I started riding Freak Dog / EH kites a few months ago and figured I'd share my thoughts on my new 9m Unleashed.
Weight: around 200lbs (90kg)
Skill: Intermediate to Advanced
Preferred conditions: Flat water, Strong wind.
Conditions tested: Heavy chop outside, 6' to10' closed-out on the inside. Moderate wind (14-18kt) building to strong, gusty wind (23-28 kt with higher gusts).
Boards: 140x40 in the light wind then 128x37 TT Freak Dog Tracker
Construction: Reminds me of the old Fuels, "Bomb Proof". (I still have an old '02 12m that I learned on). Definitely superior build when compared to another new kite lying next to mine. (sorry not going to bash any brands)
Inflation: No one pump. It isn't neccessary. The short struts only take a few pumps to completely inflate. I had to be sure not to over-inflate them. The LE isn't any big deal either. My whole kite took about 30 seconds longer than another guy using an electric pump on his one-pump.
Performance (part 1) : In moderate winds I took the 140TT and was obviously under-powered. Once on a plane, I could sine the kite to generate a suprising amount of apparent wind to get me going nicely and do some front/backrolls and smaller jumps. I found you can start the kite from much lower in the window to initiate good jumps in under-powered conditions. I didn't have the balls to try that when the wind picked up.
Performance (part 2): I switched to the 128 board. There was a huge difference in the performance when the wind picked up. In strong wind the kite is amazing. Super fast with light bar pressure. The speed is comprable to a 5m or 6m c-kite but is totally controllable. There is a direct feedback to the bar. You know exactly where the kite is and what it's doing by the feel of the bar. Its the single most responsive kite I've flown.
The Bar: Overall the bar is simple and works well without doo-dads. At first the bar is unimpressive. Simple red/blue 4-line bar with front/back written on the bar and left/right on the corresponding floats. The short depower is nice. When sheeting, the power zone isn't as small as I anticipated. The power/depower is nice and smooth, not the on-off feeling initially expected. With the kite fully depowered the kite still pulled but wasn't jerky, even in the gusts. Its kind of a "thats all the power you get" feeling.
The spinning CL works well. A short bungee runs through the bar and CL swivel to a little stainless ring that sits in a neoprene opening at the top of the CL. The CL release is a pin style connected to a plastic ball. The ball looks kinda cheesy but is effective. I think its safer than a loop and easier to get to than the SS style pin thing. It releases easily, flagging the kite out on one front line. I was able to re-set and relaunch but I could see going to shore if anything tangled. The trim-strap is a pull-pull set up. A small grey loop to power up and a larger red loop to depower. A longer grey loop would be more convenient but it isn't a problem with the current length.
Overall: Honestly, I weigh too much for the 9m. I need 20kts +. Top end would be over 35kts, beyond reasonable kiting conditions. I really like the c-kite feel. It took most of the day to get my timing because the kite is so damned fast. Once you get your timing down the jumps are very high and lofty. Fast and smooth up, slow and steady on the way down. The timing also took its toll on me when trying to land. I repetedly brought the kite forward way too early resulting in very hot landings or butt-checking to save myself a beating. Kiteloops were a blast in all winds. A better rider will be able to get the most out of these kites. They are a durable, quality kite that is definitely geared to advanced or expert riders. Another benefit, it's priced lower than it's high-performance competition.
EDITED FOR TYPOS
Last edited by Tyrone Rabinowitz on Sat Apr 12, 2008 4:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
Hey T.R...Thanks for a Great Review, and being very Honest, Thank-You...If You like the 9m UnLeashed, and it was to Fast, then You might want to try the 12m UnLeashed, for Your size, but remember, it is Fast for it's size too...I use the 11m EZE in 10 to 15mph winds, the 9m UnLeashed in 15 to 30, then the 6m UnLeashed in 30 plus, and I have been in 43 mph Winds with it, and it just sets there, wanting more wind....Keep on sending in the info to KiteForum, and We will be more than happy to help in any Questions....Customer Service help 24/7....A.J. Morgan Southeast U.S. Distr. for Freak Dog/EH Kites....
Don't misunderstand me, the 9m isn't too fast. For me the faster the kite the better. The feedback to the bar combined with the kites speed and response make this kite so appealing. A faster kite without the feedback is worthless.
I've been flying the 12m Unleashed. It's also an excellent kite. Again, very fast and the feedback is exceptional. The 9m is, of course, faster and more responsive. When I demoed the 9m it was 26-30kts. Perfect conditions for that kite at my size. I'll keep the 9m as my VERY high wind kite. If I don't use it enough, someone will get a good deal.
I had a great day on the 9M Unleashed so I figured I would revisit my review. I was thinking of selling the kite because I use it so rarely. The wind was all over the place. A few extreme lulls below 15kt, lasting for up to 2 minutes, and the strong gusts were 40kt+ but only lasting for 30-45 seconds. Average sustained wind speed was around the 28kt mark according to the guys on the beach with their wind meters. The lulls were a pain but no danger involved. The heavy gusts were downright scary. The biggest challenge was the chop. No organized waves, just 4-6ft high by 10-12ft long swells of various speed. Chaotic is an understatement. Okay, you get the point, not ideal conditions.
Back to the kite. The only negative is its lack of low end power. But in its defense its designed for strong wind. The extereme lulls forced me to sit in the water until the wind picked up. The top end is still higher than the strongest gust I had all day. Despite being scary strong I was never lofted or out of control. The simple technique of bring the kite low and edge hard to control the power and speed worked well. The speed of the kite is phenomenal. Having only ridden bigger kites the past several months it took a while to get used to and get my timing down. The bar pressure is very light but feedback is superb. In my original post I had one major oversight. The feedback and responsive steering is better than any kite I've flown. I'm blown away by the precise steering and absolute control of the kite. I really can't emphasize this characteristic of the kite enough. Hopefully I'll get a few more days of good strong wind this season. BTW, I'm no longer thinkin of selling the kite.