The 2011 S-Bow is all about progression and versatility. After six years of R & D, the S-Bow’s reputation speaks for itself. Designed to fulfil the expectations and ambitions of the most passionate riders, Starkites have optimised the S-Bow after feedback from pros and numerous kite schools. With the endless possibilities for all disciplines and conditions, the S-Bow remains a favourite for wave riders as well as beginners. The S-Bow has been given a more athletic response by enhancing the kite’s predictability when driven hard. The highly efficient profile offers tremendous power without inhibiting the ability to fully depower the kite at any given time; this brings unrestricted agility at higher speeds. A one-pump system has also been added this year, as have reinforcements in the leading and trailing edges to maximize durability.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
Firstly, we need to mention that we haven't tried the new NeX bar – we tested the kite on the old bar, although it does look like the NeX is a vast improvement in terms of strength and comfort. The NeX bar looks super clean and simple. One thing that has remained is the mini-fifth safety line which, instead of going from the chicken-loop up through the bar, runs outside the bar directly up to one front line, removing any chance of it getting caught or jammed in with the other lines when you pull your release. It does mean that it gets wrapped around your chickenloop line when you do any rotations, but you can just pull the bar down which automatically untwists it. Super safe, it's just something to get used to and doesn't look as clean as other systems, but more importantly, works.
As far as the kite itself goes, it's well made, has a good one pump system, quite a simple bridle, but of course as a proper bow kite, looks much flatter than we've become used to in most kites these days. But bow kite handling has come on in leaps and bounds, as the S-Bow proves. The colours on this particular model may not be to your liking (there are plenty of other options), but the handling is spot on for people looking for their first or second kites. Very direct and extremely steady in its performance, the S-Bow is incredibly predictable. It doesn't quite depower 100% so also doesn't over fly itself and stays nicely within the wind window at all times, even when you sheet out sharply or time your jumps wrong and come in to land underneath your kite. There is ample depower for anyone's needs. One thing that really needs highlighting is the relaunch. It's absolutely incredible. You can just look at it and it'll spin over and relaunch.
Try things with confidence, knowing that the kite will be back up and you'll be riding again in seconds. Turning-wise, although there's not much power in the turns, riding around with this kite is like taking a stunt kite onto the water. Doing a transition? Why not add a downloop at the end and get used to those? Doing a carve? Why not loop the kite into it? Wanting to boost? The hangtime is lovely and steady and you'll find it hard not to throw a loop in like a pro as you come into land. All of this, of course, makes it a very good kite for waves. What was also surprising was just how capable this kite was at the basics of riding unhooked. With just a little trimming, come out of the loop and the kite sits there pulling nicely and is so well balanced on all four lines without any hint of back stall and doesn't pull your arms off when you take a while to actually pop off the water.
This kite isn't for the most advanced riders by any means, but for riders within their first two years of riding, it will give you the confidence to really become an excellent rider and kite flier.
Endlessly looping the kite like a pro, without the alarming consequences.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
We had a few things we would have changed on the bar we had, all of which look to have been fixed. If so, this is a really fantastic kite for lots of early intermediates and those wanting to get into waves.
SIZES: 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6 and 4m
This test is in issue #50