Note: I wrote this post on Sunday 22 Aug and was about to post it when I lost my Wifi connection…so when I say today I’m talking about this past Sunday…=-)
I’m on my way south along the WA and OR coast to visit Bike Friday as well as CETMA bikes in Eugene OR. I stopped in at Bellingham Kite Paddle Surf [aka Bellingham Kiteboarding] and checked out some new 2011 gear from Liquid Force. Andy showed me the 2011 Envy kite and let me borrow a 2010 model to demo.
So I kept trucking south and ended up at Hood River OR today. Typically a 10m kite is way too much for the Columbia River Gorge’s epic winds, but things were light today which was a good test of the bigger size of the Envy.
Here is what I thought:
- build quality and attention to detail are excellent
- the kite backpack is one of the nicer ones I’ve used [great if you have to carry your gear a long ways]
- attractive design and graphics
- 3 strut design is very simple and pumps up fast
- single point inflation system is dead easy to use
- the kite and bar has a “goof proof” line setup so rigging was easy
- the bar was intuitive and the depower was easy to use while riding
- I tested out the chicken loop safety release before riding and it worked well [looks easy to reattach in the water]
- the kite was very easy to launch and fly
- it’s stable and responds well to bar input
- bar pressure was low
- wouldn’t back stall
- didn’t turn super fast, but my demo bar was on the small size
- wasn’t super powerful for a 10m, but provided consistent power
- I didn’t get to try the water relaunch of the kite
These are just some thoughts after one light-wind session on this kite so I reserve the right to change my mind when I get back home and try it in some stronger wind at Nitnaht.
My general feeling is that this is a great kite to start kiting on because it is stable, dependable and provides steady power. In your first season of kiteboarding you want a kite that sort of flies itself so you can worry about other things. The 3 strut design was easy to use and just simplifies everything about the kite.
The downsides to being really stable is that this isn’t the most responsive kite to fly and it’s not the best choice for big air or other more intermediate/advanced riding. Having said that you really don’t want any of those things when you start your kiting career and once you have a couple seasons under your belt it’s time for a kite upgrade. Liquid Force makes the Havoc to suit the needs of the more advanced rider.
Looking back at 2009 I would have been stoked to ride the Envy and it’s definitely a kite I would put Sharon on as she works on her skills. I’m going to take the 10m Envy home and play with it a bit more. I’d like more time to tune the kite and try it out in higher winds.
Envy info in video above is at 4:20-9:05 if you want to skip the rest.
Update: I’ve added some detailed shots of the 10m Liquid Force Envy to my Flickr here. I’ll be taking more photos over the next few weeks and dump them in the same spot for anyone interested.