The Switchblade has always had a reputation as a solid handling five-strut booster, and has a significant following for no nonsense freeriders who want a predictable and lofty platform for boosting and hooked riding. It’s got a massive legacy spanning through much of the formative years of kiting, and it’s great to see the model continue and remain a popular choice. Cabrinha certainly haven’t held back with the size options, with a range spanning from 5m through to 14m.
There’s been various build revisions for 2022 with particular attention paid to canopy layout and seaming, plainly visible on the new leading edge closure, to build even more longevity into the product. Cabrinha continue to produce their own Nano-coated ripstop which has been implemented in the range for a long while now, and proven to be reliable; Dacron is their own proprietary High Tenacity cloth, which we’ve also seen wear well in the long term.
At first glance, you’d be forgiven for not noticing some of the more subtle technical revisions for 2022, but there’s been a considerable amount of work carried out across the entire kite, particularly with the bridle. New Zirconia ceramic pulleys have been used which are minimal, elegant, and have no moving parts to wear out. These are definitely inspired by high load thimble blocks from the sailing industry. From the bar end, you can watch them slide across the bridle through the turns, and there’s barely any friction, definitely contributing to the all-round slicker handling feel.
Two steering modes are present as before, and the new lighter handling option is where the major change lies, making the Switchblade feel more responsive and precise than ever in the turns. You no longer need forearms like Popeye to get the most from it. The revisions combine to make a very different feeling kite, extending the versatility of the Switchblade platform significantly.
The Switchblade remains really solid in its top end; those five struts really come into play to stabilize the canopy and give it that trademark smoothness in handling. There’s never any vibration, even testing in a ragged winter storm in the UK. It’s like riding in the back of a new Range Rover. It absorbs gusts with that trademark ease, with no snatchy bar feeling. Even in extremely variable wind conditions it never seems to get flustered.
The Switchblade’s updates for 2022, in particular the new lighter handling options give the kite a decent modernization, without losing the option for more engaged and grunty bar feeling that its long-term followers and fans might miss. It’s still very current and isn’t afraid to adapt to suit a wider user base without diminishing its character as a product.