This video will only be of interest to surfboard geeks. You have been warned!
I took another trip up to the Seaward Kayaks factory in Chemainus BC last Friday to poke around and snap more photos. If kayak factory porn makes you smile click on either image in this post to jump to my Seaward Kayaks Flickr set. The bottom 60 or so photos are new.
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Categories : Sea Kayaking
This is the first installment in a review of a 12m Blade Trigger kite. Andy from Kite Paddle Surf Bellingham lent me a Trigger because he was so stoked about it and wanted to see what I thought. I’m in the market to replace my main kites as they have aged and kite performance has moved on in the 3 years since I last updated my quiver. I’ll be posting a couple more installments of this review as I get time on the water with the Trigger. It’s often too windy on Vancouver Island for a 12m kite so I don’t get to fly the Trigger every session.
The Trigger is a hybrid SLE/bow kite that’s in its 4th generation. The attention to detail in the kite construction and design is clear. The Trigger is Blade’s wave/freeride model which suits my needs perfectly. I’m not going to race with it and I’m not into the new school wake style trickery. I want to ride strapless in the waves and be able to throw big fun air when strapped in on my twin tip.
In terms of construction I care about longterm durability without wanting a very heavy kite that needs lots of wind to keep it aloft. There is a fine balance between the two and Blade gets it right with solid construction that should last a long time if you take care of your gear.
By combining a 3 strut design and using reinforced fabrics and stitching only in high stress/wear points the Trigger is light yet robust.
The single point inflation system works well and is something I couldn’t live without anymore. With only 3 struts the kite doesn’t take too long to pump up.
Rigging the Trigger is simple. It features a colour coded goofproof bridle that has fast/slow turn settings as well as a wave/freeride setting. So far I’ve only used the Trigger in the fast turn & freeride settings. I am curious about the wave setting so I’ll be playing with that this summer and reporting back. I doubt I’ll ever want to use the slow turn setting, but it’s a good feature if you are just starting out and want a really docile kite for a drama free session.
In the standard setting with the control lines attached to the fast turn position the Trigger was a great freeride kite. Turns were fast with about average bar pressure. The kite was very stable and easy to handle. The stability and lightweight meant that after a crash the Trigger was happy to stay up where I left it and float backwards in the air until I got tension onto the lines. That just means more riding and less relaunching of the kite.
Andy has had more time on the Trigger than I have so here are his thoughts on the Wave setting vs. the Standard bridle setting:
“I recently had the opportunity to do a 5 mile downwinder in the waves in moderate to light 12m conditions. Never really juiced, but at times was happily powered, and at other times underpowered.
I did half of the session on the wave setting, and then switched to the normal setting for comparison.
The first thing I noticed when making the switch was that the bar pressure felt much lighter on the normal setting, and that I had to move the kite more to keep it flying in the window. It wasn’t a bad experience doing a downwinder on this setting, but you did have to manage the kite more than on the Wave setting.
On the wave setting, bar pressure is firm, but not an arm burner at all. To me, the higher bar pressure allowed me to feel the kite more while I was focusing on the waves, and the kite did what it was supposed to as I rode down the line towards the kite…. it just drifted back with little input. Note, the kite is still depowered at the edge of the window, but as you ride towards it, it backs up without having to redirect the kite much. This worked well unless I totally charged at the kite and my boardspeed came close to the wind speed….. at this point I would have to move the kite just to keep some aparent wind going at it. (note… this was at the times when the wind was light, and I was riding pretty much straight downwind at the kite….) When properly powered, I was able to do the same thing making a few cuts on the wave, and didn’t have to worry about the kite falling backwards, or me riding under the kite. It was the perfect drifting balance between the two.
For free riding/ flat water, I like the normal setting better. The lighter bar pressure combined with this kites quick turning allows for nice jumps (I can jump better in the normal setting than the wave setting). Size for size, the 9m so far has been my favorite. The 7m is a blast to fly, but doesn’t have the float the 9m offers. The bigger sizes are nice too, but there is a balance between small kite feel, float, and hang time that the 9m just nails perfectly.
