2017 Core XR-4 12, 9, 7 & 6M review


KW’s review of Core’s high octane freeride animal


This review first appeared in Issue #85 of Kiteworld in January 2017





Core label the XR4 as the ‘Wunderkite’ – their dedicated big-air freeride machine. We tested a good cross section of the range – Bully has had the 12 and 9 metre models through late summer and autumn in the UK and we’ve rinsed the 6 metre out in Cape Town more recently. Let’s start with the bigger sizes, because the six metre is a special kind of beast! The XR4 is a high-aspect shape in all sizes, providing great upwind ability, punching far into the window as well as an excellent low end with superb feel throughout the sheeting range, from zero to full power. Vitally, it’s very light and responsive, too. Like a BMW changing up through the gears, the XR4 has one of the smoothest sheeting ranges on the market. There’s no gaps, no lumps, it’s just beautifully smooth all the way from 0 – 100. There’s no distortion at the bar either, no matter how hard a time the kite is having above your head in the gusts.

The 12 needs praise for its speed. It’s also easy to turn and offers a very un-physically demanding ride. Last year the XR4 delivered just as much power, but in a more abrupt way. The whole range is now smoother, softer and more precise. The 9 and 12 are absolutely classic summertime kites for 14 – 25 knot conditions. If you’re not big into unhooking then these two sizes are insanely good for the freerider looking for a fast, comfortable ride.

The XR4 really comes alive when it comes to lift. The canopy is rock solid and incredibly stable overhead and the way the kite processes the power into lift is beautiful, but not only that – it’s very predictable, too. The boosting trajectory is fantastic, with a rapid climb in height and then a very steady descent. The turn is swept, so although it’s cultured enough to loop, the XR4 isn’t as engaging or as engineered to spike in power and drive round the bottom of the window like the GTS4. But in all other aspects for the hooked-in freerider the feel and control in turning and positioning the kite is very intuitive. Whip it round turns for downloop landings or carves, or equally you can sheet-in for a good, rich delivery of power.

So, we come to the 6 metre. What do you generally expect from a 6 metre? Control in crazy winds that allow you to have a better, more upright stance. The XR4 however packs an incredible amount of power into a small size and the lift is crazy for its size! The vast majority of tiny kites just don’t have the power or canopy area to maintain lift, even in howling conditions. In his first session, Bully had already logged in an 18 metre boost. Core have done a great job of making the steering steadier than most six metres, which adds to the XR4’s ability to climb very well in the window. As with the bigger sizes, you don’t need to be super accurate, just gently send the kite overhead and sheet in. The problem is then the descent. With such a small amount of canopy overhead the piloting down becomes quite technical and you find yourself rushing back to the water very quickly if you don’t send the kite into heli-loops above your head to add more float. Alternatively on take-off you can really send the kite out wide to then have more available window space to pilot it back in front of you as you come down.

It’s insane fun, but you really have to get dialled into the six and it left us wondering who it’s for? Well, there’s always application for a small kite with lots of power. For foiling it’s nice to use a small kite, so it would be brilliant. For twin-tip racing it’s also ideal because it cranks upwind and then has loads of good handling and power for blasting downwind. There are three settings on the kite for ‘wakestyle’, ‘freeriding’ (middle) and then ‘super fast’ for wave riding. The XR4 turns responsively but is also pretty happy to drift. There’s a good injection of power at the bar too, so although it’s not the sort of lower aspect shape that most people ride waves with, it has lots of added benefits for waves, but it doesn’t depower to nothing, so it’s also not for the feint hearted.



As with all Core products this year, the overall package is very polished and that translates to the riding experience. Nothing’s been added that’s anything other than functional. The new Exotex canopy material has an incredibly crisp feeling and the Dacron reinforcements are well placed in key impact areas. Core’s own wide-inflation system works very cleanly and the Sensor 2S Pro control system is the only bar on the market made out of titanium and carbon. The Sensor 2S solves set-up problems very simply, with useful width adjustments and replaceable parts should you ever need them. We also really appreciate how sheeting the bar all the way in immediately untwists your centre lines after several loops (although you can also manually untwist them if you’d rather not sheet the bar all the way in).



The 7 metre sizes and above are phenomenal hooked-in freeride kites with stunningly smooth power delivery, fantastic high and long hang-time jumping performance, great upwind ability and lots of range. Suiting all riders from early intermediates who will appreciate the straight-forward feedback and handling, to more advanced riders who will appreciate the added speed and performance if you show it a keen hand.



A hooked-in kitesurfing freeride dream.



Not much, you just need to know what you’re getting involved with if you choose the 6 metre.



Inflation: Speed Valve2 wide inflation

Build quality: 9

Full package: 9

Low end: 9

Top end: 7

Steering speed: 7.5

Turning circle: 7.5

Bar pressure: 7

Water relaunch: 7.5

Drift: 7

Boost: 8.5

Hang-time: 8.5 (6.5 on the 6m)

Unhooked: 4.5

Crossover: 6

Ease of use: 8 (for most freeriding)


SIZES: 13.5, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m




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