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North Kites: Toro 5 review.
About me: 225lbs rider, intermediate/almost advanced, working on clean kiteloops, basic unhooked stuff and trying to learn the perfect bottom turn. Iím not much of a ìboostî dude ñ how high a kite jumps is not that important: it needs to jump high enough for my tricks and to clear white water when I riding waves. I ride in the North California SF bay area. I donít work for/with North or any other company.
Kite Sizes tested: 12m and 8m.
12 kite: flew this kite at Sherman Island, wind was in high teens, water was flat and I was on an underground wave tray twin tip.
Kite construction looks really solid ñ what else can you expect from Ken winner. Nice balance of durable and light. All seams are high quality. I like the bladder valves ñ no need to deal with or worry about stopper balls: this makes the bladders very easy to inflate. All the normal things you come to expect from a 2005 kite: multiple attachment points for lines, kook proof connections and 5th line. I flew the 12m kite in 4 line mode, with 27m lines.
The kite is incredibly stable in the air. Just sits in one position until you provide input to the bar. The bar pressure is light and the kite responds very positive. Compared to the kites I fly now, Boxer and V4ís, the bar pressure is lighter and the kite moves much faster. The kite generates really nice smooth power. It is good at flying both on the front lines, when de-powered, and with back lines pulled in. Heaps of low end ñ the kite pulls really nice. As a bigger person, I love this feeling in a kite. I did not have enough power on this day to test the upper end of the kite ñ guys who are 170 were also riding on 12m kites. Jumping was ok: did not have much lift (not expected). Having more wind would have helped test this much better.
I was very happy with the freestyle capability of this kite. The kite is very smooth through the entire wind window, and moves fast to correct any mistakes you make. The turn profile, when you crank the bar is ìpivotî like (vs. sweep) makes for very forgiving kite loops. I was nailing a much higher % of my kiteloops then with my current kites. I was surprised at the smooth power the kite created and how fast it flew through the window: at the end of you loop the kite was just at the right place so that you could focus on a clean/smooth landing.
This kite is a joy for unhooked wake style moves. The pull is super steady and the kite stays where you put it, unless directed to do other wise. The pop the kite can create is an ideal blend of lift and control for this type of riding. The kite turns very fast, which is really fun when you are out of the chicken loop and crank the bar. The power delivery is smooth enabling you to control you speed and focus on style.
Due to medium aspect nature, re-launch is funny fast. You just swim for a second, pull the front lines, and pop, itís up. I personally donít see the need for a 5th line on this kite: it depowers plenty as is and the relaunch could not be quicker. Not to mention, I like simple stuff.
8m kite: Tested at Waddell Creek, on 22m lines, riding a directional board from John Amundson (sick board, if you want to know more, let me know). The wind was low 20ís with waist to head high waves. Most guys were on 8m kites (riding twin tips) and/or 6m kites. Wind was very punchy on this day.
On the beach, the kite looked very boxy: more mid aspect then any other kite on the beach that day. The Cautions looked high aspect in comparison (of course they are not). I flew the kite on short lines, which may have effected how the kite flies, and in 4 line mode. The kite felt really stable in the air, even though the wind was a bit punchy on this dayÖ.if anyone knows the N. CA coast, our ìpunchyî is like the hand of the Lord smacking you
When I put the kite up in the air my first thought was, hmmm, this is not going to be enough kite for the wind. Wrong. A few power strokes and I was up and going. Jumping over the white water proved to be no problem: not massive boost, just enough to clear the foam. When gusts hit, I was really impressed with how easy it was to stomp out the extra power: keep in mind that I was riding on a directional board, which has more volume and more fins. That combined w/my weight makes is easy to control kite power (one of the benefits of being big). The kite just moved to the edge of the window and kept pulling nice and steady : not twichy like the kites I am used to flying (my current kites require constant feedback when they are that close to the edge of the window). I had the kite set at full power most of the time, pulled down the strap a bit when things got a bit frothy.
The kite did a great job of sweeping turns in the wave zone. Very predictable and consistent power generated even when you swing the kite very aggressively through the power window. At the top of the wave, the kite id d a great job of sitting in the right place waiting for your input. Super good wave riding.
On one of my turns I dropped the kite. Before I finished my second stroke towards the kite, it was up in the air ñ insane re-launch. Again, Iím not sure why you would want the 5th line if you are using the kite in the surf.
The only down side of the kite is that I noticed a bit of flutter on the trailing edge of the kite. It may have to do with how I trimmed the kite, short lines that I was using, the wind of the day or it could just be how the kite is designed.
Bottom line: smooth steady power, predictable flight, fast turns. Excellent wave kite.
A big "Thank you" goes out to Donny and Sandi of Kitopia Kiteboarding. They gave me an entire quiver to "test".
If you have more detailed questions, Iím at firstname.lastname@example.org
Good wind + waves, Z.
Gasp!! Switching from Naish!! For shame!!! Better try the 2005 Naish line before the final decision. Or just ride what you like. Who cares anyway But... The Raven and Torch are not an X5 and V5 they are competly different. The Raven 12 is the best kite I have ever flown. Unbelievable range and it does wakestyle, big air, waves, you name it. The shift system is really what does it and the new design of the kite I think. Nice review though. It is always nice to try the competition. I like the Rhino 5's a lot but no single point inflation and those nasty wing tip battens are a turn off.
I have not made the switch to anything at this time.
The Naish kites, while solid in performance, are WAYYY out of my budget.....great to hear that you are so stoked on the raven. LMG seems to like them a lot as well. I've flown the torch and liked that kite as well: did not get enough time on the kite to really experience what it's about.
I'm in the process of trying to find a "team" rider slot - open to all companies: North, Caution, RRD, Naish, you name it. First I'm going to fly as many kites as I can to determine which ones I like in the conditions that I use.....North made a great move having so many kites to fly @ the delta. Most others just do a "demo day" and it's tough to understand a kite in 30 minutes.....
Good winds, Z.
Right on, bro. Being open-minded brings great rewards in life! Sounds like you liked the kites. Don't forget, there's a Rage II 8m, 10m, 12m and 14m available for you to try also. Let's not be too hasty.
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