Share The FLYSURFER STOKE – 9M Review
This test first appeared in KW #101 in September 2019
TESTED BY: CHRIS BULL AND JIM GAUNT. FIND THEIR DETAILS AND TEST SCORE BREAKDOWNS HERE.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
Flysurfer have two LEI kites in their range alongside six foil kites. Although LEI kite design is a relatively recent engagement for them compared to their long foil kite heritage, this team has stacks of experience when it comes to creating lift, controlling drag and putting smiles on people’s faces.
The Boost LEI kite has now been around for several seasons, but the Stoke is still in its first iteration and designed as a super- fun all-rounder for all situations.
We don’t normally mention the bags, but Flysurfer have obviously taken some of their snowkiting heritage and put it into a really useful and neatly finished bag. Padded material gives the impression of quality and this isn’t just a cheap bit of material sewn together with a drawstring closure. No, you might otherwise buy this from a reputable outdoor shop for weekend camping expeditions.
Anyway, back to the kite and when you pump it up there’s a reassuring feeling of robustness that’s further instilled with the chunky, segmented leading edge. You could say that the canopy is more mid-aspect than we’re used to seeing in modern freeride hybrid kites at the moment. Meaty and deep in the centre, it’s nice to see something a bit different. We also like the SUP-type wide inflation system which locks air in super tight every time you pump up.
The thin flying lines are noticeably different. They’re racing inspired for less drag. The material used in kite lines is really strong and thinner lines will stretch less, but at the same time if you’re coming off something like a Slingshot, the Flysurfer lines are almost half the thickness, but don’t be unnerved!
When the Stoke flies it’s like a little buzzy bee – very busy, twisting and turning. The lines are 17 metres with three metre extensions; we were riding at the full 20 metres. Most kites today operate on 22 to 24 metre line lengths, so the Stoke certainly looks and feels closer.
Quick turning, there’s also a big sheeting range with lots of sheet and go power on tap (though it’s not as sheet-and-go as
something like the Rebel or XR and requires a bit more steering control). This performance is good in many ways. Firstly you don’t need to throw the kite around too much to generate power, but equally, if you’re riding waves you can shut everything off and also the deeper aspect canopy drifts nicely, too.
Refreshingly there’s not much out there that feels like the Stoke – it has elements of the GTS (in its low end grunt), but the low aspect canopy won’t let it drive as far forward in the window as kites like the Union or Dice. In stronger winds the Stoke becomes a more gnarly experience because of that – the grunt remains and the Stoke then requires a good intermediate-to- advanced rider to be able to manage that pull through the edge of their board. It also pulls a lot of Gs through a kite loop. At home in its sweet mid-range conditions, the Stoke is a really fun looping experience. The mid-aspect canopy gives a good bassline of power whatever you’re doing, so in general the Stoke suits a decent pilot. There’s lots of feeling throughout the whole loop from that direct shorter line experience, but you have to retain bar pressure and hold on. This isn’t light, fingertip control. If you’re a strong looper, you’ll appreciate that and smile.
Moving into unhooked riding? You’ll find fun in the Stoke, as Bully did, for anything from moves like S-bends to blind, blind judges and dangle-passes. Once trimmed, despite the mid- aspect nature, the Stoke offers a lot of pop for freestyle and would suit boot riding, too. Constant and reliable.
Overall, the kite is solidly built and could take some hammering. The Force control bar is very nicely finished, but is bigger than some of the more svelte offerings on the market. It’s fully featured, but if we’re being critical the line untwister takes a bit more effort than some. We get to use every line untwister on the market though, and this certainly isn’t a deal breaker.
Watch the product video:
Lots of grunty but smooth low end power can be enjoyed even without great flying technique. The Stoke steps on however and can reward an expressive rider across several disciplines. The
shorter line characteristics are noticeable, offering benefits as well as some limits across all disciplines. Great for reactive wave riding and shut-off depower, there’s plenty of sheet-and- go drive but Flysurfer have also managed to deliver lots of unhooked performance, too. Finally, good, fun boosts and really engaging loops, but the Stoke does hit a limit for riders looking for lots of easy big air performance for maximum lift to outshine their mates. This is a shape maker with lots of personality. A refreshing and fun ride that suits anyone who wants to attack all aspects of their riding.
Not needing big winds to get nice, hoiky kite loops.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
The longer lines and high-aspect kite shape would help the kite get further forward in the window for riders looking for easy sheet-in big boosts. (Look to Flysurfer’s other kite – cunningly called the Boost – for more of that sort of performance!)
STOKE BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 8.5
Full package: 8.5
Low end: 8.5
Top end: 7
Steering speed: 6.5
Turning circle: 6
Bar pressure: 5
Water relaunch: 8.5
Ease of use: 8
SIZES: 12, 10, 9, 8, 7 and 5m
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