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  1. jcisbig

    HQ Beamer 3.6M

    Intro At the beginning of last summer (June 2004) I decided to buy a Prism Quantum stunt kite. Upon its arrival I was very surprised by it's 'moderate' pull, and enjoyed learning kite tricks and doing some mild scudding across packed sand on high wind days. In August one of my friends bought a Symphony 1.8 hoping to get more pull than my Quantum, and more scudding. The Symphony was fun, but I realized that I wanted (okay, needed) something more. I began to research different kites and looking for many qualities: a kite with decent build quality, a kite that pulled hard, a low-cost foil, four-line control, a kite that was easy to handle and not too complicated, and a size suitable for my first quad-line foil. After a month and a half of research, I had narrowed my search down to a Beamer 3.6 or a Beamer 5.0. I asked people online, and through email, about their opinions on which kite I should get. Explaining that I had not had any quad-line experience, weighed 150 pounds (68 Kg), and would be flying in mostly 10 to 15 mph winds, everyone encouraged me toward a 3.6 size, which is what I bought. I've had the kite for about 2 months now, and have flown a lot. Unpacking for the First Time The Backpack I was warned about a large zipper, so I was somewhat prepared. Upon seeing it though, it's huge! Wouldn't want it on my pants, but it looks cool on the backpack. The pack I got seemed to be of a decent quality. Some of the early backpacks apparently weren't well built, according to my research. This one was okay, the material on the shoulder straps is a bit thin, and seems weak at the stitching on the top of the shoulder straps to the pack. No rips or loose stictching yet though. The rest of the pack is nice, thick material, and large zippers. Plenty of room for your foil in the main compartment, no matter how sloppy you pack. The handles and lineset will fit nicely in the smaller zip compartment, and the instruction manual fits well in the huge zippered compartment. The Foil When the kite arrived, I was estatic. I hate waiting for new kites to come in the mail! I pulled out the kite, and the first thing that impressed me was the size. It's a large kite (for someone buying their first foil!), about 11 feet wide, and just under 4 feet tall. The entire front side (bridle side) is white, with the Beamer Logo on it, and the size of the kite. The backside of the kite is all yellow, and it has red cross-bracing between the cells, which are about 6 inches wide at the middle. The cross bracing is just red material, feels like a nylon fabric, not ripstop, and as you look at the cells, it attatches from the top corner of the cell to the bottom corner of the opposite side. The Bridle The second thing that impressed me was the bridle. There was a lot of bridle there! The brake lines extend out from the kite near 10 feet! The bridle is made of sleeved dyneema, and is of a good quality. You cannot adjust the bridle, except for the tension of the brake lines. Each line of the bridle is connected to the kite by a larkshead around a loop of cloth that is sewn down the lengh of the cell wall. The bridle feels solid, and does not feel like it will come free of the kite, or break, unless under an extreme load. There are 3 'stages' to the main bridle rigging. The first stage utilizes the thinnest line. Starting from one cell off the center of the kite 4 lines are connected to every other cell wall, the first line right at the top of the foil, and the last line a little more than a foot off the trailing edge of the foil. Every set of these 4 bridle lines are then larks-headed onto a slightly thicker bridle line, creating the 4 Bridle lines of the second stage. The third and final stage incorporates the thickest bridle line, in which the 4 lines from the second stage are joined into 1 line. These 3rd stages are what your power lines connect to. There are only 2 stages to the brake bridle. The first stage again uses thin bridle line, and a line is connected at the very bottom (trailing edge) of the foil to each cell wall. There are 8 lines in the first stage. These 8 lines are all larks headed to one line, which is where your brake lines are connected to. There are 5 knots on the brake lines for adjusting the tension of the brake lines. The Lineset The lineset includes 480 lb. test power lines, and 220 lb. test brake lines. They come figure 8 wrapped on a wooden winder (a bit thin, but sturdy enough for it's job), the power lines on one side of the winder, and the brake lines on the other side of the winder. Lines are good quality, and look strong. Both ends of the lines are sleeved, the power lines have red sleeving, and the brake lines have black sleeving. There is no color distinction between left or right. The Handles The handles appear to be aluminum, with a rubber grip covering the majority of the handle. There is a plastic cap on the bottom of the handles, and the rubber of the grip covers the top. The handles feel very solid, no load from a kite would in any way deform them. One handle has a thick red leader line for the power and brake lines, and the other handle has thick green leader lines for the power and brake lines. I use red for right, since they both start with 'r'. The power lines travel through the top of the handle, and have about 2 inches of leader out the back of the handles for attatching a harness strop to. This leaves about 1 1/2 inches above the line for your index finger. (Plenty of room, as I have flown with gloves on and have had enough room.) The brake leaders travel through the handles, with a loop out the back for staking your handles to the ground. Each leader has an overhand knot tied on the end, over which you can larkshead your flying lines. The handles don't come with kite killers, but you can easily make your own. Tie an extra knot in each brake leader about 1 inch behind the factory knot. Get about 3 feet of rope for each handle, and tie a knot just behind the knot you made in the brake leader. Then make wrist loops with a slip knot, being sure to make a stopper knot so that the rope can't tighten up enough to cut off circulation in your wrist. Test the kite killers at least once in light