Rider Weight: 80kg
Experience: Early Intermediate
Style: Freeride and hydroiling. Boosting, looping.... that type of thing
Test conditions: 23-29knots and 18-24knots (2 sessions)
So Blade kites are a regular discount offering in Europe and being a bit tight I didn't really want to pay full price for a new kite but fancied a change to get something a bit more fun for boosting as most of my kites are more focused towards foiling. I looked at the new Switch offering but lack of real reviews and a 20% premium price for a switch kite put me off. The Blade Trigger gets good magazine reviews but you always wonder how much of that is marketing
In a nutshell. Fast turning, intuitive, fast flying, light bar pressure. Don't fly it on a high Y bar*
So my old kites were great but as they are really pivotal turning, its difficult (for me anyway) to get the landings right if you aren't accurate with your take offs. They generate such little turning pull that I pretty much always ended up looping the kite in order to get enough pull to land smoothly. Something that gave a little more pull through the turn is what the doctor ordered.
I got two afternoons testing my new toy. First in plenty of wind and a day later towards the bottom of the wind range for it. Does it boost. Yes - and very well to. I'm not the best booster in the world (have yet to get over 10m) but I'm not a member of the 'pulling me legs up as I ride over a wave and calling it a jump' gang either. For both sessions I was playing in the flat shallows and the light bar pressure meant you could get a really strong stance and get a good edge. The advantage of that light pressure was that the gusts would pull more through the harness so you could resist with your legs rather than being pulled through the arms and folding at the waist. In terms of height, I didn't hit a PB but my average height was better. I'd say it has a fairly broad sweet spot for reasonable jumps. I handed it over mid session to a mate on a 9m XR5 for 10 minutes and he was hitting the same height with both kites so its not obviously out-gunned in the boosting department.
What about hang time? Its medium to good. Better than a wave kite, worse than a bow kite. Enough time for a few grabs but thats more down to my limited repertoire. Its not the most explosive lift but you got a good double lift of height.
Landing was so much easier. I fluffed a takeoff and started to swing under the kite (normally a recipe for a big splash) but with this kite, I left the kite at the edge a bit longer to slow my swing and then was able to dive it for a clean (if not perfectly soft) landing. To be able to get away with mistakes is a big thumbs up in my book.
What about pop? So the magazine articles talk about really good pop. I have to say I didn't really notice it. Sure it pops fine but I didn't notice an improvement over my regular kites and I don't think they are anything special. Certainly it wasn't in the North Dice school of noticeable pop - although again, this could be the rider at fault here.
Wind range. Seems a decent spread of range. Was blasting along at the low end (like 18knots) and it was controllable and more importantly comfortable at the top end (say 28-29 knots). I have to say my other kites are magic at the low end with plenty of apparent wind but a bit of a handful the closer to the top end you go. This thing has a broad spread of sweet spot. Bonus!
Any good in the surf? Errrrr. Sorry wrong person really. It drifts alright on a twin tip and there's a setting on LE labelled 'Surf' that you can change the bridle onto ( I haven't tried it). Does that count?
So you can probably tell I'm pretty stoked with getting this one right for me. Its fast turning, smooth, fun throughout the range and has that extra pull through the turns that helps with boosting.
What might I like to see as an improvement?
- The big valve thing (liquid force derived max flow) is alright but its another proprietary connector (that doesn't fit a North pump) and I don't like the air release mechanism.
- Weight. Whilst not heavy at 3.07kg, its the same weight as my lightweight 12m.
- Tiny rubber one-pump system. Inflates fine. SLLOOOWW to deflate the struts.
- What seems to be a scaled down bag. Given you can't get the air out of the kite easily - why such a tight fit on the bag?
Who would it suit?
Someone who wants a freeride kite that's as fast as a surf kite and doesn't want forearms resembling an ambidextrous serial masturbator.
* I accidentally flew on a high Y for the first half the session. Don't do it! Its fine once powered up and going fast but the response is slower and it doesn't like to complete the loops. Moved the V setting down and it flew nicely.
I'm trying to sort out the marketing fact from marketing fiction as its sometimes a little difficult to know which is which when you visit the manufacturers website - particularly for the small brands which don't get the same number of independent reviews (or only get reviewed by learners who can't really offer much in kite characteristics)