Ultimately superior, ultimately precise, the Lithium delivers exactly where and when you need it. With the smoothest power delivery and forgiving gust response, the 2011 Lithium gets you riding at a level you never thought possible. Optimal turning capability, increased range and decreased bar pressure allows for a refined yet direct feel, putting you in control in all conditions. Standing out as the kite that can do it all, the Lithium suits any level of rider, offering the best in effortless relaunch, pivotal turning and smooth power delivery. Designed to excel in performance where it matters most, the Lithium integrates the V2 bridle system for the ultimate riding experience with simplicity and safety always at the forefront. When every session counts, let the Lithium change your perspective on what high-performance really feels like.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We've tested Airush's excellent Smart bar before, but the brief run-down is that you can shorten the bar by removing two sections at the end via a push pin release system, so one bar fits all. The bar itself is very solidly constructed, relatively narrow and very grippy without being like sandpaper. The chickenloop is generously sized, the donkey dick lengthy enough to stay in your hook but bendy enough to easily flick out when you want to unhook. The push away release is very clean and smooth and the chicken-loop is a self-righting rigid design that auto-positions itself so it's easy to hook back in again after a trick. The two trimming tabs operate a pull-pull strap system and work beautifully. All good in that department. Moving onto the kite, there's a sturdy one pump system and as there is no central strut which usually keeps the canopy away from rubbing against the inflate and deflate centre valves, Airush have reinforced this area of the canopy with two patches to stop rubbing.
The build-quality is good without the kite feeling too heavy. Reinforced where necessary, the Lithium is clean, of minimal fuss and all about function. As soon as you put the kite up it's obvious how well balanced the Lithium is. As a hybrid kite the sweet point on the bar throw is about halfway up, so there's loads of response in terms of power and depower and the riding position is nice and upright with no hunched over bent back. The bar pressure is quite light but very direct, the ten metre responds sharply and predictably and is as at home in the hands of an early intermediate rider getting to grips with the kite movements of boosting and transitions as it is with a seasoned sky scraper and wave rider. Very stable at the edge of the window, if you mess up a landing or lose your orientation the kite is still there, just very forgiving. We tried the eight in 30+ knots and although it handles well, and is obviously a bit quicker than the ten, the main negative point we'd have about these kites is that they definitely reach their upper limit and then, possibly because of the lack of centre strut support, do tend to lose their shape a bit in the huge gusts. On the other hand, this is compensated for by a really excellent bottom end.
We had sessions powered really nicely on a twin-tip, just pleasantly juiced for busting out basic unhooked tricks when other riders were struggling on 12s. This is a really good quality as it's always nice to get out on a smaller kite, particularly for waves. The boost on the Lithium is lofty and smooth. There's a definite tug when the kite is ready to pop; just pull down on the bar and up you go. Steady as you like above your head you can pilot your way down very steadily and it's all very relaxed. The kite will pivot hard or turn more progressively, responding very well to bar input and there's plenty of poke available just from pulling in on the bar when you're riding along and need more power. The relaunch, as you'd expect from a swept back profile like this, is a simple pull-on-one-line technique. What was most surprising was just how well behaved the Lithium is unhooked though. With barely any trimming, you can just stand there with the kite unhooked and it'll sit there without a twitch. It's not a really punchy pop unhooked, but in terms of behaviour and reliability you can learn so much on this kite.
Great low end drive and fantastic all-round characteristics for 90% of riders sees this come very highly recommended from the test team.
Beautiful predictability and behaviour in and out of the loop.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Twitchiness at the kite's very top end, but then there's always going to be compensations for having such a good low end.
SIZES: 12, 10, 8, 6 and 4m
This test is in issue #50