in October I went down to Ras Sudr, Egypt, for the North European dealer meeting.
North had all sizes of R6 and all boards available for testing.
Winds were around 6 Bft (22 knots) daily. Therefore the most didn't test the big sizes.
I'm used to power and riding overpowered most of my times, loving big airs and long hang. That was the most amazing on the Rhino2, which is my favourite big kite since 2002.
So I can fairly compare both kites.
Unfortunatley we didn't have the chance to test the big R6 in lighter winds, so we can't say, if the R2 or R6 goes upwind earlier. But the feel is good, so the lowend will be good. But a further test would give us exact info, so if anyone can do this and review it for us, it would be great.
The lowend is big plus of the old R2, so this is an importing critieria for a big kite and to compare both kites.
The R2 is an amazing kite, since it has (for me) quiet a range, excellent lowend, big air and loooong hangtime. The downsides are quiet slow and pulls downwind, in strong winds you really have to push the board hard.
The new R6 18 and 20 have the same character, the 18 is just a bit faster in turning speed, but it would be good to know the comparison in the low end as well, to see if there really is a difference. Maybe 1-2 knots I assume, but if anyone can test, please review this here as well.
the new North 5th Element bar is a bit shorter than last year. And I fly my R2 with a 55cm bar. For me the R6 turned just a bit faster, but with a 55cm bar it should turn significantly faster. North will offer a longer 5th Element in spring 2006, specially for the bigger kites. But hey, it is still a 20sqm kite, so don't expect it to catch you on a kiteloop...
It always amazed me, how easy you can jump high on the R2 20. Just steer the kite over the zenit a bit, pull the bar and edge...and you fly...(of course, a bit technique required).
But finally, after 3 years, I have the same feeling on the R6 again! It just goes high, like my R2.
The R2 was the godfather of the hangtime. Really, like a wing. The new R6 has exact that hangtime, maybe slightly less, but this can't be really tested, since you never have the same conditions. But the hangtime is very nice, giving you lots of time to slowly spin or do old school tricks.
The R2 was a hard kite to ride, specially in stronger winds. Here is the biggest, noticable difference to the R6. The R6 rides way softer with less pull, making it easier to ride in stronger winds.
Maybe due to pulling downwind less, it mayb go upwind easier. This has to be tested one on one. But I assume you can go upwind earlier in light winds, due to less downwind pull.
Since I can ride kites with lots of pressure, I get a big depower range out of every kite. Bt due to less downwind pull, I assume I can stay on the R6 longer than on my R2, so it should have a bigger range.
North finally did it and made a big kite, that is worth the money. It performs IMO better than the R2, specially due to the less downwind pull and a bit faster turning.
Big guys in lighter wind can now have fun again.
Comparison R6 18 and 20:
Same type of kite and character. Just 2 sqm less, so a bit faster, the rest has to be tested. But for sure a good kite, like the 20.
A 20sqm kite is still 20sqm. So it is nothing for lightweights, only worth it for guys with around 85+ kgs who ride in lighter winds quiet often.
It is a great size and kite for learning tricks, since you just steer the kite slowly over the zenit, edge hard and pull the bar, then it sucks you up and stays up there, giving you lots of time to finish your trick. And due to being slower, you can't mis-steer it like small kite making you crash and hurt you.
IMO big kites are the best for learning tricks (old school). Try it one day and see for yourself!