The RS 12m – Eleveight’s 2020 Crossover Kite
This test first appeared in KW #100 in July 2019
TESTED BY: CHRIS BULL AND JIM GAUNT. FIND THEIR DETAILS AND TEST SCORE BREAKDOWNS HERE.
READ OUR ELEVEIGHT RS 2021 REVIEW HERE – FOR FREE – IN KITEWORLD ISSUE #107, PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2020
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We have really enjoyed riding the new RS for 2020. It’s exceptionally rewarding and, even though we tested a bigger size, it felt like a kite that you can go out and do anything with. As a brand, although Eleveight are a relatively new to the market – big heads up people: the products we’ve had our hands on already indicate they’re players in the game.
The first thing to note is the air frame. It’s super sporty with an aerodynamic, compact leading edge, skinny struts and looks impeccably clean in the sky. The canopy is solid, no wastage; just taut and tidy when you look up at it, so you feel like your money is well spent and builds your confidence in the product.
As soon as you hit the water the power delivery is clean, progressive and easy to access and you can park the kite at the edge of the window or work it for power and it always feel stable and smooth. Although we tested a large size with a high projected area, the bar feel is surprisingly light (but engaging) with a broad sheeting range which opens you up to plenty of depower as well. Control is key and you won’t have to edge hard or rely on your quads to slow things down through gusts as the RS offers excellent micro adjustment in power through sheeting.
We usually test kites closer to the nine metre size, and a 12 is never going to be as quick around the sky, but this 12 isn’t remotely sluggish and you can do quick direction changes on the fly as it responds quickly and cleanly. The handling is very consistent too, so you can slide into popped transitions, dark slides and that kind of thing with the kite out of the way and there are no awkward surprises; in fact this is one of the most fun and easiest performance 12 metre freeride kites we’ve tried in recent months. It is also rapid and reliable enough to throw loops out of transitions if you’re looking to add that sort of flair to your riding.
The RS isn’t as nippy round the corners as the XR6 (also tested this issue), but looking at the set-up and feel of the two kites, the nine metre RS is likely to have more grunt and drive when you loop it and, although the XR’s top end goes for miles, there’s no doubting the RS 12 metre has loads of comfort when the wind picked up. Jim, who’s pretty light (70 kilos), was riding this 12 when most people had changed to their nines, so it’s definitely manageable and you won’t need to come scurrying back to the beach to size down too quickly. The range feels excellent and the RS is balanced in how it feels at both its bottom and top end. And that’s what we really enjoy in performance-ready freeride kites.
The jumping performance is super easy to access. Just edge, sheet in and you’re away. Although the RS doesn’t have the same vertical lift speed as a Bandit or an XR6, there’s still bags of gratifying hangtime on tap and the flight generally requires very little technical input from the rider. You’re never going to go huge in 12 metre conditions, but the RS’s jumping performance is very engaging and, because the power delivery is so smooth up and down the throw, you can comfortably control your descent as well.
Leave the kite at 12 o’clock and you’ll feel stable and safe in the sky, but start giving input at the bar and the RS moves very smoothly back into power without feeling twitchy. If you’re looking for adept response, the RS is every bit as mobile as some of the ten metre freeride kites we’ve tested. Another huge benefit to help link up your transitions in and out of moves is that the RS drives forward consistently and steadily in the window, so there’s not too much arm action required on the bar and it rockets upwind.
There’s a huge amount of industry and design experience on the Eleveight staff, most of whom united with each other after many years elsewhere. The quality of the product they’ve put together here is formidable. It’s a very neat design, with well thought out reinforcements and looks as clean as it flies. This is already a third generation model and can mix with many of the more well-established products on the market.
The CS bar has the same understated, quality feel as the kite itself and features a very dependable, clean Quick-Matic release system. There’s also a useful below-the-bar swivel and variable integrated bar ends, so that you can adjust the width of the bar to be perfectly suited for use with more than one kite size.
Although Eleveight’s comparatively thin lines didn’t untwist as easily as some of the thicker ones we’ve tested, they seem high quality, thermo-coated and German made (so they must be good!) and the central depower line is spliced for less friction and increased durability – working very smoothly with the ceramic centre block in the bar.
Overall, the bar feels dependable and high quality in your hands; neither chunky nor low-profile. Overall, it’s fully functional and looks smart, too.
Watch the Eleveight RS product video:
SUMMARY: This is one of the best bigger kites we’ve tested in a while when it comes to a lively feel of performance. We don’t always expect to be that excited by a 12 metre, but there was very little you couldn’t do on the RS and it should be a serious contender in the market. If you’re looking for an ultra-versatile, larger size for your quiver that you can still make a lot of shapes with, across a really wide spectrum of winds and manoeuvres, this deserves a look!
KW LIKED: ‘Go anywhere, do anything’ performance from a kite that feels light, playful and fast (while remaining very accessible), even in a bigger size.
KW WOULD CHANGE: Black lines are very cool, until you’re rigging up on a shingle beach, like we were, when they become harder to spot! Not much to change, we’re seeing really quick improvements from Eleveight and this product is pretty banging.
RS BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 8.5
Full package: 8.5
Low end: 9
Top end: 8
Steering speed: 7
Turning circle: 5
Bar pressure: 5.5
Water relaunch: 8 Drift: DT
Ease of use: 8.5
RS SIZES: 17, 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
More at eleveightkites.com