What follows are my first impressions of the Element 128. I have only had about 10 sessions on it so far, but I think I have gotten a good enough impression of it to do a review.
LF Element 128
The board is very wakeboard like in construction and feel. In fact if you sat it side by side with LiquidForce's 2005 wakeboards, you might forget which one is which. Of course the devil is in the details and the contoured bottom of the Element is made for kiteboarding. A unique single concave to double channel shape is probably the most standout feature of this board. The very shallow single concave in the middle of the board blends seamlessly to the channels towards the tips of the board.
The Element has a unique single concave to double channel design.
Rather than try to figure out exactly how the bottom of this board works, I will just try to explain the feel of it. The mild concave doesn't give the same soft concave feel of other Jimmy Lewis designs. In fact I would say do not buy this board expecting a smoother ride because of the concave, for that look for deeper concave boards like the Drop or Hein. Instead the concave that's there mainly serves to give a great amount of traction or grip, especially paired with the channels in the back of the board. This gives great edging ability especially when you count in how wide the board is and how small the fins are.
I was very happy to ride this board and find I could ride a slightly wider board with smaller fins and actually gain grip on other boards I have ridden. The result is a board that can be ridden in overpowered situations into big jumps, but also in lighter wind. The fins are short enough that they provide very little resistance when you break the board loose to switch. I hate boards that feel like they are locked into their edge and require an Ollie to switch. This hasn't been the case with the last few boards I have ridden, but it has been the case with other Jimmy Lewis boards, which is why I was skeptical at first about the Element. Good to know I had nothing to worry about.
The concave runs straight down the center of the board, its edges do not follow the outline of the board. Towards the center of the board the concave is very shallow. The concave blends into two sets of channels at the end of the board. The combination of concave and channels really does work, providing more grip on the water without adding the drag of bigger fins.
The fins have a very nice shape to them. I can't claim to be a fin expert, but the foiling on these fins looks quite a bit more detailed than the somewhat generic fins I am used to from other boards. The screws only go down as far as a half inch into the fin, so the fin is kept very thin.
I got the fixed adjustable straps and air cushioned suction pads. The suction pads are a great idea and long overdue I think. I'm really tired of the sticky kind. If you don't get them stuck just right the edges start to pull up and dirt/sand/rocks get stuck under there too. The suction pads stick better than any of the sticky pads I used, and any sand that got in-between washed out easy. The pads are also very cushy and feel like basketball sneakers under your heels. The straps didn't look like much but they work great and had a nice forgiving feel to them. I didn't try the included heel straps, but they looked straight forward enough. With the quality of these straps and pads, I wouldn't be surprised if many people start buying them for other boards.
Another thing about this board, it's very wide! You feel this especially going into a carve transition, where you feel like the board is a very stable platform under your feet. Going into turns felt like cutting into a wake on my wakeboard, wild. It also provides a great platform for wakestyle jumps and powered landings.
The concave in the center of the board is so shallow its almost not there, this could explain why this board does not handle chop in te same way other deeper concave boards do.
The wideness does make the board a bit of a bear in heavy chop. Luckily the grip of the board helps you bite upwind even when your going fast in the chop. This wasn't the smoothest board in the chop I have ridden, that title I think has to go to the Hein or Drop. However it doesn't lose its grip in the chop at all (unlike my SX), so at least functionally its great in chop, even if you do get bounced around a bit.
Another disadvantage of this board over others on the market is the lack of some of the more durable construction features like ABS sidewalls or scratch resistant surfaces. I am not sure about the long term reliability of the construction, however I trust that Liquid Force has been making boards like this for a long time and so they probably have most things pretty dialed. The construction features I do like are the nice metal inserts for screws, and the fin hardware. These are the pieces that LF can take over from their wakeboarding line, and I think that means you get a lot higher quality components than we are used to classically in kiteboarding.
Overall I've been very pleased, and look forward to more sessions on this board. I might be on the lookout for another "chop" board depending on how the board rides when I am on it in the Gorge this summer. Other than that, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great board with great range and performance. Great job Liquid Force. I'd imagine you can expect a lot of designers to be copying this boards features next year.
Jumping turtles in Costa Rica... The Element's unique bottom shape helped me keep the grip needed for boosting without sacraficing the fun of a skatey/loose board.
- Great grip even with small fins
- Fun feel, easy to break loose, great carving
- Shape gives it a lot of range, works well overpowered and underpowered
- Rocker at the tips makes it a very forgiving board
- Width is good for pop and tough landings
- Metal inserts
- Great straps and pads, pads very cushy on heels
- Suction pads work great
- Not the smoothest in chop
- Not as light as some of the other 2005 boards
- Construction lacking durability features like ABS sidewalls