19 Jun 2014

Switch kites Element 3 is here!

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Switch Element 3Element is Switch’ all-terrain model ready to tackle any element in a user friendly format. The 3rd generation looks really sweet and Switch let us on their website that there have been improvements in both design and construction.

The highlights:

  • Instant response to bar input
  • Effortless hang time and unhooked performance
  • Flawless drift abilities for wave riding
  • Smooth Depower
  • Stable but responsive
  • Stronger Materials
  • Stronger Construction
  • Light weight

Read about it in detail, check the reviews and order at switchkites.com.

 

 

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14 May 2014

Switch Element V2 on sale

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Switch Element V2

Switch is getting closer to an Element V3 release and it’s a perfect opportunity to grab a discounted Element V2 now. I have this kite in size 7 and 11 and I’m planning on getting the 15m too for a full range quiver. I can totally vouch for this kite if you’re looking for a all-in-one kite that performs well in freestyle, waves and for beginners.

Here it is – online purchase only.

 

 

25 Dec 2013

Cheap kitesurf brands price comparison

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Let’s be honest; most often it’s not the kite that is limiting you – it’s you. Although still a very young sport, the wild west days of kitesurfing are gone and kites that are produced today are all good performers. Some of them perform better than others, no doubt, and there is definitely difference in material and build quality but you get my point right? If you suck – don’t blame your kite, go out and practise more or live with it.
With that in mind the price tag becomes one of the most important factors when going kite shopping. I find it hard to justify the high kite prices that is the norm, when brands like Switch have proven that you can get quality and performance for half the price. This was the main reason I bought my first Switch kite 2 years ago and that was the best decision ever made if you ask my wallet. I thought it would be interesting to have a look at other small kitesurf brands to see where they stand price wise. You might think that a higher price means better quality but don’t take that for a given, and the reasons I’m saying that are because I know how whitelabeling and branding work, and I can vouch for the quality of Switch products, despite their low price tags. The way the small brands keep their prices down is almost always a direct-to-market business model, cutting out the middleman, and I think we will start to see more and more of this trend.
So after a quick search online, here is the list of how much “small and cheap kitesurf brands” charge for their all-round model in size 9.
For some mid-range brands check out Star kites, Zeeko, Epic, Blade, CrazyFly and BoardridingmauiMost other brands end up around £850 to £950 for their 9m kites, regardless if you buy them from the brand’s website like Core and Mutiny, or from a retailer. Having said that, one can get great deals on new, unused kites that are 1 or 2 years old (Have a look at Kitesurfwarehouse: Blade Trigger 9m – 2014: £759, 2013: £469). It’ll be harder to sell if you want to upgrade but personally I rather squeeze all performance out of a kite for 3 – 4 years and then upgrade rather than having to put stuff on ebay every year. Although improvements are made from year to year I can assure you that a Bandit 5 won’t suck only because there’s a Bandit 7 available, just as an example. A good quality kite that is looked after is an investment that will last for years so don’t cut corners to save a few quid. But doing your research, comparing kites and prices could save you enough to throw in one more kite or even a kite trip and that is worth more than brand loyalty.

 

03 Dec 2013

Switch kites drops the bomb in time for chirstmas

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Switch kites recently updated their website for a more integrated shopping experience and overall better user experience. A new website maybe isn’t the most exciting news unless you’re a design geek like me, but along came the highly anticipated launch of their new control bar and also their trainer kite and the 3rd generation of their free ride kite Nitro. You can also now get the Element 2 in red is you so wish.

switch kites web

Nitro 3 is getting great reviews and is being claimed to be the best freeride kite on the market. Find a team rider to demo it for you and find out for yourself!

All the new goodies can be found here.

09 Sep 2013

Switch Element 2 11m review

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Switch Element V2 11mElement 2 is the second generation of Switch’s all-round kite, released earlier in 2013. The Element 1 was a popular kite appreciated for its simplicity and forgiveness. Version 2 has improved it’s wind range, tuning options and freestyle abilities. You can have it in any colour you want as long as it is black and sizes available are 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15m. I’m an intermediate rider so this review reflects my experience. I can’t compare to hundreds of other kites and I can’t say how well it kite loops or drift in waves etc but for what it’s worth here’s my review of the 11m Switch Element 2.

Last year I quite often found myself slightly underpowered on my Element 9m and overpowered on my Element 13m, so for this upgrade I thought the 11m would hit the sweet spot and become my new go-to kite, especially with its increased wind range. So far I think I made the right call.

Test conditions

3 hours default settings, wind up and down between appr. 12 – 20 knots. Chop to flat (tide dependant). 3 hours freestyle settings, appr. 18 – 24 knots. Flat water. TT with boots. My weight: 78kg.

Build

Have a look at the photos. Switch is getting a reputation for making good quality kites and this one is no exception. Good materials, eye for detail, double stitching, seems sown and glued, extra padding where needed. It’s built to last. Comes with a bag that is of equal quality and a repair kit should you need it.

Tuning

You have 2 settings each for both line attachments, giving you 4 different settings in total, but in practice you’re more likely to choose from 3 options: freeride / somewhere in-between / freestyle. Back lines sets bar pressure and turning speed. Front lines sets depower and “direct drive”. The kite’s factory setting is the freeride one with less bar pressure and more depower. For a more freestyle-oriented kite change both attachment points, and use the provided “direct drive” pigtails for the front lines.

