When the TKB Testing Team unpacked and rigged over 28 models of kite gear one thing became clear. Despite the broad range in features and function there are a number of common design approaches that kite brands use to meet the needs of a diverse kiting population. Below is a breakdown of common design features that the brands we tested chose to integrate into their equipment.
TYPE OF SAFETY SYSTEM
Safety systems generally come in one of two flavors. Of the kites tested, 78% came with the Single Center Line Safety Depower system in which the activation of the quick release causes the kite leash to flag/depower the kite along a single center line. 22% used a Double Center Line Safety Depower system in which the QR flags the kites along the two center lines.
LARGE INFLATION VALVES
Large sized inflation valves are a relatively new feature that allow for a faster and easier inflation. 44% of kites tested came with a large inflation valve and 56% of the kites came with the standard 9mm inflation valve.
ADJUSTABLE LENGTH BAR
Control bars can either come in fixed length or adjustable length for a one bar fits all approach. 61% of bars tested had an adjustable length option while 29% came with fixed length.
ABOVE vs BELOW-BAR TUNING
Above bar tuning puts the controls at or above rider eye level and allow riders to use the natural leverage of pulling down for adjustment. Below bar tuning ensures that the tuning controls are always within reach regardless of the bar’s length of throw. 83% of kites tested used an above bar tuning system while 17% used a below bar tuning system.
TUNING STRAP vs CAM CLEAT
Tuning systems come in either a simple cam cleat configuration or a strap setup with two separate controls for powering up or down. Each have their critics, (cleats can be hard to use under tension and straps can be confusing and hard to control the amount of adjustment) but 72% of kites tested used a cleat for tuning while 28% used a strap system.
TYPE OF DEPOWER/THROW LINE
Plastic coated depower/throw lines are durable and require little to no maintenance compared to Spectra/Rope depower/throw lines but Spectra depower/throw lines typically allow the use of an adjustable stopper. 56% of the bars tested use a spectra/rope throw line and 44% use a plastic coated version.
Bars equipped with a sliding stopper allows riders to sheet the kite in to a fixed point without having to pull against the bar pressure of the kite. Sliding stoppers also serve to limit the length of throw on longer throw bars or help keep the bar close for smaller riders with shorter reach.
PUSH AWAY QUICK RELEASE
Although there are a wide variety of mechanisms used in modern quick releases, the most common style are those in which the rider grabs the quick release handle and pushes it away from his/her body. 89% of the kites tested used a push away quick release and the remaining 11% used either a twist release or velcro loop release.
QUICK RELEASE SHIELD
Many push away quick releases have a shield built into the design to protect the travel of the quick release handle from the bar. In the event of a fouled bar, the bar may be pushed down against the quick release and without a shield this will prevent the rider from releasing the system. 78% of push away quick releases tested came with a quick release shield and 22% did not.
CENTER LINE HAND SWIVEL
Below the bar hand swivels make it easy for riders to manually untwist center line rotations by hand. 56% of kites tested came with a below the bar hand swivel and 44% did not.
ABOVE BAR SWIVEL
Some bars use an above bar swivel to help manage twists in the center lines after rotating freestyle moves. 78% of kites tested did not use an above-bar swivel while 22% of kites integrated this option.
GAASTRA Spark | Toxic
JN Wild Thing
LIQUIDFORCE Envy | NRG
NAISH Draft | Ride
NORTH Dice | Evo
OZONE Edge | Catalyst
RRD Obsession | Vision
SLINGSHOT Rally | RPM