Our review of Levitaz’ progressive foiling setup for riders pushing their level
THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN ISSUE #91 IN JANUARY, 2018
TEST TEAM NOTES:
This is a follow up to the test of the Cruizer front wing-set up we did in 2017 – now that we’ve had the chance to spend some more time on the smaller Aspect wing.
Levitaz produce a range of five front wings and two back wings. We kept the back wing consistent, using the Freeride option rather than the Bionic race design. The front wings on offer are: the Element and Cruizer – both are for early planing and ease of use; then there’s the Aspect and Aspect HW (high wind) – both are more progressional freeride wings and then finally the Bionic race completes the line-up.
All their products are interchangeable (and the Levitaz mast mounts are available with a mounting option of plate mount and deep tuttle box), so you can choose between the three board options, from the Raze dedicated race board, to the Transformer which is a cross-over board that can also be used with surf fins as a wave board and the small Exo, which is billed as an all-round foil specific board for every condition – for freeride / freestyle / strapless and is especially useful for travelling, given its small size at just 4’1” / 125cm.
Re-visiting our Cruizer experience, we found that it isn’t just a basic entry-level wing, but has good speed and manoeuvrability and is a progressive option. It wants to foil almost instantaneously with very little forward momentum, so on one hand can be slightly un-nerving to the rookie, but on the other hand, gives you maximum chance to get foiling. So if you commit and can get used to it, it’s a lot of fun and goes way beyond the top end performance that many other first-time wings manage. The obvious benefit of the Levitaz system is the beautiful light weight carbon design, but more importantly, you have several options to switch the different parts for further progress and to tune your riding.
It’s definitely possible that you could progress on one of Levitaz’s bigger wings and then, as you get more and more addicted to foiling, you’ll want to go in stronger winds and more tricky conditions. You’ll also definitely want to go faster! And that is what a higher aspect foil will give you, but it’s often a challenging step up.
The Aspect wing takes far more commitment to build up board speed before it will come up. It gets easier, but there needs to be a decent amount of water travelling over the wing before it will properly lift. The big benefit here is that the Aspect also therefore works far better in stronger winds where you don’t want such an aggressive lift because everything happens quicker in stronger winds – including the power delivery from your kite, so it’s nicer to have a little longer to get set.
What you also really need though – and becomes far more apparent when you step onto a faster wing – is a faster, cleaner flying kite. They travel so much quicker and work in unison with wings like this beautifully and help you get up to speed in lighter winds, too. Your cruisy wave kite doesn’t pair quite so well.
Obviously with the more board speed needed to get the wing to lift, the greater the top end it has when riding. It’s a rocket and at speed becomes easy to control and doesn’t have a tippy sensation that some smaller wings can have. On lower aspect wings, there’s often so much lift that once you make a mistake, the crash then follows on very quickly. The Aspect manages speed control with relative ease and comfort and stays on its sweet spot consistently.
Until it comes to turning and transitions, that is. You really have to be on your game. The Aspect is much more manoeuvrable than the Cruizer, but also takes a lot more management to keep it planing. You need to be more aggressive with the kite to maintain constant power as you turn. Without constant power, the wing drops. Toeside riding therefore becomes more difficult because you often have moments of less power because it’s harder to steer the kite and maintain constant pull. A lot of this comes down to riding in enough wind or having a high aspect kite with a naturally higher air speed.
There are easier turning high aspect foils though, but they’re usually part of a smaller range of offerings from one brand, so need to be more forgiving for more of the market.
The Aspect represents a big step on in speed control performance from the Cruizer, but also demands a lot more from the rider. The Aspect is definitely power hungry, however, at speed it’s less tiring on your legs than the Cruizer and has a far greater and smoother top end natural riding speed. And that is where the addiction is!
The Levitaz elements of design and craftwork and the way the parts all integrate together so beautifully. Also, we’ve left the Levitaz wings and masts complete for weeks and the bolts haven’t shown the slightest hint of seizing up, unlike others.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Although it carves, the Aspect could maintain a bit more float through turns for intermediate riders. In truth, there’s a lot of life in the Cruizer for most riders, but the Aspect is a logical addition to your set-up as you start wanting to ride in stronger winds and more challenging conditions.