KW tests one of the top turbo charged freeride / freestyle hybrids
THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN ISSUE #92 IN MARCH, 2018
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The GTS4 is hands-down the most legitimately looping kite in the three strut hybrid category.
This kite has been on the market for over a year and we tested it in the UK when it first came out, but were always hankering to ride it in strong winds in Cape Town.
At a high level this is an advanced intermediate and above freeride kite and after riding so many different kites this season, getting back on the GTS4 we were reminded how much it drives around a loop. Reminding us of a C kite loop, it drives and tears its way around the window and you are only limited in its performance by the size of your bravery when it comes to how hard you want to steer it. You can turn it fairly tightly, but the GTS’s natural carve around the window is so smooth, wide and constant. It’s very special and not just a raw, turning monster and you can see some of the most beautiful and flowing shapes around the Cape Town skyline coming from GTS riders. The short bridle makes for a comfortable ride while making the circumference of the turn and application of power just right for advanced riders and the GTS will straighten your back out as it pulls around the bottom of the window! Replacing all the lack of comfort in difficult conditions of a C kite with a smooth drive and large range of a hybrid, the GTS retains the best of traditional high performance and combines it into a very usable high end freeride package.
Core have two excellent freeride kites in the XR5 and this GTS4. The XR5 holds the height records and everyone can use it, even beginners, but more aggressive riders switch to the GTS for the turning drive and contact. The GTS doesn’t jump as easily in terms of technique as the XR5 because its quicker and the sweet spot for lift is smaller. It does however have a nice combination of low end torque and surprising top end poise and control once you dial into it. You can hold down a lot of power on the GTS because the trim and sheeting is very effective, so you can load it up hard and when you release your rail and send it, the GTS can really deliver, but it needs a committed rider.
Yes, you can ride around comfortably on it and although it doesn’t have pure sheet-and-go drive, it turns quickly and smoothly so isn’t difficult to generate board speed through a few kite movements. The GTS slips nicely into gear you can then just manage the power through sheeting. The power at the bar is more solid than the XR5, but you’ve still got range to allow you to hold on at speed.
So how does the GTS compare in this category? Well, the Bandit is usually our go-to comparison because it does such a good job in all categories. The GTS is more legit and has more feeling and a wider, more driving turn. The arc is set more naturally wide and it’s all about turning around its tips and there’s nothing pivotal about it. There is so much sideway hoik when you loop it. The Bandit is more forgiving through turns, is quicker and more pivotal, so bridged the gap into waves better.
Getting basic height for straight jumps the GTS4 is good, though it’s nowhere near the ease of the XR5, but it’s not lacking here. The fairly deep canopy and strong wingtips really enforce the punch and drive that you feel.
Core state that you can use the GTS for whatever you want – well you can certainly use it for freestyle. For waves, because it’s reactive and shuts off fairly well, for sure you can, but it will again take a bit of dialling into because of its turn. Certainly good riders who are more into big air and freestyle will accept its wave limits because it’s sooo good for what they really want it for on a twin-tip.
The GTS isn’t too full on for most people because it’s got a lot of range, but it’s just not as easy as some other kites, or as forgiving of mistakes in your steering when you start looping out of transitions for example. This isn’t the sort of kite that you can just nudge a bit to the left, sheet in and trundle off. You need some board skills and when you do then you can dive the kite and generate speed straight away. Progressive intermediates and above will find this kite very engaging.
You’re basically riding a 900cc motorbike – yes, the power can be smooth, but when you apply it wrongly round a corner, you’ll get more than a bit of wheel spin! But when you’re up to it, you’ll be screaming with glee.
Top end materials and build quality from the kite down to the ultra-clean but high-spec supported safety line and adjustable width Sensor bar, the GTS4 takes the best elements of old school turning power and blends it with new school usability and refinement. 20 years ago kiters had quad muscles like tree trunks; that’s no longer the case. The GTS is pretty much the ultimate all-terrain performance twin-tip machine, whether you’re wanting to drive hard and fast and get a huge and consistent yank from a kite loop or unhook and throw a 5 off a kicker. It’s still accessible though, if you’re committed to that style of riding, the GTS will literally take you further. There’s a nice switch up in character and intensity too with the variable line length extension options that the Sensor bars come with. We tested it mostly on 22s, but the package comes with 18 metre lines and then two and four metre extensions, giving a maximum length option of 24 metres.
The most consistent, naturally smooth and powerful loop in this hybrid sector.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Don’t be silly.
GTS4 BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 9.5
Full package: 9
Low end: 7.5
Top end: 8.5
Steering speed: 7
Turning circle: 7.5
Bar pressure: 6
Water relaunch: 8
Cross-over: 7.5 (Freestyle, freeride, waves)
SIZES: 13.5, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m