Kiteworld Review Cabrinha Switchblade

The infamous Switchblade – 11th Iteration!

This test first appeared in KW #97 in February 2019



Kiteworld Review Cabrinha Switchblade



With 11 years in existence, the Switchblade is one of the longest running performance freeride kites on the market and, as such, has undergone a lot of refinement during that time. Like many of the longest standing models on the market today, the 2019 Switchblade has benefitted from thousands of tuning hours.

Renowned as a rock solid, powerful big-air beast that pulled relentlessly when fully powered, Switchblades have always had a huge jumping ability but took a firm hand and a rippling set of quads to contend with them when fully lit. Hefty at the bar too, the Switchblade was however always incredibly stable and built legions of fans because it was a step ahead in terms of its steadfast reliability.

The positive performance attributes have endured, but along its journey the Cabrinha design team have managed to reduce the kite’s physicality to make it more user-friendly for riders of all sizes and ability. The 2019 Switchblade is still a really high- performing kite, but has a wider, more comfortable range. The eight metre is smooth, even in howling Cape Town conditions. It’s the magic size for here in Cape Town and just feels so easy and assured. It now also won’t leave you unable to hobble down the stairs the next morning after a long session.

All those years of tweaking and tuning are apparent in that the kite’s movement and feedback to the rider are constant, whether you’re sending it or just trucking along. The bar pressure always feels the same and is therefore incredibly easy to dial into. Positive sensations mean you can feel what you’ve got to play with and there are never any unexpected surprises when powering up or looping.


Kiteworld Review Cabrinha Switchblade


The Switchblade has always been torquey, powerful and an immense jumping kite, but in stronger winds felt more like an American muscle car – powerful and exciting, but not always so dynamic. Cabrinha have since been able to take all the advantages of five strut frame stability and make it feel modern and nimble like a three strut hybrid; something not many kite companies have been able to do. The result is that you get the dependability and super stable hang-time feel of a five strut, but the quicker turning and more lively response of a three strut design.

The Switchblade now loops athletically, holding a lot of drive through the turn, unlike most performance big-air freeride kites.

Purposeful and delivering smooth, constant power, the Switchblade feels like it has been further tuned with kite looping in mind. If you’re just feeling your way into kite loops then you can send them in lighter winds (as the Switchblade still has a fantastic low end), but if you’re keen to push your levels, the Switchblade also has a lot to give.

The jumping ability is still as good as ever with lots of floaty hang-time alongside easily accessible lift. There’s nothing complicated or snatchy about the Switchblade and the piloting controls when you are airborne are sublime. You can look up at the kite and have the confidence to move it a little more to the side for adjustment and control, to then give you more room to bring the kite back into the power as you land, for example. The sensations are always controlled with a feeling of calm while airborne. The Switchblade’s in-flight entertainment, stability and feel have always been one of our favourite qualities about the kite and the descent back down is unhurried and easy to manage. If you’re a long-standing Switchblade fan and thinking about upgrading, then do so; you won’t be disappointed.

Still suiting riders who are used to a sturdier feel, the Switchblade is now even more accessible. Smooth and easy generation of power mixes with a huge feel of manageable control when highly powered. The consistent bar feel is matched with easy-to-reach depower, and all the while the Switchblade sits very steadily overhead. You can’t unnerve it even if you try. Whether you’re still improving at an intermediate level, or progressing way beyond, the Switchblade can offer lots of room for growth.

In their billing of the product, Cabrinha are marketing the Switchblade to a higher level of rider, but we’d be confident of giving the kite to anyone to use up to 70% of its range because its so dependable and the bar feedback is intuitive. That dependability combined with incredible high-wind performance and stability make it a very complete package. There aren’t many five strut kites that can spread themselves between big-air, kite looping and freeride cruising quite like the Switchblade.


Kiteworld Review Cabrinha Switchblade


The build quality is typically impressive with Cabrinha’s high-tenacity Dacron making for a very rigid, robust canopy. As always Cabrinha bar systems are highly engineered with a simplicity that belies the smoothly operating and hard wearing innovations. The wide inflation valve attaches directly to the pump hose without need for a valve attachment, pumping up quickly. The Trimlite cleat is smooth as ever and doesn’t dangle much when heavily trimmed. The centre lines that run up through the centre of the bar are protected by a plastic covering which feels smooth against your fingers if you have them butted up in the centre of the bar while steering. Finally, although it’s a little chunkier than some bars in diameter, the Overdrive 1X bar is comfortable, safe and offers easy back line width adjustment.



The Switchblade retains its twin-tip focused flying characteristics but has once again been further refined. Super reliable stability mixes with huge lift and an equally balanced hang-time, resulting in one of the most easily balanced kites on the market. Now even more engaging for advanced riders who want to throw the kite around, the Switchblade can keep everyone happy, from unhooking freestylers to earlier intermediates, but can also inject a real punch of adrenaline to your riding when you want to send it hard!


The Switchy is one of the most balanced and all-round twin-tip kites on the market when it comes to accessible lift, hang-time, kite loops and playing around with unhooked moves.


Nothing really. Cabrinha have tweaked the Switchblade beautifully each year to keep it evolving as a very relevant to the market in any given year.




LOW END: 8.5







BOOST: 8.5





SIZES: 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4m


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