Figured it was about time I gave something back to this forum and write a review of my newest toy. For the record, I picked this up virtually brand new from eBay, and my previous experience consists of a PL Pepper 2.5 & HQ Xfire 4m. I've only done static flying with my kites so far.
Well, there's so much talk of the Flexi quality and the initial impressions confirm this. The bag is very nicely designed and constructed, much better than the HQ offering and the PL drawstring bag.
Bag itself has a main compartment for the kite, and two flaps which clip round the front to hold a board; each flap has a zipped storage compartment.
Despite its obvious quality, the bag is rather small, and you'd be hard pushed to fit a drink & a sarnie in there as well as the kite.
Kite & gear
Held together by a compression clip (for which I've found 100 uses since), the kite oozes crispy quality. The trademark meshed vents are here, and stitching throughout is of a high standard.
Everything on the kite is colour coded, (lines, handles, bridle att. points, even the crocodile clips on the kite) so setting it up is a doddle. Lines (which have to be bought separately) are coated, colour-coded Dyneema and were correct length. I'm also a big fan of the tab on each line-end which allows you to loosen the larks-head: again, smart thinking.
The manual is also well made & colour printed, certainly superior to the functional one supplied with the Xfire (which in-turn was better than the hopeless pamphlet supplied with the Pepper).
One of the big features of the new Blade is the adjustable bridle: by moving a larks-head up-and-down a series of knots (about 1 inch apart), the characteristics of the kite can be altered. There are 3 settings, giving reduced lift / more pull, intermediate or increased lift / less pull. Moving between these settings is very easy indeed.
Flying the thing
I do most of my flying on a football pitch next to work (I am king of the 'Lunchtime Blast') and winds can be gusty & lumpy was they come over the trees & houses. Unless otherwise specified, I'm flying on the liftiest setting.
Kite is generally behaved well on the ground, although can flip over & lift off in gusty winds. With a bit of creative tugging, I find I can pull out any folds in the kite if it luffs, meaning I rarely have to stake down the handles & sort out the canopy.
Sub 10 mph
On hearing horror stories of what this kite is capable of, I started in very low winds. The kite can get airborne easily enough, but needs work to keep in the air. It can sit at the edge of the window, but will fold if the wind drops; similar characteristics at the zenith. It is, nonetheless, more stable than the Xfire (albeit I've only flown the 4m Crossie).
Some pull is generated by working the kite across the window, but I came away feeling a little disappointed.
At these sort of winds, the kite begins to wake up. It's eager to get in the air, with forward-moving jumps capable off the launch. Pendulum jumps are achievable, and the pilot got his first taste of the 'Blade stance': bolt upright with both arms in the air.
Bringing the kite across the power-zone can give long scud; the kite is solid in the air and very easy to fly well.
It will overfly if you let it, and brake adjustment is needed depending on wind conditions, but this is fairly standard on any kite as I understand it.
At these wind speeds, the kite really comes into its own. It climbs quickly, generating constant lift at the zenith, with gusts regularly lofting my 13st into the air. Pendulum jumps are high and long; despite being quite new to this game, I have been achieving 4, 5 and 6ft jumps off this foil (at least, my workmates tell me it was 6ft). Hang time is considerable, long enough for me to let go of the handles in fear the first few times. Landings are floaty if the wind is constant & the kite redirected, but can be very fast if the kite is low in the window during the landing.
Flying the Blade in these winds is like walking on the moon (I'd imagine): every stride has the potential to be massive and getting air is very easy indeed.
Flying like this on handles is an exhausting experience, and the kite can be very difficult to land; deploying the killers is my preferred way of bringing the kite down in these winds.
I am very impressed indeed.
I'm a big fan of these settings, even though I normally only fly on the lifty one. Simply put, they mean I can give my friends (none of whom fly, but 3 of whom are now buying kites) and let them use the kite without subjecting them to the murderous lift. By setting it on less lift, the kite races easily to the zenith, generally much easier for the first timer. They can then dip into the powerzone when they feel like it. It does, however, have a tendency to overfly on this setting.
With the kite set on lifty, it's a little more difficult to get it up (so to speak) but not problematic at all.
On the downside
Well, most importantly, it ain't cheap. I have no problems paying the money: quality is excellent and the kite is a blast to fly; some people may say that the price is too high when the 5m Xfire is out there for half the price.
I found the smooth padding of the Flexi handles tend to become slippery after an exhausting session, and yearn for the slightly rougher finish on the Pepper handles.
The bag, while being of great quality & design, is a little small. I'll be swapping out for a bigger bag soon.
I'm very happy indeed with this kite. It has buckets of lift in the right winds, and is an exhausting, exhilarating experience. Quality is excellent throughout, and I believe it’s made me a better flyer. It’s rock solid in the window, responsive and easy to get results – long scuds & high, floaty jumps
It is much more stable than the Xfire at the edges of the window, and the adjustable bridle means I have no qualms about giving the handles to a non-flyer (in the correct winds).
All things considered: a class act.
Author : daytripper