I have been able to get out on the new 14m Trigger too, and it has obviously taken some of the Fat Lady DNA and incorporated it into its design, The 14m has small struts, and a similar leading edge shape that puts it somewhere design wise in between the Trigger and Fat Lady, whereas last year’s 14m was all Trigger. The 2012 12m Trigger is all Trigger, the 2011 14m Trigger was all Trigger, but the 14m is somewhat of a mix between Fat Lady and Trigger, having attributes of both. If you are a smaller rider (under 170lbs), the 2012 Trigger 14m is probably all you’d ever need. It upwinds very well, has a higher wind range than the Fat Lady, but has most of the float. In 20mph, I was jumping in the 20-25ft high range, with very nice float. If I were on the Fat Lady, I might not have been able to jump as high, but would have had more float. The 14m obviously turns faster than the Fat Lady…. but the Fat Lady of course is no slouch.”
Turns pivot around the wingtips. I found the turning speed to be excellent and easy to control. I’ve only been riding the Trigger strapless so far so I can’t comment on how it jumps.
The 12m Trigger has a decent amount of depower. The depower straps are above the bar in a standard configuration. The bar throw isn’t huge and I prefer it with a waist harness. With shorts harness the chicken loop is quiet low relative to your arms so you reach the end of the bar’s throw pretty quick.
The Blade bar offers a below the bar swiveling chicken loop and a virtual 5th line safety to fully depower the kite if you punch out. There is an adjustable stopper above the bar if you want to let go of the bar and keep a steady power setting. Above or below the bar depower is a personal preference thing. I like it below the bar, but I was kiting on a day with tons of wind speed changes and I was able to work the Blade bar’s depower just fine.
Here is a video of the bar in action. I didn’t have to use the safety release in anger so far, but it seems pretty straightforward to use in an emergency.
This video review gives you another perspective on the Trigger.
The best compliment I can pay the Trigger so far is that from the time I launched it to the time I landed the kite I really didn’t have to think too much about it. It went where I wanted it. It performed well going upwind. It hardly ever crashed even when I did. With my GF getting better and better at kiting I have to keep in mind that she’ll be wanting to try my gear out and it would be ideal to share a quiver since she weighs 50-60lbs less than me. We shouldn’t be fighting for the same size kite too often. For that to work any kites we buy have to perform well enough to keep me interested and be easy enough to use so she has fun. My current kites are too high strung for her to use, but the Trigger fits the bill.
This video shows some wave riding action with a Blade Trigger. Don’t blame me for the soundtrack – that’s out of my control!
The Blade kite bag is comfortable to wear for the hike to the beach. It has a spot to hang your pump and an accessory pocket for your bar, water, sunscreen, etc… It tough enough to last 4-5yrs+ and protect your kite from UV and damage while transporting it.
Although looks don’t affect how a kite flies I am happy the Trigger is nice to look at. I spend a lot of time kiting so looking up and smiling is important to me.
Here’s what the Blade site says about the Trigger:
“We designed the Trigger to promote progression especially for riders who are powerful, playful, and dynamic. If you like to do a little of everything on the water, and like to be actively in control of responsive high-energy fun, the Trigger was designed to be your ideal kite.
The 4th Generation Trigger continues to excel as a fast, nimble, and powerful all-around performance kite.
The powered profiles and refined overall kite geometry leed to the Trigger’s dominant feel and provide the big low-end fun. The perfectly engineered bridles are a key factor in the kite’s excellent stability and depower, balancing the Trigger’s dynamic handling with predictability and safety. This refined engineering is also responsible for a very direct bar feel that is rarely felt in a bridled kite. The swept back LE contributes to the Trigger’s effortless Reflex Relaunch, so you can push yourself past the limit and get up and riding again in seconds.
The 4th generation is based on its successful predecessor, and like the Triggers before it, each size boasts individually designed geometry.
