From flat-water freedom to tearing up any size surf, the 2010 Rebel is the all-terrain freeride / wave kite of your dreams. Smooth, lively and responsive steering, even when depowered, makes it the ideal kite for surfing and a blast to ride in any conditions. The loaded 5th line design gives the Rebel its short and aggressive power stroke that is up to 30% shorter than bridled kites, meaning huge range and top-end comfort on those super windy days and the ability to instantly turn the power off and on at will as you link your turns downthe-line. North's new 'floating' centre strut further enhances the direct de-power by allowing the canopy to easily luff as well as provide rock-solid stability in strong winds. The new back-line 'V' attachment distributes the load of the back-lines on the kite for a solid bar feel, eliminating any line snags during re-launch. The Rebel’s unique steering sensitivity and smoothness have also been improved by implementing a straight segment in the leading edge for an ultra clean, flutter-free canopy near the tips.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
As ever, it's impossible not to be impressed by North's bar system. The latest in a long line of user-friendly configurations, the fifth generation 5th Element bar is slick, beautifully finished with comfortable grip and as effective a quick-release system as you're likely to find. The Iron Heart is released with little force and doesn't get clogged up with sand. The little micro-loop, for the big boosters among us that like to jump with the kite on fixed power, no longer comes attached to the bar, but is easily fitted. The above-the-bar trimming cleat is as good and functional as it always has been, but it's surprising how short the depower adjustment line is. There are also no adjustment options on the kite, but the fact that the kite has good bottom end and top end, shows that we've reached such a standard in kite aerodynamic profiles that it's just not necessary to have so many options. Small adjustments make a big difference. The Rebel is evolved, functional and simple and it's even got a one-pump system this year!
Right from launch you can feel the kite through the bar. It feels incredibly balanced. With it perched above your head it retains enough power to keep it poised and there's no loose slack in the back lines. On the water it immediately wants to fly forward in the window, making it drive upwind like train, but it never flies out of the window and power zone. It couldn't be described as quick, but with positive input moves around nicely. Very pivotal rather than arcing its way around the sky it drives out of the turn rather than through it. We used it almost exclusively for wave riding and it was stunning; just turn it and follow the drive. Even when you turn way in front of the wave and send the kite back and up, it will drive you along nicely even sat high in the window; then when you're ready you can pull it back down, it won't yank you through the turn, allowing you to make a nice top turn, but will then drive you out as it levels out in direction. Unlike Rebels of the past this one doesn't mind a little unhooked action either. Yes, you need to trim it down, but the depower is so easy to adjust in an instant, that that's not an issue. Following it along a wave unhooked was fun. Occasionally it backed up in a lull if left it in the middle of the window for too long, but that's down to pilot error or winds as much as anything. Drop it and the relaunch is excellent. By the time you've spat out the salt water you gulped, the kite is just waiting at the side of the window for a little tug on the outside line.
One of the best little gadgets on the Rebel this year though is probably the simplest thing they've added. The 5th line attachment has two loops; a big one and a smaller one. This provides an option for riders who want to ride on a suicide set-up for lots of unhooked riding to also have a chicken-loop safety release and still be attached to the safety. Simply run the chicken-loop through the big loop and clip your leash onto the little loop that sits on the outside. Nice touch and provides good peace of mind.
The Rebel gets the job done; no fuss. Well made, incredibly predictable and safe, an ally for huge conditions as well as being easy for beginners to-use, the Rebel is a stable work horse. It's not a dedicated unhooked freestyle weapon, so if you're looking to knock out stacks of powered new school, there are much better kites for you. But if you fancy the odd raley, Sbend or low maintenance kite loop to mix with big boosts and some wave slaying, then the Rebel will look after you.
KW LIKED: Obvious evolution, build quality and reliable performance.
KW WOULD CHANGE: Make it a little more nimble at times.
SIZES: 16, 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
This test is in issue #44