'09 Batwing 15.5 Review
Myself and a few riders have been out testing the '09 Batwing 15.5 for the last week and the consenses is WOW!! We have been riding at a secret spot of mine in New Jersey with winds rangeing from 10 knots to just over 23 knots. First let me say that this isn't the same Batwing from '08. Totally new conopy and bridle configuration have made this kite more user friendly for all riders.
Myself: 185 lbs., board is a Spleene Rip 134x39.5 and I have been riding for 9 years.
KITE: '09 Batwing 15.5. All the things that people didn't like about the '08 Batwing have been addressed and greatly improved upon. The bridle is more traditional with the exception of no pullies at all. This new bridle has given the kite more strutural support which in return has also given the kite close to 50% less bar pressure and less bar travel. It has much more range and not once did anyone complain of feeling overpowered on a 15.5m in close to 25 knots. People were riding 9m-10m kites at the same time. There are no more battens on the LE so breaking battens on crashes is forgotten. There is now an adjustment on the kite so as to make the kites profile as flat as last year for those riders looking for super light wind riding. I was able to stay upwind with a little movement of the kite in about 7-8 knots on a Spleene Door 159x45. By changing the knot setting on the LE, the kite takes on a little more of a C shape. This is one of the reasons the kite has so much range. The trailing edge shape of the conopy has also been reconfigured and thus has eliminated any flutter in the kite. It retains a very tight conopy throughout. The struts have been reduced in diameter to reduce drag and make the kite faster.
TRAILING EDGE: (from the website) Windwing's new ABS Kevlar and carbon Aramid fiber scrim material that scallops the trailing edges of the kite and it's wingtips. The shape of the scallops provides the Batwing with its dynamic appearance, which is the result of a specific functional innovation. How could we not call it "Batwing" ????
The functional innovation of the scalloped Batwing material evolved from the simple conclusion that different materials have different frequencies of vibration. In theory, as the kite moves through the air, the difference between the soft spinnaker cloth and the stiffer laminate material acts like dimples against a polished golf ball. The strategically placed and shaped trailing edge on the Batwing, provides a stable rigid surface to recapture the laminar airflow for smoother wake release. The result is a livelier "slippery" kite that flies faster, goes up -wind better, generating more lift in less wind while holding shape where (and when) it counts. The Batwing flies forward, backward, upward, downward and enjoys all of the characteristics of the Caped Crusader. With incredible de-power and precision control, free parking anywhere in the wind-window can be found with easy self-launch and self-land options at minimal risk.
2) Swallow Tail: The cutout notch at the center strut is designed to give the Batwing a high- aspect feel with low -aspect power. The swallow- tail separates the kite in half and changes the load -point away from the trailing edge. This stabilizes the kite, as the notch creates unique, dynamic aileron-like protrusions that allows flow and twist at the center of the kite and gives the Batwing a self-adjusting reflex capability in all conditions.The design process of our pioneering Swallowtail technology has evolved to a larger cutout on larger kites which makes for some serious skywriting.
3) Bob Batten: (Windwing's unique wingtip, which is found on the larger Batwing sizes). We baptized this innovation formally as the "Bob Batten"(complete with holy water). Inspired by Boardingbob's idea of having a venetian blind-like substrate to serve as built- in battens,this added rigidity not only helps prevent deformation for heavier riders, it gives the wingtip a direct-drive leverage to turn the kite. In larger kites and in lighter winds, this efficiency is absolutely crucial. No biffs.
4) Multi-Inflation-System with a Clamp (MISC): will greatly improve the quality and safety of your kiting experience. These optional inflation systems can be quickly installed or removed from the Batwing. The new clamp allows the tube to be pinched, isolating each bladder, preventing total deflation of the kite. This system takes 5-10 minutes to install or remove. Now you really do have a choice.
STEERING: The steering speed has been greatly improved upon. The kite has an even more direct feel and the bar pressure is light to moderate with adjustability. I would say the new Batwing steers close to twice as fast as last year making it much more suitable for wave riding. It also sits a little deeper in the window so your not always out running the kite. While doing unhooked tricks or riding waves unhooked the kite never stalled even without pulling on the depower strap. I rode a few waves later in the day and even while riding down the line strapless the kite never stalled.
RELAUNCH: The '08 Batwings were very easy to relaunch even in the lightest winds although after a good crash to the side of the window, the kite would at times taco and the extra wieght of the TE would stick to the water causing the kite to have trouble opening up for a downwind relaunch. Not anymore! The kite opens up right away and wieghts for you to relaunch. With the LE down I had no problem relaunching in @10 knots while drifting in deep water without my board. Less than 15 sec. each time and I tried this about 15 times. I droped it in the waves while downlooping down the line right in front of a chest high wave. At first I thought that was it and I was going to have to swim it. That wave ran it over but the kite was relaunched before the next wave got to it. Very impressed!
PERFORMANCE: I am more of a freestyle rider but love low, powered wakestyle moves and kite loops. The kite is a joy to ride with light bar pressure and absolutly no stalling while unhooked. Jumps are pretty mind boggling for such a large kite. Most flat water jumps were over 20-25 ft. and useing the waves as ramps gave me 30-40 ft. jumps and the hangtime is of the hook. Loops were alot of fun for such a large kite with no structural deformation through the powerzone. Of course everyone says this but the kite turns like a modern 12m kite. The range of this kite will change peoples thought of quiver size. At my wieght or heavier, I could easily get away with a 2 kite quiver of a Batwing 15.5 and an 8-9m Rampage 2 kite. This would get me from 7-8 knots upto 30-35 knots with 2 boards. A smaller rider would be fine on a 12m Batwing and a 7m.
I will be demoing this kite to some of the locals this weekend and will ask them to post their own reviews. A few of the people that already demoed have been asked to do the same. There was a post a few weeks or so back on what is the best looking kite and honestly this is it. If you are in the area around the Barnaget Bay and would like to demo the kite, feel free to PM me and I will try to set something up. If I have missed any info, feel free to ask away.