Many small refinements are made individually to each size so that it performs ideally in the conditions it is meant to be flown, here are some of them: The Trigger 12m and 14m received beefed up power profiles and the 14m also features narrower struts to deliver the same low end grunt and turning speed as their smaller siblings. The Trigger 9m and 10m received a special bridle geometry to seat them slightly further forward in the window, giving them the right balance of power and stability for their wind range. The Trigger 7m has been modified for excellent depower performance and rigidity in strong wind. The Trigger 5m hasn’t been touched, we’re proud to say it is one of the best kites on the market.
Finally, we have added an Advanced Wave setting to the bridle of the new Trigger.
Setting the bridle in this position adds depower and seats the kite even more forward in the window. The more tolerant ride is perfect for carving waves, trading up only a little of the power and rock solid stability in the Trigger’s standard mode.
Active pilots looking for the ultimate fun ride will love the quick handling, perfect stability, direct control, and generous power in all conditions. If you are a dynamic rider looking for a kite that can deliver the ultimate fun session, the Trigger’s high energy all-around performance will put a big smile on your face.”
Kite Paddle Surf Bellingham is selling a variety of package deals with the Trigger. Prices start at $969 for a 7m Trigger without bar and go up to $1749 for a 7m Trigger with bar/lines, pump, bag and a twin tip board. I was shopping other brands recently and that price would only get you a kite & bar. The board is a bonus ideal for someone starting out who needs a whole setup.
What I like about the Trigger so far?
- stable/easy to fly
- fast turning
- lightweight/simple 3 strut design
- well designed safety system with 100% depower
- good depower range
- looks nice
- reasonable price
What I don’t like?
- could use more bar throw with shorts harness
- prefer below bar depower adjustment
What I am keen on checking out some more?
- ease of water relaunch
- on water safety release and re-rigging chickenloop in water
- wave setting on bridle
- jumping/hang time with a twin tip
- low wind performance
I already own a 17m Blade Fat Lady which I am very happy with. That positive experience really opened my mind to trying out more Blade kites. The Trigger so far has been a pleasant kite to fly. I need more time with it to fully appreciate all its nuances, but I can see why Andy and other reviewers have been pretty stoked about it.
I’ll leave you with a link to a good thread discussing the 2012 Blade line up over at Kiteforum.com. I’ll post a follow up to this initial review in a month or so once I have more time to play with the Trigger.
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Tags: blade kites
Categories : Bike & Gear Reviews, Kiteboarding
My Bike Friday Tikit isn’t getting as much press these days on this blog as it used to. That’s really unfair as it continues to be one of my favourite and most useful bikes. The problem is I feel like I’ve covered all the angles about this amazing bike and don’t want to get repetitive. That’s a failure on my part to be creative.
The freedom to ride anywhere in town without a bike lock or having to think about bike theft is amazingly liberating. I can carry nearly as much on my Tikit as I can on my Surly LHT touring bike and I can fold the Tikit then jump on the bus or toss it into a car’s trunk.
I had the opportunity to swap my 2007 Tikit for a newer 2010 model, but I kept the older bike and invested some $$ in new drivetrain and paint. She works as well today as she did new out of the box and we’ve had a lot of great adventures together. It’s great to know a folding bike with such an amazing fold also is durable enough to keep riding for the long run. I expect I’ll be on the same Tikit in 2017 – although the colour may change again….=-)
If you don’t know what a Bike Friday Tikit is watch the video above. The convenience of the fold is what sold me on the Tikit in the first place and the great ride + the reliability has kept me smiling.
Stuff I Love About the Tikit:
- fits me [available in multiple sizes]
- easy uber fast fold [so I can fold it 10 times in 1 trip without noticing]
- rolls easily when folded so I can keep it with me
- great customer service from Bike Friday
- folding mechanism has held up to thousands of folds and thousands of KMs with minimal maintenance
- lots of options available [fixed/SS, IGH, belt drive, 2 kinds of folds, different racks, ect...]
