After winning numerous magazines tests and getting extremely positive feedback from Airush customers, the 2013 Lithium was going to be a challenge to make better. Staying as the front-runner in all-terrain kites, the Lithium is focused on being the do-all kite for the everyday rider. Wing-tip and strut positioning mean the Lithium has a direct and agile feel through the turns, essential for wave and freeriding. The sweep of the delta hybrid design in the wing-tips guarantees a hassle free and quick relaunch. The Lithium is ideal for riders looking to do a bit of everything, whether it's your first day, cruising, freestyle or riding waves!
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We tested the Litium in conditions ranging from 18 ? 27 knots.
2013 sees Airush use a much stronger, full Dacron trailing edge that's roughly five inches wide to toughen up the trailing edge. There's good use of mark cloth where the canopy joins the leading edge and very solid bridle attachment points. It's not the most bomb proof kite you're going to come across this year, but there's plenty there and the Lithium manages to feel nice and light, too. This year there are medium and low pressure attachment points for the front bridle, taking the kite from light and nippy to a more robust, steadier feel. It's still not heavy though, it's medium, as it says on the tube! There are also three more bar pressure settings on the wing-tips for back line positioning. We opted for the middle setting. (Find much more on these settings on page 126 in an interview with Airush designer, Mark Patterson.)
The three strut delta shape remains more or less the same as the 2012 model, but coming in are some really striking colours. The Lithium stands out as a clean cut, good looking kite. Slight modifications to the one pump system, with wider valves and tubes, make it really quick and easy to both inflate and deflate. The new Smart bar looks very polished and striking. Super clean and simple, there are new soft rubber covered bar ends incorporating one of the bar width adjustment options. The other adjustments come from the bar sections that can be added swiftly and easily with Airush's push pin system between 45-52-55-62cm lengths. The size of the poppers have been increased to make popping them easier. The above-the-bar pull-pull trimming system is neat and easy to use. The stainless steel buckle has been beefed up and above this is a new low 'Y' splitter that allows for a new single line flag out system. Simple line adjustments at this section make switching the bar into fifth line mode easy, should you need to for another kite in your quiver. Sectioned flying line length options allow you to choose between 24, 21, 18, 15 or 10 metre set-ups. The push-away quick-release chicken-loop remains untouched, works very smoothly and is easy to re-set. The combined suicide/flag out safety ring returns meaning you can clip in for a suicide set-up, but should you need to pull the release, the ring slips off the chicken-loop to flag the kite out safely. You can also have it loose for full-on safety mode. We really liked this from a few brands last year.
Considering there's a 20 kilo weight difference between the testers, the fact we were always very comfortable on this kite speaks volumes about its range. The low end is particularly good and the kite parks and rides beautifully with bags of power on command at the bar; there's no need to fly it around the window; it's like you've always got your foot hovering over the gas pedal. The top end seems good too, but the low end is so good you might find you want to change down a size a bit sooner. Either that, or hold on and go huge! We mainly rode on the factory settings; low pressure attachment on the front line and medium on the wing-tips. This feels lighter than last year's bar pressure and switching up to the medium pressure setting certainly reinforces what you feel at the bar, but it's then by no means heavy. It's positive and predictable.
The Lithium turns with purpose and responds smoothly, generating a nice, constant feel through the turn. It's not a huge wide arc and it will spin if you want it to. The big air ability is huge and easy to access. This kite is all about uncomplicated fun on the water and when you chuck it above your head the hang-time is very generous too, giving you lots of time to look down and laugh at your mates as you can feel that the kite is just sat nicely above your head. The Lithium will handle some nice, big slow loops or will spin quickly, although there is occasionally a slight canopy flutter on its way through, but that's fairly typical of three strut designs and Airush have other high performance bridled kites more aimed at this style of riding. The relaunch is standard delta style ? a simple pull on the rear line and before you know it the kite's at the edge of the window ready to be piloted up.
So, only a minor polishing for 2013, but this was already one of our favourite all-round freeride kites last year. Modifications relating to increased ease-of-use and quality of experience are much appreciated but, again, the Lithium puts a big tick in the stability and steady power boxes. Balanced, well behaved and predictable, this really is a do-it-all kite. Only riders looking for super high performance in terms of really rapid handling, loops and a more advanced kind of power band would grow out of this. Three words: fun, fun, fun.
The user-friendliness and fun factor in this kite is silly. Small riders should perhaps be a bit conservative in your size choices, which is nice!
KW WOULD CHANGE:
When you start throwing a lot of loops and riding really aggressively you'll want something that flies further forward in the window with a bit more urgency.
16, 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
This test is inissue #59