Liquid Force has been on a roll for a number of years now with such innovations as the first affordable foilboard and one of the first singlestrut light wind powerhouse kites. This year Liquid Force’s Rich Sabo fills us in on the ground-up redesign of their control bar, subtle performance tweaks made to the WOW surf kite, a new line of hybrid directional/twin tip ‘Hippie Stix ‘ boards, as well as a carbon twin tip for us average freestyle Joes.
The WOW got a redesign this year. What kind of performance changes can we expect to see with the latest tweaks?
One of the things we pride ourselves on here at Liquid Force is not rushing anything to market just for the sake of it. We like to ensure that we are taking steps forward and not backwards. The new WOW v2 is no exception and we believe that all WOW lovers will be stoked on the refinements we have made this year. When developing the WOW v2 we tried dozens of different versions; different profiles, different canopy layouts, and logged hundreds of hours of combined testing. Our main surf shredder, Luke McGillewie, put a lot of prototypes to the test in his super windy home spot of Cape Town. He was adamant about making sure that any changes in the kite were positive without changing the DNA of the WOW.
The biggest discovery we made is that the WOW v1 is a really hard kite to improve upon. We have developed a very loyal WOW following full of surfers and freeriders alike, and we did not want to let any of them down. We kept the overall structure of the WOW the same and made some minor improvements in the way the bridles attach to the kite. This simple change made improvements to the responsiveness and stability of the kite, so a WOW rider who liked the light bar pressure and turning speed of v1 will find this has been refined in v2. We also added a sick new color scheme and replaced the rip stop sleeve that came with the kite. Riders will be stoked to know that their WOW v2 comes with a functional, aesthetically pleasing that has spots for your bar and pump on the sides, and a huge zipper that makes it easy to store your kite after a session.
In summary, after loads of testing and feedback, we decided that only the smallest changes would make the largest improvements in the WOW v2. We are confident that anyone who loved the v1 will continue their WOW romance with the v2.
There’s an entirely new control bar added to the LF line for 2017. What’s the overall design ethos behind this bar and what kind of kiter will latch onto this control stick and never let go?
Simple, safe and reliable: That is the mantra of the Mission Control System (MCS). This product is a definite office favorite for our LFK crew as the features have made our personal sessions that much more enjoyable! As far as simplicity goes, we focused on taking out anything we found unnecessary or aesthetically displeasing. One of the biggest improvements in simplicity was the addition of a new bar that is a single molded plastic piece. This reduced the overall weight of the bar and gave us the opportunity to refine the shape of our grip to something a bit thinner than in years past.
We also revamped our above the bar depower to a simple stainless steel cleat. The depower rope moves seamlessly through the cleat and has a Velcro tab at the end that can connect back to the cleat itself, getting rid of any dangling depower. The bar floats are no longer fixed to the bar ends, which give you a more direct connection from bar end to kite, resulting in faster turning and improved kite feedback.
As far as safety is concerned, we pulled out all the bells and whistles to develop an entirely new quick release system. The new EZ Reset is a big feature of the MCS which allows you to put back together the release system without having to hold open the hood. It’s about as one-handed as it gets and it’s one of the most impressive features on the new bar.
In the spirit of reliability, we added a PU tube over our center lines to reduce the wear and tear that happens from the bar moving up and down the lines during a session. The tube over the center lines also prevents your fingers from getting nipped by multiple center lines and makes the depower action incredibly smooth.
The icing on the cake is that the MCS has the ability to be three different bar sizes. Removable cartridges at the bar ends allow you to simply adjust the MCS from 49cm to 55cm (with a bonus 52cm middle option). There are also two chicken loop options (big and small) for those who think the standard chicken loop is too small for unhooking.
Add in the new Nano leash, a totally cool new color scheme of Celeste Blue and Charcoal Gray, and some super soft bar ends that won’t smash into your head and you’ve got an extremely safe control system that’s ready to shred!
The Carbon Drive twin tip is now available in all carbon. How is this different from last year’s model and what kind of performance can we expect from the new construction method?
