Based out of Israel, Blade is a brand that focuses entirely on making high performance kites. Always a huge hit at Tkb Freeride Consumer Tests, we’ve asked Blade owner, Yaron Barlev, to bring us up to date on the 2017 gear.
How does the Trigger compare to the Skinny Boy and what type of rider will be interested in demoing these kites?
The Trigger is the ultimate all around progression kite that is intended for riders that want to do it all with lots of power, quickness and stability. It is a great kite for jumping, cruising and even wave riding. Beginners will appreciate the easy handling characteristics of this kite, but the performance potential won’t let advanced riders down. The Trigger is an extremely versatile kite, so whether you are taking your first upwind tack or boosting 40ft+ monster airs, the Trigger will match your performance level. It is the one kite that you’ll never outgrow.
The Skinny Boy is different in that it has been designed specifically for wave riding on surfboards. The Skinny Boy sits further forward in the wind window than the Trigger which allows the kite to drift better down the line. Additionally, the depower on the Skinny Boy is more aggressive and gives the ability to be much more spontaneous in your riding. For example, on a bottom turn the Skinny Boy can dump almost all of its power instantly and allow you to ride the wave whereas the Trigger will maintain a little more power through the turn. Although the Skinny Boy was designed as a pure wave kite, its deep and instant depower potential has made it popular for foilboarding.
The High Score is the newest addition to the Blade family. Where does it fall in the line up?
At Blade we believe in making specific kites for specific people. This means we try to make each one of our kites excel in one specific discipline. The same goes with the High Score which is a very specific freestyle/wakestyle kite. It is the perfect unhook and kiteloop weapon that really helps to conquer those extremely challenging tricks. One of the key elements that can easily be felt between the High Score and the rest of the lineup is the power it creates in turns. For most disciplines, power in the turns is an obstacle, while for kitelooping, you really want to have that constant power when the kite loops so you get a very constant pull all along. The other big difference is unhooking which obviously needs to be easy every step and that is something the High Score really excels in.
The Fat Lady has earned solid reviews in past Tkb Consumer Light Wind Tests. What makes this kite so great for light wind kiting?
We believe that the quicker the kite is, the more fun you can have, especially in lighter wind conditions. Initially we did not make a kite larger than a 14m since we could not get the kites to turn as fast as we wanted them to. After several years of R&D we discovered that by significantly reducing the leading edge and strut diameters and limiting the kite to three struts, we were able to find the magic combination of power and turning speed. By reducing the diameters of the leading edge and struts, we significantly cut the kite’s weight and unnecessary aerodynamic drag. As a result, we were able to develop what we think is the fastest turning 17m on the market while still maintaining deep low end power. The turning speed combined with the power allows the Fat Lady to jump unlike most other light wind kites out there. Typically in light wind it is difficult to jump very high because most large kites are slow to react, however, the Fat Lady jumps more like a smaller kite due to its turning speed. This translates into higher jumps with more hang time, which of course means more fun. The Fat Lady V4 is the latest version of the lady and the big differences are the better upwind and even easier jumping abilities.
What’s the design philosophy and key features behind the Unibar?
Oftentimes in kite design the bar is overlooked. In reality, however, the bar is extremely important to the kite’s performance and overall feel. This is why we put so much attention in every detail of the bar including its weight, shape, safety and simplicity. In general the lighter the bar is the lighter the kite feels. We currently have one of the lightest bars on the market and are working to make future models even lighter.
The shape of the bar is super important and with the help of ergonomists we have found that the straight bars found with most kites don’t take into account the physiology of the rider and as a result lose performance potential. With a bar that matches how your arms naturally move, turns become easier and the rider experiences less fatigue. Safety of the bar is critical and we make sure that our QR works 100% of the time. For that reason, four other brands are currently using our QR as their official system. Nothing on the bar is a gimmick. We make sure that our bars are as clean and light as possible and try to make each necessary part as small and efficient as it can be while maintaining strength and durability. Not only does that make our bar lighter, but it makes the bar easier to maintain.
Get all the brand interviews and gear spec in one place with Tkb’s 2017 Buyer’s Guide.