How long should a big air kite last the big air customer before it may become deformed in the air due to stretched out panels or bridle lines? North has developed the highest quality Dyneema pre-stretched bridle lines and high tenacity ripstop canopy materials. We perform all testing to 100 hours using North Sails latest material testing technology to find the working load under normal circumstances. Stretched fabrics or lines should not occur within our normal. When you consider environmental aspects that we cannot control, like UV-rays or sandblasting, the average life would be well over 100 hours. Still, the lifetime dramatically depends on how users treat their gear. Well maintained, it can be up to 300 hours. Everyone needs a kite that is safe, so it’s important to always check your kite for damage and wear before you send it!
If big air becomes any more prevalent and specialised, could you see a situation where the best riders might be riding a more custom design (that perhaps doesn’t have such a long life span that the market demands?) A kite designed explicitly for massive air could take some getting used to and not be suited to an average rider. An instance of this is with the Orbit. In 2020 it had a big wind range, but the kite was easy to overfly for the average rider and could nosedive (front stall) if they were not paying attention. We adjusted this for the new models to sit slightly further back in the window. While consumer-friendliness can influence the design criteria, we always consider the importance of making the construction suitable for big air / extreme conditions. Creating a more custom design kite with a shorter lifespan as a trade-off for performance would hurt its integrity. Remember the North pros and riders do have a certain degree of customisation available to them in the Orbit tuning, which can help them push the limits of what’s possible. We have two options on the wingtip for different amounts of steering impulse, which also impact the bar travel. The stock setting is the most rearward setting on the wingtip, which gives you the lightest steering impulse and a medium and controllable amount of depower travel on the bar. If you wish to increase the sensitivity of the depower, then move it to the forward setting. You’ll have increased depower, but at the expense of some force required in the steering impulse.
Playing with inflation pressures also influences performance, the rider can adjust the stiffness of the span by increasing/decreasing the inflation pressure, isolating the pressure between LE and Struts. This can further assist in a range of different conditions.