The Best Kites for Learning Freestyle
Hey guys! As I promised I'm going to write about my current three favorite kites for learning freestyle. Now, just because I favor these kites doesn't mean there aren't a lot of other great kites that offer similar benefits. I’m going to write about these as well.
As I said, these are the best kites for learning freestyle. I know some of you are going to start shouting about C-kites and I’ve addressed this before. Check out my video on the topic.
Are C-kites awesome? Yes! Are they easy to learn on? No, no they are not. This is why brands have created the Crossover freestyle category. You get most of the benefits of a C-kite and none of the downfalls.
So what is a Crossover kite?
It's a cross between an all around freeride kite and a dedicated freestyle kite. Each brand has their own iteration and each kite focuses on different disciplines. For example, some work better in the waves, while others work better for pop and slack.
All that said, they all serve to the same end. While new riders could learn on these, they are designed for intermediate riders looking for a more reactive kite that requires more feedback. Think stick shift vs automatic. They tend to kite loop much better, have more aggressive pop, slack easier, and are very fun to fly. Granted, they often lack the same wind range as their all-around counterparts.
Before he went foil crazy, Tucker was a freestyle machine favoring the cabrinha FX
Now, all that said, if you don’t have a crossover kite don’t sweat it! Something that's been on a my mind for a while after doing so many reviews is how tweaked people can get on gear. People often ask, will this kite help me do backrolls? The answer is no. Doing backrolls will help you do backrolls. So have fun with it! Yes, crossover kites make some things easier but you can do this with most kites. Don’t be afraid to try if you don’t have a crossover kite.
The Cabrinha FX
We’ll start with the kite I chose for this trip. The Cabrinha FX. I chose this kite because it is Kristens favorite kite! It just made sense to bring one quiver, as we’re constantly using different size kites. Granted, the FX has been my choice kite for two years in a row now.
I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for the Cabrinha FX.
On this trip, I had the opportunity to test the 2016 vs the 2018 FX back to back. I had the opportunity to do some experimenting with the new freestyle bridal setting on the 2018. I’ve had some people ask about this feature, and in case you are wondering, it does actually make a difference. My initial impression before this trip was it only made a minor difference, but in my last two weeks kiting, I found myself appreciating my sessions on the 2018 just a bit more. Setting the center bridal on the freestyle setting and the steering lines on the high bar pressure setting creates noticeable improvements to the kite's freestyle performance. You get a little more pop, and a little more slack.
For more information on the FX, click here.
The North Dice
I really wanted to bring a Dice with me on this trip, but logistically, it just didn't make sense. Sadly, I had to leave it behind at the shop. The Dice is going to be my choice kite for the 2019 season. I've done a full comparison of the Dice vs. the FX in previous videos. You can check that out in the video below.
If you don’t care to watch the full edit, the short story is that the Dice and FX are very similar. However, the Dice does have a little more performance in the waves, while the FX is just a touch better with pop and slack. Just like the 2018 FX, the 2018 North Dice has taken a step forward in the freestyle category. You can expect more pop and slack from the 2018 Dice in comparison to the 2017 model.
For more information on the Dice, click here.
The Naish Dash
The Dash has been on my radar for a while, so I was super excited when I got the opportunity to test it out. I still need to log a few more hours before doing a full versus video on the kite, but here's my first impressions so far. The Dash is the most freestyle minded of the three. I don’t know if Naish borrowed some designs from the Torch, but I loved everything about this kite. It seemed to have to most pop and slack of all three kites, but in contrast, the bridal was quite large and it seems just a little less reactive compared to the other two. Granted, I was on the 14m and I’ve only had one session on the Dash so far.
The slower moving kite with the added pop make this a great choice for learning freestyle. Expect a full versus video on the topic soon.
As I mentioned previously, there are lots of other kites that are great for learning freestyle, but they don’t quite fit neatly into the same box as these three.
For more information on the Dash. click here.
The Slingshot RPM
This kite falls into a category of its own. There is truly no other kite like it. While it acts like a crossover kite, it's the most user friendly of the crossover kites. In fact, many schools teach with this kite, including our own. I’ve done a few lessons with the kite and while it's not as easy to learn on as say, a Cabrinha Switchblade, its an awesome kite regardless of ability level.
If you’re just starting out as a kiteboarder and you have aspirations to eventually learn freestyle, this is the kite you want to get. Not only will it be easy while learning but as you progress, but you’ll never outgrow this gem.You can still learn on the first three Crossover kites, but they do have just a little less wind range than the RPM. Once you're an experienced kiter, this isn't such a big deal. When you're new to kiteboarding, it’s everything.
The Liquid Force NV
The NV is more of an all around kite, but I’ve always found it to fall into the freestyle category. Circa 2010, Liquid Force lead the charge with a new three strut design, bringing us the first generation of this kite. Faster, more fun to ride, and great for progression, the Envy really shook things up. The latest iteration has come leaps and bounds since this first generation, and deserves to be placed on my freestyle kite list. I actually switched from the FX to the NV in early 2018, just to mix up my quiver and log some hours on this kite. It’s not as aggressive as the true crossover kites, making it a great choice for riders who want a kite that feels more like a playful all around kite. In regards to performance, look no further than Liquids flagship rider, Brandon Scheid.
For more information on the NV, click here.
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