Just returned from the Masskiting annual trip to Hatteras. I had 4 great days of riding, mostly SW and one of the highlights was demoing a variety of Epic Kites with Dimitri up in his home riding spot in Nags Head and down south in Kinakeet at the Masskiting house.
I've been dabbling with kiting for several years, but only gotten serious in the last 2 or so. I currently ride Cabrinha 2010 SB 8m, 2009 CB 11m, and 2010 CB 13m. I'm 6-1, 195lbs. I demoed several Epic Kites:
12m and 14m Screamer, 11m Renegade and Renegade infinity. I haven't ridden enough kites to give a comprehensive review, but I'll compare them to the most similar Cabrinha's I've ridden. Most people are familiar with the reputation characteristics of the various Cabrinha kites as well.
Renegade Infinity vs. Switchblade 16/Crossbow 13m
My CB 13m is currently my largest kite and supposed to be my lightwind kite. If I knew how slow it would be I never would have purchased it. I assumed it would be similar to my CB 11m which I love..horrible assumption. I also had the chance to demo the SB16 on the trip for comparison.
The Infinity was a much faster turning kite than the CB13 and somewhat faster than the SB16. I came in off the water struggling with my CB13 two different times in 12-13mph wind. Once I transitioned to the SB16 and the other I transitioned to the Infinity. Both times I was immediately screaming upwind and jumping. The Infinity was a bit faster turning kite than the SB16. It seemed to have as much power, but timing the jumps took a bit more getting used to than the SB.
In all, both the SB16 and the Infinity were excellent lightwind kites that felt like you were flying a normal kite in moderate wind, with the Infinity having a bit more of this sensation than the SB. Mainly though, when you consider the price difference of a few hundred bucks, the Infinity definitely wins out in terms of overall value (and looks waaay sicker.)
Screamer 12m/14m vs. Switchblade 12m
Up in Nags Head I got to demo these three kites back-to-back. Both screamers were really fast kites, with the 12m much faster than the 14m (more than I would expect for only 2m difference.) The SB 12 turned somewhere in between the 2 Screamers. The SCR12 turned a bit faster than the SB12 and had more boost. However, I found the SB to be slightly more stable and predictable all-around possibly because I'm used to Cabrinha. The SB also had slightly better upwind performance than the Screamers, but with the great wind we had, it didn't seem to matter.
All that said, once I had the jumping and timing dialed in with the Screamer 12, I absolutely did not want to put it down. I left the water with the sense that if I wanted to improve my riding rapidly, the Screamer was the kite to do it. Again, Epic beats Cabrinha on value in this line of kites as well..especially with the deals on the 2010's which are the same as 2011 modulo graphics.
The last thing I'll say about the 14m Screamer is that while it's a great kite, I think it fills a rather narrow gap between the 12m screamer and the Infinity. If I were economically building an Epic quiver, I would probably leave out the 14m Screamer.
Renegade 11m vs. Crossbow 11m
As much as I'm disappointed with my 2010CB13m, I continue to really enjoy my 2009CB11m for it's speed, stability, boost and upwind pull. I flew my CB11m back-to-back with the RG11m in about 18-20mph on flat water.
The renegade turns about 25% faster than the CB and with that can generate power very quickly in the lulls. So fast that I almost crashed it a few times when not looking at the kite. It took me only a few tries to be able to jump the RG as comfortably as with my crossbow. Even though the renegade flew further back in the window, it still had great upwind pull. It also had some of that Cabrinha stability that the Screamer was lacking. Even though I'm not sure I'd buy this kite over a screamer or even a switchblade, the second I started flying it I understood why the 11M had sold out so quickly. It was such a user-friendly and fun kite.
If I had the resources to outfit a new quiver, I'd probably go with Epic over Cabrinha because I think in the long run I'll derive more value per dollar spent and have kites that will accelerate my progression faster. I'd probably go with a Renegade Infinity, Screamer 12, and Screamer 8, and if I really wanted to splurge, I'd add Renegade 11m in there as well.