Zeeko Notus 9m2
Zeeko, an odd name for a new kite brand from France. But not just another new kid on the block. The company is founded by Nicolas Caillou: a designer who is around since the beginning of kiteboarding. He worked among other for Takoon.
The only kite available for 2009 was the Notus. I say “was” since the whole 2009 stock is sold out before the end of the season in Europe. It was more popular in the homeland then the biggest French competitor, F-one with their BanditDos. Being a Bandit and Banditdos owner for over two years now, from the moment I heard about this fact my attention was drawn.
Although I own a Banditdos 10m2 and 7m2, I did a lot of testing on the Banditdos 12m2 and 9m2 as well. I have tested many other 2009 kites, from Best Waroo to Slingshot Fuel 2009. I also did test the big 13m2 and 11m2 Notus. I live in the Netherlands, in Northwest Europe. I do kiteboarding since 2002 and my weight is 72kg (165lbs). I have no relation to Zeeko or any other kite brand. I have to pay for all my gear. I am just stoked to test as much equipment as possible
I will review the 9m2 Zeeko Notus and occasionally refer to the Banditdos 9m2. I had the chance even to test them back to back on a few occasions.
Total number of sessions: 9 (av. 3 hours each)
average tested windspeed: from 13 to 30kn, most of them pretty gusty
Spots: wave, flat water, chop and currents.
The kite comes with a simple backpack style bag, manual, repair kit and bar. No pump supplied.
The kite has a one-pump system based on the Slingshot system. All hoses can be cut-off by a plastic clamps, which all are covered in neoprene sleeves for protection against wear. The filling valve features a return valve. If you pull out your pump hose, it will stay inflated. Strangely the dump valve is of the same size as the filling valve. It takes a bit more time than usual to get all the air out after a session.
The construction and finish all look very good, comparable with the Banditdos. The kite’s frame and canopy create a sturdy construction without the necessity to put a lot of air pressure in it.
The bridle has a 3 point connection to the LE on each side. The front lines are connected with a ball bearing Ronstan pulley to the bridle, equal to the Banditdos. The second and smaller V-bridle is fixed.
The backlines are pretty long to compensate the front bridle length. This bridle is much shorter than the one on the Dos. The lines are secured by using the cook proof connectors, originally found on North kites.
Beside the 9m2, there is a 13m2, 11m2 and 7m2. Also a special 14m2 light wind version.
What is it? A Delta or SLE kite? My two cents is that their marketing explanation is quite realistic: it is a combination between a delta, c-shape and a SLE-kite. It unites different features of those type of kites. It is definitely not a full delta-shape like the Banditdos, Best Kahoona or Core GT among other.
Bar and safety
There is only one bar available, which can be adjusted in width (46/54cm). This way it is possible to fly every size Notus with a single bar. The bar itself is pretty unconventional: it features a very thin diameter. It has real carbon fiber tip ends. There is a strap instead of a clam cleat, and the safety system is comparable with the 5th line on the Banditdos. The chicken loop looks like the one F-one is using for years. I would say a little bit outdated, but it works. A nice feature is that the end of the Chicken loop fits exactly in the center hole of the bar. When you unhook the CL will stay open, always facing the rider in the same way. Standard the bar is supplied with 4 x 20m lines (front line is a so called Y-bridle like the Banditdos, but without the swivel) and 4 meter extension lines.
On the water:
I could stay upwind in 15kn and up, one to two knots later than the Banditdos. The total wind range is compatible since the Notus’ high-end is a bit better. The kite gives Delta style power, straight from the moment you send the kite down there is plenty of grunt. No sinusing necessary..
Going upwind is something not to worry about. Very good upwind performance. I would say even a bit better than the Banditdos.
Some say the Banditdos does not jump as high as de Bandit 2008 did. Of course these kind of things are difficult to measure. The Notus shares good jumping performance in the lower reach of the wind range. The 9m2 jumps very well both on 24 and 20m lines. The hang time is definitely better than that of its French rival. The height of the jumps is a little bit confusing. There is not that much boost as the Dos has, which gives you the impression that your jumps are just average. However the opinion of all bystanders along the waterline was unanimous: compared with the Dos, but also with any other kite out on the water, it is the highest jumping kite I have ever tested! Especially In the high-end jumping is insane thanks to the still high level of control you have when the kite is depowered a lot.
But there is more to tell. The Bandit’s are blessed with a large sweet spot for jumping. The Notus tops that with an even larger one! There is no need to steer the kite actively in the air, even when you swing underneath the kite safe landings are still possible. Board off’s and rotations, you have plenty of time for those old-school favorites!
