We don’t just test kites once a year in Cape Town. We’d already tested the Core XR6, Cabrinha Switchblade and North Orbit a few months earlier and wanted to include some highlight elements of these three outstanding big air kites in issue #104, released March 2020, that had a heavy big air testing focus.
TESTED BY: CHRIS BULL AND JIM GAUNT. FIND THEIR DETAILS AND TEST SCORE BREAKDOWNS HERE.
Find the full reviews of all these kites below
CORE XR 6
This kite has dominated the top of the Woo big air records for several seasons. How come? Firstly, it has an incredible wind range and is exceptionally easy to fly at its top end when the rev needles on the dashboard of other kites are heavily rocking against the red line.
The XR6 delivers high levels of performance and wind management in a very palatable way. Take it out in a huge range of conditions and never really feel overtly physically challenged. The sheeting range increases power deliver in a very consistent curve. There’s freeride comfort combined with exceptional levels of jumping performance and always finger tip steering control.
The Rebel, for example, is more explosive. The XR6 takes you up slower and more steadily but, as it’s less effort to ride it at its very top end, is capable of taking brave riders higher with progressive and measured jumps in wild conditions. The take off on the Rebel can leave your stomach behind. Whereas on the XR6 it takes you up, glass in hand and just keeps climbing.
Not only that, but the XR6 has a very good balance between light wind performance and high end control. It must be class leading in terms of usable range for the least amount of effort needed from the rider to achieve good performance. Sheet and go or steer quickly to point and shoot; it has a massive power band for jumping and so many average riders look so good on it, because you don’t have to be particularly precise. Keep line tension, hold your edge, sheet in and you’ll have some of the best jumps of your life.
Very pivotal loops mean average riders are happy throwing them, but top riders still manage to get some pull from the XR6 by steering out to the side of the window first. Freeride big air for the masses. Quick turns, depower and great range, so you can also wave ride to some degree, too.
Main Kiteworld Review from issue #100:
The Orbit jumps just as well but requires more finite control to get the most out of it at its bottom end. However, in strong winds it delivers such rewarding lift and probably more hangtime than both the Switchblade and XR6, but needs a bit of technique. You have to be more precise about what you’re doing with the bar.
In lighter wind its more trim sensitive to get it to fly faultlessly smooth, but at the opposite end we’ve been able to hold the nine metre down in some filthy winds. So if you’ve got technique and can keep the kite at the edge of the window it will fly forward and remain manageable, which is why we saw Nick and Jesse use the nine metre (and even the ten metre in Nick’s case) so well at the King of the Air this year.
As yet we’ve not seen an XR rider or a Rebel rider on a KOTA podium, and that’s because of the weaker nature of their kite loops. The Orbit can do it all. Even the ten metre loops well.
Main Kiteworld Review from issue #101:
So nice, over so many years, the Switchy sits fairly close to the Rebel but doesn’t have the obvious range. It’s there, but you have to work for it, edging hard and forcing the kite forward. In very strong winds it’s more physical and more forceful, but never, ever stops being utterly smooth. The Switchblade must be injected with high-tensile steel because it faulters the least in any gusts. The fact that it’s never knocked out of shape means that it continues to deliver such smooth force – you just need the leg strength to deal with it at its top end. If you can deal with it, you’ll land in another postcode.
The rock solid stability also makes this one of the best kites on the market for multiple rotations because it parks and holds. There’s also hangtime for days.
Superb light wind, stable performance, too. The most constant, manly kite loops of all in this issue, too. Don’t be scared though; just know when to change down. This is a stone cold classic.
Main Kiteworld Review from issue #102:
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