I was fortunate to be present when some of the testing of the Nitro5 was happening. I am still just an average-ability rider, and it is really cool when you are handed a one-off prototype, and spend a couple of hours riding and evaluating changes.
I am putting the obligatory caveat here that I am not compensated in any way for what I say about their products. I choose where to spend my money, and I spend it on Switch Kites.
Anyway, I spent the day at the park with Felix and Bill -- and did I ever gain a new level of appreciation for the amount of work that these guys put into testing kites! I'd go out for a couple of tacks, come in, and they would take notes on my comments. Slight tweaks to the kite, and right back out again. Come in, change over to my personal Nitro4 for comparison, and head back out. While it is never going to be exactly the same conditions moment-to-moment, they really pushed hard to make sure that the changes were being evaluated under the same conditions. They had the same bars on all the kites. Anyone who has worked with Bill knows that he is a detail-oriented, scientific-minded, logical and patient person. Felix is a hard-charger with gobs of experience and is able to relate well to someone like me who is far behind him in ability. It appears to me to be the perfect artist-scientist combination of Felix and Bill that produces such great products.
I love my Nitro4. I have not had a bridle wrap, but I had a few on my Nitro3, and the bridles are so similar on the Notro4 that I am sure it can happen. I don’t really worry about it. I still regard kiting as somewhat of a controlled chaos activity. Things go wrong, and I adjust. Most of the time it is skill (or lack thereof) but sometimes a bunch of little issues with gear, conditions, and choices all converge to produce a wet and wild good time. I have had similar experiences across all sorts of gear from many manufacturers. I tell my friends when they are learning and something goes more wrong than usual, that if they want to be safe with the illusion of danger, there are plenty of other activities out there. I am a grown man, flying kites for fun, and giggling like a goofball as we slip, slide, jump and crash my way across the water. I don’t take myself or anyone else too seriously. I just have fun!
The Nitro5, and specifically the new bridle, should put the bridle-wrap issue to bed. The kite rides even smoother than the Nitro4 somehow. I found myself feeling like it might lack the power of the Nitro4, but in reality it is just smoother and more predictable. I was able to jump just as high, go just as fast, and point upwind as well or better on the Nitro5 as on my Nitro4.
Take one out for a ride and see for yourself. When you come in, take a few minutes and ask yourself if it is worth all the extra money for some of the more expensive alternatives out there. If you are like me, you won’t be able to justify it when you think of all the other cool stuff that extra money buys.
Switch will continue to get my business as long as they keep working hard, producing great products, and selling those products at reasonable prices.
Anyone stopping by Oahu that wants to try a bigger kite (I ride a 14m) out at Mokuleia should just hit me up. I am happy to spread the stoke!