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The Switchblade has always been a performance benchmark for freeride with big boosting potential, incorporating smoothness and predictability over its decade plus lifespan. As with most heavier five strut kites which exist in the modern marketplace, the Switchblade has a definite leaning towards high wind range performance, with those extra struts keeping the air frame rock solid when things get loaded up and bouncy. It has an exceptionally large wind range, and we were able to comfortably hold on to the 9m where other 9 meters would have had you limping in to the beach. Uniform across the Cabrinha range is the hyper-smooth power delivery feeling through the bar, physically aided by a large frictionless bar aperture and PU coating, which gives the user a reassuring predictability to the handling with nothing snagging.
From a handling perspective, the Switchblade still has a purposefully wider steering arc and less pivoty turn than its counterparts and wants to be flown fairly assertively through the bar to get the most out of it. That legendary easy access boost potential is still there, and it gets you high with very little effort. Get your timing and speed dialed and you’re in for an absolute treat. That turning circle aids a lofty and predictable aerial experience with little chance of overcorrection, adding to the creamy smoothness. Unhooked, those five struts hold things together very well when you load up the canopy, and the steering can be toned down further on the hang points to provide a solid, cable like feel with no surprises, and a minimum of back stalling when trimmed a touch.
Over the entire 2020 range, Cabrinha have used a brand new material they have coined Nano Ripstop. This has a considerably smaller cell size than their previous cloth, doubling the number of ripstop cells, increasing strength and rigidity. A new exclusive coating is being used, which is infused into the cloth in a unique process called plasma treatment, giving the kite added strength and durability. They’ve also introduced a new bonding process to give the material a longer lifespan. The canopy has plenty of segmentation running from the leading edge to the leech, and the kite appears well-tailored and crinkle-free. A modular chicken loop design caters for a really nice sliding set as well as a standard chicken loop which clicks on and off with extreme simplicity and is very well engineered. It’s a refined product, with a long heritage, and they’ve not messed with the established formula too much for 2020. The new canopy material seems to have sharpened up the whole experience and should increase its long term performance and lifespan.
In a sentence: The Switchblade continues to be a classic, and for 2020 it seems genuinely more reactive, silky smooth and comfortable to ride than ever.