This test featured in Kiteworld Magazine Issue #81
TEST TEAM NOTES
The HiFi-X, or HIFI-X2 as it’s now called, is Liquid Force’s dedicated freestyle kite and one that’s had input from some top level riders since its release as the original HiFi back in 2009. The new design was heavily influenced by feedback from Christophe Tack, the 2014 World Champion, so we’re always curious to see what LF will bring to the table each year with their performance C.
A new symmetrical panel layout ensures that the canopy holds its shape for longer while a more economical use of Dacron has brought the weight down in an effort to make the kite fly faster and provide a crisper overall feel. It’s quite stiff in the wing-tips and has quite a traditional C-shape to it which gives the impression that it’s an out-and-out freestyle / wakestyle machine above all else. The Max Flow inflation system is a great design from LF and allows for the quickest inflation of a kite we’ve seen. It does require a special Liquid Force wide nozzle on your pump, but there’s also a traditional valve should you forget you pump and need to borrow someone else’s.
In the air the HiFi-X2 sits with good stability and without any twitchy feelings, which you don’t always expect from a seven metre C-kite. Advanced riders will also appreciate the way it punches pretty far forward in the window with quite a typical C-kite like feel. While we’re seeing kites in the freestyle / wakestyle bracket that have been designed with freeride potential and mass market appeal in mind, the Hifi-X2 is aimed squarely at more advanced riders and that becomes apparent quite quickly.
Through the window there isn’t such a raw, direct feel of a Torch or the softer refinement of a Vegas, and actually this version feels a little less maneuverable than some HiFis that we’ve ridden in past years. The HiFi-X2 sits rigidly in the sky, appealing to more advanced riders looking for a park and ride feel for wakestyle. If you’re specifically looking for a highly charged ride and more electric handling in the sky, you might find the HiFi-X2 a bit slow. Although it’s not quick for a seven metre, the handling is still smooth to be comfortable, but the bar pressure is still solid with direct power delivery. The HiFi-X2 doesn’t have the aggressive, whippy handling characteristics that some C-kites can display at their top end, but whatever the wind’s doing it feels predictable and never twitchy.
That stability and behaviour are a particular treat to wakestylers as the HiFi-X2 remains seated where you want it in the sky and is constantly ready for passes and is easy to generate a lot of line slack when you pop hard against it. It’s a real handle-pass machine and feels right when landing to blind or wrapped, giving you time to make the pass without contorting into awkward positions mid-trick.
However, move too far away from powered kite-low freestyle / wakestyle moves and the HiFi-X2 feels a little out of its comfort zone. Earlier versions of this kite had a lot of lift and were fun for jumping but the HiFi-X2 has now narrowed its focus and speciality. While super reliable in its position and poise for wakestyle, the steering isn’t quick enough to give it a great deal of application as a performance freeride kite for hooked-in tricks. Also, it takes quite an experienced rider to unleash what jumping performance it has and its ability in the air isn’t really comparable to the Envy or the WOW, which are two of the best jumping kites out there. The HiFi-X2’s jumping does start to improve at its absolute top end but, at that point, you’ll start to experience a bit of ‘paddling’ at the bar.
As the LF kite range is broad, it’s clear that designers were able to really specialize with the HiFi X-2, but it’s a bit of beast and can tire out weaker riders. The water relaunch takes a bit of technique, though there is fifth line back-up.
Wind ranges for C-kites aren’t ever that broad and in this smaller size the HiFi-X’s range is quite narrow, but it’s very specific in its performance traits and there aren’t many seven metre C kites that manage to retain their wakestyle prowess and stability for performance. Mid-way in its wind range, this kite offers peachy wakestyle handling.
We tested the HiFi-X2 with the CPR control system, which LF have been running for quite some time now. It’s their more basic bar but it works well and the safety system is solidly built, easy to operate and not too fiddly or hard to reassemble. It does occasionally give your knuckles a bit of a dusting if you sheet in with your hands too close to the centre of the bar but this is something that can be easily avoided. The below bar depower takes a bit of a yank to operate when the kite is powered, but it works smoothly if you’re using it frequently. The EVA bar grip and line floats feel good in your hands and seem very durable at the same time. The centre-line swivel is excellent and all-in-all, this is a straight forward control system and does everything you need it to.
This is a kite aimed squarely at advanced riders who want to push their powered wakestyle / freestyle riding. It’s a handle-pass machine, no doubt. Dedicated riders of that calibre will love how stable it is in the sky and the predictable and controlled bar feel. Riders looking for a little more crossover potential, or who aren’t fully committed to low-kite antics, will probably have much more fun on the Envy or the WOW.
Great line-slack, stable feel in the air, cable park feel.
KW WOULD CHANGE
We’d like to see a bit more jumping performance to make it more of an all-rounder, but you’d surely then remove wakestyle handle-pass poise, which would be a shame for those guys.
HIFI-X2 BALANCE POINTS
Build quality: 8.5
Full package: 7.5
Low end: 7.5
Top end: 7.5
Steering speed: 5
Turning circle: 8
Power through the turn: 8
Bar pressure: 7
Water relaunch: 7
Ease-of-use: 9 for wakestyle / 5 for freeriding
SIZES: 15, 13, 12, 11, 9, 7 and 5m
Here’s the offical HiFi-X2 product video from Liquid Force
For more information on the Liquid Force HiFI-X2