Home Gear Flexfoil Hadlow ID 8m (2012)

Flexfoil Hadlow ID 8m (2012)

Eleven years ago Aaron Hadlow started a kitesurfing journey with Flexifoil. He decided he wanted to be at the top and he went there. He showed the world his character and proved who he was. Now he shares that journey with you, presenting you with a kitesurfing kite that will take you there to join him, to share that identity, that success, that image. Stemming from the existing Hadlow Pro, the Hadlow ID brings to the collection a kite firmly in the reach of all aspiring kiters. Increased depower, easier relaunch and phenomenal performance in freestyle, freeriding and wave riding, mean the ID gives you the tools to grow and be a part of the Hadlow movement, from intermediate to pro riders alike.

There's one thing you can say about Aaron's products if nothing else, he likes them all to look nice ridden together. The rad red and white theme (he's a patriotic son of a gun you know) continues along with the black in the ID kite and it looks the business. The kite is typically Flexifoil tough, it's going to last you for some time and has all the usual modern accoutrements in place. Sitting on a very small bridle, the ID is quite an open C / hybrid shape, but still heavily leans towards the bad boy C kite side of the fence. The Flexifoil bar system takes a bit of getting used to if you've never used it. If you're a builder or you kite as much as Aaron you'll be fine with the grip on the bar, which we reckon is the grippiest on the market. Office hands beware! The Flexifoil bar used to be a leader, but it hasn't changed for a long time, and while still very strong and usable, it's fallen behind the pack a bit in terms of neatness and innovation. That said, it's safe and the pull-pull trimming system works well (although you might need to hang off the nearest tree for a few days to be able to easily reach it). What we do like on the ID bar is that it comes with a nice, big chicken-loop option (Flexi's other chicken-loop is miniscule), and this is super-easy to hook in and out of, which is what this kite is so obviously all about. The big chicken-loop, combined with some distance above it means that the bar doesn't pull down as close to your body as you might be used to. It means the sheeting range on the bar is smaller, which isn't as good for intermediates, but it does mean that it's a lot easier to hook back into the chicken-loop as you don't have to pull the bar down as far; especially pleasing when you've been beefing it up in and out of the loop all day long.
There are a couple of settings on the front bridle that change the way the kite flies. Furthest forward you get a lot more depower and the kite flies further forward in the window, but we mostly flew it on the more standard stepped in attachments points aimed more towards the wake-styler and seems more balanced. The ID is much easier to fly than the Hadlow Pro which requires freakish skills to get to grips with. The ID certainly has attitude though, and it's not as easy to just jump on and fly as more swept back hybrid shapes. The ID is very stable in that wake-style setting though and even in very strong winds we felt comfortable as it just sits there very poised and doesn't drill you in the gusts. Considering there isn't a huge amount of throw at the bar, there is a lot more depower on tap than we thought there would be. You still need some good board skills to dig your edge in and deal with the stronger gusts, but there is a nice balance between that and being able to sheet out for some lighter relief. That range on the bar also translates into some really explosive jumping in strong winds too. The ID provides so much feedback that you always know where the kite is and once you've got the movement down of how to fly the kite up through the window, sheeting out as it goes over your head before pulling the trigger to take-off, the feedback you get when you've done things right and wrong is very good. The natural lift in the kite from the slightly flatter central profile mixed with the very squared off wing-tips for super responsive steering mean that the kite has a lovely tendency to want to keep moving. Use it to your advantage for transitions as the kite makes its way over head, the extended float this allows you is lovely. Riding with some power always on is addictive and definitely makes you a better, more athletic and involved rider. Yes, the Hadlow is accessible to a lot more people than the Hadlow Pro, but it also doesn't let you mow the lawn for long. The bar pressure is quite high and it's quite a muscly kite to move around. It's happiest unhooked and when positioned down low in the window working more laterally at 45 degrees and below. It produces power, sits there and works at that level. Unhook and there's lots and lots of pop before an incredible moment of clarity where the power drops, making it easier to pass the bar rather than ripping you off downwind. The kite flexes and seems to take a breath after the explosive pop, before exhaling again and continuing to deliver that really solid grunt when you land. The Hadlow turns with lots of power and there's commitment needed for the heavier input at the bar. There is of course power all the way through the turn. This may be billed as a hybrid, but it still packs plenty of C kite beans under the bonnet and the loops are about rider commitment.
There are so many positives that a motivated intermediate rider looking to progress could find in this kite. Extremely positive power, fluid movements, engaging feel, huge amounts of feedback and relatively easy relaunch for a four line kite of this shape will improve your general ability and kite hardiness in no time. The best elements of this kite are its wake-style prowess though ? few kites are as well set-up for it - but we were really pleasantly surprised by how capable it is for hooked-in boosting as well.
Explosive pop followed by a controlled silence in the air.
The bar could be a bit more friendly and comfortable.
12, 10, 8 and 6m

This test is
in issue #57

Added: 2012-06-19

Category: Gear

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