The Lithium takes the pivotal turning, optimal feel and autorelaunch of a delta kite and combines it with increased depower and new-school safety features to create a refined delta hybrid kite that is simple, fun and very user friendly. Through its innovative design, the Lithium offers more sophisticated performance characteristics than other delta shaped kites, making it the perfect kite for many styles and levels of riders. A four strut canopy generates efficient power delivery, C kite-like feel on the bar and just the right amount of sweep for effortless auto-relaunch. The Lithium comes fully loaded with the V3 bridle system for a refined yet direct feel, while also providing full depower security.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We tested the Lithium in gusty offshore 13-18 knot winds over the sand bar at Hayling Island. First impressions are that the kite is well packaged and well built. A new kite in the Airush line up and there's also a new 'Smart' bar system, too. One of the ideas of which is that you can remove the end sections to make the bar shorter, meaning that you only need one bar system for all your kites and works well via a push pin fixing system that's the same as you'd find on the end of some windsurfing booms. The bar length can be altered between 45 and 55 centimetres in length and can easily be alternated between a four and five-line set-up and can be used on other kites. There's also a new quick-release system they've called the 'Brain', which Airush say is the most complete safety system to date. Gone is the trigger release from the last couple of years and in its place is a compact, neat and simple push-away unit. Compliant with all other push-away releases as Airush are keen to get an industry standard technique for all systems, so there's no confusion if you've had your lessons on another push-away release and move to this system. The only thing to keep an eye on is that the system isn't full of sand when you launch (but this really is something you should get into the habit of paying attention to whatever you're using). The bar itself is comfortable with good grip, back line adjustments are under the floats, there's a long depower throw on the bar and an easy-touse sliding stopper above the bar for resting the bar against in light winds that will slide up under certain pressure. The trimming straps are above the bar and clearly coloured red and blue. If anything the plastic coating on the loops that you pull on the end of the trimming straps could be a little more comfortable, but they are easy to reach and operate and the kite actually needs very little trimming as it's got huge range.
In the gusty conditions we had it out in it was very stable, didn't stall at all and immediately felt well-balanced. This is the grunty little brother of Airush's other new kite, the higher-aspect Varial and it sits further back in the window, providing you a good, honest pull. Less 'whippy and lofty' than the Varial, it doesn't want to fly so far forward in the window all the time, so it's just very easy to ride and we had a lot of fun on this from the start. There's bags of power in it which you appreciate when you throw the kite above your head and pull down on the bar for a boost. It really shoots you up there and feels good through the bar, making it easy to redirect for landing. It's an exciting jump, not super-boosty, but goes up well and just holds you up there which, when you get on a kite that has this quality, makes you remember how much fun the basic kiteboarding jump can be. The hang-time is fantastic and then it brings you down gently but with good forward planing speed. Typically of a delta kite the low-end performance is exceptional and the relaunch very rapid and easy with its habit of automatically rolling into the relaunch position. So this really is a great first time kite option and, although there's lots of power, the delivery is very smooth without any twitchiness, meaning inexperienced riders won't find themselves constantly pulling and pushing out on the bar in an effort to balance the power. Pulling in on the bar gives you a good top up on juice without being really aggressive. Simply pull in a bit more if you want more power. There's no constant trimming on the bar required, but having said that the depower is instant when you push away, which would make this is fantastic wave riding kite. Sitting quite a way back in the window giving you constant power and leading you down-the-line, it's a good unhooked kite too, remaining stable and with plenty of pop. The turns are fast and pivotal. There isn't a huge surge of power as you rotate the kite through the window, again making it good in waves and for early intermediate riders. Kite loop kings will want a bit more oomph.
Evenly tempered, the Lithium is a smooth, comfortable kite, ideal for the majority of riders in their first few years of riding and for most conditions. We didn't try it in waves but all the signs are there of an adept wave ally for its quick pivotal turns, smooth power, refined feeling through the bar and instant depower. This would be a very safe buy for most people as Airush have taken the popular and delta kite/hybrid design and tamed the often rough power delivery and made it even more user-friendly. The build quality is good and you can see that they've tried to push things forward rather then be content to produce another kite to join the delta pack. As an allround freeride kite it's simplicity is brilliant. Only hardcore freestyle monkeys who live out of the hook and are looking for serious drive through turns and loops may fall out with the pivotal turning and more chilled feeling in this kite.
KW LIKED: All the good points of a delta design - including loads of power, good jumping, impressive levels of depower and relaunch – with more smooth handling.
KW WOULD CHANGE: The depower strap loops as you can
only grab them with two fingers.
SIZES: 12, 10, 8, 6 and 4m
This test is in issue #42