We review Ozone’s entry-level freeride machine
THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN KW #99 IN MAY 2019
TESTED BY: CHRIS BULL AND JIM GAUNT. FIND THEIR DETAILS AND TEST SCORE BREAKDOWNS HERE.
The Catalyst is designed for a smooth entry into the sport. The V1 model was quite hefty with lots of drive at the bar, had great low end, but was quite hard work at its top end. What does V2 hold in store?
The V2 has the thickest leading edge we’ve seen in a long time! As soon as you pump the Catalyst up that thick leading edge becomes firm very quickly and gives the kite a really sturdy frame. Very easy to pump up hard, the mid-sized Boston inflate valve is a good combination with that because you’ll always be able to borrow a pump if you don’t have one and the Catalyst truly is up to Ozone’s usually high standards of build-quality and finish. There are just two steering speed options on the rear pigtail, and that’s it: job done in a flash, you’re ready to go.
The conditions were decent for nine metre jumping, so ordinarily a 9.5 beginner kite would feel rather chunky, but the Catalyst is very assured and steady at the bar. Although it’s designed to be very centred on its front lines (with slacker back lines for depower and steering) it feels nice and light in the harness. All sizes of riders will be able to use this without a problem. What’s also nice to see is how swept back the wing-tips are – more on the benefits of those later…
Heading off the beach the Catalyst converts power to you very smoothly when you dip the kite and you have lovely sheeting input control at the bar as you go over the waves. It’s never, ever snatchy and that’s one of the biggest improvements and why the Catalyst V2 is an ideal first timer’s kite. Even as the wind picks up you don’t need to rely too much on your board edging skills for control. The Catalyst remains silent and there’s a huge amount of depower range through sheeting the bar. Once the kite is parked you only have to make minor adjustments as you cruise along.
The powering-up and depowering sheeting control at the bar is quick but smooth while the steering is slow. Good-slow for a beginner, noticeably-slow for good intermediates and above. The Catalyst really is focused on the low end of the riding spectrum, but it’s amazing for that and you couldn’t fail to learn to kitesurf quickly on it.
Although the turns aren’t pivotal, they’re not powerful either. What you have is a good feel for the kite as it turns through its wide arc. You wouldn’t use the Catalyst for riding waves and it’s not really designed for downloops as it doesn’t progressively speed up and turn in on itself around the window. You have to pull hard and consistently to get it to go round 360, but for sending up and back across the window for your basic turns, the lift and smooth movements are very, very easy to understand. It’s a super easy kite to follow around.
Good power delivery is combined with very easy upwind tracking and high levels of comfort and control. The low end is adequate but the top end is now much more comfortable, so overall it’s a better balanced kite and you won’t get caught out if the wind picks up as you’ll still be able to ride nice and upright, feeling secure.
If you’ve already got good jumping technique, when you get everything right you can generate some good jumps and above average hang-time. This isn’t one of those beginner kites that carries a lot of low end power and will give you big jumps if you’ve got poor technique. If you get your technique right, you’ll jump nicely, however, what’s really important is that the Catalyst won’t take you higher than your ability is ready for. You won’t be scared therefore to develop proper jumping technique because you’ll feel confident enough to send the kite back swiftly and learn when to sheet in and take-off. Since the dawn of the bow kite and its easy drift-overhead-and-sheet cheat jumping, it’s true to say that the general ability of intermediate kiteboarders to learn proper jumping technique has dropped. So when bow kite riders eventually step up to a more higher performance kite, they struggle to find the boost button. The Catalyst equips you brilliantly as an entry-level to improving intermediate kiteboarder.
So: those wing-tips. Swept back wing-tips not only soften the steering, but they also help with relaunching. The Catalyst is the best relaunching kite ever! As there were a few waves around, Chris took great joy in testing the relaunch, because it really is so good. Try as he might to drown it, crashing it straight downwind on its leading edge in the white water, it would almost relaunch itself within seconds. Fantastic.
WATCH THE CATALYST V2 PRODUCT VIDEO BELOW
The Catalyst offers a safe and easy route into kitesurfing for anyone and no corners have been cut in build quality or modern feature additions. The power delivery is very manageable for riders of all sizes and the steering is set at an easy radius that allows you to just focus on your riding. The kite is never, ever erratic. Sure, you’ll outgrow it in a season or two, but you’ll get to a better level quicker on something that makes as much sense as this. Even if it’s really windy, you can always sheet out, easily bodydrag back to your board and get it on without losing too much energy. This is an excellent school kite and for absolutely nailing all the basics. Beyond that, look towards the Enduro.
The relaunch! Check the scores, it has the first 10 that we’ve ever given a kite in any category.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Good intermediates will want more gears to accelerate through.
CATALYST BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 8.5
Full package: 9
Low end: 7
Top end: 8
Steering speed: 4
Turning circle: 8
Bar pressure: 5.5
Water relaunch: 10
Ease of use: 9 (Beginner / intermediate) Ideal beginners kite.
SIZES: 13.5, 11, 9.5, 8, 6.5 and 5m