North's most popular universal kite is back. Boasting a huge wind range ? the widest in the North range ? there's huge hang-time and lift, fantastic upwind performance, fast turning, direct feeling, easy handling, responsive steering when depowered and a short depower stroke, giving you total control in harsh conditions. The 2013 Rebel perfectly combines power and handling to create the ideal kite for hooked-in riders looking for their perfect wave and freeride partner. A new strut concept combines the responsive turning and softer feel of three strut kites with the superior stability of a classic five strut kite. It's the ultimate high performance freeride machine.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
What was already a superbly made and well-engineered kite now seems even tougher with super hard wearing protectors on the points on the leading edge that come into contact with the beach. North again use the D2 double ripstop canopy material, coming in three very bold colour combinations. The trailing edge is constructed from heavy-duty dacron and a new seam shape connects the trailing edge to the canopy, which is supposed to reduce stretch. The five strut five line layout remains with direct attachments to the kite via single line pigtail lengths and no extra bridles.
The fifth element bar has had a total rework and is a real work of art. We couldn't believe how light it feels in your hands. All the metal parts have been replaced with non-corrosive plastic and you can adjust your bar width by simply popping out the ends of the bar below the floats, turning them around and popping back in; the choice is yours for a faster or slower steering input. The trim cleat has been replaced by a plastic version which incorporates a new hole for the fifth line to run through, stopping it flapping around and occasionally getting caught in the trimming cleat. Overall the bar is extremely comfortable and, if you ask us, is the benchmark for a clean, uncluttered super simple set up. The push-away quick release is one of the easiest to put back together and there's the suicide/flag out safety ring at the end of the fifth line, too.
The Rebel looks totally unique on the water in this freeride category; long, thin and angular rather than round and chunky ? it's high aspect shape an immediate stand out. Even with all its superb technical features, one of the keys to success - and a huge compliment to the design team - is that the Rebel remains one of the easiest plug and play kites out there. Just one attachment point for your front and back lines, all the trimming is down by you at the bar through the super smooth trimming cleat. Small movements allow you to be very precise with lots of depower.
It sounds strange but, like last year, the Rebel is really a very quiet kite. No matter how hard you whip it through a loop, there's not a single sound. No flutter, nothing. Coupled with the moderate/light bar pressure, the Rebel is the ultimate in stealthy allies, requiring very little effort to fly. It doesn't have bags and bags of power on tap and needs a bit more manoeuvring than simply parking and pulling in on the bar, but the kite moves and sweeps through the window in such a sporty and effortlessly agile manner, so why wouldn't you want to? There is still plenty of power on tap, it's just not the truck that bigger, inexperienced riders might be looking for. As with any high aspect kite in lighter winds, there is a need to keep it moving, but you can generate good power to get going and then there are no sudden surges in power through the turn at all; the power remains constant and the turn can be tightened in an instant.
The Rebel charges forward in the window and just gets better and more electric in feel the more the wind picks up, feeling balanced, highly tuned and very alive. The loaded fifth line helps the kite keep a perfect foil shape, even depowered, and the anti-flutter helps. The impressive air speed means you can create huge amounts of board speed and convert that into monster airs and hang-time. The lighter handling means it isn't as immediately apparent where the kite is for inexperienced riders, but as soon as you're through the learning stages this kite will just keep giving and giving back to you. The relaunch is usually very easy with just a pull on an outside line, and in light winds you can also use the fifth line to help roll the kite over and on towards the edge of the window.
Super simple, yet incredibly well-polished and balanced, the 2013 Rebel is a silky smooth freeride weapon. Wave riders and lighter riders will really feel very comfortable on it in lighter winds and it's still incredibly easy to manage when the wind picks up, which is when everyone will love it. Bigger riders will be able to hold on to this kite for what seems like forever and chuck enourmous, floaty airs.
The ultimate feeling of refined excellence in kiting.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Beginners and bigger riders might want a bit more raw grunt at the bottom end, but as you progress and become a more sporty rider, the Rebel comes into its own and you'll appreciate its finesse.
14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
This test is in issue #59
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Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, Scotland