Highly tuned performance freeride potential with slack and pop for unhooked freestyle
THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN ISSUE #98 IN MARCH 2019
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The Dash felt like getting in a BMW M3 after the softer, more all round Triad. Set up with stiffer suspension and a wider turning arc, the Dash is more about riding fast and steering without compromise. There are more layers to it than strictly just that though…
Last year we tested the Dash on 20 metre lines as some riders particularly like that set-up; it became more of a kite loop specialist but we felt wasn’t able to climb to the peak heights that we hoped for in Cape Town. This year we had it on the more standard 24 metre lines and was far more to our overall liking!
In previous years we have commented about how the Dash was fast, which has certain benefits, but was sometimes so fast that the low end suffered. At its top end, the Dash has always been a weapon.
The Dash has more C-shape DNA than the Pivot and Triad. If you know how to edge with power then you’ll find that the Dash actually has a better depower range at its top end than the Pivot and Triad. The power increases in the kite, but the airframe holds firm and continues to push forward in the window and yet also doesn’t force your harness to embed itself into your back. You get a lot of speed and power as a rider without having to hang your backside out to hold the power down while that forward flight keeps you tracking upwind really well in even the most powered conditions.
In fact straight away when you put the Dash up in strong wind it feels comfortable for more advanced riders. So keen and purposeful (it’s not called the Dash for nothing!), with good forward flight you can do a big jump and have the confidence to loop it without worry about stalling. Despite the fact that it steers forcefully and quickly, once it starts travelling there’s a good yank of power but it’s also fun and confidence inspiring because you can shut that off a bit by pulling harder on the bar. The Dash offers a really precise level of control and you can adjust what you want to do with it through really positive and reactive steering. On some kites that aren’t quite so tuned for high wind and looping, once you start the loop, you then have little control over proceedings and are locked in for the ride once the kite starts it trajectory. Even though the Dash is fast, because it holds power once it starts moving, if you’re up to it you have a sense of control and will never over steer it.
The sweet spot overhead for jumping is smaller than on the Pivot or Triad. The Dash is more technical and doesn’t have as much on-demand sheeting lift. You score big jumps by treating it more roughly, like a C shape, where the kite’s steering and position are most important if you want to get it right. If you have good technique and charge full speed into a kicker this canopy can hold a lot of power for incredible jumping performance.
Any riders who are already addicted to kite loops, or looking for something that can jump big but also mix up some unhooked freestyle, should definitely be looking towards this kite. The low end is now more than good enough and although it’s more physical through the turns than the other two, the Dash is still quite comfortable for the amount of performance on tap. This is one of those kites that you can take out in strong and gusty winds and feel like you’re the master of the kite, rather than the other way round. The Dash will never feel like a sled to a good rider who will boost high and be throwing some filthy kite loops. Yes, there is some heft to the steering when the wind is really strong, but not to the sheeting or edging, so you can still ride nice and upright.
For sure this is a better unhooked kite than the other two, which is its main calling card at its bottom end. The Dice is the obvious comparison this issue. Where the Dice has the bigger sweet spot and would be easier for more people in really strong winds, the Dash loop is more powerful and it’s the better unhooked weapon in lesser winds with that very set turn initiation and forward flight.
All three Naish kites featured this issue are equipped with Bladder Lock which secures the bladder ends in place for less slippage (maintaining consistent shape in the kite), shark teeth trailing edges, Quad tex ripstop fabric and a high-flow valve that uses a standard Boston pump nozzle. Once again the Dash also features Naish’s unique Octopus inflation system that pumps up through one central valve, but you have to first close the strut valves. This design means you can either leave your struts inflated when you pack up, or enjoy a super fast total deflation, expelling air from all areas of the bladder very quickly.
Naish give you the option of above or below-the-bar trim systems. One big note is that the new below-the-bar system includes a swivel on the actual trimming system so you can now untwist your lines just as you would on an above-the-bar set-up (this wasn’t possible before and a big bug-bear on many below-the-line systems for us). The trimming is also super smooth below-the-bar; a step-forward in this sort of design.
Watch the Dash product video below:
The Dash is fantastic as a highly tuned machine that still packs plenty of freeride comfort than anyone could get on and do the basics on. Technical freeriders are going to prefer the Dash to the Pivot or Triad though, because it can really turn up the dial in certain situations, offering a purposeful loop, fast but controlled high wind performance and is a capable unhooked machine in lesser winds. It’s one of the top contenders this year for the high-wind / freestyle super-kite crown.
Effectively killing the C kite for high wind – the Dash offers pop and slack for unhooked riding while also putting the pilot in their comfort zone for outstanding strong wind and kite loop performance.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Intermediates are going to find that the extra weight in the steering initiation, especially at the kite’s top end, to be more than they’re used to. Good riders, however, will feel assured by that planted nature in strong winds.
DASH BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 8.5
Full package: 8.5
Low end: 7
Top end: 9
Steering speed: 7.5
Turning circle: 6.5
Bar pressure: 6
Water relaunch: 8
Crossover: 8 (Unhooked, to boosting to kite loops)
Ease of use: 7.5
SIZES: 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m