THIS OCEAN RODEO ROAM A-SERIES KITE TEST CAN BE READ IN HERE IN KITEWORLD #108 ON OUR NEW FREE DIGITAL PLATFORM, FIRST PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 2020.
Ocean Rodeo Roam A-Series 10M Kite Test Review
“One of the easiest and least complicated good-performance kites that I’ve possibly ever ridden”
TESTED BY: JIM GAUNT
TEST TEAM NOTES:
Here we go with one of the most interesting reviews of the year from our perspective. Ocean Rodeo finally implemented their much publicised new Aluula material into the air frame of their first range of production kites; the A-Series, consisting of the Roam and Flite kites (for now).
Aluula is Ocean Rodeo’s own material that is ultra light, ultra strong, UV stable and a virtually unrippable composite material. The idea of using it for the kite’s airframe structure adds enhanced rigidity, precision and control, while also significantly reducing weight and therefore increasing performance capability. The new Aluula-specific Ridge Seam also increases seam strength by 40% over traditional sewing methods, Ocean Rodeo claim.
PACKAGE & PUMPING:
When the kite arrived I was immediately impressed by the noticeable light weight feel, which was only further accentuated by the light and compact rain-coat type material back-back that it comes in. There’s always a little bit of online conversational heat about the extra cost of these Aluula kites (starting at €1,499 for the 4m Roam and €2,399 for the 12m Flite), so the lighter bag seemed a bit surprising at first, however after packing the kite away several times, I appreciated the wrap-around zip and that the material and zip seam seem to have a bit of stretch, so it’s never an issue to pack the kite away. The Aluula leading edge is also very thin in diamater, so straight away there’s less material to tightly pack and the small bag fits very neatly wherever you store your kites.
Pumping the Roam up was an exciting experience. I handled Aluula material at an Ocean Rodeo demo evening in Cape Town last February. A cut had been made in a section of material and I was told to try to further rip it by putting my fingers inside the slit and pull as hard as I could. Impossible. They did the same experiment with a normal piece of Dacron to illustrate the point; it was very easy. So there’s certainly a claim that we’re looking at the future here…
Pumping the kite up the obvious benefit of the strong and light material is that Ocean Rodeo have been able to design the Roam with a super thin leading edge. It takes a bit more effort to pump the kite up but the idea is that you can really jam the tube with a decent pressure, around 9psi. It’s solid. People immediately came over to check it out – “Ooh, is that Aluula? It’s gold… and slippery feeling!”
No doubt it looks the business and Ocean Rodeo have designed a really good looking kite and a colour scheme that surely no one could fall out with. This is a grown-up toy that’s all-business.
The Roam is billed as a freeride foil / surf kite. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try it yet on a surfboard in waves, but I’ve had several sessions in different wind strengths on a foil as well as blasting around on a twin-tip.
The first thing that I have to say about this kite, which is the over riding comment that should be noted above all else: this is one of the easiest and least complicated good-performance kites to fly that I’ve possibly ever ridden. From a freeriding perspective of plug and play performance with just one set of pig tail attachments at the kite, it doesn’t get any more simple.
In my mind the first thing I was trying to work out was how the design dynamic worked. Essentially, in terms of its characteristics in flight, the Roam benefits from a combination of two things: a narrow leading edge diameter which allows for quick and smooth forward flight through the window; and a quite deep central canopy that usually makes a kite sit back a little in the window for easy handling, stability and grunty power generation. The combination of these things seem to compliment each other brilliantly; never too far forward and unstable, never too grunty and overbearing.
Firstly the Roam is incredibly responsive for a ten metre. It’s not so much the eventual turning speed, it’s the ultra clean response to bar input. If you’re wondering where all this extra stiffness delivers advantages, it’s to do with the kite’s rigidity and reluctance to be negatively affected by gusts, but also in the immediate reaction to steering.
The turning engagement is smooth. There’s no jerk and instead just a lovely linear increase in power when you move the kite. The consistency of movement is something else; I could not stop looping it. The climb back up the latter half of the loop is like the kite gets sucked up a vacuum it’s so reliable. On the foil there are incredible benefits from this, especially in light wind slack line situations – the Roam just continues to climb up through the window from a downloop with incredible reliability.
I rode the Roam foiling in winds of between 8 knots at the lowest (but averaging 12 that session), up to around 22 knots. The wind range is very impressive. On the lightest session there were five of us on the water in very up and down winds. At times it felt like there was barely a breath and I was the only rider to not have my kite backstall and drop into the water at some point. Perhaps I got lucky? I can’t claim it was skills as I was out with good kiters who also know how to move their kites to try to keep them in the sky in light winds. I had the definite advantage, however, of the Roam’s ability to remain flying even with slack lines. The light weight gives the kite several seconds longer to find more wind before gravity pulls it water-bound.
When I carved too widely, travelling towards the kite it never seemed to be a problem. If I carved underneath the kite while moving it overhead I could continue carving and in a second the kite would have dropped back and re-found line-tension. Never in an abruptly dropping manner that some more heavily weighted kites can, before they then surge in power again when they fill with a gust. The Roam seems to have the drifting benefits of single strut specialised foil kites, but also has the added benefit of extreme canopy stability, thanks for the two extra (stiff and narrow) struts.
Everything happens smoothly and at the same pace. The kite just seems to be able to make all these little adjustments automatically while you kite along enjoying a session that requires little concentration on the kite. One aspect that intermediate foilers will really enjoy is that when you’re carving you can send the kite very steadily up and overhead and not worry too much about ending up underneath the kite – which is usually quite an issue. I regularly tried to catch the kite out, sending it very lazily up and watched it just track with me overhead. The drift overhead is really stunning; neither too far towards the end of the window, or dropping too deep and then being in danger of surging when you power up your foil again.
