I got into sport-kiting as a young lad, but for various reasons had to give it up at age 12. Some 18 years later, I've suddenly and thoroughly gotten back into the sport, thanks to an unexpected (and wonderful) combination of factors. Having come from an era where kites were all about precision, speed, edge-handling, and pure, unadulterated performance (as opposed to all of the ultra-dainty, light-wind trickery that seems so popular today), it is not only appropriate but predictable that my online research would lead me directly to the HQ Symphony 2.7 as my first modern-day kite purchase. To say I was utterly blown away would be an understatement (as well as an atrocious attempt at a pun).
First off, having read oh so many reviews of the kite and the company, I was expecting excellent build quality. I was not disappointed. The kite arrived in a neat, well-constructed rucksack, replete with lines (on a smallish, but thoroughly adequate winder) and decently constructed padded handles with polished metal D-rings to which to secure the lines. The kite itself was perfectly sewn and measured, with precise, fully sewn bridle lines that have since stood up well to hard-core stretching and wear. The inlets are reinforced, the trailing edge doubly so, and everything has nice, precise double-stitching. The only beef I have with the build quality lies in the lines, which display tons of tiny frays after only a couple of weeks of abuse (but they still stand up to wind well out of the kite's advertised range, so I guess it doesn't matter much -- more on that later).
This kite is a pure "stunt foil." As I understand this category, a "stunt foil" is supposed to provide one with roughly the performance envelope of a traditional framed stunt kite without -- well -- the frame -- thereby enabling one to truly take the kite anywhere. Not quite so with the 2.7, as the rucksack will comfortably fit into a largish backpack, or attach to a Camelbak, but not without taking up a bit of space, say, about as much as a deflated single bedroll folded over on itself. Still, it's extremely transportable, vastly moreso than an elder framed kite. Still, on backpacking trips, I'd prefer to take something much smaller, like a Prism Snapshot or one of the smaller Symphonies.
In the air, it will perform, and perform well, in more or less exactly the wind range the manufacturer specifies. I've gotten this thing up and happily flying in winds that are barely enough to feel on the back of one's neck (4ish mph), and in such winds, it gently floats from one end of the window to the other, tracking solidly and precisely. (And that's with custom-made 6 foot tails on each wingtip, which add at least some degree of drag.) In stronger winds, this thing will absolutely scream along, making a delightful whooshing sound as air streams into the inlets. In such winds, it's far faster than one would expect of a foil of it's size (roughly 2 square meters), and the pull is atrocious. Unless you're a descendant of Hercules himself, be prepared to tire and/or suffer from pulled muscles after only 10 minutes or so tracking this thing across the power zone in 20+mph winds, as it generates a LOT of pull for its size.
Nevertheless, as fast and hard-pulling as it is, this kite never fails to give one quite a helping of precision control. It's got a lovely cross-over bridle, which, coupled with its highly elliptical form, gives it extraordinary turning performance. This kite will push-turn almost on its axis in higher winds, while steadfastly resisting collapse in every position save the absolute edge of the window. When it does collapse (which is rare, but inevitable in gusty, unstable winds at the edges of the window), I can recover approximately 80% of the time by tugging a couple of times on the lines.
Having let a few people try it and having used it in a variety of conditions myself, I'd say that this is not a good kite for buggying, boarding, or any such application, if only because the pull isn't really controllable. Take the kite to the top of the window, and it generates manageable lift in a strong wind, but put it in the power zone, and you're pulled right into the land of Oz with little recourse if the wind is 15+mph. It's very fun to do tricks with, however, and mine has resisted enough hard landings into gravel to make it a good kite to hand over to a newcomer (as long as said newcomer weighs more than 150lbs).
In sum, this kite is very well made, fun, fast, stable, precise, and well worth the $139 one can get it for off of the internet these days. If you're a veteran of old-style framed stunt kites like I am, you can't go wrong with this. However, unless you're looking for a severe workout if winds top 15+mph regularly in your area, I'd probably downgrade to the Symphony 2.2. Or lift weights a lot....... your choice.
By : kairusan