Ozone Catalyst 8 & 10m 2016

Ozone Catalyst 2016 Issue 79 tests kiteworld magazine 2016

Test Team Notes

The Catalyst has been on a journey and we’ve reviewed each model since inception. The first model was a little subdued, but since then it has always been a good player in the performance freeride market. The most recent Catalyst also had a lot of freestyle pedigree and was very assured out of the hook, but perhaps had started to move away from the needs of hooked-in freeriders. Ozone have just released the Enduro kite – designed to be their new performance all-rounder. If you hadn’t heard about that and were still expecting this year’s Catalyst to fit that bill, you’d be disappointed in terms of energetic performance, but that’s obviously now not where it sits in the range.

 

As usual the Catalyst is very tidy in its build by Ozone in their own factory. The Teijin D2 canopy cloth is renowned for durability, the one pump is simple and the bridle is now fixed without pulleys. Solid attention to detail throughout is completed with the impressive rucksack style bag that even has padded shoulder straps. The Contact bar control system is very clean with a soft and forgiving grip, while the Megatron push-away quick-release is very dependable and smooth. The re-build after ejection is also very easy. The bar can be used in ‘standard’ or ‘expert’ mode, the latter meaning that you loop the chicken-loop through the second leash ring so that the kite doesn’t fully flag out if crashed during an unhooked trick (until you activate the release, at which time it will flag as normal). The above-the-bar cleat trimming system is super smooth, even when you’re powered-up and other thoughtful additions include soft bar ends so you won’t damage your surfboard (or head) during a wipeout and there’s a line unspinner on top of the chicken-loop. The only thing missing is a stopper for light wind days, but that’s all, and not everyone likes / uses them and they can compromise safety.

 

We rode the kites in a range of wind speeds, but averaged the ten metre in 16 to 22 knots and the eight in the upper end of its range in 30+ knot winds. There are two rear attachment points for the back lines and on both kites we found the back attachment point to have the increased responsiveness that we wanted from the kite.

 

Ozone Catalyst 2016 Issue 79 tests kiteworld magazine 2016

 

In the sky the Catalyst is extremely stable, even in changeable conditions. We’ll talk about the eight a little more in a moment, but across both sizes the Catalyst is very predictable in its steering – fast enough to develop power and crank into turns or jumps, but not so quick to put the fear of God into you. Don’t mistake that as meaning ‘boring’ – things just become easy because the kite is very straight forward. Plus, the kite loop actually has quite a pleasing pull, isn’t just pivotal and there’s a good feeling of involvement and predictability in whatever you’re doing.

 

The Catalyst is never going to compete with the Edge, but once again the stable power and predictability mean that there are rewarding jumps on offer with enough punch for those feeling their way into the jumping game. The absolute standout performance trait is being repeatedly able to get the same experience out of this kite each time, making it easy to quickly understand what you’re doing. The medium bar pressure is about right for most people, providing ample feedback without being tiring. Years of teaching experience within our team tells us that kites like this with a set position in the sky that need a keen input on the bar work best because the rider is less likely to put the kite in the wrong place. The depower is also dependable and shuts off smoothly, not jerkily. Always progressive in its feel, the turns generate just enough power to keep you planing throughout. The neutral bar position on the ten metre is just slightly above halfway up the throw, which is comfortable and doesn’t leave you hunched up over the bar, on the smaller eight metre that position moves a bit closer to your body, which is good as you’ll be riding it in stronger winds and needing a more leant back stance. Power delivery is smooth, direct and Ozone’s promise of ‘sheet and go’ delivery is spot on. There’s plenty of torque, but it’s not brutal and generates steady power even when you’re being lazy with the kite.

 

The low end is always important in a kite in this category and Matt, who is over 90 kilos, was happily holding an upwind line on a twin-tip in 15 or 16 knots, which is no mean feat. The Catalyst likes to sit forward in the window, which really helps upwind performance while the very rapid relaunch only adds to the over-all user-friendliness. Ozone have also added ‘relaunch balls’ on the leader lines, which are useful to grab, but more often than not the Catalyst will automatically roll onto its tip before you’ve resurfaced from your latest face plant.

 

The Catalyst is manageable for unhooking, but for high performance it backs up a bit too much. For most there’s plenty of potential for improving your first unhooked tricks before you start to feel the need for more slack line performance.

 

Featuring all the predictability of the ten metre, the eight feels much more alive, more responsive and is quicker through the sky. The predictable agility means that during cross-on wave riding the Catalyst moved with us really well with a good injection of grunt when needed. You don’t have to wait for the kite to catch up and there’s always tension in the lines moving forward in the turn. Who doesn’t like a kite that gets forward in the window for going upwind, but then can also be stalled and drift downwind with minimum line tension and still move forward?

 

Of course for improving twin-tippers, this is all fun stuff as you look for a reliable ally in stronger wind that’s not going to dish out any nasty surprises in handling. Depowered the eight loses some grunt, but retains plenty of responsiveness, and for wave riding, even when we didn’t need to lose any power, pulling just a couple of inches of depower on sat the Catalyst in a beautiful part of the window.

 

SUMMARY

Dependability and user-friendliness make the Catalyst an ideal choice for anyone entering the sport, or someone looking to quickly improve in comfort with a high-class product. There are sportier kites in this class of kite, but for cruisy reliability, this is first class.  

 

KW LIKED

Incredible reliability to ensure you have the same feel and consistent handling in all conditions to aid your progress without complication.

 

KW WOULD CHANGE

Perhaps a stopper ball and some rear line bar width adjustability, but these are minor and about personal taste, taking nothing away from the kite at all.

 

CATALYST BALANCE POINTS

BUILD QUALITY: 9

FULL PACKAGE: 9.5

LOW END: 9

TOP END: 8

STEERING SPEED: 6.5

TURNING CIRCLE: 4

POWER THROUGH TURN: 4.5

BAR PRESSURE: 6

WATER RELAUNCH: 9

DRIFT: 8 BOOST: 6

HANG-TIME: 7

UNHOOKED: 4

CROSS-OVER: 6.5

EASE-OF-USE: 9 (For doing the basics really well)

SIZES

14, 12, 10, 8, 6 and 4m

 

Here’s the official Catalyst product video from Ozone

Ozone Catalyst V1 – The Art of Progress from Ozone Kites on Vimeo.

More information at www.flyozone.com

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