Most foiling sessions I had the biggest kite on the water; not because I needed it, but because it was just the kite I had and I wanted to ride it again. There’s definitely an argument here for turning a three kite quiver into a two kite quiver. I think a 7 and 10m would open up a huge wind range for a foiler / wave rider. The Roam’s top end is excellent, with really good clean depower and it seems that the canopy is less effected by stronger wind speeds, which usually cause a feeling of unruliness at the bar. In 15 – 20 knots other riders were on 7s and 9s and I barely had to touch the depower. The other riders commented that they had at least half depower while foiling on their 9s. The Roam is just such a clean flying kite and, while the power doesn’t shut off to absolute zero, the clean forward movement means that the power and lift remain manageable.
I’m not sure I could claim that the Roam 10 has a massive natural bottom end – as I mentioned, other foilers were on smaller kites than me, but its stability and manoeuvrability allow you to move the kite to generate power. That’s the benefit.
Overhead the Roam doesn’t offer a lot of lift, which is why it’s such a good foil / wave kite. On my twin-tip session I still really enjoyed the kite from a freeride perspective. There’s enough sheet-and-go performance to not have to be an expert handler to get up and riding, but at the same time if you are the sort of rider that wants to throw the kite around aggressively, you can.
The sent jumps aren’t huge, but in decent wind strengths there’s still plenty of floaty lift for most people learning to, or improving, their jumps. The most fun element though is for learning to throw loops and downloops out of your transitions. The response is so clean and even if you don’t jump very high, this ten metre is so quick and clean around the window that it gets round very sweetly to be overhead again before you land. It doesn’t just pivot either; it makes a nice circle and turbo boosts round the bottom half, which is really fun to play with.
Ocean Rodeo are one of just two brands (Duotone being the other) to offer unique rear line trimming systems. There are two big advantages with these designs. Firstly, your trimming controls are positioned on one end of the bar, so are very easy to reach without having to lean forward. The second lovely advantage is that the centre line that runs up through the middle of your bar is very clean in front of your eye line, as there’s no cleat there with any flapping rope / webbing. Ocean Rodeo have a smooth plastic cover for the sheeting line, so there’s no chance of any abrasion against your skin as you sheet in and out.
They also use an adjustable stopper, which means you can set the amount of throw you want to have. We didn’t need to touch this it all; the shut off of power on the stock setting was easily enough for all we were doing. If, however, you like to be able to immediately kill the power (some people like to do that in wave riding, or in tacking based foil manoeuvres), you could move the stopper a bit further away. On the other hand, if you’re not very tall, you can move the stopper closer so that the bar doesn’t sheet out beyond your reach if you let go of it (you won’t have as much depower if you move the stopper down, though).
Overall the Shift V3 bar is similar to the V2, but is now (thankfully – it was quite chunky) thinner diameter and has a new rubber coating. Even in gloves it didn’t feel too thick, so that’s a good improvement.
To power-up your kite you simply twist the knob at the end of the right hand side of the bar. To de-power the kite you just push that same knob outwards and keep clicking it until you’ve reached your desired level of depower. It takes a little bit of getting use to and learning to feel when the bar is fully powered / depowered, but it’s a good system.
The gearing of the winder inside the bar has been tweaked to be a bit smoother and the working parts underneath the bar are still open, which means you can easily clean sand and water out.
Available in just one size, 52cm (with 22m lines) this is quite a wide feeling bar for anything below a ten metre kite size, but not overly so. It’s also not as heavy as the V1 and V2 and we enjoyed using it, especially for kite loops. On a twin-tip it was really intuitive to slide you hand down to where the bar bends slightly for good grip when you decide last minute to do a loop. Also, when foiling there are a lot of situations where you need to loop your kite, and if you want a really tight spin of the kite then the floats at the end of the bar are chunky and effectively like an extension of the bar if you want to grab those for extra purchase. All in all a good set-up. Some will say a reinvention of the wheel but, like anything, evolution causes controversy.
Find all the updates as well as more info on the new Punchout trim loop in this video:
It has to be said that Ocean Rodeo have taken what was a very acceptable wave and freeride kite in the Roam and, by adapting Aluula’s performance benefits of light weight rigidity, it’s like the kite has gone from being good at school, to top of the class, with wonderful attendance and top marks for studies and behaviour. It just doesn’t put a foot wrong. Beginner twin-tippers will find this kite as smooth and intuitive as advanced foilers. Everyone benefits from easy performance. I’m just gutted I didn’t get to try it in waves. We don’t get much call for a 10 metre wave kite here on the south coast of the UK; usually instead relying on stronger winds to kick up the good waves, but once lockdown ends I’ll be on the look out for good swell elsewhere with 15 knots. It should be banging fun and hopefully lets me just focus on the wave.
It’s hard to describe how clean this kite flies in all freeride situations. It’s just there with you and this ten feels as nimble as an eight.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
More overhead lift is needed for riders who are looking for a real all-terrain kite that allows them to mix performance strong wind twin-tip freeriding with wave / foil performance.
OCEAN RODEO ROAM BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 9
Full package: 8.5
Low end: 7
Top end: 9
Steering speed: 7.5
Turning circle: 5
Bar pressure: 5
Water relaunch: 8.5
Ease of use: 9.5
SIZES: 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4m
For more information on Ocean Rodeo and their product range, visit:
THIS Ocean Rodeo Roam A-Series KITE TEST REVIEW WAS FIRST PUBLISHED HERE IN ISSUE #108
2020 OCEAN RODEO CRAVE 12M REVIEW
We tested the Ocean Rodeo Crave in Cape Town in January / February 2020. Offering loads of sheet-and-go performance combined with almost immediate shut-off of power:
The 12m Crave review
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