Performance

First I rode the kite on its factory settings, being more turning speed and more depower. The bar pressure was on the lighter side but more than V1 and enough to always know where the kite was. The kite felt very responsive and moved quickly and smoothly through the air. I could leave it parked at zenith while getting into my boots and I could create smooth power strokes with direct responsiveness.It has a small turning radius which encourage me to try my first kite loops in the near future. Although the wind was up and down I could use the depower to stay on my 11m all the time, starting with 0% and when the wind picked up went up to 80 – 90%. Other kiters were out on everything between 8 and 13m as the wind changed in strength. Going upwind was a breeze as you would expect, and relaunch was just as easy as it is with the V1 Element. Sheet out quickly though as the kite powers up very fast as soon as it leaves the water. With the freestyle setting I couldn’t notice any major difference in general performance. It felt like the kite had a less constant pull when changing direction, so that I had to power up the kite quicker or it would loose its power when traveling past zenith. I’m not sure if this was pure imagination or if it actually was due to the different setting.

Jumping

I really enjoyed jumping with the Element. The V1 didn’t have huge hang time and I could feel that this has been improved. Sent jumps took me high up in the air and steering the kite to and fro between zenith gave me good hang time and floaty soft landings. For being an all-rounder this kite definitely gives me enough pleasure in the big jumps department. For unhooked performance there was a noticeable difference compared to V1 in the line slack, especially with the freestyle setting. I don’t do handle passes but I could still appreciate the slack when hooking back in as I didn’t have to sheet out the bar with one hand and grab the chicken loop with the other. Most of the time I could keep both hands on the bar and hook in straight away.

To summarise: I’ve only been out on two sessions, but what I’ve felt so far is a great kite that caters to the kind of riding I enjoy – no fuss freeride/freestyle with a kite I feel safe with and in control over. PM me for a demo if you’re in the London, UK area or get your own at Switch’s website.

Switch Element V2 11m

The shape is similar to Element V1.

Switch Element V2 11m

Square wingtips as seen on most freestyle/all-round hybrids nowadays.

Element from behind

Element V1 as well as V2 is a 3-strut kite.

No pulleys on V2

No pulleys on V2.

kite inflation nozzle

The inflation/deflation nozzle is huge and screw on. I.e. you pump up the kite in seconds and it won’t pop open during your session.

Strut unipump inflation

All Switch kites have a unipump system. Inflation and deflation have never been easier.

Element line tuning

Adjust your line attachment to your preference. Turning speed and bar pressure.

Switch Element tuning

Bridle attachment tuning. Depower and turning. Use the provided extra pigtails here.

Switch watch dog

With Switch watch dog you register your kite online so people know it’s yours.

Switch Element kite bag

Plenty of room and sturdily built. You can even get 2 kites + bar in there.

extras for element

Repair kite, stickers and extensions for tuning the bridles.

03 Sep 2013

Bridled Freestyle kites (C-shaped SLE)

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SLE stands for Supported Leading Edge and means that the kite has bridles connected to the leading edge to give it support. This gives the kite two desirable features; easy relaunch and good depower i.e. bigger wind range and better safety. Back in the days basically all kites were 4 or 5 lined unbridled C-kites. Evolution lead to bow kites which had the SLE feature and then hybrids, including C-shpaed kites with bridles. The holy grail everyone was looking for was a kite that combined the explosive and line-slacking features of the C-kite with the safety and convenience of an SLE kite. Today a lot of brands have seem to found the formula needed (although the fine tuning will go on for many years) and since this is the kind of kite I enjoy riding myself I’ve compiled a list of kites that fall into the category of bridled freestyle kites.

Who is this list for? People like me who don’t want to go full on C-kite but still enjoy unhooking to throw in some freestyle moves between the big airs.

Why not simply unhook with the kite that I’ve got? Yes you can, but depending on the characteristics of the kite you might find that it doesn’t generate enough pop, or more likely produces a constant pull throughout the jump so when you land you’ll be speeding downwind trying to hook back in.

Sam Medysky compares C-kites and SLE kites.

List of bridled freestyle kites

There might be a few more give or take, and it’s easy to fill the list as these kites are usually branded as “The jack of all trades” or the “One does it all” versatile kind of kite all brands want in their line, but when it comes to the crunch we’re looking for bridled kites that can generate good pop and slack. Drift, float etc is secondary and some kites will perform better than others simple as that. Go out and try for yourself if you have the chance. Personally I’ve found what I’m looking for in the Switch Element V2, and with a price tag making you think it’s Black Friday all year the choice is pretty simple.

18 Jun 2013

Switch Element V2 is here!

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element2Felix4

Switch have now completed their cycle of redesigning their initial kite models. Switch have four LEI-kite models and the Element was the last one to come out of the factory, so it was also the last one in need of an update.

The Element is their all-round kite that caters to a lot of riders due to its versatility. It’s not for hardcore racers or wakestylers, but suits pretty much everyone else. It’s my personal choice and I’m quite happy with it’s characteristics. V1 lacks a bit of low-end grunt and the jumps are way loftier with the Nitro model but I guess you can’t have it all.

Element V2 Graphics

 

The design team listened to the riders and has improved the low-end, the de-power and introduced different line attachment points for fine tuning the flying characteristics. A few other nice features are in there as well but I’ll let you check it out for yourself at the Switch Kites’ website. I haven’t tried the V2 yet but I can assure you with my experience from V1 that the Element gives you a lot of kite for your bucks. A great, high quality kite for a very reasonable price.

Check it out here –> The new Switch Element V2 and read the reviews on the forum.