2020 Cabrinha FX 9m Review
This test first appeared in KW #102 in November 2019
TESTED BY: CHRIS BULL AND JIM GAUNT. FIND THEIR DETAILS AND TEST SCORE BREAKDOWNS HERE.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The FX is a much more C-shape design than the Switchblade, retaining its width across the canopy and down into the beefy, solid, square wing tips. First impressions looking at it are that this is a machine with a greater freestyle focus.
We tested the FX in sessions ranging from 20 – 30 knots. The immediate feel of the kite overhead when you launch it the first time is that it has a very constant sense of power, especially when you’re close to 30 knots, even in its rest position. There’s a pull in your harness that tells you that the FX is ready for action. Last year the FX improved its low end capabilities and became a much more usable tool in regular conditions. Prior to that we thought that although it had one of the most incredible top ends (you could easily hold it in very strong winds), it lacked a bit of oomph at its bottom end. So while the nine metre in 20 knots was a favourite of lighter riders, heavier riders found they needed to generally take a bigger size.
That’s no longer the case. The FX is perfectly tuned as a nine metre and, while still retaining great high wind capabilities, it does take a certain amount of skill to be able to manage its high performance drive in those winds. In really strong winds we needed to employ some classic powered riding technique, pushing hard through the back foot because the FX is quite C-like in its handling. If you’re used to that sort of riding, then you can unlock some truly fantastic performance. This is a player that likes to hang with the hardcore – but in a really modern and approachable C-kite way.
The FX feels very stable, particularly when you drop it low in the window and lock it in, driving forward in unison with your legs pressuring the rail of your board. This is an excellent platform for loading up on because the FX doesn’t cough or splutter when it flies forward cleanly. You can be quite bullish on the bar and the kite doesn’t wander off easily. In around 20 knots this is a really good weapon for showing off your unhooked tricks. It’s so very steady and you can tune the front bridle via three different knot settings for: ‘more line slack’, ‘standard’, and ‘more depower’.
We rode with the bridle knot on ‘standard’ for both test sessions and this really is an all-round setting. Cabrinha state that by switching to the ‘more depower’ knot, you’ll open up the kite’s arc which provides greater boosting and looping performance. When you’re forceful with it, the FX moves swiftly and cleanly and with moderate bar force initiates turns very nicely. Now being more powerful in its C-kite style abilities, the FX also kite loops with real drive and intent. What kite loopers will love is the way the kite really throws itself heartily through the first half of the loop with a lot of pull. The drive through the remaining half of the window is pretty much automatic, giving you confidence. However it’s that loading of tension through the lines that you feel through the first half, when it stretches the rider out in the sky as the kite loops, that many really grow to love. The FX dips nice and low round the bottom of the loop, creating a really good amount of drive and pull, so although the loops are really credible, at the same time the kite gives the pilot a lot of confidence.
In terms of the straight jumping performance, the trajectory of the FX is much more up and down than the Switchblade; the Switchblade of course having much more steady lift and hangtime. The FX is more nimble and the downloop / heli-loops feel more instinctive. The FX has more strings to its bow – in the right hands. To boost on the Switchblade you generate speed, edge into wind and sheet in. The sweet spot for going big is massive, so it’s great for easy jumping rewards. On the FX you need to send it back faster in the window and edge harder to get the rip off the water. If you like being aggressive then you can really hang the FX out to the side of the window on a boost because of its square tips and then let it drift overhead and catch you on the way down. In general, the FX is a much more playful machine and when you’re a confident rider you can tune into it very quickly.
Once again, it’s a very instinctive kite and that is also because it retains a bit of power; it doesn’t shut off to zero. Good intermediate riders and above often find that this can really clean up their style, especially for transitions. When you drift the kite overhead and into the new direction, you always have positive power. You never come to a complete stand still and run the risk of over depowering the kite and dropping down. In other words you need to do less with the bar and just go with the flow, which in general is what the FX is all about. It’s fluid, but definitely suits a rider who leans more towards freestyle and kite loops than just doing transitions and straight boosts.
Build quality this year is as good as ever from Cabrinha and the new exclusive Nano ripstop cloth feels strong, but also keeps the canopy looking super tight in the sky. Cabrinha also use one of the easiest inflate valves in the industry which any normal pump hose twists onto without the need of any adaptors. The Overdrive Modular bar this year, while still being more broadly built than many, is tremendously well featured, the highlights of which are the multiple chicken-loop options allowing you to choose the perfect attachment for the style of riding you do and your harness, eg. for rope sliders or for unhooking etc.
The FX is right up there when it comes to delivering real freestyle potential but also a superb adaptability for aggressive, high-wind big-air riding. That said, it’s not the easiest of the all-round three strut hybrids on the market and riders of lesser ability will reach the top end of the kite sooner than on some other kites in that category, but it’s just so well suited to purposely advancing twin-tip freeriders. Great fun; if you had to take one kite to ride with a twin-tip on a deserted island for a year, there’s nothing you couldn’t do with this.
KW LIKED: Now offering good access to power, the FX is ideally tuned for high performance riding, crossing the boundaries impressively from unhooked freestyle to big air and kite loops. KW WOULD CHANGE: There are some nine metre kites that can manage very strong wind more easily than the FX. This isn’t something we’d change, but something to be aware of depending on your ability and how to choose your sizes according to the conditions you ride in.
Watch the product video:
FX BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 9
Full package: 9
Low end: 8
Top end: 7.5
Steering speed: 7
Turning circle: 5
Bar pressure: 5.5
Water relaunch: 8
Ease of use: 8
SIZES: 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
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