The 2012 Rebel remains North’s flagship kite, combining all the ingredients you need to cover a huge wind-range, rip apart any size surf, boost huge airs and ride comfortably in nearly all conditions. It is quite simply North's best interpretation of what a modern free-ride/wave kite should be. The 2012 Rebel remains a loaded 5th line kite, offering acclaimed performance attributes such as a short bar stroke, crisp, direct feeling, rock solid stability in all conditions, and an incredible ability to steer while de-powered. The new square wingtips maximise the effective tip area, making the tips less prone to distortion and fluttering and give the Rebel its new stylish and modern appeal. The Rebel also features a simple back-line adjustment to tune it for greater or lesser bar pressure.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
Readers of a squeamish disposition, turned off by gratuitous feelings of sentimentality should probably turn the page now. We're in love with the North Rebel.
Our tale of love started with a glimpse across the stock room when it first arrived, dazzling in its brightly coloured, spacious bag with alluring extendable sections. The Rebel literally lit up the room. Beautifully assembled, the engineering and build quality of the actual kite is second-to-none. North's exclusive new Teijin D2 canopy fabric seems very tough and the trailing edge is adorned with heavy duty reinforcements and flutter-proof battens that finish off the kite's shapely back end.
The Rebel remains a five strut kite and we respect North's dedication to that. If you're only used to four line kites you will find five lines more of a hassle to set up and the relaunch does require a bit of a tug on the fifth line to get it to roll over when the kite falls straight downwind on its nose, but the safety levels are fantastic and five line kites do tend to be wonderfully balanced in flight. North's one pump system is good and once again we see North's unique sliding valve caps and clips, so there's no pushing and Velcro-ing necessary when sealing your valve. The dump valve is at the end of the kite, which means that when rolling the kite away, you always need to roll from one tip to the other. North's bar has always been ahead of the game in terms of build quality and functionality, and this year some minor tweaks join an already clean and very well-polished set-up.
As soon as we hit the water it was obvious this was a good kite. The more we rode it the better it got. The Rebel just has the plug-and-play thing down to a tee. There's an instant connection and usability with the kite that's really on another level. There are kites out there that are more focussed on certain riding styles, and will do those better than the Rebel, but as an fun, all-round freeride kite, there's not a lot that can match it.
Why is it so good? For starters it's incredibly solid and rigid in the sky. The canopy is taught and, this may sound odd, but it's totally silent. There is no canopy flutter at all, even through aggressive kite loops. There are no tippy sensations with the kite and the feeling at the bar is just wonderful. Moderate bar pressure, there's plenty of oomph in the performance. Pull in on the bar and there's instant power delivery, control and you feel totally connected. It's like your avatar, grown for you and sharing your DNA. You always know where the Rebel is, like it's talking you through your tricks and inspires confidence. The range in the kite is fantastic and it sits nice and perked up in the window; there's no downwind chugging and it doesn't chase its way out of the window either. The Rebel also fancies itself as a kite with racing potential too, delivering superb board speed that translates into breathtaking airs. As happy at home low down for unhooked wake-style tricks, it'll switch seamlessly into rocket mode a moment later. In fact, off the hook it's lovely, dropping back slightly and providing a nice, meaty pull. You look at the shape of the kite and just don't expect that to be the case. For wave riding it drifts well and has enough speed and response for fast, flowing bottom and top turns and plenty of depower on demand.
The North Rebel is kiteboarding's Volkswagon Golf. It's been through years of careful and expensive development. The end result is a product that satisfies the boy racer in GTI guise through to the more refined gent, looking for comfort and build-quality but still likes to put his foot down on the open road. Some people won't be able to see past the fact it has five lines, but we can only lead a horse to water. For a freestyle/freeride kite, the Rebel is at the top of its game and somehow keeps getting better and better.
The most complete all-round, fun freeride kite we've ridden.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
It might be nice to be able to roll the kite up from the tips to the centre if there was a dump valve in the middle, but we're big boys now and can manage without it.
14, 12, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
This test is in issue #53