Bar pressure & turning
The Notus has 3 pigtail options on the backlines: SLE, hybrid and C-feel. I tested them all. The SLE setting was not my cup of tea. I like a firm bar and steering pressure. The hybrid setting gives a firm bar pressure, slightly higher than that of the Banditdos. The C-setting had my name on it, I simply love this one. The bar pressure is not a lot higher, and turning speed is even better. Even the 13m2 turned fast enough on this setting!
But best of all: on hybrid and especially C setting this kites gives unmatched feedback what the kite is doing and where it stands in the wind window at all times! Getting back on the Dos makes that kite feel a bit numb, which is odd since this kite gives also I high amount of feedback through the bar as well.
Turning slightly better compared with the 9m2 Banditdos. But most important: It turns so much nicer with much more feel!
We have a lot of gusty wind here in Holland. The Notus makes sure you are still aware it is gusty out there, but it does not give an uneasy feel on the bar. It irons out all gusts! Amazing for a kite with so much grunt and performance! It is very comfortable!
Another key feature is its unreal stability. I got caught by 6 feet rolling waves a few times, which pushed me quickly down wind. When I came to the surface again I was looking for the position where the kite should have dropped…but it did not. It floated above me with all four lines completely slack! You also notice this behavior in very gusty wind when standing on the beach! A very nice and useful feature. It helps you push new tricks because you have the knowledge it is so stable, and does not tumble LE first through its lines!
The default depower line is pretty long. There is a shorter version available, but I did not receive it on time for this test. When you try to spin back the bar after a rotation you do not stop and sink. There is no on/off feel on the bar. But you have to reach far to pick-up the bar again. Especially for advanced riders the shorter version could be the better option I guess.
When you remove the 4m extension lines, the character of the kite completely changes. Gone is most the gust absorption and a bit of the low-end, but steering is now extremely direct and feels therefore very fast. I had a lot of fun with the kite in this set-up!
Although it is not a 100% delta-shape, there is some degree of auto relaunch. But it behaves different from the Bandit: it lies more flat on the water, and restart faster. When the kite reaches the edge of the wind window, it does not climb on its tip like the Bandit. Only one wingtip is facing upwards, and waits for you to pull the bar to restart it.
I have crashed the kite also in the surf. As long as the kites is on its back busy with restarting, the chance a wave will roll over it is small. Most of the time the waves pick up the kite and rolls underneath it, not over it. Of course the fast restart helps here too for damage control.
Unhooked & kiteloops
I would recommend to use the 20m lines with the C-kite setting when performing unhooked tricks and kiteloops. When you want to make your first unhooked attempt 24m on hybrid or C setting will give you much comfort.
I found the necessity to adjust the strap before you hook out. I also do that on the Dos. Both kites are very stall proof, but the Banditdos hooks out a little bit better in the lower end of the wind range. But in the middle of the range the Notus is nicer. The pop is more aggressive on the Dos, but still more than enough on the Notus for most riders. I found I hooked out in conditions I would not dare to do that with the Dos. Of course this says also something about me
I am a fan of hooked in kite loops. Especially on 20m lines this is so much fun with the Notus. Forget the comfort: the kite produces quite a lot of boost when looping, comparable with the Dos. But most important it flies a bit faster up again after the loop. For loop training you can have comfort in the lower end of the range with the longer lines as well.
20m and hybrid or C setting. Choose a twintip or waveboard. Guaranteed a lot of fun! Thanks to the long depower line you can dump as much power as you want. And thanks to its grunty power just pull the bar to get out of the surf at call out! Like an accelerator! Also the comfortable overall feel of the kite makes wave riding even in gusty conditions a lot of fun.
Is it a kite that I would recommend? Absolutely. It is a friend in the hands of beginners, but also advanced riders and everybody in between. The level of comfort is exceptionably high, with an unmatched feel what the kite is doing. Most other test riders said that the kite gives you the impression your riding becomes a lot better instantly.
Is it better choice than de Dos? Although it does not match the low-end and the grunt is slightly less, the overall feature list makes that a yes according to my opinion!
- unmatched feedback for a non C-kite
- very comfortable in all conditions
- Very big wind range
- Very stable, even in gusts and forgives a lot of pilot error
- Top of the line jumping height and hang time
- very easy to jump
- kite maintains control even depowered a lot
- Very good upwind ability
- One pump
- Bag is a bit simple, the zipper could be of a better quality
- depower strap can get stuck when you pull it to maximum depower
- Dump valve could be bigger for faster deflation
- Thin bar diameter will not be every bodies favorite.
- Even better acceleration after a kite loop up the zenith would be welcome
Thanks to http://www.zeeko-kites.com/ for making it possible to test the kites thoroughly! Also thanks to user HJ11 for some of the photos.