I've been using my Radsail 2.4 for a few months now, in most conditions, so I think it's about time I did a review.
As my first quad-line kite, I was looking for an entry level, well-built kite that wouldn't break the bank or my neck. I'd already bought a Radsail 145 on ebay, so I returned to the dreaded auction site and parted with just shy of £50 for my new toy. Despite the best efforts of the delivery company, the kite arrived safely from Germany, a short week-and-a-half later.
The Rad comes with its own little two-compartment rucksack - fairly basic and not very big, with that slightly pointless modern rucksack essential of bungee criss-crossing across the front. It also has two very small mesh pouches on the sides - I'm still not sure what these are supposed to be for.
Its one redeeming feature is the heavy-duty mesh patch in the base of the bag. This allows sand and moisture to drain out, without you losing your keys or any other small bits you may have in the bag's main pouch. Unfortunately, if you leave the bag lying on the beach, the mesh allows the wind to blow a copious amount of sand into the bag - as I discovered the first time I took it out.
The handles supplied with the rad are very unpleasant - at first glance, they look fine, but as soon as you use them you know they are awful. Like the bag, I ditched them very quickly!
The handles are smoothly finished aluminium. They have thick, squishy foam padding (one red, one black) which is simply stuck to the metal. I had the distinct impression that the foam would peel off with extended use.
The foam stops at the power line leader, which means if you want to fly with your index finger above the leader (who doesn't?) you will get a very cold finger very quickly! As well as this, the leaders are very thick cord - almost rope in fact - and they pass through a small plastic tube through the body of the handle (perhaps to prevent the cord chafing on bare metal?) which protruded slightly from my handles. Together with cold metal and unpadded cord, this little plastic protrusion made flying with the Radsail handles a distinctly painful experience for the fingers.
The leaders end in a short length at the back of the handles, with a simple knot, so it would be possible to attach a strop line. There are no staking loops though.
The lines came on two winders - power and brake. The lines are all white pre-stretched Dyneema, with a texture that I can only call plastic cheese-wire.
The sleeves are all different colours (none of them logical!), and simply knotted on for easy adjustment. Which is just as well, because no two of my lines were the same length, and the brake lines were about a foot shorter than the power lines.
After my initial adjustments, the lines have not needed any further tinkering, and I have had no breakages or fraying.
The kite does not come with kitekillers or a stake, but does include a sticker (wow!), a promotional DVD, and instructions.
The instruction leaflet is actually not bad, with the basics of setup, launching, steering, landing, and the wind window as well as an indication of which kites in the radsail range can be used in which winds. It also includes the usual list of "do not fly next to..." which for a complete beginner is pretty essential.
Finally, on to the kite itself. Made from ripstop nylon with reinforced edges, it seems fairly bombproof - mine has withstood crashes under full power into hard sand, grass, mud, you name it - with only some grubby marks to show for it. All seams are straight and secure. The cells are all open along the leading edge, so any invading sand or grass is easily shake-out-able.
It is, however, rather heavy for such a small kite, and rather absorbent. If you land in a puddle be prepared for a very sluggish unhappy kite.
The bridle lines are all white, very thick and heavy in comparison to others, and simply knotted. They are prone to occasional twists and tangles, and the lack of colour-coding makes them difficult to sort out, especially if the wind is trying to keep them tangled and whip the kite around while you're trying to untangle them enough to fly. The fact that they meet in the middle does not help the inexperienced untangler.
In The Air
Putting it all together, the rad will sit happily on its backside while staked. In high winds it has a tendency to bounce, and may attempt to reverse-launch itself if it flips over, so a well-placed bottle of water or other ballast will keep it secure while you stop for a break.
Launching is a simple step backwards on the power lines, with a nice easy trip up to the zenith. The kite will pull hard through the power zone, then relax as it approaches zenith. In lighter winds it may be necessary to "see-saw" the kite gently through the launch.
In flight, the radsail 2.4 does what you tell it to. Keep it high for some gentle sweeping motions and loops with little pull and no lift, or drop it lower for big powered-up swoops and turns. With a little brake input, the turns are tighter, but too much and the kite loses all momentum.
On light wind days, for the rad to fly at all you have to keep it moving constantly. If the wind drops or you apply too much brake, the kite will fall, so keep it well-inflated and always moving.
A fun kite to fly in moderate winds, the rad really puts the boot in on high wind days. For traction, I would put its optimum wind range at 15-20mph once you are confident with it. Less than that, you won't move very far or fast, but at higher windspeeds it gets very dangerous, particularly for beginners.
The rad does not absorb gusts at all due to its small size, and will jerk and wobble in the air. Similarly, it responds to sudden lulls by losing power instantly. Smooth air is a must for this kite.
Landing is trickier than launching, especially in higher winds - for a smooth, controlled landing be ready to "play" the handles and put the brakes on hard, as the kite will try its best to stay in the air. Mine has been known to fold up, then suddenly power up sideways and go into a spin. I often switch my grip lower on the handles for landing, as the kite will pull very hard on the way down through the power zone, and by the time I'm ready to land I'm usually already tired.
Most times when I've been overpowered by this kite has been during landing. If I'm very tired, or the kite is threatening to go out of control completely, I either abort the landing and allow the kite to return to zenith before trying again, or simply deploy my kitekillers. Better to let go in a controlled manner than wait until I'm being dragged through the mud.
I do not encourage use of kitekillers as a kite-landing measure, however. They are a safety device for use in emergencies. It is very important to learn to land your kite safely in a controlled manner in all conditions.
The Final Word
The Radsail 2.4 is a traction kite for beginners on a budget. Its bombproof construction lets it withstand all the crashes and general abuse a beginner will inflict on it, while its low pricetag (which is reflected in its performance) ensures its status as an entry-level kite.
For the intermediate flyer, the rad is a cheap high-wind traction engine. No match for Busters, Beamers, or Bullets, but will pull a buggy no problem, while generating next to no lift.
For an advanced flyer - it's not worth looking at.
By : anneski