TEST TEAM NOTES
By now you should be aware of how highly we regard the quality of Ozone’s product presentation. The C4 is no different – rock solid canopy, polished and clean in the sky, incredible attention to detail, impeccable stitching work and all the latest modifications. As an all-round package, from bag to bar to kite, it’s incredible. Ozone use the mid-sized inflation point valve that untwists with its base unit to allow for maximum width rapid deflation.
The C4 has a reputation. In the world of bros, it hangs with Dre and Snoop. It has a history of wakestyle legitimacy on the edgier side of bridled kite design and has been as close to true C kite genetic feel in terms of how it delivers power as any bridled kite out there. Now the Catalyst fits the performance freeride bill for Ozone so well, it has allowed the C4 to pursue a thoroughly gritty wakestyle route.
The bar set-up is very wakestyle with a bigger chicken-loop and shorter throw. Totally unlike the big throws and trombone-like sheeting in and out movements on freeride depower kites, on the C4 you need to get used to using your legs to deal with power. Many riders will favour the C4 over other C kites thanks to it running on four lines for simplicity and convenience.
At first C kites can feel as if they don’t have the best low end. They take some manoeuvring to get the power compared to low aspect bridled freeride kites. The C4 is quite physical to fly but you get going in torquey sort of way. There are two settings on the Variable bridle allowing you to choose a new school, heavier and direct feel, or you can move the middle bridle line to the pigtail knot closest to the leading edge for a more freeride feel, pulling the leading edge forward, making the kite sit further forward in the window.
The C4 ships in the new school mode. In terms of sheeting in on the bar and getting that simple wave of power transferring through your body you may be used to with hybrid kites – that sensation is only moderate. That’s why it’s such an excellent wakestyle kite. Steady and smooth, the C4 likes to be ridden as a park and ride kite and it’s very obvious why so many dedicated binding riders love this model.
Although it’s very well paced for a constant wakestyle pull, the C4 is actually quite light to steer around the sky when powered up and edging. When you’re on the move and providing resistance against the kite it’s actually relatively pivotal in its turns, so for general riding, if you’ve got kite skills it’s not tiring and when you’ve got your timing right the C4 can go absolutely huge in strong winds, travelling great distances through the sky, too. It’s a total machine in the right hands.
However, when you put the C4 through a kite loop – so that you’re steering the kite without as much tension in the lines as when you’re edging against the kite – it really slows up and generates a lot of power. We score it highly for its steering speed, although it actually doesn’t generate much power for the first couple of seconds, but keep pulling on the bar through a kite loop and it winds itself up, generating more and more power – completely the opposite of flatter SLE kites that drop power through the turn.
So, you have the ability to make mistakes at the bar in your tricks and the kite will start moving, but without generating too much power in the beginning – ideal for wakestyle or for negotiating sliders. However, jump and send it into a committed loop and it gives you a very different generation of power, holding a very solid line around its turn.
The C4 can pack a punch, but it also has an extremely constant pull that builds up rather than bites sharply. This is a very steady workhorse for unhooked freestyle tricks but with loads of feel, butchness and bags of meat through the turns. In general flying you can hold onto lots of power on this C4, which helps keep your tricks consistent as the wind increases, maintaining superb pop and the pause in power at the bar. However when the C4 first came out it really offered a grittier ride for experienced riders who weren’t necessarily wakestylers, but were looking for something more engaging to ride than the softer hyrbid / bow kites of the time. In freeride mode the C4 still offers lots of constant power and a solid feel of control, but likes to be ridden with intent, which many freeriders like.
Slip it into new school mode though and it’s like riding around in a car with lower suspension and low profile tyres. It’s dirty. It’s old school C kite feel with new school usability – such as easy back line relaunch – but don’t expect it to feel as usable in all-round ways as other more high-performance freeride kites. This is next level filth.
This is still very wakestyle focused, for experienced riders looking for turning grind and power through loops and a super-stable horizontal pull across the water. At the same time it’s not like tying yourself to two plough horses. The power is usable, not just full-on and gnarly, and if you need a break there’s the more forward flying freeride setting.
One of the cleanest cable-like pulling machines out there with great boost for the advanced rider and filthy loops
KW WOULD CHANGE
The C4 fits its billing well, though Ozone say in the freeride setting it will work well in waves. Perhaps in perfect cross-shore unhooking conditions, but that’s very specialised. Needs a bit more forgiveness for general wave riding we reckon.
14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7 and 6m
Mid-size diameter / Above-bar cleat is very smooth and clean / Centre line coated in plastic for longevity and smooth against fingers / Excellent line untwister / Ideal wakestyle chicken-loop / Functional and quality
C4 BALANCE POINTS
Build quality: 9
Full package: 9
Low end: 7.5
Steering speed: 7
Turning circle: 4
Power through turn: 8.5
Bar pressure: 6.5
Water relaunch: 5
More info at: www.flyozone.com
Here’s the official C4 product video and design tech talk from Ozone