The Zulu features a new lower aspect-ratio and deep profiles which, combined with a bridled a four line kite set-up, generate extraordinary overall characteristics. The main innovation of the Zulu this year is its incredible low-end performance, which for a kite of this type is very unusual. You don't need to actively fly the kite as much to get it going; just sheet in and off you go. On top of that there is also an active low-end, which enables you to still get more performance out of the kite by moving it in the window as normal. This comes from the kite's turning characteristics, which keep it more fluid than pivotal through the turns, maintaining its speed and stopping it fly backwards. As a result, you can use a Zulu one or two kite sizes smaller than other SLE kites. This increases your fun, safety and what you get for your money. All-in-all, the Zulu is the perfect kite for beginners to freeriders to wake-stylers.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The Gin chicken-loop and bar system are much improved and genuinely innovative. The plastic moulded push-away release sits above the chicken-loop, leaving the rider attached to the chicken-loop in an emergency, rather than relying on the chicken-loop opening and possibly catching in the harness as it's released. Also, there's a ring on the side of the chicken-loop for unhooked riders to attach to but that also means you can trigger the quick-release normally, without being suicide connected to the kite. All very neat. The pull-pull trimming system is nice and smooth and within a good reach and the donkey can easily be swung out of the way if you want to ride unhooked a lot.
At the canopy the kite is well featured with one pump and is well put together. If you've never had any experience of the Gin brand, you'll be impressed.
The bar pressure is the first thing you notice when you put the kite up. The kite feels very light and nimble above your head. We tested this in about 15 ? 18 knots and at the lower end, did need a bit of moving to get going, but once you've got your board speed up the Zulu pulls incredibly into wind. So much so that we went on a little exploring mission upwind. It was superb for that. You'll actually need a fast board to keep up with this kite, otherwise you'll have to be working the kite a bit to get it going at the bottom end. There's a low feel of grunt at the bar but the responsiveness of the kite is great. Really well suited to lighter riders, the Zulu feels like it would be able to handle a silly amount of top end wind as well. A fast ride, there's nothing brutal about it. You can spin and loop the kite and have a lot of fun on it. Really nimble, if unhooked the kite steers and responds brilliantly without dropping back, but lacks a bit of punch in the pop. But for lighter riders getting into unhooked riding it's really good as it will loop around if you need it to without pulling your arms out. Biggest fun points on it though are for jumping in strong winds and carving around the ocean. The water relaunch is also nice and easy.
We felt that the Zulu is much more of a racing / freeride kite than a hardcore freestyler. The lightweight bar feedback and fast, smooth character makes it fantastic for racing around your home spot at lightning speed and for boosting some nice, floaty jumps in more winds. Heavier riders will want a bit more power, but if you want a quick, uncomplicated kite that's fun to fly, the Zulu ticks a lot of boxes.
Fast, smooth forward flight that gives the Zulu such incredible upwind performance and speed.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
More grunt and pull at the bar for bigger, performance orientated riders.
16, 13, 11, 9, 7 and 5m
This test is inissue #52
Gin Zulu 9m (2011)
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