The 2010/11 season brings about the next evolution in the Ion range. Continuing to deliver the combination of Ckite feel and hybrid performance, the 2011 model is simply an evolved kite design that will deliver fast, positive and progressive steering along with constant power and lift when turning into jumps. The new Ion features a six strut layout with a refined aerofoil shape that gives extra support between the leading and trailing edge. A simplified bridle system creates a perfectly balanced pull and multiple front and rear connection points let you customise and tune the kite to your individual style. The Ion fits naturally onto Flexifoil's well established bar system, delivering just the right amount of bar pressure and feedback, giving you exceptional control and feel of the kite throughout your sessions.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We were lucky enough to get this kite right as we were finishing last issue, so have had a full two months crack at it, riding in all sorts of conditions, from bang onshore, to side-shore with small kickers to gusty cross-offshore winds. We've come to know this kite as Barry White. Why?
Because it's so damn smooth! The bar has been kept simple, uncomplicated and grippy, yet comfortable. Flexifoil bars have been nice and thin for a while now, and this is no different. But why – for a kite that is so adept at unhooked riding (as you'll read) – does it have such a small chicken-loop? Yes, you can get a bigger chicken-loop from Flexifoil, but if you ask us, it should come with a bigger one. Of course, if you never unhook anyway, this isn't something you'll have to worry about. The bar has a lovely clean feel up the chicken-loop line as you sheet in and out and the trimming system is very easy to reduce and increase power. What you will notice though is that the Ion has a very short depower throw; more so than most other hybrid 12 metres. The short throw doesn't accurately reflect the depower in the kite; there's a lot of depower available, you just have to access it by trimming down the depower strap rather than just sheeting out. Short throws have positives and negatives. The negative is that you have to actively search out the most depower by trimming the kite. But the positive is that the kite is otherwise never without power, which is great for your tricks. When you move the kite across the window, such as when you're carving, you get a little tug of power, which we really like. Not all beginner or early intermediate riders will be comfortable with that, though. If you're used to a kite that flaps to nothing when you sheet out, then this will feel quite different. But when you come to doing tricks, such as popping up and going for a grab on really high depowering kites, you'll end up losing some power in the kite, often whether you mean to or not. As this retains its power, the air flow isn't disturbed over the kite and you don't drop out
of the sky. This is why the kite feels so lovely and smooth. Flexifoil really have been making bullet proof kites for a long time. Look at the state of the UK's rocky, shingle beaches – they have to! But apart from that quality, the absolute stand-out feature on this kite is that it behaves and feels exactly the same whether you're riding in or out of the loop. You can be kiting along hooked-in with the kite flying forwards beautifully and with good positive power for boosting. A few seconds after your jump, without even touching the trimming strap, it feels exactly the same when you unhook for a trick. On a lot of hybrid kites you have to take some time to get used to where you have to set the trimming straps to be able to comfortably unhook. You might then still under or over adjust it. This is powerful, smooth, very stable and provides a good feel at the bar. The water relaunch is fairly good and, although the kite isn't really fast, this is not really a kite for beginners in the way that it turns. Generating power all the way through the turn it drives around rather than pivoting. There's a constant feel to it all the time, no forward or back stall; just very well balanced. If you're not used to kiting, this could tire you out.
There really aren't many kites that offer a sublime feel through the bar that doesn't change, hooked-in or unhooked. In the same session you can be practising your deadmen or your back mobes. For progressive intermediate riders and above, this will really reward riders that like a bit of positive power. Having had little refinements over the years, the Ion is a mature and polished kite, a bit like the Volkswagon Golf GTI.
A beautifully balanced kite with unusually sublime handling, in and out of the loop.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Add just an inch or two more throw on the depower and offer a bigger chicken-loop as standard, rather than having to order it separately if you're seriously into unhooking.
SIZES: 14.5, 12.5, 10.5, 8.5, 7 and 5.5m