This review first appeared in Kiteworld issue #78, released in November 2015. Get all the reviews first by subscribing to the mag!
TESTERS: CHRIS BULL AND MATT PEARCE
TEST TEAM NOTES
Here’s the sixth version of the Envy. Last year we were highly impressed by the slight change in direction that Liquid Force took with the kite, becoming lighter, more responsive and more athletic. It has always been a fun, dependable freeride kite, but as it had been quite heavily built in the past (so was super strong), that also made it a little bit sluggish in the turns. The increase in agility last year also translated into a wicked boosting ability.
For 2016 the trailing edge has an increase in tension with light weight waves of Dacron introduced as kites do wear quickly when left to flap on the beach for long periods. In general, Liquid Force have continued where they left off in 2015, using the extended design period to make the Envy feel even tighter in the sky. Flying on 20 metre lines with three metre extensions installed on the lines, this is a great length for response and feel, with the option of dropping down in length if you wish. The Envy doesn’t have Liquid Force’s brand new silky canopy material that they use on the Wow, but the quality of cloth is still excellent, in general the build quality is great and LF’s Max Flow inflation system is the widest on the market and very quick. (There is also a regular nipple valve in case you’re caught at the beach without your Liquid Force pump.)
The lines are of excellent quality this year, other improvements include the clam cleat used for the trimming system that’s now beefier with a new block end section to stop your line getting wedged in. We were disappointed to see that Liquid Force have had to change their below the bar system for this season. Last year they had such a useful system that had just about every current innovation on the market built into the bar, including below-the-bar swivel and a very clean, well-shaped chicken-loop system. We’re sure this will return and for whatever reason they have decided that for this season they will run with a more standard chicken-loop, but it still operates with a clean push-away release. There are ‘wings’ at the top of the chicken-loop release that can brush against your fingers if you have your hands butted right up to the centre line of the bar when you’re fully sheeted in, so that’s just something to be aware of, but you can easily adjust to that.
At the kite there’s still the lovely combination of quite a thin leading edge with a deeply profiled mid-aspect canopy that made it such a great all-round performer last year. The wing-tips are a little more swept this year and there are also now three options for the front bridle attachments points that flatten the kite when you attach the bridle further towards the middle of the leading edge, making the kite more bow like. Move the setting outside and it becomes more C kite like. We also played with the back line settings over a few sessions and for flat water freestyle, the middle and harder settings made the kite feel very settled and stable, while the lighter setting at the edge of the kite makes a noticeable different to the easy, responsive feeling for aggressive wave riding. Even with several inches of depower pulled on, the kite responds very well. When powered and wave riding on the more forward back line setting, we found it to be just a touch grunty when cranked into a turn, which is why that setting is so good for loops.
So apart from those tweaks, the Envy is much the same, and all that we sang about the kite last year remains apparent. Responsive, but not overly so, the Envy is just very easy to get on and ride, feeling very instinctive and straight forward from the start. It’s not heavy or tiring, but sits and behaves until you firmly tell it what to do, so there’s no accidental steering here. You can ride really fast as the Envy likes to keep on pulling forward and although a powerful kite, the gusts are very easy to maintain.
That positive forward flight and healthy amount of power make the Envy still a great jumping kite. Last year LF cleaned up the amount of sheeting in and out that you had to do at the bar while riding and the power became much smoother and more intuitive. There is still lots of power and you go way up in your jumps with beautiful hang-time on the way down. Being nice and quick when steered confidently, the Envy can be looped smoothly out of the jump for soft landings.
Not everyone wants a hard core C kite in their lives, but many people still want a kite that’s fun to kite loop with and the Envy instills confidence as well as feeds the hunger of good loopers. Tight or wider and dirtier, you can influence the size of the loop and get a really good yank out of it. In more marginal conditions, when not maxed out jumping weather, the Envy is very stable unhooked as it doesn’t twitch in the sky as small amounts of bar pressure don’t accidentally steer the kite too much; the kite remains nicely planted. In waves the Envy steps up again, with instant depower and good response when you want it.
This year it’s a little prettier, a little sweeter and in general has ironed its shirt. It’s everything we thought it was; a strong shape with good amounts of power and control: one minute you can be boosting huge, the next parking it for a trick and then following it down the wave – all in the same session. The Envy packs the most power on this test and bigger riders are going to love that drive. Lighter riders will start to feel that in their quads on longer sessions in strong winds, and this power band sets the Envy apart in this test. There’s more tuning in the kite overall, but for us, sadly a bit of a downgrade in the bar.
Intuitive and natural feel in an excellent all-round hybrid performer that’s got power and boost combined with hang-time, but also has manoeuvrability for waves.
KW WOULD CHANGE
We’d like to see LF’s impressive below the bar set up return next year.
ENVY BALANCE POINTS
Build quality: 8.5
Full package: 7.5
Low end: 8.5
Top end: 8.5
Steering speed: 7
Turning circle: 4.5
Power through turn: 5
Bar pressure: 5
Water relaunch: 8.5
15, 13.5, 12, 10.5, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
More information at www.liquidforcekites.com
Here’s the official Envy product video from Liquid Force
PHOTOS – Vincent Bergeron / Lance Koudele