The KW review of this year’s KOTA-winning kite!
THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN ISSUE #91 IN JANUARY, 2018
TEST TEAM NOTES:
It seems there was little to change on last year’s kite, and we’re pleased because we really felt that it was a fantastic step on from the first generation Pivot that was a bit of a quad burner. Last year the Pivot was trimmed down and became ideal for general fun, all-round freeriding. This year we were happy to spend more time on it as it’s the ideal kite for a place like Cape Town where you need ease-of-use but also demand to be able to tap into great performance in good winds.
The Pivot manages to blend all the vitals for hooked-in freeride progression of power on demand and instant depower. The connection feels direct, yet the Pivot is also soft and forgiving. There’s lots of sheet and go power but it’s also responsive to rider input for those who like to throw the kite around. There’s excellent lift matched equally in feel with the hang-time. There’s lots of low end power and yet the pull feels light in your harness and the steering is effortless. Finally, the turns are pivotal, but the Pivot offers great control and drive into and out of turns and kite loops.
It all adds up to a fantastic kite for all-round freeriding and crosses over brilliantly into waves. There are so many riders looking for a kite that can offer good wave riding handling and yet won’t leave them compromised when it’s windy and they want to go jumping. This is a superb quiver filler for those riders.
At the heart of the Pivot’s core performance (and this is a trait of all Naish kites designed by Damien Girardin) is that there’s a large but incremental depower range. The sheeting feel is incredibly clean and crisp and the depower is quick and efficient, yet smooth and without lag. What Naish do well is always give you good amounts of power that’s delivered through a long, silky smooth range. You can throw the kite around really aggressively, but it won’t pull you over your edge if you’re still progressing because it’s not snatchy in its power delivery or depower.
The canopy and bridle offer excellent gust management which allow you to easily hold your riding line with just little sheeting adjustments. Always treating you like a lady or gentleman, there’s nothing fatiguing about the Pivot’s handling, but there is plenty of power and turning performance on tap. The playability of the Pivot is huge. You can totally switch off the power as you go over a wave and then quickly find the power again in an instant just as you land to aid a really smooth riding style in difficult conditions.
The turn is quite pivotal, but the excellent initiation and drive mean the Pivot is capable of some really fun kite loops. As it takes you high and has such great feel overhead, the kite loops are equally controlled and can be made a bit wider than just pivoting round.
The Pivot can be trimmed down and offers some performance for basic unhooked tricks, but that’s not where its focus lies. On the freeride spectrum this crosses over from all-round hooked-in twin-tip performance and into waves, rather than reaching from twin-tip freeride to wakestyle. The Naish Dash is more geared that way.
In terms of the set-up, the Pivot appears very similar to last year. As usual a clean and clinical product build with Naish’s Quad Tex canopy cloth offering improved strength and control of power. Naish’s single-point inflation system, ‘Octopus’, allows you to inflate the kite from the main bladder via a mid-size valve but then also release all the struts for a quick pack down. Alternatively you can leave the struts inflated.
We used the Torque ATB (above the bar) 55 control bar (below-the-bar option still available). It may be a longer reach than the below-the-bar system, but when it’s windy we generally find this sort of system easier to get the leverage to depower the kite. Naish’s quick release has always been one of the simplest action and rebuild mechanisms and when triggered releases the kite safely to one line. The below-the-bar unspinner is also very smooth and easy. The uncovered rope depower line through the centre of the bar does make sheeting up and down very smooth. It also makes the bar very neat to pack away, but if you ride with your hands butted right up to the centre of the bar you will find the rope rubbing your fingers a bit, so just nudge them a little way from the centre.
The Pivot ticks a huge amount of boxes and is a pure blood freeride kite. From sheet and go, to quick turning, to drifting in waves, to really fun boosting and loops. The bottom end is especially good and yet the Pivot can definitely hold its own at the top end when the wind picks up, too. In terms of the kites we’ve featured in recent tests it’s less full-on than the Switchblade and more all-round with more intent than the XR5 – which is highly focused on cruisy freeride mixed with huge hangtime. The Pivot mixes up the fun as much as any other freeride kite for early intermediates right up to advanced cross-over riders. If you mostly ride hooked-in and like to mix up your riding, you’ll really be hard pressed to find a better option than the Pivot.
A very intuitive ride that a wide array of riders could immediately tune into and enjoy. Consistent, comfortable, fast enough and fun.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
We’d cover the chicken-loop centre line rope in plastic.
PIVOT BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 8.5
Full package: 8.5
Low end: 8.5
Top end: 8
Steering speed: 7
Turning circle: 4
Bar pressure: 5
Water relaunch: 9
Ease of use: 9
SIZES: 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m