ELEVEIGHT FS 9M

TESTED BY: Bully and Jim PUBLISHED: Issue #103 – February 2020

ELEVEIGHT FS 9M

TESTED BY: Bully and Jim PUBLISHED: Issue #103 – February 2020

TEST TEAM NOTES: We reviewed the RSeries (crossover freeride) kite in late summer and this time it’s the FSeries (freestyle / freeride), which promises a step up in performance. This turned out to be a really interesting test because the RS and FS aren’t that far apart in terms of basic accessibility, but there are some very key performance differences, nonetheless. There are three knot setting options on the FS front line bridle, giving you the choice of ‘big air – mega loop’ at the top, the middle setting is a combination ‘freestyle / freeride’ while the bottom setting is for the parkstyle / freestyle riders and the label suggests that it delivers the most pivotal turn. We rode the FS on the middle (standard) setting first (and always on the top knot on the back line). Firstly, the FS offers a really good amount of freeride DNA compared to many freestyle kites that can feel heavier to steer and more locked in. The FS isn’t too far off the RS in terms of the level of riders who could get on it and have a good time, but it’s when you come to throwing shapes that the FS offers greater performance.

BRILLIANT FREERIDE AND FREESTYLE CROSSOVER The middle setting is very easy to use. Powerful, yet with lots of depower; quick to turn yet smooth and manageable to dial into quickly. There’s lots of range and Eleveight kites aren’t just tuned for high wind; they’re even in feel from their bottom to top ends. The FS is beautifully balanced for a nine metre and we enjoyed all the performance benefits in the 15 – 25 knot sessions that we had. Flying forward keenly but not racing far to the edge of the window, the FS always has good feel and balance at the bar. There’s decent sheet and go too, but the difference with the RS comes in the shape, which affects the turning arc and speed. Both offer good depower, but the FS is a good step more C-shaped than the RS and has five struts compared to three. The FS is quicker and less pivotal but still doesn’t feel too overbearing. The balance between lift and hangtime is excellent, giving you a good rush of lift and then plenty of time to think about reaching for a grab or board-off. What Eleveight have got really right here is that you can access good performance quite easily, but then the more aggressive you become in your approach, the more you’ll get back from the kite. The RS is more stable overhead, has more low end and a floatier hangtime, making it easy for intermediates to get to grips with, whereas the sweet spot overhead for getting a good jump is smaller on the FS. However, it’s not difficult to hit that sweet spot and when you do hoik the FS back, advancing freeriders will love the comfortable combination of speed, agility and lift. The FS is a very capable kite, but somehow it doesn’t make things difficult for intermediates, either.

KITE LOOPS In the middle setting the kite always flies forward very keenly round the window. Looping in 20 – 25 knots we were always totally confident that the kite would complete the loop in plenty of time, while also delivering nice drive around the bottom of the circle. No matter what we did with the bar it was very difficult to mess up the flight of the kite. Immediately rewarding, there’s less need for absolute precision in your steering. If you over-sheet on the loop and pull a bit hard, the FS doesn’t stutter around the bottom of the window – it just stays smooth and consistent, but just speeds up. Another big difference between the FS and RS is more obvious when it comes to throwing any unhooked freestyle. Although we didn’t get chance to test this area much other than some raleys and S-bends, the difference is very obvious as the FS definitely drives forward much more cleanly and is easier to handle unhooked. The RS needs a lot more trimming to unhook and pulls you continuously towards the kite, making passes harder. We also rode down-the-line with the FS on a twin-tip and the quick turning response, mixed with a smooth arc and lots of depower, made hacking waves a lot of fun. If you’re primarily a freestyle / boosting rider but also want a kite for the odd wave session, this is quite a unique offering. We switched knots to the big air setting unfortunately just as the wind backed-off a bit, which wasn’t ideal because the steering speed reduces and the kite feels more locked. Once the wind filled back in more strongly, this setting made more sense. The uplift in the boost is quicker and with more of a direct, connected feeling. This setting turns the noise cancelling off, which advanced riders will like. The hangtime is also a bit longer, but it’s really about the loops taking more of a wider arc around the window, becoming more rewarding the stronger the wind gets. So we’d say if you’re in average wind conditions stick to the middle setting and only switch to the big air settings if you’re a more advanced rider wanting more raw power.

BUILD, DESIGN AND BAR There’s enough sweep in the tips to aid a back line pull relaunch and, even after a couple of waves over the top, the strong five strut air frame did its job. Available in two adjustable sizes: 42/50 and 47/55cm, the CS Vary bar is comfortable, quite soft and has every feature you’ll need, including a line untwister swivel and a Velcro tab for the cleat. The kite flags out safely to one line, but when steering the kite, the rope is fairly coarse when you have your fingers butted up in the middle of the bar, compared to a system that covers the safety and power lines in plastic. Finally, build quality is excellent, with lovely strong Techno Force X4 cloth, robust reinforcements throughout and a good wide inflation valve that your pump hose screws onto directly. Perhaps the Eleveight look is a bit understated for some, but there’s no doubting the fact that everything they produce is all about the ride.

“The FS has much more freeride ease than most ‘freestyle’ kites and is quick for anyone to dial into.”
“The FS has much more freeride ease than most ‘freestyle’ kites and is quick for anyone to dial into.”

SUMMARY: The FS has much more freeride ease than most ‘freestyle’ kites and is quick for anyone to dial into. What we’ve really come to like about the Eleveight kites is that we can do everything on them without really having to take time adjusting to the gear. Yes, this is a more advanced kite than the RS, but what we really like about the FS is that it’s still accessible. There’s plenty of park and ride performance but this kite also responds positively to more aggressive handling and you can really hoik it back for great boost and the kite loops are ultra-reliable. Good, credible tuning options too that aren’t just marketing gimmicks. KW LIKED: This is a real ‘do everything’ freestyle kite with masses of freeride DNA built in, too. KW WOULD CHANGE: In terms of handling, nothing. However you ride you can find happiness on the FS. If we’re being picky we’d cover the power line with plastic, but then the safety line isn’t as free... and your bar won’t pack away as neatly!

FS BALANCE POINTS: Build quality: 8.5 Full package: 8.5 Low end: 8 Top end: 8 Steering speed: 7.5 Turning circle: 6 Bar pressure: 6 (big air mode slightly heavier) Water relaunch: 8 Drift: DT Boost: 8.5 Hang-time: 7.5 Unhooked: 8 Crossover: 8 Ease of use: 8.5 SIZES: 16, 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7 and 6m

NEW MODEL HAS LAUNCHED JULY 2020:

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