THIS ELEVEIGHT FS KITE 2021 REVIEW CAN BE READ IN KITEWORLD #108 ON OUR NEW FREE DIGITAL PLATFORM, FIRST PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 2020.
Eleveight FS Kite Test 2021 Review – 10M
“It’s absolutely one of the most accessibly tuned performance freestyle kites on the market.”
TESTED BY: JIM GAUNT AND CHRIS BULL
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The ‘Freestyle Series’ – FS – is Eleveight’s flagship performance freestyle, jumping and looping kite. Rather than demanding a high level of technical skill from the rider to be enjoyed, this kite surely delivers one of the most logical next steps as an intermediate-advanced pairing with its sibling, the RS. You can read our review of the RS here, which will stand you in good stead when weighing up which kite is right for you. They’re both absolute bangers and ridable by more or less anyone. Their sugar frosted coatings, however, have a different flavouring.
There are immediate visual differences. The FS is a five strut, whereas the RS has three, already indicating the FS’s step up in stronger wind stability. The FS is also a bit more C shaped and has the more performance based air-frame, but it’s still a mild C shape designed to blend a mix of riding genres.
In general riding the FS is a bit quicker through the air than the RS and has a bit more poise. It flies further forward in the window, but not loads more. Forward flight mixed with a moderate aspect and good design help freestyle riders get good pop and then slack lines for their passes. You need to be able to load the rail and get good resistance while the kite flies forward, however if the kite flies too far forward it becomes less effective and requires perfect timing from the rider to get the performance they’re looking for. What the FS does really well is it never jumps forward in the window too quickly, like the Dice and GTS can sometimes do when unhooked freestyle is concerned because they’re racier through the sky.
Even though the FS is a tuned freestyle kite, it’s not hugely aggressive in forward flight, so always feels very smooth. If you’ve ever learnt to raley, you’ve probably experienced some load and pops that take you massively downwind, and then conversely, some where you’ve trimmed the kite and then find you overload the kite to the front of the window and get barely any pop. The FS has a much bigger sweet spot for getting things right unhooked, which really adds to your feeling of confidence and, therefore, improvement.
One major difference between the FS and RS for lesser skilled riders is that the RS has the better sheet-and-go low-end performance, so as such needs quite a bit of trimming on the depower to be able to comfortably unhook. Although it’s still easy to ride around hooked-in and do all your normal moves on the FS, you should really have some unhooked riding ambition if you choose this over the RS. Outside of that, there are arguments that both could be the right kite for you!
If we break down what we know so far in the review, we’ve got a kite in the FS that’s slightly quicker, but delivers speed without too much aggression, which can equal more consistency in your riding if you’re looking to add more tricks to your arsenal. If you can enjoy an easy take-off every time because you’re not getting pulled too hard, you’ll progress quicker.
In stronger wind, because it’s the faster kite, the FS is also a bit snappier on take-off for a hooked-in boost. You leave the water with more immediate pull and travel to the top of the jump quicker, but consequently the RS offers more easy hangtime. The RS is also an excellent jumping kite by the way, but the trajectory is a bit different. The FS takes you up high and brings you down quicker, whereas the RS delivers a steadier arc.
If we compare the FS to other kites that you may have experience of, although they’re also five strut kites, the North Orbit and Duotone Rebel have more hangtime than the FS. You’re not sacrificing height with the FS, but in the trade off of hangtime, you’re getting far cleaner and easier to manage unhooked performance. (It’s very difficult to have both, which is why Jesse Richman’s unhooked performance on the Orbit is so impressive, but that’s another case!)
TURNING AND LOOPING:
When you initiate a turn or loop on the FS the kite reacts quickly and cleanly with immediate grip around the edge of the turn. The RS has a looser, more skidding style of turn. The FS continues to drive around its arc without losing any of that edging feel. For good intermediates and above looking for a fast and interactive feeling, the FS doesn’t sit too far at the performance end of the spectrum to stop you feeling comfortable and enjoying it.
For many years, when it came to sparring for C kite territory, the Vegas commanded an impressive middle ground of being a freestyle machine that was excellent for unhooking, loops and fast jumps, but at its heart was actually a really fun freeride engine that most riders could have enjoyed, too. The FS is the same and you could spend all day freeriding on this in comfort.
Depending a little on your experience, and if you’ve built up a certain taste for how you like your kite to feel when foiling, the FS could arguably also be the better kite for foiling outside of light winds. That more constant drive through the turn means once you commit to a downloop on your foil, there’s actually less involvement from the rider after that to get the kite to complete its turn.
