Rider: 82kgs, intermediate
Style: Freeriding, Freestyle
Weather: 15-20 knots
Build Quality: 9/10
Satisfaction: 9/10 (wind could have been better)
Disclosure: Current kites are a Slingshot Rev 2 13m, Takoon Furia 9m and a LF Recoil Comp so pretty much zero brand allegiance to any brand. My Comments:
Got a chance to ride the Fluid ATV 12m today. Thanks to Steve from Fluid for the demo ride at Altona. Here my thoughts on the kite. Construction
Kite construction is great. Looks like any other kite on the market. Has bumpers in all the right places and the quality of the bridle is on a par with any brand. Kite has pulleys on the bridle which are proper ronstan pulley's. These days 99% of kites look identical in their construction other than colour. A nice touch was the valve attached to the kite via velcro so if you use anyone else's kite, the correct valve is always with the kite. It has a high volume screw in valve like the Cabrinha's which are my favorite type of valve. Not sure why more companies don't use it.
The bag is really nice, like a modernized version of my Takoon bag. Compact but easy to get the kite in and easy to carry around as a backpack. Separate bar pouch on the side.Bar
The bar is good and it reminds me a little of Best with the no frills kind if approach. I guess it will appeal to some and not to others depending on what you're looking for in a bar. Above the bar cleat like North. Push away release, flag out line goes through the center of the chicken loop like a number of the brands do. Auto aligning chicken loops for unhooking, bar winders etc. All in all a simple but perfectly good bar. The free spinning system works pretty well, I tried twisting the lines in one direction and it seemed to do a good job of unpinning itself.
If I was to look at the bar critically, I'd like to see something like the North double metal ring to allow for hooked/unhooked option but that would apply to mainly riders looking to unhook. When i first saw the bar I was initially disappointed by the lack of stopper but it turned out to be a non-issue because the throw on the bar is pretty short. Range
it's difficult to test range on a kite without really spending a couple of months on it in a variety of conditions. In my experience, most kites on the market have similar ranges. Some may have more low end but then they sacrifice top end. This kite is probably somewhere in the mid range for grunt - probably not as grunty as something like a switchblade but not gruntless as other kites. It has at least as much grunt as my 13m Rev 2, maybe more but I didnt test back to back. I guess if you go to grunty on a kite you lose turning speed.Performance
Wind was in the lighter end of the spectrum. Turning speed is really good for a 12m. To be perfectly honest, I havent tested a whole heap of 2011 12m's but this seems a lot faster than my 13m Rev 2. There was a small delay in turning but I had just come from my 9m when the wind died so I'm sure that had something to do with it. The kite loops nicely and you have a fair amount of control as to how much pull you have through the loops.
Bar pressure is medium. It's not as light as something like my old Nova 2 or some of the Liquid Force's I have tried but provides a good compromise between still feeling the kite and not feeling like you are going to need a sports therapist to massage out the pain afterwards. Most riders would find this fairly comfortable to ride and it wouldn't take much adjustment no matter what kite you come from.Jumping
Not a lot of wind when I took it out but initial impressions are that jumping is damn impressive. Kite has heaps of lift and nice hang time. Also seemed to have heaps of pop. The short throw exposed how lazy I'd become with my jumping because I found myself hitting the end of the throw a couple of times during jumps and within a short period of time I was jumping better.Unhooking
It's obviously not meant to be a dedicated wake kite and with a shoulder op in Feb I couldn't test unhooking much but it seems fairly stable in the air when unhooking with no tendency to backstall. This would probably be better tested by someone who is more capable and medically fit than me. Conclusion
Everything on the kite is pretty much first rate and performance is as good as youd expect from any 2011 kite.
I've got my current kites up for sale and I'll be getting a 12/8 combo in the ATV's the moment I get a buyer. The ATV's fly great, are really durable, reasonably priced and unless brand name is critical to you for acceptance on the beach, will perform as well as any other brand on the market. These are pretty well suited to beginner and intermediate alike.
Nice finishing touches like bumpers with the Fluid Logo
Adjustable turning speed. Pretty much standard on most kites
High quality replaceable bridle lines
Nozzle is attached to kite in case you use someone else's pump
Spinning system works as advertised.
Above the bar cleat system