winds before flying in high winds. Overall Package Good build quality. Neat stitching on the foil and solid feel. The foil definitely looks and feels like it can take a beating (Friends have crashed it rather hard, in high winds, and no damage has been suffered in the least). Handles are solid, no worries about breaks. Lineset seems really tough, and is good quality. Backpack could be a little more sturdy and better quality, but for carrying your foil around it's not bad. Excellent value overall for money. The Maiden Flight I flew the foil in about 8 mph winds, the winds were rather steady, and on dry grass. The first thing that struck me was how solid the kite felt, and how controllable it was. I was able to make a straight-as-an-arrow pass 4 inches above the ground throughout the window, and I'd only been flying for 20 seconds! In the steady winds the kite didn't luff easily. I just kept it moving through the air and it was fine. Excellent first flight, felt great about my purchase. Other Flights I flew the kite a few more times that week, impressed with the pull, control, and maneuverability of the kite. I flew in a max wind of 13 mph. The kite started producing nice solid pull around 10 to 12 mph. Not enough to scud on grass, but enough pull to lean into! I flew on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, with a blanket of 1 inch of snow. The wind was blowing at a steady 8 or 9 mph, and I was easily able to do a 75 foot scud by doing figure eights in the power zone. I flew a few other times the following week. The snow had gone, so I was back on dry grass. I flew the kite in 15 to 23 mph, depending on the day, and the pull was mighty impressive. Flight was still predictible. Some luffing problems in choppy wind, but for the most part if the kite is moving, it won't luff. Also, about 20 mph you get noticable lift, which is enough for some very small jumps (I'm not very experienced with jumps though yet). The brake lines work well on the 3rd or 4th knot (at least in my winds), and the foil is easy to reverse and land. In higher winds, this is more of a chore, but in 15 mph or less, it's an easy feat. I flew the next weekend. The published max. wind for the 3.6 is 25 mph. I flew it in 35 mph. I could not physically bring the kite below 70 degrees without getting pulled forward, and I dared not bring it below 60, otherwise I would have been pulled headlong onto my face, and done a massive scud. Kite killers were a must. There was a lot of lift, and I got about a 5 foot air jump, not bad for a 3.6 that wasn't designed for lift! My longest flight that day was about 5 minutes cause my arms were dead. (My brother and friend were there, so we rotated turns) Last week I was on vacation in a place that had some snow, so I tried some snow kiting. I only had about 10 mph winds, but it was enough to get going on packed snow. I was able to fly a tiny bit upwind, and across the wind pretty well. My guess is that in 15 mph you would have no problem with snowkiting on packed snow, I'm not sure about deep powder though. Pretty much, I don't think that there is a max wind range for this kite. If you are physically able to fly it, it will fly. You will be hauled into the air, or pulled across the ground, before the lines break. Just start small, and work your way up. Overall Flight The kite is a solid, stable, predictable, and enjoyable foil to fly. It's primary use should be for pulling things, as the lift is not spectacular and hard to maintain once airborne while jumping. In 18 to 23 mph winds, this kite will pull pretty much anything you want it to with ease. Snowkiting can be done in 10 to 15 well. I should add a personal note. I've been flying kites for a little while now, and I don't have much power foil experience. I'm 17, and fit. I was told that the 3.6 would be more than enough power for me, and if I got anything bigger I wouldn't be able to learn how to fly as quick. Right now, having had the kite for only a month and a half, I feel that I easily could have handled the 5m Beamer. I wouldn't have taken the 5 out in 35 mph winds, but I think that I could have easily managed with a 5m. Strong Points of flight: Stable, easy to fly, lots of power, solid feel, quick turning, wind wind range. Weak Points of flight: Luffs in lighter winds if not moving, not a lot of lift (jumps are weak). Best Uses: Scudding, buggying, snowkiting, recreation. You can pretty much pull anything, you just won't get a lot of lift out of the kite. So if you want to get airs on a snowboard while snowkiting, look at an Ozone Frenzy, Blade III, or Guerrilla II. Packing The kite is easy to pack up, whichever method you use. The foil folds up nice, especially with one other person helping fold, and fits in the bag without a problem. The lines can be a bit more tricky, depending on how you like to pack up your kite. At first, I disconnected the lines from the kite and wound them up on the winder. This proved for a slow unpacking the next time I flew becuase I had to figure out which lines went where and whatnot. Then I left all the lines connected and wound the lines around the winder. This worked okay, but there were still some annoying twists in the lines. The method that I settled on, an the one I love to use, is probably the scariest craziest way for a kite owner to pack up his kite. I parapack now, and it works absolutely wonderfully! There is a section under the 'How To' here at racekites that outlines the proper way to do this. Now, unpacking takes 30 seconds, and after a 30 second check that everything is okay, I'm in the air! Between 1 and 2 mintues max, it's great! Overall Conclusion If you are a kiteflyer on a budget looking for a solidly built, quality kite, that flies well and delivers solid and powerful pull with not much lift, the Beamer is for you. It can be used by beginner and advanced pilots. I've had my 13 year old cousin use it in 20 mph winds and he had the time of his life, and I've had my 45 year old dad fly, and he just smiles. I'm impressed with the kite, and I like it a lot! I will use it for many traction activities. It is a great value for money, it is of good quality, it feels solid, and it flies well. Happy Flying to All! JCisBIG
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