BOARD TEST

CRAZYFLY ELITE III 136

CRAZYFLY

ELITE III 136

WORDS BY: Jim Gaunt

TESTED BY: Jim

TESTER BIOS AND TEST PARAMETERS: Here

TEST TEAM NOTES: We are always keen to receive a new model of the Elite twin-tip for review; CrazyFly’s flagship freeride, luxury, high-spec carbon model. This is the third we’ve tested, and is the most comfortable and capable. The initial aim with the V1 model was to produce the lightest board on the market, with CrazyFly utilising their advantage of having more experience in laying up carbon for twin-tips than most other brands at the time. They were also doing so, uniquely, in their own factory in Europe. The V1 was light. Almost comically light compared to anything else at the time and if you were taking it to the beach in strong winds there was more concern to put sand on your twin-tip than your kite to stop it blowing away while you rigged up. The Elite V1 transformed our ability to bring the board into position for a range of new grabs. Our stomach muscles had never felt as fresh after a session, but really the Elite V1 was just too stiff. Slick to the touch and of enviable detail, in mid range winds and above though, the ride was too jarring for the intended freeride market, considering some of the softer feeling boards on the market, and quite an effort was needed to dig the rail in to manage the bigger gusts. The VII model delivered a more nuanced ride and now this VIII continues to provide even more comfort, range and user-friendliness, thanks largely to a new lay-up of two layers of carbon on the top and bottom. The outer layer being something called HMX-CF2, which CrazyFly say is the thinnest, lightest and highest tensile strength carbon material, but crucially allows them to design the board with medium flex. They also design the Elite III with what they call Air Inside Core Technology (a wooden core with hexagonal holes cut out of it to optimise the flex pattern and reduce weight), allowing them to lay claim to the lightest board in the world. Such claims are always difficult to prove, but let’s just say in mainstream twin-tip production it must be the lightest or at least in the top two. The Elite III is now as appealing to ride as it is to have in the back of your Beamer.

THE RIDE Make no mistake, the Elite III still isn’t a soft ride purely designed for comfort. There’s still some leg pressure needed to really dig the rail in when strong gusts blow in conditions of 30+ knots. While the Elite III certainly has more flex and comfort than the previous models, this is a board that has evolved rather than completely changed its focus. The combination of being thin with good performance levels of stiffness means that there’s loads of bite and speed to enjoy – particularly so in the lighter and mid strength winds. The upwind ability as well as the superb load and pop performance are real highlights. Combine those with the light weight of the board, and you have a board to invigorate and energise many a twin-tipper. There’s enough squareness in the tips to deliver solid loading performance and bite, but enough of the corners have been cutaway to prevent eye spray in difficult waters. Also worthy of note is that the 136 delivers the get up and go performance of something bigger – which is why it’s such a great board at its low and mid range, and requires a little more rail technique than some other 136s in the big winds. It really all depends on the conditions you mostly ride in. For the majority of people, they’re usually looking for gear that’s going to maximise the power they have, rather than be needing to shed energy in lots of overpowered conditions. In that sense the Elite III is awesome. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not difficult to manage in strong winds and good riders will appreciate the continuing grip and power. However, the Elite III shines at its brightest in the lower to mid range conditions; working your body and technique skills less.

ESSENTIALS The 136 weighs just 1.75 kilos. That is very light, almost a whole kilo less than their Raptor freeride board. The Hexa pads and straps are also notably light, too. For me, it always takes a session or two to let the footstrap material on the Hexas soften a bit, but I often find I need to adjust many straps to stop my little toe getting pinched in the corner of straps. It’s a personal issue! Feet always are! Thankfully, the Hexa’s double Velcro fastening tabs allow for a lot of easy adjustment to find your happy spot. They can also be tightened down considerably for smaller feet. Once set up, there’s good contoured grip underfoot in the quite firm pad, and a really locked in feel over the top of your foot. No complaints on the secure connection in the ride.

“Riding such a light weight board really does energise your session and increases your mobility to get off the water and into the air.”

SUMMARY: The Elite III has become the board envisioned a few seasons ago, combining the benefits of light weight carbon layers with the added years of manufacturing experience to achieve the right amount of flex to make this board work well for the freeride market it’s intended to please. Fast across the water and with lots of easy grip in the lighter and mid range conditions that most of us ride in, the Elite III delivers superior upwind performance and energetic load and pop for a fraction of the effort needed in many other boards. KW LIKED:

Riding such a light weight board really does energise your session and increases your mobility to get off the water and into the air. The Elite III now combines that with greater comfort across a broader range of conditions. KW WOULD CHANGE: If you find yourself regularly riding in really strong conditions, it would be worth looking towards a smaller size than you otherwise might, as the Elite III still bites quite stiffly when winds ramp up.

ELITE III BALANCE POINTS: Build quality: 9.5 Fixtures and fittings: 8.5 Speed: 7 Pop: 7 Drive: 8 Flex: 6 Comfort: 7 Looseness: 6 Grip: 8.5 Upwind: 9 Slider proof: NA Boots applicable: No Freeriding: 8.5 Freestyle: 7.5 Ease of use: 8.5 SIZES: 140 x 142, 136 x 41 and 132 x 41cm

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