In lighter winds you can also get the FS to turn nice and tightly because this isn’t a really aggressive freestyle kite with a more pre-defined turn radius; you’re in control of how tightly the kite turns. Some freestyle kites can give a boost of power once the kite is 30 degrees round its turn. If you looked at a chart of power generation, the FS wouldn’t show too much of a peak part way through the turn. Even when you’re turning the FS tightly it holds its edge; no skidding and with a constant sensation at the bar, which makes it a good kite for foiling or, to some extent, wave riding if you wanted to cross-over at times.
Whatever the conditions you’re using the FS in, the power that the kite holds through the loop is enough to feel rewarding and give good control, but doesn’t yank you. If you want to throw a really legit, deep kite loop, you have to go easy on the steering input. This quality makes kite loop progression very attainable for lots of people.
The RS naturally turns closer to the middle of the window and more pivotally. They both feel like they’re of the same family in terms of bar feel (and Eleveight’s bar feel is always excellent); the FS just drives a bit more. It’s for the slightly more experienced rider who wants a bit more response.
Even if you’re not wanting to unhook but are of an above-intermediate level and progressing quickly, the FS is still a kite you should consider. Eleveight haven’t wound this kite up to such a degree that it’s too racey. Even though this is a fun, freeride-freestyle kite, you’re not losing as much of that freeride experience as you otherwise might in a freestyle kite.
Compared to the RS there’s less sheet-and-go performance on the FS, so it requires more than basic skills. Inexperienced riders will make more mistakes on it because everything happens a bit quicker. However, in terms of the overall riding experience felt at the bar, for a freestyle kite, it’s very well behaved, unaggressive and very predictable. The main differences between this and the RS are that it’s a bit quicker off the mark and through the window, it turns with more of a constant carve and delivers a little less hangtime.
Both kites are phenomenal twin-tip kites, of that there is no question, but also both will work brilliantly for foiling and in waves too (though if you’re coming off a pure wave kite, you’ll need a bit of adaptation to more constant turning arc).
Perhaps more riders will like the RS for waves because it’s generally more mild. The FS is just aimed at a better rider. It’s not like you suddenly won’t be able to do all the things you were doing on an RS. The FS is just more serious and a little less forgiving than the RS for poor edging technique. The FS is for the advanced intermediate and beyond who will mix unhooked tricks into their riding.
VARY CS BAR:
The Vary bar is neat and very functional, with hidden width adjustment settings in the bar ends, soft grip, easy to release chicken-loop that flags the kite safely to one line and a below the bar line untwister. Newly updated on the Vary bar (so we didn’t get to try it) is a new plastic cover for the centre lines to prevent rope abrasion against your fingers, which was one of our small criticisms in previous years. Overall there’s no doubt this system works perfectly well, is robust and easy to operate.
BRAND NEW QUICK-MATIC 2 QUICK-RELEASE – VIDEO
Brand new is this Quick-Matic 2 quick-release (which we didn’t get to try), but has a very simple click-in mechanism once you’ve deployed your release. This is bang up to speed with the best systems.
Once again the FS ticks a lot of boxes. Read our review of the 2020 model here. As a desert island kite for advancing riders it’s going to deliver the whole package. For a very clean and unphysical riding experience, the FS delivers a very similar and familiar feeling to the previous Eleveight kites we’ve enjoyed. We’ve spent a lot of time comparing it to the RS, which if you’ve never flown that kite, may seem trivial, but these really are exceptional kites. Eleveight have done really well with two kites in the market that sit so well together. The RS will be one of the best first kites you’ll buy and progress with for pure predictability, ease but also masses of fun performance. The FS then offers a really good step forward, for more air speed, more bitey turns, better top end handling and, of course, is more suited to unhooking. It’s absolutely one of the most accessibly tuned performance freestyle kites on the market.
The FS is a high performance kite that’s also easy to fly, without requiring a lot of technical skill. If you are technically very good, then you’ll also enjoy it because you can simply focus on riding it hard!
KW WOULD CHANGE:
We would have said a nice plastic cover over the centre-line rope would be appreciated, but it seems they’ve done that! As you do your research, you’ll realise that this is a very competitively priced product that works well.
ELEVEIGHT FS BALANCE POINTS
Build quality: 8.5
Full package: 8.5
Low end: 7.5
Top end: 8.5
Steering speed: 7.5
Turning circle: 7
Bar pressure: 6
Water relaunch: 8
Ease of use: 8
SIZES: 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7 & 6m
Watch the Eleveight FS product video here:
For more information on Eleveight and their product range, visit:
THIS Eleveight FS Kite TEST REVIEW WAS FIRST PUBLISHED HERE IN ISSUE #108
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