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2014 Buyer’s Guide: North

Photo Toby Bromwich

Photo Toby Bromwich

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Get full 2014 gear info from 28 brands in the TKB 2014 Buyer’s Guide.

For 2014 North has introduced some big changes to their kite line with the removal of the Fuse and the addition of the Dice. The twin tip line also received a big update as did the North surfboards. Danny Schwarz talked to us about all these changes and what riders can expect from North for the 2014 product year.

It looks like the 2014 line of kites received a little shake up this year. What type of rider is each of the 2014 kites meant for?
The lineup has definitely been shaken up significantly, but when you look at it from an objective point of view it’s more straightforward than ever. Unchanged in their focus are the Rebel, Vegas, and Dyno. The Rebel continues to be the most popular kite of all time. A dedicated 5-line, 5-strut kite, the Rebel is the ideal freeride kite for anyone from beginners to hooked-in wave riders and big air junkies. It has great range, is very responsive, and has the direct connection that comes from having no bridles.

The Vegas continues to be our dedicated 5-line, 5-strut wake/freestyle kite. For competitive PKRA-type riders and those looking to shred the rails at their local park, the Vegas is still the go-to for unhooked performance, massive pop, and great stability. The Dyno is still our race/light wind kite and will be unchanged from 2013 due to IKO racing rules. With five struts, the Dyno will fly fine on four lines, but due to the removal of the pulleys the safety is not compatible with North’s dual front line safety, so we recommend it be flown on five lines.

NKB_Vegas14_BlueRed

Beyond that we are seeing a significant change in the rest of the line. The Evo is now a dedicated freeride kite. As before it has five struts and will fly on four or five lines, but while in the past it has been a freeride/freestyle/wave machine, the 2014 Evo is now more similar to the Rebel in terms of being a more freeride-oriented design with a bigger range, especially on the top end, quicker turning, and better hooked in jumping.

The Dice is an all-new shape that has everyone really excited. A 3-strut kite that can work on four or five lines, the Dice is equally at home in the hands of a pro wake/freestyle rider as in the hands of a pro wave rider. At the same time it seems to be extremely comfortable for freeriding and works great with hooked in sent jumps. It’s a true do-it-all kite. The Neo is back as a 3-strut, 4- or 5-line compatible kite, but it is now a completely dedicated wave kite. These won’t be out for a few months yet and the design isn’t completely finished, so all we know is that Sky Solbach is extremely stoked on the direction the design has gone so far.

Has the Evo evolved to partially take the place of the Fuse?
Yes, definitely. In both looks and performance the 2014 Evo has moved significantly away from the freestyle/wave/unhooking kite that the 2013 Evo was and towards the freeride, hooked-in, jumping machine that the Fuse was. Going from the 2013 to 2014 Evo, riders will find the range has increased significantly, bar pressure has lightened, turning speed and top end have increased, and jumping seems to have gotten better. It still maintains the feel and some flying characteristics of the older Evos, but in a lot of ways it is more similar to what the Fuse was.

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The Dice is being promoted as a performance all-around kite being used by freestylers and wave riders. Why would a rider choose the Dice over the Vegas for freestyle?
There are definite differences between the Dice and Vegas. First of all, the Dice has three struts as opposed to five struts on the Vegas. This results in a softer feel to the Dice with better drift for the waves. The other big difference is the feedback from the direct connection on the Vegas that provides a slightly different feel than that on the bridled Dice. For straight-up freestyle performance the Dice seems a little more forgiving with a little more range than the Vegas. Kiteloops are a little gentler, and if you misdirect the kite the Dice will be more likely to continue to give you a constant pull where the Vegas might be a little more finicky with wanting to be in exactly the right place as you finish a maneuver. For the most part either kite will make freestylers extremely happy.

NKB_Dice_Orange_rgb

The Rebel has been a very popular kite for quite some time. How has it been updated for 2014?
In 2013 the wingtips were squared off and the entry profile shaved down a little bit. The general feedback was that the kite was quicker and smoother with a much better high end, but some riders felt it lost grunt compared to 2012. For 2014 Ken Winner mixed the 2012 and 2013, keeping the squared wingtips but filling the entry profile back out. Reports have been that the 2014 Rebel is even smoother turning with the high end of the 2013 while regaining the low end of the 2012, so you get more range at both ends with an incredibly direct feel and extreme responsiveness, even when depowered at the top of the range.

NKB_Rebel14_blue_

Can you explain what the adaptive tip does?
One thing that keeps North riders riding North is the feel of the kite in the air. One of the ways to keep that feedback is a very precise location of the rear pigtail. Move the pigtail any further forward and the kite turns too slowly. Any further back and the kite will stall slightly when you turn the kite. This results in a more responsive, faster turn, but with a little less power and feedback during the turn. Though long-time North riders generally seem to prefer the way our kites were tuned, some people remarked that our kites seemed to turn more slowly. Instead of caving to what many others in the market were doing, pushing our rear pigtail further back to increase turning speed at the sacrifice of feedback and power, we started using the adaptive tip.

