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A company that needs no introduction, North Kiteboarding entered the market in 2001 and quickly climbed the ladder to the top, becoming one of the industry’s leading brands. Blending their visions for design and engineering, as well as setting high standards from the very outset, North has introduced an entirely new approach to control bar power adjustment for 2017. North USA’s Dan Schwarz discusses the new Click Bar and the performance of the various kites, twin tips and surfboards in their new lineup.

untitled-9-02After nearly 10 years on the market, the design team added some significant changes to the Rebel. What will dedicated Rebel fans out there notice about this year’s kite?

First and most importantly, they will notice that the Rebel has the same feel, range, short bar stroke and stability that has made this kite a bestseller and market-definer for years now. A lot of work went towards making the 2017 kite turn more smoothly and roundly, similar to the Neo. To this end Ken increased the number of segments on the LE; this rounded out that angular segment between the quarter and tip struts in previous years’ Rebels. The result? The Rebel now has a more consistent, round turn, less tendency to backstall and makes the famously easy-to-fly kite even easier and more forgiving for 2017. Ken also moved the quarter struts outward towards the tips, which helps keep luff and flutter in this area to a minimum.untitled-9-01North introduced an all new control system this year, the Click bar. How does it work and what are the biggest advantages for riders compared to standard bars? Are there any disadvantages, conditions or situations where you recommend riders stick with the standard bar?

untitled-9-03In the past, the industry (and therefore consumers) have largely been limited to either above-the-bar or belowthe- bar depower systems, both of which depower the kite by shortening the front lines. Either system works OK, but both have drawbacks. The Click bar is the first bar to do away with that and incorporate an ‘in-the-bar’ depower system, working by lengthening the back lines to depower the kite.

There are many advantages to the new system. First of all, it is much quicker and easier to activate the depower by simply pushing a button on the right hand bar end, which can be done without removing your hand from the bar. You are also able to get over a foot of depower without sacrificing any throw distance or having to deal with any extra line flapping around. The depower is also more systematic. Each button push of depower or twist of power gives you precisely the same amount of depower/power, so finding and refinding your sweet spot is easy, precise, and consistent. Women, children, or anyone with shorter arms will really appreciate the ability to have the power/depower at their fingertips without sacrificing their ability to have a longer throw as well. Pros also enjoy the consistency and the ease to depower while on a wave, slider or as they head into a trick.

We have also incorporated a new Iron Heart release with ceramic bearings that works in conjunction with our rectangular depower line to automatically unswivel your front lines, so no matter how many spins or loops you do in the same direction you will never need to unspin your front lines again.

Since the whole back line adjustment necessitated completely new specs for all the lines, we used this as an opportunity to rethink the layout and make it compatible with other kites. With the adjustable ‘V,’ switchable pigtails, available simple 5th line upgrade and incorporated extensions, you can very easily use this bar on almost any kite on the market, and switch between a myriad of line number, length, and ‘V’ height with very little effort. There’s actually a lot more going on than I can get into here; I’d really recommend going to your retailer to check out all it offers.

Sky mentioned at Surf Expo this year that the Neo got some solid tweaks. How does the Neo compare to the Dice, and how should a rider go about choosing between these two kites for surf and general freeriding?

Previous to this year, the Neo was specifically tuned for wave riding with some sacrifice of freeride abilities. In the past year or two, Ken and Sky have worked on improving the freeriding capabilities of the Neo including adding a front bridle adjustment to switch from ‘wave’ to ‘freeride.’ By moving the front connection forward just a small amount you gain top end and speed through the window at the sacrifice of some of the feel/smooth turning/balance that makes the Neo such a stellar wave kite. Still, Ken and Sky spent a lot of time focusing on balancing the bridle of the Neo in wave mode such that it drifts better than anything else on the market. Match this with the fact that it has more low end grunt than the Dice and allows you to ride a smaller and therefore faster turning kite, and in general, the Neo is the ultimate machine for the waves. That being said, the Dice, with its C-kite heritage is extremely stable, so for people who like to park the kite and head straight down the line it will make a fantastic wave kite as well. With its higher aspect ratio, the Dice tends to be quicker through the window, making for a higher jumping and a more freestyle ride, so if the jumping/trick side of freeride appeals to you, the Dice could be the answer. The low aspect ratio of the Neo favors loftier, less drastic lift, which tends to favor strapless/surfboard style/freeride/freestyle.untitled-9-04The Carbon Select and the X-Ride are similar looking boards with two very different constructions. What is the practical difference on the water and what kind of kiter will want to opt in for the carbon construction?

The boards have very similar shapes but a very different feel underfoot. The carbon construction of the Select has two main advantages over the X-Ride: weight and stiffness. Swing weight and the fatigue it causes your knees in chop means that weight is as important a factor in comfort as flex, therefore the significant reduction in swing weight from the lighter construction of the Select means that you have as comfortable a board, but with added stiffness for speed/upwind ability and pop for freestyle moves. Plus the lighter weight obviously means more performance for jumping/freestyle/old school maneuvers. The increased flex in the X-Ride means a carvier experience, so if you’re looking for a freeride board that carves a little more nicely in the swell, the X-Ride might be a better choice.untitled-9-05The Pro Session is a brand new shape for 2017 and got first and second place in the GKA Strapless Mauritius event. What kind of riding is this board targeted for and how do the other boards in the lineup cover the rest of the surf niche?

The Pro Session is generally seen as a replacement for the Kontact that we discontinued. The Kontact was a dedicated big wave machine, meaning it was narrow, straight and gunny. It was great in enormous, Jawstype conditions where you needed really long, drawn out turns but it lacked range as the swell came down to more human proportions. The Session combines the big wave attributes of the Kontact with more usability in smaller/all-around conditions. It has the most grip and drive of any board Sky has shaped for North, but especially when paired with the new TS-M Pro II fins with which it ships, is still snappy and maneuverable to keep you in the pocket in faster, more hollow waves in the medium to large range like those they had in Mauritius. It is a board that sacrifices nothing to provide the ultimate performance to riders like Patri, Matchu and the rest of our team who want the best board for the best conditions. If you want a slightly less aggressive board that would still snap super hard but maybe would work better in smaller to medium waves, the Pro Surf is the ticket. If you have similar thoughts on performance, but want the advantages of a smaller CSC outline, there’s the Pro CSC. For our tried and true all-around quiver killer, the WAM is back. The Whip CSC has been redesigned this year to be more all-around, with a thinned out tail allowing it to hold up a little better in medium to large waves, but for someone looking for a CSC style board that works in smaller conditions, especially if you like to kick the fins out and throw buckets with a slashing top turn, the Whip CSC is ideal. Finally there’s the Nugget CSC, our light wind and small wave specialist that can get you out having a great time in almost any conditions.untitled-9-06

Get 2017 info from all the top brands in one convenient place with Tkb’s 2017 Buyer’s Guide.