The Nobile 555 kite range has a new name, new look and a new bridle configuration, but the T5 retains all of the characteristics that made its predecessor a test winner. The T5 has improved its versatility in leaps and bounds, appealing to many now as a high-performance freeride kite with an outstanding power range and clean, precise and direct handling. An easy relaunch system is also on the cards and the kite's character suits everything from simple freeride sessions, to huge airs, wave riding and even unhooked freestyle. If you're looking for a kite with all these features wrapped into one, then the T5 delivers on every level.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
For 2010 the Nobile kite comes as another tidy package. Immediately getting you off on the good foot is a tough, wide-entry back-pack that's easy to get the kite in and out of; that might not be top of the priority list for many, but at the end of a cold session, having to roll your kite up twice isn't top of the fun-list of activities at this time of year. The kite itself is a chunky looking fella, robustly kitted out with a solid one-pump system, but finely balanced with just three struts and flying on a simple four-line set-up. Again, the bar has a very comfortable, angled grip and Nobile are still the only brand producing a solid, moulded chicken-loop, which we think is a good idea. It never distorts and is super-easy to hook in and out of. As you inflate the kite you can see that it's definitely got its own thing going on; it's not another hybrid imposter. It's chunky mid-aspect shape looks ballsy and tapers down to pointy tips. There are different setting options on the knots for more or less power and turning speed and the construction is solid.
All those initial impressions taken into account and we thought we were going to be hooking into a tractor; good for that powerful early drive that basic intermediates need to dredge their untrained bulk up and out of the water and strong enough to take the inevitable dive bombing a kite needs to handle in a rider's first year. On first swoop in underpowered conditions the T5 pulls you up nicely and you're not left stroking the kite up and down to get board speed. There's no coughing in the power delivery; you're up and away behind a lovely steady pull. The bar pressure is less than we expected as well and the kite has a nimble spring in its step. In just 15 knots it puts a lot of energy back into your riding because the steering is light and you can almost forget about the kite. But don't forget about it for too long because you may get caught out by the low bar pressure and quick responsiveness. The T5 is one of those kites that is sometimes hard to review because it just gets on with things without any fuss. There's nothing to complain about it ridden in or out of the hook. It's not a monster unhooked, threatening to pull your arms out of their sockets and feels very adept and willing at the end of the lines. We had good fun on it in less than ideal conditions because it lets you just get on with things. On a twin-tip it's great for just messing about on. Drop it in the water and it relaunches beautifully and when thrashing about on the surfboard, the quick responsiveness and light bar pressure mean you're not getting an arm workout. The big range on the bar and huge depower within arm's reach make turns on a wave controllable; in other words it has a lot of 'give' when depowering or turning around. There's no jerky on/off power delivery and you get some good grunt by just sheeting in on the bar. When you do want to move it around going down-the-line it'll lead you along the wave nicely, too.
It's not a stand-out on sent jumps; it won't take you to the moon but it'll take you on a very enjoyable journey.
Kites like the T-5 can often sound a bit dull in reviews because they make your kiteboarding life easy. You don't need to buy a pro model freestyle spitfire if you don't kite week in week out and still turn up to the beach with humble expectations. All 90% of people need is a kite that handles intelligently, makes easy upwind ground, turns predictably, relaunches effortlessly, has good range and then as you start to try a few things, also handles beautifully unhooked.
KW LIKED: The all-in one, want-for-nothing nature.
KW WOULD CHANGE: Bird hunters might want more of a thrilling boost.
SIZES: 14, 12, 10, 9, 7 and 5m
This test is in issue #43