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North 2011 Rebel Analyze This Kite Review

TESTED: 12m
AVAILABLE SIZES: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14m
TESTED IN: Hood River, 16-22 knots, flat water and chop

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FROM THE MANUFACTURER:

Whether you’re ripping apart waves, getting huge, lofty jumps, or just blasting around on flat water, the 2011 Rebel is a stylish 5-line all-terrain free-ride/wave machine that gives you an unmatched connected feel and virtually limitless performance in all conditions. The Rebel has become famous for its direct de-power, smooth, predictable turning, even when de-powered, and short bar stroke. Improved bar feel and de-power in the small sizes means even more comfortable and accessible top end so you can keep having fun even when the wind gets nuclear.

THE KITEBOARDER REPORT:

Out of the Box: One of the first things we noticed about the 2011 Rebel is the new North-exclusive canopy cloth. Known as Techno Force D2, it feels slightly different than other canopy materials and according to North offers a 40% higher breaking strength and 70% higher tearing strength. Other than the new fabric, the 2011 Rebel looks similar to the 2010 model, with the same attention to detail. The center strut floats below the canopy and is attached with a piece of cloth as opposed to being directly attached to the canopy. The fifth line bridle is very simple and there are no pulleys on the kite.

The 2011 Fifth Element Trust Bar is similar to last year’s model and is a very clean and well thought out control system. The amount of depower throw is very easy to adjust and we really like the Iron Heart quick release. The leash attachment gives you the option of complete depower if you drop the bar or can be rigged as a suicide set up while still allowing for complete fifth line depower if you activate the quick release, a nice feature for unhooked riders.

On the Water: Even though the 2011 Rebel looks much like the 2010, its handling has definitely been improved. Unlike last year’s model, there is no lag when initiating turns. The kite turns quickly and predictably and the Rebel is still among the most stable kites we’ve tested. The 12m Rebel we tested was surprisingly powerful, but that power was easy to manage as the Rebel remains stable and responsive when depowered.

Bar pressure is in the low-medium range. It’s light enough to not be tiring but there is enough pressure to easily feel where the kite is in the sky. We found the Rebel to be very easy to relaunch and the fifth line safety allows for complete and instant depower if you activate the quick release. The Rebel goes upwind very well without much effort and holds its power well through turns.

PROS:

  • Even when depowered, the Rebel remains very stable and responsive.
  • The 2011 Rebel has fantastic low end power.

CONS:

  • Despite the safety features, some riders are not fans of five-line kites and the Rebel is not designed to be flown on four lines.
  • There is no longer a 16m size. If you want a kite larger than 14m from North, your only choice is the new light wind specific Dyno.

THE VERDICT:

The Rebel is North’s most popular kite and it’s easy to see why. This is a very well made kite that is very predictable and extremely stable in the air. For 2011, the Rebel has been made more responsive and the turning lag that we complained about in our 2010 review has been completely removed. This is a great kite for all-around riding that will work well for big air jumpers, freeride cruisers, and wave riders. Basically, most riders out there will be very happy on a Rebel. Wakestyle riders should look at the 2011 Vegas.

TIPS:

  • Like we’ve found on other North kites, make sure that you don’t oversheet the Rebel. It’s so stable that it can keep flying when oversheeted, but the kite will feel like it has no power.
  • Take care to not fold or bend the battens when rolling up the Rebel.

TESTER COMMENTS:

“The Rebel is easy to rig and ride, very stable, and hard to crash. It’s responsive to quick turns and loops. I liked how you could adjust the depower throw on the fly. The new canopy material feels and sounds extra crispy!” -Gary Martin, 170 lbs., Surf Kiter and occasional Old School Twin Tipper

“The Rebel is a kite that you can rig and have a blast on the water without having to worry about any adjustments. Its stability makes it very forgiving in the waves or when learning new moves.” –Paul Lang, 200 lbs., Surf Kiter

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