Originally when we wanted to add a carbon board to the lineup we thought, “let’s just take our highest performance board in the lineup and make a carbon version.” That is why the first carbon board we added to the lineup was the Element. The Carbon Element was a huge success, but it was mostly appealing to freestylers looking to reduce weight for very advanced tricks. This left out a whole side of the marketplace that we felt could benefit from the wonderful effects of carbon. So we decided to go the other route and see what the effects would be of taking one of our simpler shapes and making a carbon version. The result: A lightweight, high performance board that is lively and fun for everyone!
From the very first session on the very first prototype to the final production sign off, everyone at Liquid Force HQ loves the Carbon Drive. A no BS simple bottom shape makes the board ride smooth and predictable. While the Carbon Drive shares the same core construction and outline as it’s standard brother, it has a profiled wood core that, combined with the removal of fiberglass and the addition of a hexagonal biax carbon layer, the overall strength to weight ratio has been increased while reducing the overall weight. The Carbon Drive has a stiffer feel than the standard Drive, making it pop better and flex less on landings. It’s also so lightweight that it’s actually fun to ollie and pop over chop because it feels like nothing is on your feet. Whether you are a beginner looking to test out the carbon world or an advanced rider looking to add a carbon board to your arsenal, the Carbon Drive is a perfect addition to any kiteboarder’s quiver. It’s available in sizes 137, 140 and 143. Did we mention the best part about this carbon board? It’s one of the most affordable carbon boards on the market at $699 retail anywhere in the United States — that’s bang for your buck! We think the Carbon Drive is the first of its class in the affordable progression kiteboard category and can’t wait to see what our customers think.
When Tkb’s tech team dropped in on the LF headquarters in Hood River this summer, the LF crew was raving about the new Hippie Stix board lineup. What’s the performance draw with these innovative funboards and why do we want one so bad?
This past snowboarding season we saw the reemergence of directional snowboards and they were a huge hit. Our brother company, Arbor Snowboards, was a leader in this product development and we definitely drew inspiration from them. Despite snowboarding and kiteboarding being sports that you need to ride with both feet forward, most people have a dominant foot which they prefer to be in front. It’s from this idea that we have formed the Hippie Stix lineup.
The Space Craft and the Moon Patrol are the first products in our new directional twin tip line. While they may take some inspiration from past kiteboard designs like the Mutant, they open up a whole new frontier in terms of performance. Both boards have a nose and a tail, with an asymmetrical rocker line that’s more aggressive in the nose and a single concave through the tips. Having profiled wood core construction, the ride is lively and smooth through the chop. The inserts are set back towards the tail a bit, allowing you to customize the amount of directional feel that you want. Despite being favored in one direction, this board cranks upwind both ways due to our TFR tech (Tips, Front, Rear).
Why does someone want one? Because they are so incredibly, surprisingly and amazingly fun! You get all the fun characteristics of riding a directional board, like the ability to make huge hacks and spray gigantic walls of water on your friends while still being able to enjoy boosting and popping off the water. Most of us don’t have a super flat spot to ride and have to deal with chop, river swell, or waves — with our Hippie Stix boards, you will be able to enjoy all of these conditions!
The 144 Space Craft is a mild departure from a twin tip, but with plenty of directional benefits. Featuring an asymmetrical rocker with an offset stance, people who are worried about this realm of kiteboarding would probably want to give the Space Craft a try first. It’s an aggressive shape that will still allow a rider to boost, pop and destroy choppy waters by either cutting through or slashing across them. This is an easy crossover from your standard twin tip and will change your view of riding a multi-directional board forever.
The 146 Moon Patrol is the more extreme of the two shapes. A super round nose and moon-shaped tail give the rider the biggest departure from the twin tip shape. This board throws buckets! Load up your rail and lean into the turn to get all the benefits of a directional board, and then send this baby to the moon and get the softest landing of your life due to the aggressive nose rocker. Chop is nothing as the outline of this board will give you tons of stability through anything. Both boards come with a six fin set up, 4 x 4cm and 2 x 5cm, which allows a rider to take their directional twinning to whatever level they want.
Get all the 2017 product info from all the top brands in one place with Tkb’s 2017 Buyer’s Guide.