Switch Nitro vs Cabrinha Switchblade – Two kites with great boost and hang time.

I rode my first Switch Nitro in 2011. It was the first version and it was a diamond in the rough. It was basically good at one thing – getting you airtime. Nitro has always been a good booster that pushes you high up in the air and floats you down gently.

Since then, Switch Kites has iterated the model six times and are now on Nitro 7. I’ve spent hundreds of sessions on my 10m Nitro 5 and know it inside out. It hasn’t helped me progress in freestyle, but it’s been great for sent jumps. I liked it a lot.

But this winter it was time to say goodbye. After years of abuse and numerous rips, blows and repairs of various craftsmanship the time came when it just didn’t make sense to patch it up one more time (read my post about kite gear life expectancy here).

I needed a new 10m kite. The obvious choice would be to get a new Nitro, but they aren’t as cheap as they used to be. Unfortunately the 2nd hand market for Switch Kites is small here due to them being fairly unknown in Europe.

Switch Nitro in Fuerteventura
Riding Switch Nitro in nuking winds in Fuerteventura.

Why did I buy a Cabrinha Switchblade?

With a new Nitro being out of the equation, the playing field opened up to a difficult breath of options. What would replace my Nitro? Something that has equally great boosting ability and still has a bit of line slack for powered tricks. But a lot of kites can do that today.

Finally my eyes landed on the legendary Cabrinha Switchblade. I had never ridden one before, but its cult status speaks for itself, and there is no shortage of neither reviews nor used kites for sale (my budget for kites is around £500 so I couldn’t buy new).

It didn’t take me too long to find a good deal on a 2020 model, and with that I was now part of the Switchblade club. After this long intro, let me give my thoughts on how the Nitro and Switchblade compare. I also found this comparison and this one on Kite Forum. These are some contradictions to my experience with the kites there, maybe down to the versions tested.

How are Switch Nitro and Cabrinha Switchblade different?

First some test conditions; I’m comparing 10m kites (Nitro 5 and 2020 SB). I’m riding both kites on 20m lines on a low split Switch V2 bar. I rode Nitro for years and I’ve been out a handful of times on the Switchblade in various wind conditions.

This is what I’ve noticed about the Switchblade:

  • It is a lower aspect kite and sits a bit deeper in the window.
  • Turns faster. A lot faster. I’ve had to switch from a 55cm bar to 45cm bar to get a similar feel to the Nitro.
  • More explosive off the water – power on tap. The Nitro can be a bit sluggish, but that wasn’t a bad thing for me. The Switchblade catapults you into the air without much input.
  • More downwind and less upward pull. I suppose this is to be expected since the Switchblade is more bow shaped than the high aspect open C Nitro. This is very noticeable in transition jumps where you change direction.
  • Similar loft and float in jumps. This is what a lot of people are interested in I’m guessing. Both kites jumps high and floats well. But the flight curve of the Switchblade is less aggressive and you go more downwind.
  • (Probably) better light wind but worse top end range. The Switchblade is a powerful kite. I haven’t tried it in nuking wind, and I’m not sure I should. The Nitro could take those nuke sessions really well, but I know that you can quickly get overpowered on a Switchblade. On the flip side, I had great light wind session on it. The Nitro is decent in light wind but the Switchblade, I feel, has more low-end grunt.
  • Line slack. (Based on a small sample size) I’d say Nitro has more line slack when you pop your powered or unhooked tricks.
  • Drift. I haven’t given it a good run, but Nitro doesn’t drift that well and the Cab is known for being a decent drifter.
  • Relaunch. Same as with drift. Both kites relaunch fine but the Cab being lower aspect would logically take the win.
  • Finally, loops. Too early to say (I’ll try and update later).

Which one is right for you?

Both kites are great at what they do. It really comes down to preference. The biggest difference for me was how much faster the Cab turns. It completely threw my tricks off at first, but after some tuning I’m starting to build back my confidence with the aerial spins.

Maybe a better comparison would’ve been Nitro vs Ozone Edge, or Duotone Rebel, i.e. high aspect vs high aspect, but the iconic Switchblade seems to have mastered the recipe that allows it to play in this category while still competing with the likes of Dice and FX. Who else can do that? F-One Bandit maybe, but it’s a rare feat indeed.

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