TESTED BY: Bully and Jim WORDS: Jim


TEST TEAM NOTES: The North Focus is top pedigree for rippers that want to ride as powered as they like for a no limits mix of freestyle and big air. This is an extremely good looking board and feels absolutely exquisite in hand. A smooth matte finish on the base and deck in that sleek black colour with just a little aspect of shine in the light is absolutely gorgeous, encasing the paulownia wood core, unidirectional carbon strips that combine for a constant, flowing feel.

So how is this both Jesse Richman’s choice for King of the Air and Bruna Kajiya’s wakestyle freestyle weapon? The flatter, stiff central section for speed blends seamlessly with the quad concave channels that run away from the centre of the board, gaining size continuously towards the generously pulled-up tips. The wide outline, square tips and deep rocker are all hallmarks of a performance machine that’s designed to go beyond just delivering immense load and pop in flat water lagoons. The Focus’ rocker delivers a very distinct feeling, letting you rock your weight onto your back foot and completely change the feel of the board. As you engage your rear heelside edge the Focus offers incredible grip and drive. Re-pressure your front foot and suddenly you’ve then once again got a board that feels looser and easier to spin. Going from heel to toe is very playful, as are nose and heel presses while you’re riding along. Being able to very quickly and instinctively get different flavours of performance is a dream for the modern new school rider who wants to do everything.

North have got the channelling with the quad concave just right for where the hard charging all-round freestyle kiteboarder wants performance today. The tail section gives a huge amount of grip, forward drive and pop while you also don’t need to be as precise on landing as you would on a board with channelling that runs all the way through it. You can land slightly off angle and you’ll find enough forgiveness to slide the last degrees of rotation round on the water. Then apply pressure on your back foot to engage the channels and get more grip when you’re ready. When you’re coming in hot and still spinning, you’re going to score a higher percentage of successful landings with this board, no doubt. The pronounced rocker and detailing in the tail gave us that fluid and secure sensation that we often enjoy from wakestyle rockered boards in waves. You can push the tail flat into the wave face and drive a huge spray with a great sense of traction. When coming over the back of a wave the Focus’ playful feel is very well suited to the rider who likes to have fun in bigger waters. Rocking your weight back and forth on the board opens up creative options for presses down a wave and then quickly engaging the rail for a sharp carve.

NEW FLEX SYSTEM North’s new Flex strap and pad combo are upgraded from last year, to now offer more coverage over your foot with a huge amount of adjustability. Here’s a video that has more visual detail:

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FOCUS ON YOU There are loads of elements in this board that make it accessible to general freeriders, such as the deep rocker that offers forgiveness and control in strong winds and difficult sea conditions, while the confidence-inspiring central section makes sliding the board round from heel to toeside really easy. There are, however, several elements that will not be as advantageous when it comes to helping inexperienced riders progress. Firstly, with all that rocker, unless it’s really windy, there is a level of technical ability needed to ride this board with good efficiency upwind in average winds. Secondly, while the Focus performs well in footstraps, it’s built to be perfectly suited to boots, and as such is heavier than your average freeride board because it’s built to be very strong. (Wakestyle freestyle riders actually enjoy the feel of decent weight in their board, whereas inexperienced riders benefit more from a lighter board.) If you look elsewhere in the range, the North Atmos is a completely different board and better suited to general freeriding. It’s a rocketship and more naturally locked in. It has loads of grip and allows you to maintain your edge until the last minute for maximum boost height. The Focus naturally rides a lot slower unless you know how to squeeze more speed out of a board.

“Beautiful transitioning between its two characters of serious loading performance and playful manoeuvrability - just from adjusting your front and back foot pressures.”

SUMMARY: The Focus is everything a modern freestyle rider needs, responding very well to aggression, is both laced with performance but also is extremely forgiving on landing. Through predictable flex and constant riding speed it allows riders to discover a superb feeling of flow and responds incredibly well to aggression. Another huge benefit for a freestyle board with this much pop performance is that it’s also as at home in handling difficult conditions in the ocean as it is in flat water. The Focus is also evidently very strong and strikingly good looking. It’s top of the tree for riders who throw a high volume of tricks, up high or down low, and will also offer you a higher percentage of clean landings. The Focus is all about power and flow with control and an added level of playfulness. KW LIKED:

Beautiful transitioning between its two characters of serious loading performance and playful manoeuvrability - just from adjusting your front and back foot pressures.

KW WOULD CHANGE: The speed – riders who are primarily wanting to do big air tricks and don’t regularly practice unhooked freestyle tricks will benefit from something that has a naturally faster riding speed.

FOCUS BALANCE POINTS: Build quality: 9.5 Fixtures and fittings: 8.5 Speed: 6.5 Pop: 9 Drive: 7.5 Flex: 5 Comfort: 7.5 Looseness: 7 Grip: 8.5 Upwind: 7 Slider proof: NA Boots applicable: Yes Freeriding: 7 Freestyle: 10 Ease of use: 7.5 SIZES: 142 x 43, 139 x 42, 136 x 41 and 133 x 40cm

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