2015 12m & 9m VX Review
I’ve had the 12m and 9m 2015 VX for a couple of weeks now and tested them from just powered to properly lit-up.
If you have seen the pictures of the 2015 VX you can see it has undergone a bit of a dramatic re-design. In the flesh the changes are instantly noticeable with a much more of a sweep to the LE, which itself is now thicker as are the struts. The bridle is a bit more compact and there are plenty of options for tuning bar pressure and speed. The build quality as usual is excellent and there is the new SPS inflation system with the large screw-type valve and some neat one-pump connections to the struts. The Smart Bar is pretty much the same high quality offering as last year, but they have tweaked the grip and it feels much better in the hand.
First impressions are that it just doesn’t look as aggressive as the 2014 and TBH I was wondering how I’d like it as I absolutely loved the high performance of last years. However, this high performance was sometimes interpreted as lacking low-end, or being a bit flaky if you didn’t have the skills to master it – in fact the Razor was in many ways much easier to pilot and understand so the 2014 was a bit of a puzzle in the overall Airush range and left a bit of a gap from those wanting more than the Lithium.
My first outing was on the 12m in conditions fluctuating from being able to do some decent raleys to powered enough for some medium height jumps. The first thing you notice with the 2015 VX is just how solid it is. Three strut kites can inherently be a bit flappy on rapid depower or steering aggressively through the window. Not this – I tried to make it flutter intentionally, but nothing and the larger leading edge really smoothes things out and delivers a super stable platform. It might not hunt the edge of the window as fast as the old one, but it doesn’t sit deep either and you can still force it forwards with edging and it is overall more progressive – no darting about. . I dropped it to test the re-launch and the extra sweep makes it a cinch, much easier than last years which had to be teased up at times.
These changes also give more low-end power, you don’t need to work it or be as light on your feet as the previous model and the power delivery is also very linear with the bar sheeting. I was expecting it to be a bit dull, but the handling is still super sharp with excellent feedback – not quite as fast as the 2014, but that was exceptional for a 12m. The power is also there in the turns, whether you crank it for a super tight turn or adjust the input for a wider arc there are no dead spots in the power delivery. You can also use the stability and power delivery to cut about on a wave (as much as I can anyway) where it will drift and slight input on the bar will keep you powered enough without it flying too far forward or pulling you off.
Unhooked, you feel the extra power, but it is completely manageable and the extra stability sort of evens things out so you can be more progressive in loading and popping. It doesn’t go as slack on landings but it won’t power you up and pull you over your edge or downwind. Jumping I was worried about as I was thinking the change of forward speed and overall shape would mean less whip and a more ‘bow’ style jump – I needn’t have worried. It might not feel as rocket-like as the 2014 but it still turns and climbs fast to give great height, plus the changes and slightly lower aspect give much more float and glide. Even on bigger jumps ou can pull the bar back in to give silky soft landings whereas the 2014 liked to be down-looped, which you can do on this – it just has more options.
Next up the 9m I tested a couple of time with one super powered session and another up and down going from good unhooking conditions to super boosting. Overall it is the same as the 12m in feel and flying – just super stable and it has a huge usable range. I had it in the mid-teens to probably in the low thirties and never touched the trim. I went from unhooking and playing about to super boosting – as an all-rounder it works better than the 9m Wave and that is saying something. Give it some wind and it is effortless to jump big on, high and far is the order of the day and you know where it is and what it is doing, plus you can have quite a chilled approach to things – do you want to sheet in and redirect to ride out the same direction or chuck in a last minute down-loop and transition out the other way.
All in all it is a cracking kite. Maybe doesn’t ‘feel’ as high performance as last year, but there is plenty there to keep an advanced rider happy (if you really want more wakestyle performance then look at the Razor). It is much less frenetic than the 2014 model, just very easy to use and will still deliver enough thrills for an awesome session… in fact probably more consistently so as the natural range and super smoothness of it is far less on/off than last year’s could be at times. Would I like a 9m Razor for those ‘perfect’ days – sure, but we just don’t get them and at times I’ll miss the high energy, ballistic handling of the 2014 VX. Overall, everything considered for me the 2015 VX is a far better ‘real world’ kite that simply works and works very well at that.
Me: 78kg on a 135 Shinn Ultrasonic - riding 8 years, like to go fast and boost big with some unhooked stuff thrown in the mix.
Disclaimer: Yes I’m a local ‘team’ rider, but I still buy my gea, have a real job and a young family so my time on the water is very important to me. If I didn’t like what I ride I’d find something else irrespective of cost. However, thanks to Airush and their philosophy my time on the water has just became so much more fun… I just didn’t expect how much this year!