The 2012 Vegas reinforces its legacy as an incredibly versatile C shape kite, integrating uncompromising new school/wake attributes with freeride comfort. The key to the Vegas’ versatility lies in a simple adjustment on the kite’s wing-tip, offering three varied settings with the quick switch of a knot. These settings have been tuned to offer three very distinct modes to suit your preferred riding style. The standard freeride setting offers loads of depower, responsive steering and predictable handling. The second setting is ideal for taking your first steps into freestyle, offering noticeably harder bar pressure providing more accurate kite feedback and making steering slightly less responsive to practice unhooked tricks. The third option converts the Vegas into a full-blooded new-school/wake machine that sits deeper in the wind window and delivers consistent pull with a very limited depower stroke; the preferred setting of North's core freestyle team for the most powerful kite loops and most explosive pop for powered new school and wake tricks
TEST TEAM NOTES:
What have we learnt about North over the years? They like to stick with a line of kites and refine them. It's what we found with the Rebel last issue and it's certainly true of the 2012 Vegas on this test. Very striking looks and with really long, pronounced wing-tips, this is the business and also finally has one pump this year! Extremely well constructed and with North's neat, tidy and evolved 5th Element five line bar system and super neat push-away quick release, it's really a polished product.
As mentioned in the hype, there are three settings on the Vegas, we'll start with the standard out of the bag setting; freeride. The front line knots attach on the most forward position on the kite, tilting the kite more forward in the sky than the other settings but makes the Vegas feel no less taught in the sky. A very rigid and responsive canopy makes the Vegas feel alive but with a softer, easy flying nature. In standard mode, the Vegas certainly isn't the most aggressive C kite, but is very user-friendly, pivoting in its turns and actually feels lighter and less aggressive than the Rebel, but is more tunable. The loops are pivotal and the Vegas is actually forgiving if you miss a pass for example as it spins quickly and without much power, so it's great for practicing. The boost in this setting is really good, too. You need a bit more accuracy in your timing when sending the kite above your heading and sheeting in than with the more open shaped Rebel, but the Vegas provides a good combination of punchy height and good amounts of float. It's not an incredible hang-time machine, but in strong winds it will hold its own for sure and for getting to grips with kite loops it's ideal. The trajectory is more of an up and down, gaining height quickly and then coming back down gently, unlike the more float-orientated freeride shapes on the market.
This freeride setting charges upwind, but the kite's ability to get well forward in the window is why North developed further settings on the kite, to allow the kite to hang further back in the window for wake-style tricks that need more of a long, steady, building pull, when shooting forward and out of the power won't do.
And a quick switch of the knots really does shift the Vegas's natural position back, effectively changing down a few gears for more grunt. The turns become slower, more drawn out and powerful. The pull steady, predictable and the kite twitches and moves around less under the control of one hand so when you come out of a trick the kite is closer to where you left it. There is indeed less depower, and you need more skills as a rider to get upwind and not get over powered by digging your rail in, but step up at the right time and this is a superb and extremely capable kite.
Now you really can buy a top performance model as an intermediate rider without feeling like you're going to be out of your depth. Quick, easy and fun freeride handling with good forward flying speed for a rapid twin-tip in standard mode, the Vegas switches character, sticks its chest out and swaggers through the air creating all the powered pop, poise and control that new school riders crave.
Super polished product that is very in touch with riders who want to ride seriously in more than one style.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
If we have one criticism of the North it's that it comes with quite a long bar, which when you're ditching the kite a lot trying tricks does mean that once or twice the back lines can get wrapped around the end sometimes.
14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
This test is in issue #54