TESTED: North Rebel

There are some kites that have stayed in a brand’s line up for many years because riders always liked what they offered – they didn’t need rebranding or ‘re-inventing’ because they did what they did well… One of those kites was the Rebel. So when it was announced that the always-5-Line Rebel would also fly in 4 lines for 2018 there were plenty of riders who must have spent the next few weeks until they got their hands on one in a state of nervous distraction…

So why have North messed with the winning formula? Well, the truth is that kite design has evolved so much that the reasons for having the fifth line in terms of reining in that leading edge and maximizing depower have now been resolved in the world of 4-line kite flying and – although a lot of riders love the 5-line flag out and relaunch – this is less of a significant plus than it was five or ten years ago. So the Rebel has moved with the times. And you can of course still fly the Rebel on five lines, it is just that the fifth line is no longer loaded. Other developments include the arrival of North’s new Trinity TX cloth which has a 3×2 yarn combination, which provides additional strength but also increased horizontal elasticity for a smoother-feeling kite.

But – I hear Rebel lovers shout: DOES IT STILL FEEL LIKE A REBEL?! And the answer is very much: yes. And with a few extra benefits as well.

Firstly, the Rebel may not be to everyone’s style of riding, but with the world going WOO mad and King of the Air garnering so much attention, boosting has come full circle and jumping with the Rebel is an epic experience – this kite is a rocket! It is so explosive off the water with just ludicrous amounts of hangtime. The wind range on the Rebel is again impressive, but 2018 seems better with even more to offer at the top end. We always hear about improved top and bottom end and we would always recommend flying kites back-to-back as otherwise you will never appreciate the small changes that make kites evolve. The Rebel 2018 feels a more solid package at the top end but you can then drop power and still keep the kite responsive. This is always a good test of design, as there is nothing worse than dumping power and having no control of the kite anymore and – despite the shorter depower throw on the bar – the Rebel still has plenty of depower in the kite. Overall the Rebel has maintained the 5 strut characteristics which you can expect of a higher aspect boosting freestyle kite and also maintained the level of control that was synonymous with the 5 line Rebel. Despite the boosting performance, the Rebel continues to be an accessible kite and can be flown by a relative newbie without scaring them off, and the re-launch process will now be more familiar to kiters who have learnt on a 4-line kite.

In a sentence: The new 4-line Rebel has maintained its superb low-end grunt but become slightly faster and lighter on the bar with improved top-end – it does feel like a Rebel, but with a sporty upgrade…

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