The Catalyst never fails to impress and always brings a smile to your face. Incredibly versatile, it performs very well in all aspects and has something for everyone. Fantastic for entry level riders, it's easy-to-use and delivers smooth, predictable power with progressive handling and simple relaunch. If you are already a seasoned kiter then this kite can take you where you want to go; boosting, riding waves or freestyle. In short if you want a kite that delivers in all categories then the Catalyst is it.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We've mentioned Ozone's build-quality many times, it seems it's the natural place to start. What you will notice is that there seems to be less obvious reinforcements on the Catalyst if you're coming from something else. Lots of kites these days seem to have big rubber bumpers stuck on the leading edge; the Catalyst doesn't. What we do know is that Ozone kites are incredibly well and carefully manufactured in their own factory, so we can assume that there's plenty of reinforcement built in to do the job without having to stick things over the top. As usual there are lots of nice fixtures and fittings, such as Ozone's lovely big dump and pump valve. It's the sort of thing we've seen on inflatable dinghies for years, is robust and works really well, making the kite really easy to pump up and pack away. Ozone also use a pulley-less bridle, so there's less parts to wear and tear and it also means that your connection to the kite at the bar is as uninterrupted as possible. Ozone seem to use thinner lines as well. We're not concerned with their strength (these guys have also made paragliders for years) but it's just another example of how well thought out aerodynamically Ozone kites are. We love the design and attention to detail on all their kites, it's phenomenal, even down to what you get in the bag. You feel special with your spare bag, the rucksack itself is hard wearing and functional, you get stickers, a good manual and the repair kit is serious. It's a special package. They also have one of the simplest and smoothest trimming systems and the feel at the bar is always impeccable, we just wish they could pick up their game with the chicken-loop a bit. It's very well made, it's solid, it self locks nicely, the chicken finger is lovely and manoeuvrable, but they still use a pull-down quick release on the side of the chicken-loop when probably 99% of the industry use a push-away release. There is a chance with a pull down system that you can accidentally engage the release when you're grabbing the chicken-loop to hook back in ? it's not a huge deal by any means, but the rest of their package is so special, we'd just like to see them drop in line with everyone else on this. Their bar system is otherwise superb, feels lovely, is
grippy yet soft, is impeccably clean, but it could be a bit sexier if we were honest. In the sky the Catalyst is quite an unusual looking shape, especially in the trailing edge, but it's rock solid and perfectly stable. For your information we tested this eight metre in fairly marginal eight metre weather, around 17 knots, through to proper hang-time conditions, around 35 knots. The Catalyst likes to fly forwards nice and positively. It's got one very predictable speed, which is lovely and reassuring and it delivers a very constant power delivery at the bar. You feel at home on it straight away. When the wind kicks up it never threatens to bite you in the arse or over power you at all. It's all very well mannered and you won't have an incident where it threatens to talk back at you. We did find that the Catalyst likes to be powered. The low end isn't bad, but the top end just gets better and better. Boosting in 25 knots and above is a lot of fun and there's lots and lots of hang-time. The Catalyst is very manageable in strong winds, you can send it and really climb high, but then back on the water you're not having to edge like mad to hold it all down either. You never have to fight with this kite. There's lots of depower; more than you need for anything you want to do and the Catalyst steers nicely too when sheeted out, which is excellent for wave riding. It's happy depowered, it doesn't want to head to the floor all the time as some kites do as the line tension decreases. Instead it's ready to turn and in cross-onshore conditions you can really whip it about nicely as it has a good balance between speed and manoeuvrability. For an eight metre, it's not twitchy at all. It's more than fast enough to get round a kite loop and you can feel the power the whole way round, but it's a very safe kite loop. If you're looking for a really exciting loop, it's not that kind of kite.
The more you fly the Catalyst, the more it gives back to you, which is a lovely quality. It's a kite flier's kite and is really rewarding. As it's so friendly and easy to use, you feel inspired to try new things and know how it's going to behave. It's an excellent freeride kite for doing anything on, and it even performs really nicely off the hook, but if you're on the heavy side, especially as a beginner, you might want something with a bit more oomph at the bottom end.
Another fine example of a well-tuned, perfectly balanced kite for all-round kitesurfing action.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
We'd update the chicken-loop. Also, heavier, inexperienced riders wanting to just dive the kite and pull on the bar might want something that requires a bit less finesse.
14, 12, 10, 8, 6 and 4m
This test is in issue #58
Ozone Catalyst 8M (2012)
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