2017 Cabrinha FX review

KW’s review of Cabrinha’s performance hybrid






What an exciting prospect riding the FX is – it’s the kite modelled for Nick Jacobsen after-all! Cabrinha launched it as a super-exciting hybrid kite to match Nick’s energetic no-holds-barred full-bore riding style and to support him during his most daredevil stunts. Perhaps not a kite suited to the rest of us then? Let’s see…

We have tried the 9 and 7 metre sizes each year, and there’s a big difference between the first model and the 2017 model that we’ve just tested this issue. We had the 7, 8 and 9 for a month out here in Cape Town on launch of the first FX model two years ago and what an electric beast it was. Incredibly highly charged, it felt very much like a legit C kite in strong winds with a scary loop. Over the last two years what’s very obvious to us is how much they’ve tuned the kite for high winds. The kite now has more room to breathe and is less physical at its top end. It can also handle absolutely stacks of wind.

Compare the FX in the same size as the Union that was also on test this issue and they’re chalk and cheese in terms of available power in the low to mid-range. As a result the FX is naturally more suited to lighter riders with good kite handling skills who are able to use the kite’s speed and agility to generate power. Jim is just 70 kilos, compared to Bully’s mid-80 mass and as a result in the 20 – 25 knot conditions we had the kites out in in the UK, Bully felt a bit under-gunned on the FX compared to the Union. On the flipside Jim was in his absolute element and able to gain lots of height but also relish the immediate response, poise, balance and impeccable behaviour of the FX. Very lively, once it’s completed a turn or loop the FX immediately jumps into gear without stalling. Point it and it will go.



What Cabrinha have got absolutely spot on is the bar pressure – the steering feels light and energised. You can smash the FX all over the window and it’s not going to pull you off your edge. In general conditions bigger riders are going to want to upsize, but as a cross-over freeride / freestyle kite it’s got loads of application that can also be thrown around in waves. Don’t make the mistake of buying this kite because you think it’s automatically going to help you ride like Nick Jacobsen. You may feel that it’s down on power and doesn’t have the automatic boost that you’re looking for. However, for progressing your unhooked tricks or loop based manoeuvres and high wind handling, any riders looking for those qualities are going to be really impressed.

We’ve also extensively tested the Bandit this issue, so how do these two compare? The Bandit offers a bigger spike in instant power. Pull down on the Bandit bar and it’s like you press the turbo button. The FX is more manageable, but that’s exactly why the FX is such a dream in big winds. It doesn’t treat you brutally, but instead encourages you to push your limits. 

It’s our personal opinion that Cabrinha have given Nick a kite that’s absolutely tuned for massive performances in Cape Town. For several months in 2016 he was the Woo world height record holder with a boost of 26.7 metres in Denmark in 45 knots of wind apparently. A nine metre in 45 knots! Woo are certainly responsible for firing up a new sort of session where riders are heading out for short periods, barely able to hold an edge and then firing themselves at a big ramp to get the biggest stats possible – but what’s really helping these riders suddenly get beyond 24 metres is that they can now do it on 9 metre kites and that extra canopy really propels them higher, but vitally has more float control on the way down than a 7. We wait with baited breath to also see what Nick can do on a nine metre at the King of the Air as, again, that bigger canopy can also produce lower and dirtier loops than a 7. So, in our opinion, the FX has become his phenomenal high wind, ultra-reliable, highly responsive aerial ally. The Switchblade has always been the powerhouse for stacks of low end power and immense quality lift and flight. The FX is the athlete geared more towards acrobatic handling.  



Of course, as a Cabrinha, the FX is fully featured, including one of the cleanest and most effective one pump wide inflation systems that locks nicely with the hose and has no loss of air when you’re pumping for maximum pressure. Well built throughout, from the canopy to the bar, which features Cab’s cleat trimming option. The bar ends are always bigger than other brands but the bar system itself is very clean with a very evolved quick release and one of the best line unswivel systems on the market that’s situated very handily just above the chicken-loop. (No Fireball with the FX as it’s a freestyle model, so comes with Cabrinha’s loop option).



The FX is for the rider who is serious about high-performance progression. If you’re simply looking for high performance in terms of getting lots of air time, then look elsewhere. If you’re looking to throw shapes all over the sky and also improve your freestyle, but are willing to put the time in to dial into the kite’s speed and handling, then the FX is dreamy.



Big wind ability and electric handling that’s not tiring at all.



More low end would be useful for heavier riders.



Inflation: Cabrinha Sprint Airlock wide inflation

Build quality: 9

Full package: 8

Low end: 7

Top end: 9.5

Steering speed: 8

Turning circle: 5

Bar pressure: 4.5

Water relaunch: 8

Drift: 8

Boost: 9 (when well powered)

Hang-time: 8

Unhooked: 8

Crossover: 7

Ease of use: 8.5


SIZES: 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m


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