TESTED: 8.5, 10.5m
AVAILABLE SIZES: 5.5, 7, 8.5, 10.5, 12.5, 14.5m
TESTED IN: La Ventana 21-28 knots, large chop
FROM THE MANUFACTURER:
We don’t believe in change for change’s sake, but continually improving on what we know works. That’s why with the Ion you’ll find a number of refinements in quality and performance to give you a product that’s of the usual high Flexifoil standards. This is evolution, not revolution. Continuing to deliver the combination of C-kite feel and Hybrid performance that the Ion has provided in the past, this season’s revision promises unique enhancements designed to focus its strength to your style of riding. The Ion delivers fast, positive, and progressive steering, enabling you to turn quickly into jumps with constant strength, power, and lift and giving great hang time and the freedom in the air to excel beyond what you thought possible. If you’re already kitesurfing and need a kite that’ll support you in pushing beyond your existing limits into a new world of skill and enjoyment, then there is no better choice than the Ion.
THE KITEBOARDER REPORT:
Out of the Box: The first thing we noticed about the 2011 Ion is its heavy duty construction. Every possible area of the kite seems to be beefed up to take abuse and even the fabric that makes up the kite feels more sturdy than normal. We were initially perplexed when we tried to inflate this kite as it has two wingtip dump valves, which Flexifoil added so that you can choose which end to roll up from and to deflate the kite faster. The Ion is a six-strut one pump kite with a relatively compact bridle. The front line bridle features one pulley per side and has settings for low and high wind (we only tried the stock low wind setting). The rear lines connect directly to the kite and there are settings for faster or slower turning.
The Flexifoil All-in-One bar is simple and very clean. It features a push away quick release, above bar depower strap, and is adjustable from 48-54cm. The depower throw is relatively short and the depower strap is long, which could place it a bit far from some riders when set to full power. The bar itself has a smaller diameter than usual with a raised grip.
On the Water: Every tester who rode this kite, both the 8.5 and 10.5, commented about how well constructed and powerful the Ion is. All riders found the kite to have consistent power with quick turning and smooth power delivery. The Ion also builds apparent wind fast when underpowered. The Ion’s handling and amount of depower felt closer to a C-kite than a bridled kite which means it’s not well suited for beginners or riders who like kites with extreme depower. The Ion’s low end grunt, boosting ability, unhooked performance, and consistent feel through the bar are excellent. It flies far forward in the window and goes upwind very well. Bar pressure is in the medium to medium-heavy range, especially when overpowered. We found the Ion to be easy to relaunch but not automatic like a more SLE-oriented kite. It’s fast turning and forward flying characteristics mean it is a really fun kite for more experienced kiters to ride powered and fast on.
- The Ion has great low end power and handles gusty conditions very well.
- The 2011 Ion features possibly the most heavy duty construction we’ve ever seen.
- The depower strap is far away when set to full power and riders without long arms may have trouble reaching it. You can move it closer by retying the depower line.
- Some riders may want more depower than the Ion offers. Use the trim system in addition to the bar to get the most depower possible.
If you want an aggressive and powerful kite that offers constant power, check out the Ion. These kites are powerful, handle much closer to a C-kite than most bridled kites, and don’t have as much depower as more SLE-oriented designs. Turning is very direct and quick with solid unhooked performance, lift, and hang time. Its low end grunt and rock solid stability make it especially good for heavier riders. If you are looking for more of an all-around kite with more depower, try the Flexifoil Proton. If you want to have a stable, powerful, and direct feeling kite and are comfortable controlling power with the edge of your board, you should give the Ion a try.
- Close both wingtip valves before inflating the Ion. We felt silly after trying to inflate it with one of the valves open.
- This kite generates a lot of power. You might be able to get by riding a kite one size smaller than you would normally ride.
“I was really surprised by how much power the 8m produces. The Ion is not the best kite for beginners, but it’s fun to ride powered up for an aggressive session.” –Paul Lang, 200 lbs., Surf Kiter