Although Liquid Force doesn’t follow yearly production cycles just for the sake of releasing something new annually, Rich Sabo is pretty excited about the 2018 lineup. From the new Thruster Foil and Lunar Lander Hippie Stix board to the upgraded WOW v3 and Solo v3 kites, Rich walks us through what’s new and what’s changed this year in the world of Liquid Force.
LIQUID FORCE WAS THE FIRST KITE COMPANY TO OFFER AN ALUMINUM FOIL MAST TO THE KITEBOARDING MARKET, ALLOWING MOST PEOPLE TO GET INTO FOILING WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK. HOW HAS THE LINE DEVELOPED FOR 2018?
Our goal for 2018 was to make a foil lineup that continued to appeal to the everyday rider. With so many specialists in the high-end racing game, we focused our resources on making the most versatile and playful foil that we could. The Thruster Foil is the pride and joy of our 2018 foil lineup. With top speeds that exceed that of the Happy Foil and stability that rivals the Rocket Foil, we believe we have found the magic combination of traits to deliver one of the most comprehensive wings on the market. The Thruster was developed in collaboration with local Gorge hero, Matt Wheeler. Believe it or not, none of us at Liquid Force Kites are rocket scientists, so we often seek outside consultation when it comes to how to develop many of our products. Matt Wheeler is something of a rocket scientist himself—so with his help, we were able to produce the Thruster. The Thruster wings have a thick and flat shape which creates a foil that is incredibly stable, no matter how much of the foil is actually in the water. If your wings breach the surface of the water on a big carve, you won’t even notice. It also goes upwind and downwind better than all of our previous foils—so we truly have made a foil that every rider can find something fun about. You can get the Thruster wings in glass construction or upgrade to the carbon version if you are looking to save weight. This year we also have added the hydrodynamic (HD) fuselage into our lineup which comes stock on the Thruster kit. The new HD fuselage has a streamline profile that makes the ride much more stable. The HD fuselage is compatible with all LF wings; you would just need to make sure that you have the appropriate shim kit.
Another set of wings coming down the pipeline are the new Impulse wings. We teamed up with Cloud 9 Surf Foils to come up with a ‘surf style’ wing that gets going at incredibly low speeds. The Impulse is for those who are not looking to go the fastest, but enjoy the weightless feeling of carving through the water on the foil. It’s also an excellent wing to progress on as it requires such a low speed to get foiling.
Finally, there are two new boards in the lineup. The new Galaxy as well as a smaller Rocket board, both available in a 4’8” size. The new Galaxy board is a carbon composite construction with a concave top deck. Most of this is available now, but keep your eye out for the Impulse wings and Galaxy boards coming to your local retailer in early 2018.
LAST SEASON, LF LAUNCHED ITS HIPPY STIX LINE OF TWIN TIPS WHICH DID REALLY WELL IN TKB’S 2017 FREERIDE TEST IN BAJA. HAVE ANY OTHER BOARDS BEEN ADDED TO THIS UNIQUE LINE?
If you haven’t gone out on a Hippy Stix board, you need to go and find a demo. You may think that a directional twin tip sounds like more of a novelty rather than a quiver builder, but you would be wrong! There are so many spots in the world where the wind generates choppy conditions, with faint semblances of waves that roll on through as you are riding. When the waves are mushy and the wind is strong, you no longer need to choose between a surfboard or a twin tip to take out. Just grab one of our Hippy Stix and enjoy boosting, riding both ways, slashing, carving and doing just about anything you can think about doing on a kiteboard! The Hippy Stix boards can be ridden both ways without issue, despite having both a nose and tail (yes, it even goes upwind both ways). Just set the board up with your favorite foot forward, throw some of the bigger fins in the back, and you have yourself a board that will boost big and slash hard.
This year we have expanded our lineup with the Lunar Lander. All of our Hippy Stix boards are made from the tooling of an existing board in our lineup. The Lunar Lander is made from the Legacy tool, which is Jason Slezak’s pro model board. This means that the Lunar Lander has a dual concave bottom shape and a lightweight construction due to its carbon vector net weave (basically a layer of carbon instead of another heavy layer of glass). The bottom shape makes this board more playful than our standard single concave, giving you a bit more grip when you need it but also allowing a smooth feel when transitioning. Typical with our Hippy Stix shapes, the board has more rocker in the nose which allows you a lot of forgiveness when carving turns or when landing from a big boost.
The Lunar Lander is a perfect addition to our Hippy Stix lineup this year. Available in a 142cm length, it completes the size range as the Moon Patrol is available in 146cm and the Spacecraft is available in 144cm.
