A little about myself: 43 years old Mechanical Engineer in the medical device industry who loves physically demanding/thrilling sports like motocross/cross-country racing, skiing the steep & deep, windsurfing and snowmobiling the high mountain ranges of Utah.
I started snowkiting in January, 2007 and got many awesome sessions in on 6m and 10m foil kites right out my back door. Was curious about Windwing's one kite design, researched it along with some other brands and due to my windsurfing history and knowledge of Windwing sails, decided to go with their 9.5m Rampage II this Spring and then later bought a 15.5m Batwing to help with the low/variable Utah Summer winds and high elevation lakes.
Have flown both kites quite a bit on the ground and water this Summer with sessions in South Dakota, Nebraska (Lake Mac), Utah, Wyoming and the Gorge in July. Time has been spent on my GI land board & LF Proof 151 board. Here are my thoughts on Windwing's Batwing and Rampage II kites:
Manufacturing Quality: I have been very satisfied with the manufacturing quality of both the Rampage II and Batwing. Both kites have very good attention to details with strategic re-enforcements in key areas that from my experience, definitely take some abuse. Even the kite bags are beautifully designed and built, very functional and purposefully thought out.
CC Bar: This bar is superior to the bars on my foil kites, it's depower line is very functional, though I do struggle a bit with the line wrapping around the bar when I have the kite fully depowered, but this is a minor nuisance and not a problem when the kite is powered up. The feel is very good, I know where the kite is going without looking and have no fatigue issues even with long (1-hour) sessions. Safety systems on this bar are first rate and very easy to use. I have practiced using the ejection both on land and once on water and was impressed with the total depower of the kite. Very confidence inspiring and there is even an additional back up safety!
MIS/One Pump System: I did not hook it up initially to get the feel/experience of pumping everything up individually. After hooking the MIS / one pump system up I'll never go back! Inflation and deflation are equally efficient. My friend with his lower cost inflatable kite was quite envious of how little time it took me to pump er up at the Gorge.
The connection tubes should be of a softer material to make clamping them off a little easier, but this is a minor issue.
Kite Setup: Remember, I am new to this kiting sport, but for me, a four line system is very easy and the Windwing color coding and on the kite instructions makes setup a snap! Adjustability is outstanding and the kite really responds to the different front/rear settings. I have tested many different settings and am amazed at how the kite performance can be influenced. Turning speed is very tune-able and I am surprised to read that some people have issues with the Batwing's turn speed. I guess they have not played with the kite enough?
Kite Performance 9.5 Rampage II: I have flown this kite in winds ranging from barely 10mph up to 35mph and have been amazed at the stability and depowerability of this kite. This thing relaunches beautifully in whatever the condition and when parked, stays put. I am stoked to get this kite onto the snow as it will handle everything Utah can throw at it! I am definitely getting rid of my foil kites as they just cannot compare to the overall performance of the Rampage II or Batwing.
Kite Performance 15.5 m Batwing: I have read a lot of commentary about this kite, that it is for more advanced/skilled riders and that it flaps in the wind. Well, here are my impressions of the Batwing - I have flown this kite in as little wind as 4 - 6 mph on the beach and have actually been able to relaunch/waterstart and board in winds as low as 9mph and as high as 21 mph. My riding/kiting skills are now improved which makes me believe that I could actually be riding in winds slightly under 9mph and with a smaller board, could be riding winds up into the mid-20+ mph range as this kite has incredible depower and stability. Not sure about the kite flapping issue as it really hasn't appeared to me to be any kind of issue. The kite is definitely efficient as it flies in extremely low wind speeds.
Well, there you have my novice kiter level review of Windwing's two latest kites - the 2007 9.5m Rampage II and 2007 15.5m Batwing. If there are any other newbieÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s out their that are looking for an excellent kite company with new and innovative designs, I definitely would recommend Windwing. The guys at the shop have been extremely responsive to my millions of engineering & novice level questions both through email and on the phone/in person. Thanks to Jonathan, John and Boarding Bob at Windwing for all of their help.