RRD Obsession Mk8 9m

RRD Obsession 2016 tests Kiteworld Magazine 2016

Test Team Notes

The RRD Obsession has always been a unique specimen in the kitesurfing world. It has different DNA, but once you’ve acquired the taste, it’s hard to not want more.

As usual RRD products are built to last, with impressive reinforcements and stitching throughout the whole product. The bar is new this year after a long wait for an upgrade, but we can say without fear that the last bar was bullet proof and lasted for years without wear. We’re hoping they’ve followed suit with the new one, that now has softer bar ends and a general upgrade in fixtures. It’s still only available in one size, so if you like a small bar then you may need to look elsewhere, but RRD assure us that they do this so that each kite is always perfectly tuned to any RRD bar you ride, which makes sense. In general this is a great set-up: mid-size one pump, it’s all neat and tidy and easy to get on with and the bag turns into a changing mat and car seat! Once again there’s no stopper on this system, which is personal preference and many people don’t like them for safety reasons.

 

RRD Obsession 2016 tests Kiteworld Magazine 2016

 

There’s no fat on the kite in terms of pure performance – in fact this year it has shed two struts, now sporting a three strut layout. Like Sugar Ray Leonard it’s lean and mean and in a nine metre size there aren’t many kites that deliver the levels of usable power that this does. As soon as you launch the Obsession you’re aware that there is a lot of sheeting on tap. You can push out a long way and sheet in a long way too, and between those two points there are big changes in power. There’s more aggression between each point in the sheeting scale than you’ll find on most other kites, so as a result the low end is very juicy and the power at the top is incredible, but as you’ll see later on, it’s actually controllable.

That said, the Obsession definitely sits in the realms of being an intermediate and upwards level of freeride kite. The more experience you have; the more you can get out of it. We felt that last year it had lost some of its gloss, some of it’s raison d’etre, because something had changed in its turning; it was a little less smooth and, for want of a better word, clunkier in comparisons to previous models. You could throw loops on the MK6 and get a good hoik out of it which, when mixed with the enormous climb rate of the Obsession’s boost, and your knowledge that it would get round the loop, it was always really rewarding.

The steering is definitely back and the MK8 has changed a lot this year in the turns. The loops can be rewarding again, and it’s reliably quick to get round a loop. Hardcore loopers might criticise what we’re saying here because it does go round quick, but you can be looping it in really high winds with confidence. We’d crap ourselves doing that on something like a Fuel.

But there is a huge amount of engagement with this kite and that’s what we personally like about it. It can drop a gear and when you let the clutch out there’s so much traction there. The power generated can be incredible and when you have ability you can use all of it because the Obsession flies so hard, high and forward into the window. There are plenty of kites that also have a lot of sheeting power at the bar, but eventually you’ll feel that burning in your legs. When you really stick your rail in on the Obsession, even when you’re going at Mack 2, the kite just continues to fl y further forward in the window, giving you the board control you need to hold on to all that exciting juice without it dropping out.

Bully reckons there are no other kites that pull as hard as far into wind before you step up to foil kites. If he was going to do a race on an infl atable kite anywhere, he’d choose an Obsession.

It’s not just the power and drive that’s so engaging, it’s the fact that the Obsession allows you to hold on to it. But like all things so seemingly fi nely balanced in terms of performance, it can all turn off in a second, so all that potential power, air speed and drive into the window can feel very ineffective in inexperienced hands. It’s easy to sheet out and dump all the power in the Obsession. Equally, sheet in too quickly and the power could be unnerving to some.

There are moments of gold and glory – shooting past everyone else like a rocket ship, but then you can feel disconnected at times with the on-off sheeting, but that’s more about you; to get the most out of it you have to develop some feel for the kite. If you do something wrong in your input it won’t work as well. If you’re really responsive and fl y it aggressively, it will be respond aggressively back.

It’s possible to jump really high on the Obsession. We are relishing the chance to ride it again in Cape Town, so stay tuned to our social media channels. Extremely agile and manoeuvrable, in the right hands it could work in waves because of the low end, top end and the on / off power. You essentially have everything you need; it’s just whether you can use it.

 

 

SUMMARY

The Obsession is a hooked-in, go really fast, boosting kite. Some kites only give you so much back. Whereas you can just keep on pushing the Obsession. If it were a bike, you may not want to ride it every day to work, but it will make you feel alive when you thrash it at the weekends. If you’ve always been an Obsession fan you’ll be happy with it this year after the step back last year.

KW LIKED

Screaming as we drop a gear and let the clutch out but still feeling nice and light on the legs!

KW WOULD CHANGE

If you want to go out and cruise, this may be a little high maintenance in its handling. It’s like a super focused track bike in so many ways. Some may not find them easy to ride, and some wouldn’t be without them.

OBSESSION BALANCE POINTS

BUILD QUALITY: 8.5
FULL PACKAGE: 8
LOW END: 9
TOP END: 9
STEERING SPEED: 8
TURNING CIRCLE: 4.5
POWER THROUGH THE TURN: 5
BAR PRESSURE: 5
WATER RELAUNCH: 8.5
DRIFT: 6
BOOST: 9
HANG-TIME: 8
UNHOOKED: 5
CROSS-OVER: 7
EASE-OF-USE: 7

SIZES

15, 13.5, 12, 10.5, 9, 7, 6 and 5m

Here’s the official Obsession MK8 product video from RRD

RRD 2016 Kites – Obsession MK8 from RRD International on Vimeo.

More information at www.robertoriccidesigns.com

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