North Mode Ultra Wing Review | Innovative Design and Cutting-Edge Materials

North Mode Ultra Wing Review | Innovative Design and Cutting-Edge Materials

In today's episode of Wing Wednesdays, Tucker has the all-new 2024 North Mode Ultra. You're probably familiar with the Mode, North's speedy race wing, as well as the Mode Pro that was introduced last year as an upgraded construction model, but the Ultra is on a whole other level. What makes this new entry to the Mode lineup so special?

What is the Ultra?

The Mode Ultra is North's top-tier, no-compromises wing construction. It delivers with a level of performance that hasn't been seen before in the lineup.


Surf/Tow/Luff Handle

Starting at the top of the wing, the first innovation is the removable surf handle. Since this is a race wing, you may not always have a need for that handle. It does create some drag by interrupting the flow of air around the leading edge, so you can take it off completely and get a little performance boost.

The handle itself is low profile and ultra light, so its impact on the airflow is pretty minimal even if you do leave it on. If you are planning on using the surf handle a lot, it's worth noting that there isn't a knuckle guard, so you may want to use a glove to keep from rubbing your skin on the stitching under the handle. Or you can simply surf off the front strut handle.

Wrist Leash

Under the surf handle is the leash attachment point, and a standard wrist leash is included. It's got a swivel and bungee line, and it gets the job done.


You have the option of single point inflation or independent inflation on this wing. There is a hose connecting the leading edge and strut, but there is also a secondary valve you can use to pump the leading edge and strut up to different pressures by clamping off the hose.

Sometimes you'll want the strut at full pressure, but if you're in gusty wind or are a lighter rider, you may want the leading edge at a slightly lower pressure for a softer feel.

The valves use the typical North connection, so you don't need an adapter.


The handles use North's Griplock connection, which means they're removable in case you need to replace one or pack the wing down tight for travel. The handles are carbon to keep them as light as possible.



The frame is N-Weave45, North's premium frame material. It makes the frame light, stiff, and snappy, and it's perfect for wings. It's also got Carbon UD tapes sewn along the entire leading edge to level up the snappiness of the wing. These allow North to refine the shape of the wing to match their blueprints with very tight tolerances and get the performance the designer intended.


The canopy material is the really exciting part of the Ultra. It's made from N-Xi, with fibers laid at plus and minus 60 degrees and zero degrees so it's stiff in three directions. It's somewhat translucent; you'll still need to use the windows to clearly see who's around you, but you can see shadowy figures through the canopy so it's still somewhat useful to avoid other riders.

N-Xi is a laminate that was developed specifically for winging. It's not just lighter; it's also very stiff and snappy. The lighter weight is especially apparent when you're pumping the wing and don't have that extra weight to move around.


The windows are ultra light, reinforced material, so they won't stretch or bag out prematurely. They have a nice flow with the canopy and keep things light.

Trailing Edge

The trailing edge has some additional reinforcement, as well as two battens on each side. This all helps to keep it tight and reduce flutter. It's especially nice when you're ripping along at Mach speed and don't have that chattering and deforming of the trailing edge.


The profile between the strut and canopy is slim and sleek. You can see it's a race wing. The dihedral is also very flat. This wing is built for power, speed, and making apparent wind until it's too scary to go any faster.

Tucker's Review

Tucker got to test the 4.8 and 5.5m Mode Ultra wings, and those were the perfect sizes for him as a heavier rider in conditions typical to West Michigan. He found them a real pleasure to ride. He'd been excited to try them ever since he learned about them, and they did not disappoint.

The Mode Ultra has a high top end range, so you'll want to go ahead and size up if you're riding fast and powered. The wing stays comfortable when doing that because it's very stiff, fast, and forward-pulling.

While Tucker isn't a race competitor, he has ridden a lot of different wings, and this is the fastest one yet for him. The comfort and smoothness it has at speed inspires you to go even faster because you feel in control and not like you're on the verge of blowing up.

Compared to other fast wings, and even previous versions of the Mode, the Ultra has a bit more grunt in the low end once you get moving. You'll feel that acceleration and drive a little sooner, and once you get up on foil, it wants to take off like a rocket ship and build even more apparent wind and speed.

It's very efficient upwind. It builds speed on top of speed with the apparent wind. While a race wing is often good either upwind or downwind, this one is quite good downwind as well. People who run courses with both upwind and downwind are going to be stoked to learn that. It also adds another layer of usability for people who aren't into racing but just like to go fast in a lot of different conditions.

