KW reviews LF’s longest-running all-terrain slayer
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We have always had fun on the Envy, whichever model it was that we rode over the eight seasons it’s been in existence. From the early days of being a highly depowerable quite C shaped kite, to last year where it had more swept back tips and a more open canopy, the Envy worked across a massive range of riders, from amateurs to pros. It has always had the right mix between performance, accessibility and fun.
Now, given a new sleeker name – the NV – it’s like the kite has been sent on a fitness drive and has come back looking leaner, more athletic and fighting fit. The first obvious changes are that the leading edge is smaller and the tips are broader. It looks more purposeful.
Performance wise LF have pulled the NV into a more hybrid C shape and the bigger tips have a positive effect on the turning and assurance felt at the bar. Send it however hard you want around a loop and there’s no flutter at all. Earlier Envys always had a good level of performance, but they felt disconnected and at times rough around the edges. Now it feels like you’re moving around the ring like Floyd Mayweather.
The Envy has always been able to put down big numbers for jumping and in the 25 knots max we had it out in there was good power in the nine, but we definitely felt like it could keep going for at least another ten knots. We can’t wait to try it in Cape Town because the NV obviously has a lovely ability to harness power and give it to you in a very usable way. We didn’t have to trim the kite at all during our sessions here in the UK and in average conditions the jumps were still respectable. Bully recorded an 11 metre boost in 25 knots. On that day in Cornwall the biggest Woo jump of the day recorded in the 35 knots down there was 13 metres, just two metres higher.
Flying nicely forward in the window the kite naturally offers depower and control. The changes made to the NV this year mean that kite has lost a little of its low end grunt but the behaviour is more consistent and the performance is cleaner. Last year the Envy was more raw in its delivery and character. It used more swear words. This year it’s the in-laws dream: clean cut and a high achiever!
More agile and more tuned, the NV also isn’t as physical to fly on the legs this year, moving quickly it feels extremely responsive. Kite looping in 25 knots is a lot of fun and very consistent.
The top end range has also improved. Although the ability that the Envy had for boosting was incredible if you had the leg strength to hold it down in strong winds, this year the NV still has big performance, but it’s now cleaner in its ability. Rather than gritting your teeth in the gusts, you can stand taller and maintain a good stance. There’s lots of depower on tap and you can sheet out and shut the kite’s power right down, but the NV remains taut and stays with you without coughing. For waves that performance is much better this year. The tips don’t slow the kite down at all and the NV doesn’t back off – it’s go-go-go all the time now.
So in terms of how the NV now sits alongside the Wow – LF’s freeride / wave kite, the NV is the high-performance freeride kite choice of the rider who leans more towards freestyle than waves, but still wants to be able to do everything when the chance arises and conditions allow. The Wow pivots much more in its turning, but also uniquely as a wave kite offers big boosting potential.
The NV sits in that stable of ultra-high performance freeride kites. Yes it’s still very accessible, but it’s not just a sheet and go kite and rewards good handling skills. To have all that speed and agility means that although the NV is a great kite for unhooking on, it does wonder around the window if you’re note careful with your input at the bar. It’s twitchy for a pure unhooked kite, but at the same time you’re getting so much all-round performance.
The NV is similar in its power band to the Dice. It likes a lot of wind being thrown at it and becomes more and more alive. LF now provide just one bar size across the range. The ‘Mission Control’ is all new and comes in one size that allows you to adjust the rear line width between 49 and 55cm. At 55cm the bar does make the kite super responsive so you’re better to set it on the inside line settings and ride with your hands close to the centre of the bar. The plastic coating on the centre line is very comfortable against your hands, the above-the-bar trimming is clean, the new chicken-loop is a great size and the quick release ejects and rebuilds very easily indeed. The grip is perhaps a little too simple and could have a bit more texture but the stand out design is LF’s line untwister just above the chicken-loop; it’s so easy. Overall the set up is very effective, but the look and feel is more modular than some designs and aesthetically not quite as seamless. Without doubt it’s simple and very clean though.
The kite is well built and the new design looks fantastic in the sky. Reinforced and well manufactured, the Envy also comes with LF’s excellent wide inflation Maxflow one pump system, which is up there as one of the quickest and easiest on the market.
The Envy has been to the gym all summer and come out looking leaner, trimmer, cleaner and fitter; a look that translates through every aspect of the kite’s feel and performance. Perhaps some bigger riders will find that the kite has lost a couple of points at its low end, but generally the NV is now more assured and highly tuned throughout all of its performance range. We didn’t get to test the full potential at its top end, but from the way it feels the NV promises to be an absolute big wind weapon in Cape Town when we get there in January. The increase in tip size has made a big difference to the connection with the kite and that lighter, more nimble feel will excite the legions of LF riders looking for a very polished all-round high-performance ally.
Super clean connection and improved feel around all aspects of the window.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
The kite is quick, so a smaller bar option would be nice, but isn’t vital.
NV BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 8
Full package: 8
Low end: 8
Top end: 9
Steering speed: 8
Turning circle: 5
Bar pressure: 5
Water relaunch: 8.5
SIZES: 15, 13.5, 12, 10.5, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
This review appeared in Issue #84 of Kiteworld. Subscribe to the mag for the most in-depth tests out there!