Life is never boring with the Smoke. With this dude by your side, every day brings action and excitement. From his look, he may seem calm and collected, but don't let this fool you - he is unquestionably the number one, the undefeated world champion of all weight classes with many titles around his neck and thousands of faithful friends around the globe. The Smoke is a nine metre kite that's an absolute must for every rider`s quiver. Its wide range covers all those windy days when you are just dying to ride and its versatile skills make it an all-in-one kite for every rider. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
It's been a few years since we first got our hands on a Wainman kite. We were amazed at just how different they felt back then. Simple, but raw, rugged, powerful, engaging and really quite emotional, they are still very different to most kites out there. We rode this nine metre in a range of conditions, from 17 to 35 knots and had it set up on the middle bridle setting, which we found most comfortable, but there are some options there for you to experiment with for more upwind or downwind inspired riding. The Smoke has a good low end, it's fast and feisty and has a fairly punchy power delivery. This is definitely a more tame version than recent years, but it's still packed with attitude. There's oodles of power as well as loads of depower and going from one extreme to the other in the power band is nice and quick. The bar is lovely. It was always comfortable and slick, but now with the increased safety option of the pretend fifth line attachment it's complete. The grip is good, the short bar feels substantial in your hands and the trimming system is a super clean cleat system, which we always like. The chicken-loop perhaps has a bit of a droop when you're trying to hook back in but the loop itself is nice and solid with a simple push away release and the distance the bar sits away from your body when you pull down to unhook is just right. You absolutely don't worry about the relaunch on this kite. Therounded shape and the fact it's set up nicely balanced on just four lines means it pops up straight away, even if it has been rolled around in the surf. It's a tough little puppy (or rabbit!) too. The boost on this kite is probably what impressed us the most. We'd forgotten how much fun it is when the wind gets up. We know it's got wake-style credentials and loads of unhooked power and is well-heeled in its behaviour out of the loop, but in 25 knots and above you get some serious hang-time. The Smoke punches you up fast and high and then never loses its way or stalls, keeping you on a nice trajectory for quite some time. Pull on the bar and you can feel the kite keeping you up there as long as it can. If there's a double lift to be had, the Smoke finds it. Some kites you have to turn in a certain way, sheet out and sheet in precisely to get the most out of the boost, this is just very uncomplicated. And that quality applies to everything. The steering is quick and firm, but does require fairly heavy input at the bar, which is great for freestyle and for a positive feeling off the hook, but this could be a little tiring for some. We did expect the kite loop - after all this talk of grunt and fire power - to be a bit more exciting/scary than it is, though. Even when it's really windy the Smoke tends to whip round. It's not a loop to be ashamed of by any means, but it's not a super-charged C kite loop either. What it does do though is allow you to do some pretty impressive looking stuff quite safely. You go high and the kite charges round the loop flying forward nicely on the front lines, so you do look pretty gnarly. There just isn't that mega wang sensation we were expecting.
The Smoke has a fantastic mix of exciting but easy jumping ability with loads of stability, unhooked performance as well as freeride characteristics for everyone, from intermediate level upwards. Extremely trustworthy and reliable, the Smoke never flies itself out of the window. The relaunch is impeccable, but there are lighter feeling kites out there that absolute beginners might be more comfortable on. This is snazzy, mean looking, it's certainly not shy and is built to last. Great stuff and bags of fun.
Easy, booming boost and solid all-round reliability for all schools of riding thought.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Bar pressure might be a bit much for some to kite around on all day.
Big Mama (14.5), Boss (12), Punch (10.5), Smoke (9), Mr. Green (7.5), Gypsy (6.25) and Bunny (5m)
This test is in issue #58