You can expect more of the same great progression that we have seen in our kites over the past decade! On a more serious note, last year we decided to stop producing a new model kite at the same time of year, every year. While kiteboarding is most certainly growing and new technologies are always presenting themselves, we found it hard to make meaningful changes to a kite on such a short timeline. Instead of just making a new kite because it is 2018, we wanted to make a new kite because we have something new to offer. As a brand, we are committed to kiteboarding and making kiteboarding better for all of our customers. With that in mind, we elongated our product cycles so that we have more time to make impactful changes on our designs.
Specifically, for this year, the new WOW v3 has been refined and upgraded into a wave riding machine. The WOW has developed quite a passionate crew of people who enjoy riding it and we listened to all of them on what they wanted to see happen to the development of the kite. The consensus was that we needed to add a little more depower and possibly reduce the bar pressure even further. Having more time to try out wingtip shapes and bridle designs, I am happy to say that we have 100% accomplished this goal! The new WOW v3 has a new wingtip profile which any WOW v2 user will notice right out of the bag. Combined with a new bridle layout, the kite has been fine tuned to be a surfer’s dream. The improved depower allows you to experience more of the wave, rather than fighting the kite to stay on it. Combined with faster turning, you can pretty much put yourself anywhere on the face of the wave (or off of it if you’re a terrible surfer like myself). We are confident that WOW v2 riders will be happy with the improvements we made!
Released earlier this year was the Solo v3, which was the first single strut kite to market and continues to be a popular kite amongst LFK fans. For v3, we focused on reducing flutter in the canopy by changing the profile of the kite a little bit. We also decreased the weight by removing some dacron from the trailing edge and mixed up the bridle configuration to increase its turning speed.
NV fans will be stoked to see that there’s a limited edition, all black version of the NV v8 available while supplies last. Grab one quick because they look good and won’t be around for long. SOME CHANGES WERE MADE TO LF’S MISSION CONTROL BAR, WHICH WAS COMPLETELY REDESIGNED IN 2017. CAN YOU GIVE US THE HIGHLIGHTS?
Our control bar underwent a major overhaul last year, with a complete redesign from the bottom up. We are definitely stoked to say that the MC Bar was received extremely well! We didn’t want to change too much up as we feel we really hit the nail on the head with the design.
For MC Bar v2 we made a few minor upgrades to increase functionality and durability. First off, we added a new size into the range. Now riders can choose from the MC Bar standard, which is adjustable from 49-55cm, or you can get the new compact version, which is adjustable from 40-46cm. This is a big improvement for anyone who is into freestyle as having a shorter bar makes it easier to do unhooked maneuvers. For those who are really into unhooking, we also offer a big chicken loop upgrade that’s easily changeable.
We also changed up our flagging line material to one that is a bit narrower. This makes resetting your quick release system and lines way easier. We added a stainless steel bushing to the center of the bar, which will increase the durability and lifespan of your MC Bar. The bushing is a point that is under constant stress as you sheet in and out, so upgrading into stainless steel made good sense.
Our quick release system is one of the fastest on the market to engage and release, especially since you can just click the chicken loop into its place. For the MC Bar v2, we made this even easier to use by creating more space for the locking mechanism to work. If you found it a little hard to stick your chicken loop into place on MC Bar v1, you will find it way easier on v2. These minor tweaks have refined the MC Bar to be one of the simplest, safest and most functional bars on the market!
WITH OVER 20 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE DEVELOPING WAKEBOARD AND KITE BINDINGS, LF PROBABLY HAS THE MOST EXPERIENCE IN THIS AREA OF ANY ITS COMPETITORS. TELL US WHAT MAKE LF’S PRO PADS SO UNIQUE.
What could be worse than an uncomfortable pair of straps? Kiteboarders spend a lot of time in their straps and we wanted to make sure that this was a pleasurable experience rather than a callousbuilding one. The Pro Pads are by far the most comfortable and secure pair of bindings we have ever made. If you put them on your feet you will want to wear them around as slippers.
The Pro Pads have three adjustable heel density foams that come with your package, so you can customize the feel of your straps to how you like it. Choose between Hard, Medium or Light density and get the plushness or firmness you desire. We took it even one step further and made it so you can adjust the width of your straps. Some of us have narrow feet, some of us have wide feet, so why not make a strap that can handle both? To top it all off, the Pro Pads will fit on any board of your choosing! Our unique baseplate is designed to fit all sorts of insert configurations, but who are we kidding? You’re going to put these on a LF board right? You can choose between black and white, as well as two different sizes. Basically, whatever your foot size, we’ve got you covered. These straps come in at a $200 price point, meaning you don’t have to spend all your money to have a comfortable pair of straps. If that’s a little too rich for your blood, you should check out our Phase straps which come in at a $100 price point. Usually that’s something you see in the closeout market, but we spent years developing the most cost effective binding that won’t break in your first session.
Here at LFK, we’ve got all your strap needs covered!