Just to be clear, reviewing kites isn’t really Progression’s thing but my brother had been over from the States and was looking to get some new North kites. He lives in the San Franciscso area, which has predonimantly light winds, so we started some research to find out what would be the best light winds kites for him in the North range. The new Rhino’s looked like the best option but being so new there was not that much information out there about them, hence why I’m now writing this post to share a little of what we found, and think about the kites, after the first session.
Background: My brother previously has North Rhino’s 20m, 14m & 10m, but from 2003 before 5th lines and anyone had mentioned bow or hybrid kites. The 20m North Rhino of yesterday year was the original lightwind machine that pulled like a truck and it was important to get something to replace that. (Me, I ride Naish Torch’s or North Rebels). We’re both tall and pretty heavy – 198cm & 100kg
Location: Felpham, small village on the South coast of England, which has some of the best sea breezes in the country!
Wind: Started at 12-13 knots Increased to 18 knots by the end of our session.
Kite: North Rhino 09 16m (others were on various 13’s, 10’s and 8.5’s once the wind had filled in)
Board: North Sky Pro – 138 x 42.5
Setup: I’m not gonna say much about the setup or build of the kite – its North, its the usually high quality and simple to setup straight out of the bag. Their Easy Pump seems to work well though my brother stuck to the recommend pressure of 6psi when pumping the kite but the problem there was that air transfers from the leading edge to the struts quite slowly, so a few minute after turning the kite over the leading edge was a bit soft, dropping to 5psi. So ensure you allow the air pressure to balance between the bladders before finishing pumping.
The kite can fly with either a bridle in 4 line mode or with no bridle and in 5th line mode. We had it on a bridle/4 line setup as this is supposed to give it better lightwind performance. On the bar front, its all great but personally the chicken loop strop was too long and needed to be adjusted, buts that easy to do.
Performance: Overall its a really enjoyable kite to fly. Its fast turning for a 16m and gives a very smooth source of power, absorbing gusts so they are un-noticable. At the lighter end even when you are having to work the kite a bit to keep the power constant you can cruise up wind and get some jumps. Speaking of which, it jumps really well. Nice high floaty jumps. The smoothness of the kite means its not easy to ‘feel’ exactly where kite is in the sky but the kite does response well to bar input, and flies fast enough to get you out of trouble if you get the kite in the wrong place.
I didn’t try any kiteloops (my back is pretty screwed at the moment) but downlooping on carving turns were really good and I reckon it will kiteloop pretty easily in 15 knots+, not that it will pull particularly hard through the loop.
In the strong winds it was massively controllable, in fact I was shocked to see others on 8.5m kites as I didn’t feel overpowered or out of control in anyway. I could have been on my 12m Torch easily. But the bridle of this style of kite really does soak up all the extra power and translate it into forward speed. So great for going fast.
Downsides: There are only two small issues, but really down to taste or riding style. The first is that the smoothness of the rider may not be as ‘exciting’ to some people, as the kite seems to have the same pull all the time, even in the gusts, so you don’t get that seat of your pants ride – probably a very a big selling point for many people!
The second issue is related to the same aspect of the kite, its very hard to pop off the water with this kite. What I mean by this, is leaving the kite low in the wind window, and ‘popping’ into the air by edging hard upwind to launch out of the water. The 16m doesn’t really allow this, you edge hard upwind and the kite just takes all the extra power. Maybe the smaller kites will be more pop-able but the 16m was not easy for this BUT this is not what this kite is about so its not really a negative just something to consider.
I’d be interesting to see how it compares to the biggest Rebel, same brand different style of kite.
Overall: I had a blast on this kite and would be keen to see how it performs in really marginal conditions (10 knots), but hopes are high!
I got my camera to film my brother and took a couple of shots of the kite flying for anyone wanting to see how it looks in the sky:[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHO2J01SR_Q]