Alright Puetz (any anyone else looking for this), here's a review on the 16m Fuse from an average rider.
I'm not affiliated with any brand, but I've been flying smaller Fuses for the last 1-2 years. I'm 180lbs, intermediate rider, can do basic rotation jumps, have yet to try unhooked. I was reluctant to add a "big" kit to my quiver for a while. I used to fly Rises, and got by with a 14m as my biggest for a while. I swapped that in for a 15m LW Rise (the first year of what they now call the Flite) about 2 years ago and found that to be more mid-aspect than I liked, sitting deeper in the window. I haven't flown Infinity or Fat Lady, but likely similar in a general sense to that design and flying characteristics. About a year ago, I swapped that for a 2010 Zephyr, which I found to be a pretty good light wind kite, overall. I thought that it had heavy bar pressure in lighter winds (always found it odd that it had more bar pressure in lighter winds?) and that the jumps (at least with my technique) were more horizontal (long and low) than the more vertical flight path I always got from my Rises and now Fuses. Had the maiden voyage on the 16m Fuse yesterday, and got to fly it back to back with the Zep in both overpowered conditions and light winds.
I weighed both kites. The Fuse came in at 8lbs 15oz (4054g) and the Zep was 8lbs 6oz (3799g). Not an insignificant difference for a LW kite. The Fuse weighed 7% more. Also laid them out on top of each other. The Zep was maybe 1-2 inches deeper (from LE to TE) on average, but most of the difference came in it's wider wingtips. The Fuse was about 4 inches longer from wingtip to wingtip. The Zep has a slightly more open C shape than the Fuse. See pics. So, overall, the Fuse is slightly higher aspect than the Zep, but not by much.
Bars - the 2013 North bar is a thing of beauty, and just works great. I always found the CL and depower system to be a little clunky on the Ozone bar. I do like the shape of the Ozone bar itself. But the bar is really just personal preference. If you like a single front line flagout, you might like the Ozone bar more.
The high wind back-to-back was from about 2-2:30. The light wind back-to-back was from about 4:45-5:15. See wind chart below.
When I arrived at our local spot, which can be very up and down, most kites out were 11m-13m. I wanted to do my comparison, so went ahead and pumped the Zep and Fuse. Wind was 15-17mph avg gusting to low-mid 20's (I headed out at 2pm on the below graph). Headed out on the Fuse and felt pretty lit. Definitely usable with about 4-5 inches pulled in, but it felt overpowered. By comparison, when I took the Zep out 10 minutes later, it felt more manageable in approximately the same wind. While it "felt" that way, the more-manageable power didn't translate to jumps. I was getting the standard Zep flattish arc with a lot of glide. I was launching much more vertical jumps on the Fuse, and still got the long glide down. So that feeling of more power (feeling a little overpowered) was usable power. Turning was a little faster on the Fuse, and the kite just felt more playful. While I didn't bother to check relaunch in those winds, I'm sure both would have been just fine. Bar pressure about the same in high winds.
Kited the Fuse for a few hours until the wind died down to ~11-12mph average, gusting to 15-16. Around 5pm on the graph. Suddenly, I was the only one still out. Did another comparison in those lower winds, which is really all I'm looking for at the low end. Below that, I'd rather do something else. Dumped both kites and relauch was about the same. Probably the slightly higher aspect in the Fuse was offset by the slightly tighter C shape. In lighter winds, the bar pressure difference was noticable. No real change on the Fuse, if anything, a little lighter in the light winds. The Zep had much higher bar pressure in low wind. I'd probably give a slight nod to the Zep for low end park and ride - so better grunt, but the Fuse turns a little faster, so moving the kite can make up for that. Jumps were not even close, I could still get 10ft up on the Fuse, and felt like I was barely leaving the water on the Zep - was probably getting 3-4ft.
Bottom line is that if you're looking for the absolute best low end, I think the Zep beats the Fuse out by a little. Being a little lighter and an extra SqM of fabric, it should. If you want a kite that is more fun in that low wind, I think the 16m Fuse wins big. I've heard the latest Zep is a little higher aspect, so maybe the new one would be comparable.
Hope that helps. I'll post updates as I get to ride it some more.
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