I have read several reviews on the Crossbow. Some of what I read matches my experience with the kite, and there are some other things below that I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t read before in other reviews. Construction looks very good except for that stupid hole in the top of the canopy that is designed to accommodate the leading edge inflation nipple. I understand the idea of being able to inflate, or add air to the LE when the kite is sitting LE down, but honestly how often do you really need to do that? I mean you have to have the kite upside down to inflate the struts anyhow right? For me I have never found a need for that option, and would much prefer to have a kite without a hole in the top of canopy. I found the bar to be somewhat uncomfortable with its oblong grip shape (helps with Power Lock I guess), but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure some people will like it that way. In the air I found it takes some attention to keep the kite in one position. Two things contribute to this: One is how fast the kite turns, and the other has to do with the pulley bar setup.
With the first dive of the kite you realize how fast this kite turns, as the normal input to dive the kite results in almost a 180 degree turn of the kite. As a reference point; if you were to dive the kite as you normally would for a 16.0 C-shape kite, it would result in a kite loop + on the 12.0 Crossbow.
On the water the kite develops very smooth power, and is rock solid with no change of shape at all. The depowering and wind range of this kite is all that has been claimed; however it is quite a long throw of the chicken loop to take advantage of the range. I found myself looking at the kite way too much because I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tell what it was doing. I think the reason people have been at a loss of words to describe the difference between the Crossbow and other kites is because the feel of the kite is so vague, and it would take some time to get use to before you would get a sense of where the kite is and what it's doing. I think most of this vague feeling comes from the bar setup. With a regular bar setup (non-pulley) it will stay in a centered position; from that point there is progressive effort needed to pull on the bar to make the kite turn more. With the Crossbow bar the kite doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like to stay in that centered position of the bar. Instead it is like a fulcrum (example: center point of a seesaw), where the bar and kite donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like to stay in the center position. Instead it is sensitive to the slightest movement and will go off to one side or the other without much feedback. The initial ease (no resistance of the bar and kite going off of the center position) is counter intuitive to a normal bar setup in that you have a hard time feeling when the kite starts to turn. The trouble with this scenario is that the Crossbow turns fast, and doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take much input to have it turn 180 degrees. The Crossbow pivots from the center of the kite when it turns rather than turning from a wind tip. Luckily if the kite does get away from you and starts diving before you realize whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going on, you can just depower the kite and not get yanked. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get to jump the kite all that much, so canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really comment on the claim of super hang time, but I have no doubt that it is true. Just imagine if you could take a standard 16 meter kite out in 25+knots. Do you think you would have some jumping ability and hang time? Me thinks so. I found no increase in upwind ability of the Crossbow over my C-shape kites.
Bar pressure is heavy when you pull in on the bar. So in light wind it is heavy on the bar because you are pulling way in on the bar to eek out the bottom end of the kite. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see that having a Power Lock setup would be the answer for me, as you then take away the whole throttle control feature of this unique kite. I want to be able to power it up and depower it whether it is light wind or nuking. Power Lock equals fixed loop riding.
The other thing I really question about the Crossbow setup are the pulleys. There are two on the bar and two on the kite. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know about you guys, but I fly where there is sand on the beach. Sand and pulleys donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get a long too well, so time will tell if the pulleys or the sand will win that contest.
What I liked about the Crossbow:
Four lines only (forget the 5th line crap).
Great range. (probably 3 kite sizes).
Safety feature of being able to let the bar go and have the kite depower almost 100%.
Have it sit there waiting for me to recover and relaunch it after a crash.
Able to relaunch with the pull of one rear steering line with NO Swimming!
Smooth controllable power.
Throttle like control of power.
The kite holds a rock solid shape.
What I disliked about the Crossbow:
Way too fucking expensive!
Oblong grip on the bar.
Pulleys on the kite and on the bar.
Vague feedback through the bar of where the kite is.
Heavy bar pressure when you power up the kite.
Bar doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to stay centered, non-progressive steering resistance.
Stupid hole in the top of the canopy for the LE inflation nipple.
Bottom line is that I will not be purchasing a Crossbow soon, as the price is way too high, the bar pressure is too high, there is a hole in the canopy, and there are pulleys on the bar and kite. I might over look all of those things if the feel of the kite was there, but that vague feeling in the bar is quite strange and would take some time to get use to it. I like a fast turning responsive kite that I can feel what it is doing without looking at it.
I think this is a great start for Cabrinha to bring this new kite to market. I think there is great potential for this design, but more development needs to be done before I am willing to shell out the cash for one.
Perhaps altering the design of C-shape kites to take advantage of the small bridle setup that the Crossbow has would allow them to have a real increase in wind range too. The bridle keeps the shape of the kite rock solid. For now I will stay with a C-shape kite until things get sorted out. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to have to relearn how to kiteboard just to adapt to a kite. I want a kite to perform in a way that I feel totally comfortable with it right away; like it is part of me. I want to be totally connected with it so I know what it is doing without having to think about it. Maybe if you spend enough time on the Crossbow you will get use to it, and it will be great. For me I will wait until development moves forward. I have plenty of fun with my C-shape kites at half the price.