At 200lb, Tucker found the 5.5m to be comfortable and fun in 18 - 28mph. He could ride in less than that with the right board and foil, but it wouldn't feel right, like it wanted to go faster but couldn't. When in doubt, size up on these wings since they have plenty of top end range. You'll be happy to have that extra canopy for more power and drive.

On the 4.8, Tucker found he needed at least 20mph, but it started to be fun in the mid-20s. Then he could swap to a smaller foil.

Who's It For?

Of course, the Mode Ultra is designed for racing, but Tucker took it out in waves and also did some freeriding, and he had a blast. He prefers faster wings, and although he doesn't race, it was so much fun to go fast while doing the things he loves. He was even able to boost on it. So it's not pigeonholed into being just a race wing. It's very capable all-around, plus you can blast past your buddies!

The Ultra opens up the race category of wings to people who might not have considered something like this. If your wind is fluky and gusty, a forward traction wing like this is going to handle that really well. You won't get pulled on your face or launched out of control; you'll drive forward and smoothly build more speed. You might not even realize just how bad the wind is.

The Mode Ultra is not for progressing riders in light wind. The Mode lineup is built to be ridden with power and speed. It doesn't have the lift and grunt a newer rider is going to need if they're not properly powered. Now, if there is enough wind, then a new rider can certainly use it. It's not so technical that it's going to be difficult for a progressing rider. But you do need to have enough wind for the size you're riding. If you're in an area with predominantly light wind, check out the Nova Pro or Loft Pro. These are a lot more friendly to new riders in underpowered conditions.

Mode Ultra vs. Pro

The main difference between the Mode Ultra and Pro is, of course, the canopy. However, the Ultra isn't just the same wing with a new canopy slapped on. It has been completely redesigned, and it rides a little nicer for freeriding. Tucker really appreciated the sleeker shape and tighter cut towards the wingtips. The Ultra has a bit more intuitive handling for him, it's quieter through the wind, and it's faster and better upwind.

The N-Xi canopy is tight and quiet. It doesn't wave and chatter like ripstop canopies do. It doesn't deform and have wrinkles appear to create extra drag. It's almost as if it's a rigid sail.

So far, the canopy has proven to be very durable, and Tucker hasn't seen any wear on it after pounding on it for a few sessions. He hit it with his foil and even fell onto it, and it still looks brand new.

The price is surprisingly average for the Ultra. Unlike Aluula, N-Xi and N-Weave45 are moderately priced materials, so you can get a lot of performance without having a mega budget to spend. It's very exciting to see this kind of performance available to riders who need to be a bit frugal.

Tucker's Nitpicks

While there isn't a lot to dislike about the Mode Ultra, inflation systems can be a real pet peeve of Tucker's. These are big and knobby and are something to catch your leash and other things on. The high pressure SUP valves that are also used on white water rafts and inflatable mattresses protrude a lot less and are easier to connect and disconnect from, with pumps being widely available. While the valves North uses work very well, maybe it's time to move to one standard that sits a bit more flush to the frame.

He'd also like to eliminate the tube connecting the leading edge and strut. After all, the two valves are three inches apart and it isn't that hard to swap between them. The addition of an unnecessary connecting tube seems like an odd design choice for a lightweight wing.

Other than that, Tucker really doesn't have anything to nitpick. Of course, he'd always like things to be lighter and less expensive, but he concedes that North has done a really nice job with the price to performance ratio on this wing. And it's in the upper third of wings in terms of being lightweight.

More than the physical weight of the wing, the design makes it feel lightweight. It's very clean into the wind, luffs well for surfing, and is well-behaved for jibes and tacks. There isn't a lot of downward pressure where it wants to nosedive on you like some wings do as you go into a tack. So it's hard to complain about the weight.


Tucker can't say enough good about the North Mode Ultra. The design team at North is killing it and he can't wait to see what other exciting things come down the pipeline in the future. It's pretty incredible to see North develop wing-specific materials in their own lab and bring them to market at competitive prices.

The Mode Ultra is North's top tier race wing, and Tucker's looking forward to getting more time on it this summer, and especially into the fall as the wind picks back up. There's nothing quite like blasting around on a fast wing and a foil.

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14th Jun 2024 Tucker Vantol

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