Riders looking for an all-round kite with superior stability can look no further. Built on Naish's Sigma foundation to provide stability, fast turning and solid bar feel, the kite features a new profile, which is power-oriented in the larger sizes and more control-focussed in the smaller sizes. Geo-Tech construction maintains the designed shape, even in the gustiest of conditions and ensures a long lasting kite. Targeted at riders who demand performance over the broadest range of conditions, the Bolt incorporates the newest design DNA for incredible stability, direct bar feel, fast turning and easy jumping. It's also LWR (Light Wind Relaunch) compatible.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
Gone are the Cult and Helix kites from last year's Sigma line-up and in comes the Bolt. The Cult was a fantastic all-round kite for early intermediates, reliable, stable with huge amounts of depower and good relaunch, but perhaps didn't fly as cleanly as more advanced riders would like. The Helix was fast, almost too fast for itself and although had an amazing top end, was a bit light in low end grunt. The first stand out aspect of the Bolt is the very striking design. It's very bold and there are big colour changes between the strut segments. Naish's kites have a very taught feeling to the canopy and seem to be stitched to an incredibly high-standard. There's also a huge amount of detail throughout the kite, not only in the way it's made, but in its looks and finishing touches. The four line Shift system bar is beautifully made. Like the five line system on the Torch, it looks great in white and there's loads of attention to detail with the Hawaiian graphics continued from the kite down onto the control bar itself. The chicken-loop is well-sized for hooking in and out of and the push-away safety system is very solid and slick to use and put back together. Again, as on the Torch, the depower trimming system is below the bar. The benefits of this are that it allows the Bolt an incredible amount of depower as there's no cleat to limit the throw on the bar.
There is a stopper which means you can dictate the amount yourself, though. The down sides of having a below-the-bar system are that you of course end up with a long length of depower strap around your harness hook when fully depowered and it can be a bit awkward to get the leverage to depower the kite quickly when overpowered as you're pulling from so close to your waist, rather than from above you as with above-the-bar systems. However, the Naish bar is functional, strong and very comfortable. The Bolt also comes with Naish's LWR ? Light Wind Relaunch ? system. (You can find more on this at: www.kiteworldmag.com/news/naish-lwr/) Back to that depower throw; there aren't many kites out there that depower like the Sigma shapes do and you can feel really comfortable going out on a size too big. On those days when it's really blowing and you fancy some hang-time, this kite allows you to be overpowered, but still ride with lots of speed, meaning you generate loads of pop for insane boosting. When ridden at the top of their wind range, most kites make you hold down a lot of power through good technique with the board; through a lot of edging and trudging, meaning you're actually riding quite slowly. On this you can be stupidly overpowered and then send it to the moon. What about normal conditions? The bar pressure is very light and the kite has fairly pivotal turning. Pivotal in a way that nicely balances turning rate and power delivery, not in a way that's far too zippy and quick.
There's no flutter and, as we said, the canopy is very taught. Of course it's not a kite looping monster like the Torch, but it's up there with other good all-round high-depowering kites in terms of the fun it provides when you give the end of the bar a good old yank. In terms of boosting, the kite is nice and quick, so very easy to send up quickly in the window to the point you want to ping. Riders used to a more meaty feeling bar will prefer less power steering, but the Bolt has actually moved the boosting performance of the Helix on a stage with increased amounts of hang-time. Now you go high and far, not just up and down. Another huge plus point this has over the Helix and Cult kites is that it's very happy unhooked. The Cult wasn't designed for that and the Helix was just a bit quick and was more suited to riding powered-up and doing big sent jumps. This is actually a very efficient and well-balanced freeride kite that you can go big on, but also unhook on. Out of the loop it doesn't change its' character very much at all. It remains stable, solid and with a nice pull through the bar. Last but not least we come to the water relaunch. There's a slight hint of the nose sticking to the water a bit when the kite is straight downwind on its leading edge, but it's only a slight hesitation, so in reality this launches as well as a Delta without any hassles. Just grab that line and pull.
More and more the kiting market demands kites that can do almost everything very well. The Bolt has managed to combine silly amounts of depower, excellent relaunch, stability and performance into one package. Like Usain, this is fast, nimble and knows how to channel its power onto the track beautifully. Very early intermediates can get on this as can riders looking to make the most of all their freerding sessions, whatever they're into
High-end manufacturing and go-anywhere riding quality.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Some elements associated with under-the-bar depower systems, but it's personal preference really.
SIZES: 16, 14, 12, 10.5, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 and 3m
This test is inissue #48
Naish Bolt 9m (2011)
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