This test featured in Kiteworld Magazine Issue #81
TEST TEAM NOTES
Having earned its place as one of the legendary Cs, the Vegas has become known over the years as the more ‘sensible’ C-kite among its equally well-established peers.
North provide a feeling of unmistakable quality. Everything works easily, smoothly and is well put together. North’s new inflation system is similar to 2015 with some minor adjustments to improve the screwing thread for the inflation valve cap to minimise air loss, while the functionality still allows the pump hose itself to connect directly to the valve without an adaptor. There’s also a dump valve towards the wing tip making it easy to roll the kite from one end to the other.
There are a few different trimming options on the kite itself and Aaron has already stamped his mark on the Vegas with a ‘Hadlow’ setting alongside the standard freeride and freestyle setting. While it might not guarantee you’ll match his riding level, at least it allows you to tune your kite the way he does.
The Vegas wears many hats in the air. Aaron claimed the King of the Air crown with it for the second year in a row this year, but you’ll struggle to find another kite with as much to offer such a wide range of riders and abilities. Ridden with intent and on the freestyle or Hadlow settings the Vegas has all the freestyle and wakestyle performance you could ever want, but the huge bonus is that if you tune it down to the freeride setting on the front line attachment it becomes a much different beast; accessible to virtually any rider. Give the Vegas to a high level rider and they’ll astound you with its performance, but then hand it to a less experienced kiter on the freeride setting and they’ll feel perfectly comfortable, which is quite an achievement in design. The freeride setting delivers much more pivotal steering, making it uniquely manageable for a C. There is still more power through the turn than you might expect from a dedicated intermediate’s kite, but it’s far less punchy than on the more performance focused settings and there’s easy depower. The loop is outstanding in that it’s accessible and fairly soft but fun in freeride mode, and steps up to its most ‘manly’ guise in the freestyle / wakestyle modes that allow you to really slow it down at the bar and get more grunt thanks to the wonderful amounts of control. It looks and feels more extreme, without actually being uncontrollable or off-putting for the pilot.
Sitting further back in the window in the freestyle and Hadlow modes, developing more power through the turn, the loop instantly becomes a lot ‘dirtier’ with oodles of pull mid-loop. There’s still depower on tap, but you need to edge more.
The Vegas has the brilliant ability to let you ride it hard but then, when it gets too much, you can sheet out and depower it. You can feel very comfy on a nine or eight metre in solid seven metre winds. There aren’t many C-kites on which you feel like you can get away with that kind of sizing decision. (We also rode the seven in what we thought were strong enough conditions, but found that that kite was nowhere near its mid range – you could hold that in a hurricane, and it needs it.)
We’ve used the term before but it really is very manageable. The Vegas is simply stunning for unhooked riding and you can feel the years of development in the balance, steady bar pressure and comfort when you come out of the loop.
That leads us nicely to the jumping abilities of the Vegas. The current Woo height record was achieved on a Vegas so we know it can go big (although that’s taking nothing away from the pilot – Mr Hadlow!) but there are other kites that are more naturally tuned for jumping – the Vegas just obviously responds well to experienced input to allow you to access great performance. Providing a very solid launch from the water and climbing well through the window, the hang-time is more dependent on your ability to pilot the kite well and do helicopter loops during your descent – taking an experienced hand to really to get the best out of its float. However, because you can hold down so much power on it, you don’t need to change down a size so early so you’ll find yourself jumping with a lot of power at your finger tips. The airframe is extremely solid and, as a result, you feel very secure underneath it and you have absolute faith that the kite won’t drop you mid-flight.
The relaunch is about as quick as you’d expect from a C kite but it’s dependable and if you’re fully lit it’ll launch pretty quickly. It takes a little more coaxing to launch in light winds, but you can always use the fifth line to get it on its back which really helps. The Vegas’s low end is good for a kite in this category and, while C kites aren’t necessarily known for their bottom end performance, the Vegas is admirable in this respect.
The long-standing 5th Element control system is outstanding. Comfortable, easy to set-up, the overall diameter feels great, the EVA grip doesn’t get eroded by sand and it displays minimal signs of wear and tear after several seasons. The depower trimming cleat has been a standout for a few years now and the Iron Heart chicken-loop quick-release is widely praised for its functionality, simplicity and ease of operation tried and tested over many seasons. You may prefer the bigger loop on the ‘Wakestyle’ bar, but that’s down to personal preference and, while that is great for unhooking and allows you to pass the bar without much chance of unintentionally steering the kite behind your back, for less advanced riders it causes the kite to lose much of its responsiveness when it comes to general handling. The fifth line provides very reliable safety should you need to eject the kite and there’s plenty of adjustability available to you at the bar as well.
There isn’t another C that can offer so much to such a wide range of riders. Put it in the hands of an advanced rider and set it up accordingly and it has all the performance you could hope for. Set it to ‘freeride’ and an early intermediate could ride it all day long, have a great time and feel perfectly comfortable. It’s a kite that helps you improve quickly in the earlier stages of your freestyle riding career and then allows you to tune it to be more aggressive with super responsive handling.
A range of diverse tuning options, North build quality, refined handling and comfort even after hours on the water.
KW WOULD CHANGE
It’s brilliant! The seven metre needs a lot of wind though, so perhaps opt for an eight.
VEGAS BALANCE POINTS
Build quality: 9.5
Full package: 9
Low end: 6.5
Top end: 9
Steering speed: 8
Turning circle: 7 (varies greatly depending on settings)
Power through the turn: 7 (same as above)
Bar pressure: 6.5
Water relaunch: 7
SIZES: 14.5 / 13 / 12 / 11 / 10 / 9 / 8 / 7 & 6m
Here’s the official Vegas product video from North
For more information on the North Vegas, visit