Let me preface this by stating that Iâ€™ve never really paid that much attention to kite and board reviews since a fair amount of it is just some random guyâ€™s opinion---some guy Iâ€™ve never metâ€¦someone Iâ€™ve never seen rideâ€¦someone whose riding style and preference Iâ€™m not familiar with. I believe that the best---and only---way to really feel out a kite is to go out and ride it for yourself. Since that isnâ€™t always possible, I just wanted to give my personal take on this kite for those that might be interested. For the record, I am an employee and shop rider for Neilpryde Maui and a part-time tester for Cabrinha. I believe there is no such thing as the perfect kite for everyone. Different riding styles demand different things; the perfect kite really depends what your needs are. My needs happen to be this: I want a kite that jumps big when sent, turns relatively quick, goes upwind automatically, relaunches on a dime and is possible to unhook on.
Iâ€™ve been flying the new Crossbow IDS kites for a little while now and it seems that almost every session, people of all abilities are coming up asking all kinds of questions about the new model. I can talk and hype it up for hours, but usually try and encourage genuinely interested riders to take a ride and decide for themselves what they think. I realize that taking a quick demo ride on the latest gear is not possible everywhere. So, if youâ€™re in the neighborhood on the north shore of Maui this Saturday 7/12/09, please feel free to come by and take a spin on some of the new gear. (http://www.cabrinhakites.com/news
). For everyone else, hereâ€™s my initial impression of the new IDS equipped 2009 Crossbow.
First thing you notice is that the bag is smaller. This had some of us worried at first, but alas, the kite fits back in with pretty minimal effort. Even the 13m goes back in pretty easily. The difference is that the bag opens from the front now instead of the top. Both top and bottom still expand for those wishing to leave struts inflated. They did away with the bar bags for next year. Thereâ€™s just a simple pocket on the side of the kite bag that provides a nice tight fit. The bar bags always seem to get lost or just keep the bar from completely drying anyway, so Iâ€™m glad theyâ€™re gone. The kite bags also feature board carrying straps as well as a place to store your pump.
I love the lighter feel at the bar while flying the kite. Most 2:1 users will probably like it set at the â€œlightâ€ setting. 1:1 kite flyers will most likely prefer the â€œlighterâ€ setting. Itâ€™s just a simple wingtip adjustment that takes about 30 seconds to switch back and forth. The kite depowers slightly faster and with shorter bar throw in the â€œlightâ€ setting (a plus for 2:1 users or riders with shorter arms). As a 7 strut bow kite, this thing feels nice and solid in the air. It tames gusts easily and makes riding in crappy conditions actually enjoyable. The kite is quick in the turn and plenty quick through the window. The 9m seems faster than before with a high wind range that seems ridiculous. Coming off Switchblade 3â€™s, I forgot what an incredible wind range these things have. This new model is no exception. The sent jumps are huge and hang times feel longer.
The 11 is a perfect replacement for the 12m Xbow3. Itâ€™s faster, but with the same power and range of the old 12. Plus the jumps feel a bit loftier. Perhaps, due in part to the faster kite. The 13m is replacing the 14m Contra and Iâ€™ve only had 2 sessions on this size. It feels like a nicely tuned-up version of the Contra with lighter feel and more direct control. I rode it on a 12 or 13 knot day (no real whitecaps) but with a 138 Custom which isnâ€™t really a light wind board (too much rocker)â€¦but was plenty powered enough to stay upwind and do no-whip tricks all day. On a different board (like a 136 Caliber or even a 148 Prodigy) the performance might have been good enough to start getting some decent sent jumps. However, weâ€™re used to riding 7â€™s and 9â€™s here so getting motivated to ride in light wind when itâ€™s flat is tough.
The unhooking is fairly good as well. This kite is a little more trim sensitive than sayâ€¦an SB3, but is definitely more friendly unhooked than previous Xbow models. Just make sure and pull in on the red (depower) ball a little before going into an unhooked trick.
The new IDS bridle is a simpler and cleaner system than in years past and is working almost flawlessly. It is still a bridled kite and I have managed to bowtie the kite a few times while trying some new down-loop variations. However, correcting the problem seems to be easier and faster now. The new bridle seems to â€œrightâ€ itself with minor input from the bar and a quick swim toward the kite.
A couple of riders inquired about the lack of stopper unit on the new bar. There currently isnâ€™t an override sleeve to click the stopper onto; itâ€™s not really used around here by anyone we know for various reasons. However, there may be something of an add-on in the works, so just stay tuned for those of you that use this feature.
Water re-launch is simple. Just pull in a leader line and the kite rolls over and takes off. Works fine in both light and heavy winds.
The new soft bar-ends are a nice touch as well. If your hand slips down to the bar end during mid loop, or you accidently whack yourself while un-spinning the bar, youâ€™ll be glad those bar ends are now soft. Plus, it just makes the bar look cleaner and more streamlined. No more dangling foam floats. The new line connectors at the end of each outside steering line feature a new connector that allows the rider to lengthen or shorten the outside lines based on individual tuning issues.
So the other major issue and source of confusion for a lot of people is leash attachment points and the IDS landing line. Itâ€™s quite simple really; your leash only goes one place now: clip right onto the metal trapezoid on the chicken loop. The single connection point will keep you connected to the kite, allow you to spin the bar, and flag the kite all in one. During normal riding, if the bar is allowed to sheet all the way out, the kite depowers and falls into the water. Cabrinha calls this â€œdepower on demand:. If you get into a situation where you need to self rescue or self land the kite, then you would activate the quick release (QR) and let the IDS landing line take over. The bar will slide up the IDS line about 10 or 12 feet and the kite falls to the water depowered as if pulled by a 5th line. The beauty of the system is that there is no 5th line. Absolute depower is achieved by pulling in on the center of the kite from both center lines. And itâ€™s worked perfectly for me everytime.
Basically, this is a Crossbow I can get on board with. Iâ€™ve been a big Switchblade 2 and 3 fan before this. The new Crossbow IDS, is the choice for all around freeriding. It rocks upwind like a Switchblade now, still jumps to the moon and has a wind range thatâ€™s bananas.