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Testing the 2018 North Evo with Danny Barnette

Posted by Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic on

Sessions Blog - Testing the 2018 North Evo

For the 2018 North Evo, I really had to put in the work to get my review right. In most of my previous videos, I'd already had years of experience testing the gear. Demand was high for this review and I was struggling to get any real information on the kite. I decided to get as much time in on the kite as possible and take notes on my sessions. The problem was I only had a 12 meter and the conditions never seemed to line up. I had tested the kite in very light and very strong wind, but never appropriately powered. I just couldn't get my bearings on the kite in those conditions. 

A month ago, I decided to take a trip to Hatteras where my friends would be putting on a demo with every size of the 2018 North Evo available. It seemed like the perfect trip to kick off a vlog and get one last session on the kite before doing my review. 

While I was down there, I had the chance to go over my notes with my buddy Danny Barnette, an up-and-coming North team rider who has logged plenty of time on the Evo. While we were talking, I asked if he would be willing to do a quick write-up on all the gear he uses and why he chooses those kites. 

Danny's Tools of the Trade 

For the Waves:

For riding waves, I’ll always choose the Neo. The drifting capabilities are unmatched. In proper conditions, you can really sheet in, positioning the kite deeper into the window.  You can then ride down the line on the wave as it drifts with you. The direct feel and feedback from the kite is fantastic.

Knowing and feeling where the kite is at all times is so important when wave riding so you don’t have to take your focus off cracking the lip. 

Superb drift and great upwind... how does that happen on one kite, you may ask? I’m asking the same question. These great qualities for wave riding make the Neo my choice for foilboarding as well. Since the 2015 Neos, North has packed heaps of power into the kite; meaning you can often get away with riding a kite one size smaller than everyone else on the water, giving you a smaller, faster turning wave kite. My Neo quiver consists of 6m, 8m and 10m, and has me covered from 15 knots to mid-30s. I have yet to find a problem with this kite in the past few years; I’m constantly astonished how North continues to refine this already well-polished wave machine.

Danny getting some air at the Cove, Hatteras NC. 

What about for jumping? 

If you want to go UP, the Rebel is for you. Boosting on the new 2018 four line North Kiteboarding Rebel can simply send you to the moon. This year's Rebel offers slightly quicker turning and more hang time than previous years. You still have the direct feel and the nice bar pressure that all Rebel users have loved since the kite's debut in 2007. 

This year’s Rebel model still offers stellar upwind capabilities, easy relaunch, and that classic “sheet-and-go” feel. The only negative I feel that came from dropping the 5th line is, when boosting, sometimes the kite doesn’t fully climb as high above your head during a boost, so you may not go as high as with the 2017 5-line model. (Don’t worry,  SEE VIDEO HERE if you’re worried about boosting and height capabilities; you’ll still grab some moon cheese from how high you’ll go.) My Rebel quiver consists solely of a 9m; this kite takes care of me from 15 knots to 40 knots. If you’re a rider looking for a dedicated freeride, hooked-in freestyle, boosting machine, the Rebel 2018 could be for you; I know it is for me.

Rygo's Notes on the 2018 North Evo 

Speaking of the new 2018 Rebel, that's another kite on my list for a future review. So as riding notes. 

Session One: Low Wind

Wind: 10 - 15 knots

Kite: 2018 North Evo 12m 

Board: Cabrinha Custom 144 & North Gonzales 142

Rider weight: 185 lbs

Kite seems more delayed in lighter winds. Still, it felt faster than the 2017 in this wind range. I’ve been flying a lot of freestyle crossover kites so that’s likely why. Paired with a flat board, it rode upwind well in very light wind. It’s fairly on par with the 2017 regarding low-end. It was pretty frustrating on the rockered board, but that is to be expected.  

With the right board, it jumps well enough in light wind. It has a springy, poppy feel to the jump and good hang time for the conditions. I'm not noticing much of a difference from the 2017 Evo here. The only real difference is the bar pressure making the 2018 have less grunt. 

Testing the 2017 Evo last December in Progreso, Mexico. The 2017 seems to have just a little more grunt. 

Session Two: High Wind

Wind: 25 gusting to 27+ knots 

Kite: 2018 North Evo 12m 

Board: Cabrinha Ace Carbon 135 & Cabrinha Excalibur wood 135 

Rider weight: 169 lbs

The kite was crazy controlled, it jumped like a champ, and it felt safe even when I was pushing it. Very little flutter, if any. Jumps were controlled and effortless despite my lack of edge control at times. This is a good sign. Some kites will not jump well if your timing is off. That does not seem to matter much with this kite. Granted in these winds, any kite is going to jump big. It’s interesting to feel how much more reactive the kite is with power. It's still not as fast as a freestyle kite but now it does more of what I'd expect from this design. 

It's still a bit different than I expected. The kite does not need much feedback. Most three-strut kites need to be signed more aggressively when the wind drops off. This kite is more of a set-it-and-forget-it feel, similar to the 5-strut 2017 version (when there were holes in the wind the kite powered through similar to the 2017).  Albeit, I did have to work the kite a little when the wind dropped off. 

The 2018 Evo handles quite well in stronger winds, even better than its predecessor.  

Session Three: Moderate to High Wind

Wind: 18 - 26+ knots 

Board: Cabrinha Custom 144

Kite: 2018 North Evo 12m 

Rider weight: 169 lbs

Like all kites,the Evo felt a little delayed when the trim was totally de-powered; it was much more responsive when fully powered. It's more responsive than the 2017 but still has that autopilot feel I'm used to from the older Evo or other freeride kites. I think I was expecting this to fly more like a freestyle kite. This is not the case. 

It had lots of grunt. I tried unhooking for the first time on this model and what I noticed was how strong the forward pull was. That said, at 169 pounds, a 12 meter has a lot of power at 25 knots. Not really fair to the kite. 

The jumping on this kite is actually really fun. It has a lot of control in the gusty wind, a smooth, springy take-off, plenty of loft, and maybe a slightly faster descent than the 2017. I'm not certain on this point. 

Session Four: Target Wind Range 

Wind: 18 - 26+ knots

Board: Cabrinha Custom 144

Kite: 2018 North Evo 9m

Rider weight: 167 lbs

I finally rode this kite in the appropriate wind range. I love the way the 9m feels. Much more responsive than the 12m. Jumping is still effortless on this kite and unhooking is actually fun when you're not lit. It definitely has a lively, springy feel when jumping. The hang time is smooth, and the descent is still a little fast. Compared to the 2017, there are a lot of similarities. It performs like I would expect a performance all-around freeride kite to perform. It feels and flies different than the 2017 but does seem to accomplish many of the same goals. Easy to jump without much rider feedback required. Rides upwind well also.

So that's a wrap, guys. Next Wednesday I will release my full Versus video on this kite. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on the new Evo. This series has never soley been about what I have to say. It's an open forum to discuss gear and share experiences. 

See you next week on Versus! 

Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic

Just a dude from a kite shop testing all the gear one session at a time.

Many people dream of quitting their job, traveling the world and pursuing their passions. Rygo is one of those people who pulled the trigger. About eight years into a postal career, he decided to change everything and travel as a freelance videographer & writer. This took him from coast to coast and a variety of countries. Nowadays you can catch him on the phones, doing lessons, or working on videos. Of course, he still makes a point to travel as often as possible. His mission is to help people and share the stoke with his customers and students alike. Get out there and kiteboard.


Producer of: Ride with Blake I Sessions I Versus I Destinations I Foil Fridays