We review one of the true thoroughbred wave kites
THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN ISSUE #98 IN MARCH 2019
TEST TEAM NOTES:
For us, (alongside the Airush Wave for equal speed) the Ozone Reo has been a reference wave kite for its speed, agility and power generation through movement. It’s an absolute weapon!
On the faster back line setting (at the rear of the wingtip) the Reo V5 has a light bar feel and less readily apparent power (than the Bandit for example), but is so responsive that it generates power incredibly well through movement. The low end is good, but it takes a more experienced hand to seek it out.
Advanced, or rapidly improving wave riders, will understand this is a great asset. There’s no battling with the kite in this setting and for strapless riding it’s ideal. Send it hard through a turn and it’s incredibly fast with less of a spike in power when travelling really quickly across the window that we felt last year when powered up. Reacting immediately to your input, you can be more aggressive and the Reo V5 flies forward very cleanly in the window to just where you want it. You need to be on the ball with your steering when you send it across the window like that though. It will take some syncing with if you’re coming off a slower kite, but once you’re in the groove, the outstanding edge of the window response will mean that you’ll be timing your kite movements to be one step ahead; just like it says to do in the wave riding text book!
The shut-off depower is also very effective, so you can steam into top turns and totally shut the power down. This faster back line setting is great for a super-light wave kite feel that lighter riders and the majority of strapless riders will go for.
Matt is however 90 kilos and, as we regularly mention, likes a bit more obvious involvement from the kite than Jim, who is 25 kilos lighter. Move the back line knot forward and the bar pressure increases while the kite also sits back a little further in the window. This bar feel is more affirmative and, as a heavier chap, Matt preferred this setting. You will sacrifice a little turning speed, so if anything, more inexperienced people might prefer the steadier feel of the Reo in this setting, too.
Matt says, “Suddenly I had everything that I’ve always loved in the Reo. The rapid turning is there, but so too now is a firmer feel at the bar and, while the kite doesn’t become much more powerful, it just feels a little more present.”
There’s a more constant connection and it’s easier to feel where the kite is. For a heavier rider there’s no lag in power when you steer the kite because the injection of power is a little more obvious. That said, the Reo isn’t the most lifty of wave kites because it’s such a focussed turning weapon. So if you do like loading up and punting some airs, then perhaps something more like the Neo would suit. However, for an experienced, dedicated wave rider who wants to be flinging in turns with a super-responsive wave kite that they can largely forget about when they need to (providing they’ve got the skills) it’s a hard one to beat.
We dumped the kite several times in the surf, the Reo took plenty of waves on the head and came up shining. Ozone kites are always beautifully and intricately finished as they run their own factory. In your hands they’re not heavy, but their strength is obviously in the way they’re put together. Aerodynamically they’re always beautifully balanced and we rarely hear of them needing repair.
There’s a mid-size Boston inflation valve and Ozone’s Water Contact V4 bar was new in 2018. It’s highly functional and does everything you want with zero faff. Feeling a little wider in diameter in your hands than most, you’ll quickly get used to that and the tennis-racket like grip is comfortable but hard wearing.
One huge asset if you wear a rope harness, is that you can re-set the chicken-loop by simply pushing it back together – it’s even possible with one hand. So no more irritations for your kite launcher while you mess about trying to re-assemble your chicken-loop. Obviously this improvement in safety release and re-build has advantages for all riders across Ozone’s range, not just advanced wave riders!
The Reo is genuinely lightening quick and very smooth in all its movement. Tune it for more or less of a weighted presence and riders of all weights and tastes can find their groove. Perfect aerodynamics mean that although it’s naturally a kite for those who like a fast steering kite, particularly in more onshore conditions, the Reo is very happy to drift too as it’s light, very well balanced and can be paused beautifully.
Electric handling to please progressing wave riders up to the most hardcore.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
The Reo’s the Reo, so not really. Some inexperienced riders will find it too quick, though.
REO BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 9
Full package: 9
Low end: 7
Top end: 9
Steering speed: 9
Turning circle: 3
Bar pressure: 3.5 – 5
Water relaunch: 9
Cross-over: 7 (Will be good for foiling)
Ease-of-use: 7 (Easy if you’re experienced. Bit sporty if you aren’t).
SIZES: 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, and 4m