After sitting on these kites for more than 2 weeks, I FINALLY had the chance to get some sweet rides in, and test two these kites back to back. In short I was very impressed.
I rolled in to Keswick (ontario spot for kite snowboarding) at about 10 this morning to find the wind pretty light.. maybe about 16 kmh.. I didn't use the wind meter, but that's my guess. The snow was varied. Some hard packed, some drifted, crusty, and then the bare patches of ice.
I began the day with the Epic Limited Edition Screamer 10 meter (black kite, minimal white graphics). It's a sweet looking ride for sure. Rigging was quick, and pretty standard (one pump, 4 line, short bridle, 2 pulley's on front bridles). As soon as I got the kite up I remembered how hard it was to get into bindings while flying the kite. The LTD kite was stable enough in light winds to allow me to ratchet up the straps with little effort. A few people were out on 12's and there was a larger kite... 16 I think. I thought I was in for a slow session until the wind picked up, but when I dove the kite, it was obvious that it had some balls. For those that are looking for a kite to assist with upwind performance, this is the ticket. It hauls hard upwind to the point where you have to pay attention to how far up you're going. And it's a kite for riders that like speed. I found myself having to do the speed checks often. I didn't want to leave pieces of me all over the ice. I didn't pull the trigger on this thing due the lack of snow. I like a little cushion just in case. A couple of floaty transitions were enough to make me want more though. Okay, for the pointed details:
Wind range: I started out in low wind and it climbed to about 25 kmh gusting to 30 maybe by the time I was done. At 140 lbs, this wasn't a problem to hold down in the higer winds, but was still stable in the low winds.
Stability: I found myself looking at this kite a little more, but probably because it was my first time out of the gate. Again, I was able to put the kite at 11 in low winds and climb into the board. Big points for this one.
Power: Oh yeah. On the snow, a mellow dive is quite sufficient to get one up and riding. It took some getting used to as the initial few dives were a little hard. Like someone dropped the throttle on the wake boat. VERY smooth power in the turns and direction changes. It pulled hard but was forgiving.
Relaunch: This is a 5 strut kite, but it relaunched like some 3 strut kites I've tried. In low winds it needed a bit if finesse, but I had no issue to speak of.
Tuning: I had this kite set to breath for the lighter winds (depowered). There is lots of opportunity for tuning this to your style as there are additional knots on the bar, lines and kite. I had the bridle on the factory settings, and felt comfortable. As the wind picked up, I could easily depower using the straps if needed.
Turning: A 10 meter is a fairly speedy kite. THIS 10 meter feels more like an 8 for responsiveness and turning speed. Nice tight turns.
Thumbs up for sure... if you're looking a high performance kite that turns fast, has easy relaunch, and amazing stability, give the Limited Edition a try.
RENEGADE 9 meter:
As the wind picked up, I pumped up the 9 meter Renegade and gave it a go. It was interesting to try the kites back to back... they are very different.
Rigging was simple, and pumping was quick due to the three strut design. I got in my bindings and did a self launch and noticed that the kite had some pretty decent pull. Once up and riding I realized that this kite is REALLY FUN. It felt trusty for some reason. The Renegade is positioned as the all terrain kite geared towards wake, freestyle and wave riding. I can attest to the wave part as the kite backs up really nicely when you ride towards it. It just sits and waits for the next turn. It's also a forgiving kite. Speed wise, I really enjoyed it. It didn't run away with the speed, allowing you to ride and carve much like you would down a hill. This kite gets top marks from me and I can see it easily being my favorite kite in the offering.
Wind range: Big wind range here. Lots of low end, but just gets better with stronger wind.
Stability: Superior stability. It loves to be parked,
power: This kite has good, consistent power and great pull. It LOVES to eat gusts, so you don't really notice them at the bar.
relaunch: Not even worth talking about... it's that easy.
Turning: Not quite as fast as the Limited Edition kite (slightly less), which allows for forgiving movements.
Final thought: I'm really looking forward to the next session on this kite and can't wait to teach on it. It's a great choice for riders of all levels. New riders will enjoy the forgiving aspect and easy relaunch, while the advanced riders will enjoy the consistent pull and great low end.
Nice bar. Shorter chicken loop than many of the brands out there today. The leash is attached to a mini 5th line below the bar. The QR is a molded plastic piece which is an easy to use push away system. The power/depower straps are well labeled and WITHIN REACH which is a common complaint about many bars. At 5'6', I hardly have the longest arms. Nice, clean bar, which is flexible in length (45 to 55cm) and line length for easy rigging depower adjustments (knots on the flying lines).
Epic has done a nice job, and I look forward to my next session.