Basically it gives you the option of tuning the kite to turn more slowly with added bar pressure and feedback and power through turns/loops or switching the adaptive tip to bring your rear attachment closer to the trailing edge, speeding up the turning speed and reactivity of the kite and lightening bar pressure, but sacrificing some feedback and power as the kite turns/loops. The adjustments actually make a huge difference and I find myself switching the tips often depending on conditions and what type of riding I plan to be doing.

Photo Toby Bromwich

Photo Toby Bromwich

The Dyno is now offered as small as a 7m. How does the Dyno compare to the Rebel? Why would a rider choose one or the other?
The Dyno, especially in smaller sizes, is a dedicated race kite. It is built lighter to make it quicker and allow it to climb in the window even when racing straight downwind. It is also specifically designed to be extremely fast through the window and to get to the very edge of the window for upwind performance. Since the Rebel is often used for waves, though it gets to the edge of the window better than most kites (probably second only to the Dyno in our line), it sits a little further back than the Dyno so it drifts a little better in waves. The Rebel also seems to rush through the middle of the window a little better than the Dyno so it is great for sent jumps and hooked in kiteloops. If you want to race the Dyno is going to be the better call, whereas if you’re freeriding the Rebel will be superior, though in truth you could use either for both categories of riding.

Have their been any changes to the bar for 2014?
Yes. The bar got a complete makeover in 2010 and again in 2013 and has pretty much been the benchmark in the industry with both iterations. This year the bar gets small improvements to the 2013 design. The adjustable bar ends are now easier to flip around, making switching them while riding even simpler. The plastic covers over the bar ends are also easier to take off/on. The center plastic insert is thicker to last longer, and the grub screws now go completely through the bar insuring that it’ll stay where it’s supposed to. The bar itself is a narrower diameter with a thicker EVA grip for a more comfortable hold. The chicken loop and finger are also softer and more pliable for easier use.

Photo Toby Bromwich

Photo Toby Bromwich

What are the big changes to the twin tip line for 2014?
Several boards got completely reworked. Most notably the X-Ride, Select, and Soleil have been redesigned. All three are now a bit more flexible with more rocker, making all three boards more comfortable in chop and better at soaking up hard landings. This also makes those boards able to hold down more power, so they are better for jumping huge. At the same time, this would normally make the boards worse at going upwind. To counter that we have widened the tips, straightening the profile, and for the X-Ride we made the boards longer. The Gambler also got a complete makeover, getting stiffer through the center with more flex towards the tips to improve pressing. A more aggressive bottom shape and construction means it’s even more wake oriented, and the board will work great as a kite/cable crossover board. The Team Series has also been changed significantly, increasing the stiffness and resilience for great pop and durability, making the board even more of a flat water freestyle machine. The Jaime also has more carbon stringers for decreased weight and increased range of use.

north-boards

How would a progressive rider decide between the TS and Gambler?
If you plan to hit features a lot, go for the Gambler. It’s made to handle the abuse. If you’re more into flat water air tricks, the reduced weight and liveliness of the TS make it the board of choice. But in truth the Gambler will work well for freestyle and the heavier construction of the TS means it can handle the occasional jib.

Photo Toby Bromwich

Photo Toby Bromwich

Are the Jaime and Select the same other than construction? How does the different construction of the Select translate into performance on the water?
The shape of the Select is closer to the X-Ride than to the Jaime. The Jaime has a double V concave bottom shape while the Select, like the X-Ride, has a subtle mono-concave. The biggest thing about the Textreme carbon construction of the Select is the swing weight. Basically whenever you hit a little chop on the Jaime, the flex tips will absorb the impact with the board continuing in its straight path. When the chop gets more significant, the board gets deflected from its path and you use your legs (and particularly your knees) to redirect it to the direction you want it to point. This constant need to redirect the board is what fatigues your legs and knees. With the Textreme construction, the Select has a much lower swing weight, meaning you’re stressing your knees much less. Therefore we can make the Select as stiff as the Jaime, so it’ll work great for poppy freestyle tricks, but it feels as comfortable as the X-Ride through the chop. It’s basically getting the advantages of the pop of the Jaime and the comfort of the X-Ride in a single board.

What are the big changes to the surfboard line for 2014?
We made a lot of changes to the surfboard lineup. The construction is completely different. As with last year our boards use bamboo to aid in flex and chop absorption, but this year we’ve added cork under the bamboo in the area where you put your feet for increased vibration absorption and to protect against heel dents and dings. Also, through the entire lineup the boards are a bit thicker to give a little more float which should aid beginners or help keep you floating in light wind or the occasional lull.

north-surf

What’s different about the construction of the Pro Series surfboard?
The 2014 Pro Series is the only board in our line to feature Innegra carbon in place of fiberglass in the layup. Innegra carbon has many advantages like decreased weight, increased damage tolerance, increased impact resistance, and increased vibration dampening. The board is lighter, stronger, and more comfortable through chop. And that’s not even mentioning how much fun this shape is.

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