Engineered to provide the ultimate in versatility, the Vapor X redefines expectations and sets a new performance standard, seamlessly integrating precision, passion and power. Innovative yet simple, the Vapor X offers incredible pop, all-terrain characteristics and unmatched turning speed. No restraints, no complications; just limitless possibilities on the water.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We don't usually start these reviews with describing the actual kite, but we've got to say it looks pretty bad ass in the sky. The canopy is a very nice design ? a really good looking hybrid / delta / C kite mix, and very aggressive. It's a four line hybrid with bridles but has the option of setting it up on five lines and direct to the kite. In the time we had on it, we chose the four line set-up with bridles as this will be what most people go for.
The bar is well engineered and comfortable. A little thinner than many, but with good grip and a depower pull-pull system above the bar, which we really like. As we mentioned in the Lithium review in issue #42, the bar is designed with the 'Smart' system. One of the ideas of which is removable end sections so you can make the bar shorter, meaning that you only need one bar system for all your kites and works well via a push-pin fixing system that's similar to windsurfing boom systems (or at least it was when we were windsurfing!). The length of the bar can be alternated between a four and five line set-up and can be used on other kites, too. There's also Airush's new quick-release system, called the 'Brain', which Airush say is the most complete safety system to date. Gone is the trigger release and in its place is a compact, neat and simple push-away unit. The trimming straps from the cleat are long but neat and tidy and don't flap around, allowing for a long bar throw as the cleat is high up and out of the way. The loops on the depower straps are quite small, but nothing to put you off. We also really like the chicken-loop. Super-strong, it's a great size ? not too big and not too small. Overall this is a great package, of course rounded off with one pump.
The first thing we noticed about this kite on the water is how fast it turns. The next thing we loved was the insane hang-time. We were expecting this to be a wake-style /freestyle kite that would sit and behave while pulling solidly through the window. But we didn't even get onto that side of things for ages, such was the fun in the boost. We test a lot of kites and get used to good boost but then there are kites that you send and say to yourself, 'Oh yeah, that's good!' It's not a shoot you up and bring you straight back down ? there's a great hang-time element, too. We were getting the sort of jumps you'd expect from a seven metre in really windy conditions, and we were on a nine metre in just 17 ? 25 knots, which actually generated comments from the beach, the difference between this and other kites on the water being that noticeable, going higher and holding for longer. It's fast with lots of lift and is very predictable. The combo of a fast turning speed, fast kite and a good canopy keep you up there. The kite loops are good too and, perhaps with the lines attached directly to the kite rather than on the bridles, would be even more raw. But there's definitely plenty of punch in there and a reliable flight path that you know is going to make it all the way round and catch you. And it's not a whippy spinner either, the loop is very controllable.
Rewarding good technique, it's also got plenty of depower. Depowering almost to zero the Vapor X maintains feeling through the bar right the way down. There's more than enough depower in this to be able to easily hold on in relatively strong winds and ride with good, balanced steering at the kite's top end. When we eventually got round to trying unhooked, more modern tricks the kite remains rock steady in the window. No coughing or stalling when you load it up. Once we realised how quick this kite is, we were then unsure that it would be that good for unhooking, but there's a very solid and stable feel when unhooking.
The only downside maybe is that it's not as easy to relaunch as most deltas, which coupled with the kite's speed won't make it ideal for beginners and early intermediates. It's not hard to relaunch at all, but requires a little bit more technique than just sitting there, holding a line and expecting it all to be done for you.
In truth we were gutted coming off the water. Like the Ozone C4 last issue, this is just an incredible, modern design. The gap really is closing now in terms of advanced and intermediate riders needing different kites. Perhaps only pro riders would need an out-and-out C kite now, but perhaps not even them. If you're a true intermediate rider with a couple of years riding under your belt, you'll love this. There aren't many kites out that can combine that original fun, boosty nature with modern, rapid handling as well as rock-solid reliability for wake-style. Fun, rewarding and packed with plenty of performance, this is the second very impressive kite we've tested from Airush this year.
KW LIKED: Realising what the benchmark is for modern performance kites for the mass market.
KW WOULD CHANGE: An easier relaunch, but if you really just want to sit there and pull a string, you
should get a delta.
SIZES: 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, and 6m
This test is inissue #45
Airush Vapor-X 9m (2010)
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