The jewel in Royal's kite crown and carrying the heritage of 2008 forward is the 2009 Era, maintaining great power and grunt with improved turning speed and bar feeling. More depower and a new bridle complete the improvements on this kite. The bar has been revised as well, adopting a thinner bar diameter, anti-slide grip and a new moulded quick release. The Era comes equipped with 20m +5m flying lines, single-point inflation system and all the other top notch fittings you'd expect in a smart package from a company called 'Royal'. Bow down.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
All the standard bits and pieces like one pump, push away quick release and above the bar depower systems – which most of the test team prefer. The bar is comfortable, neat and tidy but the first thing you have to check when you ride it is what size you're actually on! This was a ten that should have been a 12! There is a lot of boost on tap in this kite – it's a monster and I had a blast on it for different reasons to the Eclipse or Liquid Force. It's immediately obvious that it's got a lot of low end power – in fact generally it produces a lot of power for its size, making it a good option for the heavier rider. And that power doesn't slow it down – it's rapid. We didn't have it pumped up as hard as we should have on the first day. Pumping it up really hard seems to be what this kite responds best to, eliminating any unnecessary wing-tip movements and giving good speed and response to steering input.
What you can't get away from on this kite is the manly power delivery, almost like an American muscle car. It's fairly smooth but there's an awful lot under the bonnet. Great performance – in the right hands it’s a great kite, in particular because of the very impressive hang-time. Another kitesurfer's kite in that respect and is very comfortable up in the air where it’s predictable and gives very sure feedback through the bar, keeping you up there long enough to be able to check your mates below. For transitions this is great – all you have to do is pull down on the bar and you've got that float you look for to glide around.
Kite loops are quite pivotal. For a kite with balls as big as this one the kite loops are quite easy, which is good and bad. Good for intermediate riders and perhaps very advanced riders would be the only small group that might complain at this, but in fact this kite is fantastic in a lot of ways for progressing intermediate to advanced riders; good low end grunt and power for its size, great boost but it's also forgiving. Coming down from an old school dangle-pass with the kite looping endlessly it's not too hard to hold on to.
Not to forget about going upwind and all the basics – it ticks all the boxes. Slight adjustment needed on the depower before unhooking to stop it dropping back in the window because of the big power range; riding it on the settings that allow more back line is best.
We can't really sum it up better than the American muscle car analogy, so as a big person's freeride kite it's a real performer with good amounts of power on tap, good boosting, depower and upwind ability. Expect a lot of feeling through the bar and get ready to get in the ring with Era.
Real hang-time performance.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
A little more refinement in power delivery would be good for lighter riders.
16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6 and 4m
This test is in issue #37