After five years of research and development, the S-Bow has finally reached supremacy. With its highly efficient profile offering tremendous power without penalizing the ability to fully depower at any given time, plus its superior stability, reaction rate, huge wind range, safety and easy relaunch, this kite is an excellent choice for beginner, intermediate and pro wave riders. This years additional settings include fine tuning attachment points at the wing tips and three different settings on the front bridles to customise bar pressure, turning rate, feeling and performance. A tighter trailing edge increases stability and sturdiness and a bridle rebalance maintains confidence in the kite in overpowered and extreme situations. As well as extra reinforcements a new 9.5m kite size has been added to the range for this year. The perfect and versatile all-condition kite.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
This looks a lot more like a bow kite than we've seen in a
while, but it's a nice looking kite and has lots of features,
with plenty of options on the kite. The bar is very comfortable
and has lots of good safety options; if you can name it, it's
just about on there. The chicken-loop also has a keyed in slot
in the bar which should self-straighten the chicken-loop for
you when you're unhooked. Unfortunately there is also a
swivel below the chicken-loop, which means that the selfrighting
system doesn't actually come into play. Although the
swivel makes the chicken-loop a bit dangly when you're
hooking back in, it does mean that you can easily untwist all
the lines by hand on a system that is very easy to reach. So
yes, this kite will unhook, but it's not really aimed at doing
lots of that though.
We took this out on a couple of sessions; underpowered and just about holding upwind in about 14 knots and also in nicely powered 18 ? 20 knot conditions. The S-Bow is really well balanced; doesn't ever luff or stall and has good forward flight. It's just very comfortable to fly and is a good kitesurfing tool. Jumping is a lot of fun as it's so well behaved; big sent jumps are all very controllable, with nice float and you're not just dropped down when you reach maximum height. The feedback through the bar is good without being too heavy for beginners and intermediates and the excellent relaunch also ticks the boxes for that category of rider. Usually the kite will virtually relaunch itself, but if it does end up leading edge down straight downwind of you then a little pull on the outside line will have it back up again. You don't have to pull the line right behind your head either as it goes up very easily, but if you do want it back up again quickly you can pull hard and be safe in the knowledge that you're not going to get really yanked when it goes back up because when you push out on that bar you get so much depower. Seriously, the depower you get on the throw is enough for everyone on the beach! To ride it unhooked you really have to trim it. If you don't it sits really deep in the window, pulling hard. This is fine in light winds, but in normal conditions you don't want that and have to trim it quite heavily. The turning is extremely pivotal. You think about going for a kite loop and it's already got round the turn. It doesn't drive round the turn either, which is why it's a great kite for beginner / intermediate riders or certain types of hooked-in wave riders out in strong conditions. There's plenty of power when you pull in on the bar, but not when you whip it through turns, so it won't pull you over your edge every time you're trying out your carves. As a kite suitable for beginners and intermediates, this isn't one of those low aspect, grunty kites that riders are often taught on. Like those it does have a good bottom end, but this also has a bit more variety in its personality.
The S-Bow is a very user-friendly kite. Not so quick and lively to outwit intermediates, but when you want it to turn quick, in the waves for example, it will given the right input. Getting beginners up and going is an impressive bottom end and boosting more experienced riders way up is a lovely lift and hang-time. When the wind gets above 20 knots you can really fly on this. It's not a kite for those looking to do a lot of unhooking, but if you're a beginner or intermediate rider looking to progress with your transitions, boosts, rotations and some wave riding, then this really is a very wellbehaved and predictable kite for you.
Lovely, smooth and easy handling kite with good relaunch for all levels that's also packed with plenty of boost.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Make the chicken-loop less dangly when you unhook.
SIZES: 13, 11, 9.5, 8, 5 and 3m
Starkites SBow 9.5M (2011)
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British Virgin Islands