- rides efficiently [25km ride? ...no problem]
- fun handling
- very maneuverable in town
- takes normal bike parts
The only real downside to this bike is you end up talking to a lot of people that you wouldn’t otherwise speak to and you’ll do lots of extra folding/unfolding of the bike to satisfy peoples’ curiosity. I can live with that…=-)
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Tags: Bike Friday, Tikit
Categories : Bike & Gear Reviews, Folding Bikes
If you are long time blog reader you will have noticed a definite shift towards dirt on this blog. Urban utility riding, road riding and road touring doesn’t get the same coverage it once did. That’s mainly due to my move from Calgary Alberta to Victoria BC. In Calgary I lived downtown and the closest mountain biking I was stoked for was 90 mins drive away and there was only a limited 4 month season each summer. That meant a lot more of my riding was on pavement and a lot more of my blog posts were about paved road missions.
Fast forward a couple years and I live on an underpopulated island on Canada’s far west coast with a lot of amazing mountain bike trails and logging roads to explore. I still use my bikes to get around town for errands or socializing, but I’m not as keen about documenting those rides. No real agenda here – I guess after posting so much about urban/utility riding in Calgary I’m happy to focus on something else.
Now you could ask why I don’t do more road riding either for fun or in preparation for the rando season? And why I haven’t done a single paved tour in the last couple years?
The simple answer is that dirt riding is more fun than pavement riding in pretty much every case.
When I go mountain biking I can be alone in a stunning coastal rainforest or with a couple buddies. We rarely see/hear other riders and we have world class terrain to enjoy. No cars, no people – barely any hint of civilization other than the fact the trails themselves exist. It’s an amazing feeling to just forget about all of the practical issues of a modern life and focus on the simple task at hand – riding a bike in the forest.
So when faced with the choice of spending a few hours riding my mountain bike in the trees or doing a road ride around Victoria it just never seems like riding on the road is going to be more fun. Hence the mountain bike gets ridden and my rando bike waits for the next brevet to see action.
The same principal applies to touring. Why ride along side a highway or rural road when you can ride a remote dirt road? There is a hard and fast rule about roads – the better the roads the more traffic you’ll see and the faster it will go. Governments only maintain roads that get used a lot and well maintained roads are preferred by drivers. It’s a vicious circle that sees the best roads used the most and the worst roads used the least. Nobody takes their vehicle down a rough/dusty remote logging road unless they really have to. That means you’ll see a handful of vehicles a day on a dirt road – possibly none as you go deeper into the spaces between paved road network.
Yet with a well equipped mountain bike carrying a lightweight bikepacking setup you can move around on dirt roads and trails with the same ease a typical fully loaded Surly Long Haul Trucker rolls down a paved highway. The difference is you can be alone to a much greater extent and you can explore areas not frequently toured by cyclists.
Exploring is what’s fueling my stoke currently for bikepacking. If you do a search for bike touring and Vancouver Island you’ll see that almost all the tourists stick to a handful of routes. Most of which I haven’t ridden! I’d rather spend my time looking at maps and trying to piece together a killer dirt touring route of the island than do laps on existing routes. It’s not as easy and sometimes your plans don’t work out, but you learn something every ride and get to know your “neighbourhood” that much better.
There is a definite fewer cars the better message in this post. To be clear I am not afraid to ride on the road with cars. I am not a cautious cyclist. I’ll happily mix it up with rush hour traffic if I need to get somewhere. But the reality is that it’s not fun to be around cars even if they don’t hit you. They are noisy, smelly and I don’t like a lot of the people driving them. Let’s not stop at cars – I don’t love riding on bikepaths either. There are lots of idiot cyclists, dog walkers, roller bladers, joggers, etc… And let’s not forget Sharon had her most serious accident to date in a bike-on-bike collision on a bike path – so they aren’t necessarily that safe.
The bottom line is that for fun I’d rather be outside in nature with as few people around as possible. On Vancouver Island that means riding dirt. So you are bound to see a lot more dirt riding on this blog. I’m not ashamed to be dirty…;-)
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Categories : Bike Touring, Mountain Biking