, 135, 137 Size Tested: 135x41.5cm Price: $696

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: These thin-rail boards are made for all terrain ripping. While some might say that compromising sucks, every intermediate freerider, for whom those versatile twin tip boards are made, definitely would not agree. A board needs to handle any condition that the rider may encounter and adjust to any mood the rider is in. At the end of the day, it really is all about the ride. It is so important that the power and huge potential given by the kite will be utilized properly. It does not matter what the conditions are when you show up with a Blunt, because this board handles it all.

TKB SUMMARY: The Wainman Hawaii Blunt II is a fairly wide and thin board. It ships complete with a board bag and screwdriver, a useful addition to ease putting your brand new board together. It features a deep single concave, full outline, and a wood and foam core. Our testers reported a very smooth ride in the choppy conditions, good pop, great upwind performance, and a fast, stable, and playful ride. They also commented on its loose handling and responsive feel. The Blunt’s straps and pads were easy to install and the pads seem especially soft. Testers commented that they were very comfortable, but those with small feet had a difficult time getting them tight enough.

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TESTER’S COMMENTS:

ester

“Cool graphics, comfortable straps and pads. Solid and turny, nice flow. I like it!” –Dave Perry “Tons of fun to play around with! Smooth turns and nice pop.” –Josh Viner (guest tester) “Loved how smooth it was through the chop and when landing. Really nice board, just wish the foot straps cinched down a little tighter.” –Ginette Buffone (TKB staff)

PROS: • Very smooth and stable ride through heavy chop • Great upwind performance

CONS: • Straps were difficult to tighten for small women’s feet


XENON LALUZ

Sizes Available: 129, 132, 135, 138cm Size Tested: 132x40cm Price: $766

MANUFACTURER’S DESCRIPTION: Xenon’s signature high-performance freestyle board will appeal to demanding and diverse riders who appreciate the power of the right board. LaLuz outperforms because of its outline - a harmony of deep single concave, continuous rocker line, wide tip and tail, and balanced flex. In 2012 we put additional carbon-kevlar stringers to make it more aggressive and dynamic with no loss of comfort and ease of riding. To increase comfort and durability we redesigned the straps, put a double neoprene coat over the inside part of it and simplified the mounting system.

TKB SUMMARY: The 2012 Xenon LaLuz is a beautifully finished fairly wide board. It features a single concave on the bottom, full wood core, carbon and kevlar stringers, and a wide outline. Our testers reported great upwind performance, great pop, and a surprisingly smooth ride. They also commented that it’s a fast and responsive board that was not the most forgiving platform when landing.

• Great upwind and jumping performance • Smooth ride in the chop

CONS: • Uncomfortable and difficult-to-install straps • Not the most forgiving board

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PROS:

“Smooth ride, easy upwind. Fun and responsive ride. Did not like the straps.” –Natasha Romero

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TESTER’S COMMENTS: “Smooth ride, good pop, great upwind ability, and cut through the chop well.” –Valeria Rytova

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Testers commented that the LaLuz’s straps and pads were relatively uncomfortable and we found them difficult to install onto the board.

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Li ve2ki t eShop, Sc hool s&DemoCent er s

3Gr eatLoc at i ons : Gr eenbr a e, Ma r i n( ma i ns hop/S c hool /S UP) Ma r i naBa y( newf a c i l i t y-S UPDi v i s i on) S her ma nI s l a nd( S c hool /da i l ydemos )

Li ve2ki t eShop, Sc hool s&DemoCent er s L i v e2k i t epr oudl yus esa nds el l st hebes tbr a nds , s uc ha s :

L i v e2k i t e. c om Hea dqua r t er s : 44I ndus t r i a l Wa y , Gr eenbr a e, Ca l i f or ni a-415. 924. 9463-i nf o@l i v e2k i t e. c om -s k y pe: l i v e2k i t e. c om


CONTAINS: Onyx Semidry 5/4 DL Cool Surfboard Vertex Sky Signature Harness Virtue Boardshort Surfboard Leash Gorilla Tee Tactical Pack Slash Sunglasses Boardsock Shortboard iPad Bag

+ GIMMICKS

www.ion-products.com

2012 Freeride Kiteboarding Catalogue  

2012 Freeride Kiteboarding Catalogue

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