2014 North Rebel Review

Test Favourite: Performance & Versatility    
Size tested: 9m Suggested tetail: $1,319.95 (9m—kite only)
Sizes available: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14m

Test Team Report
The North Rebel continues to set a benchmark in freeride versatility and high-end performance for any conditions. Every Test rider had great things to say about this year’s Rebel, as it was arguably one of the most powerful nine-meters of the group, with its grunty power matched with awesome boost and hang time. Its power is also complemented by quick and powerful turns and close-to-perfect steering input. The Rebel feels so solid and stable through gusts and aggressive flying that it almost feels like it’s made of titanium in the air.
The Rebel’s canopy stays rock-solid through the gusts, and the harder you push against it the faster you go. Its solid power and forward position in the window also let you absolutely rip upwind. Its fast and stable pulling speed, upwind drive and solid wind range also make the Rebel quite capable on the race course. The Rebel can cross into waves with its short bar stroke, and it’s amazing at getting you back to the lineup with speed and power. Ultimately, the Rebel sets the bar for pure adrenaline-pumping freeride performance in any condition.

The Trade-off:
Some riders prefer a four-line setup because of simplicity, and in the surf some may view the fifth line as troublesome. It’s not as light, lively or pivot-like for waves as some others.

Best For:
Intermediate- to advanced-level rider who wants to boost huge, rip upwind and have a kite that can be a capable performer in any type of condition from waves to surf to race.

Designer Notes: Ken Winner

We think the testers got it right. The Rebel isn’t a specialty kite for waves, racing or unhooked freestyle, but it’s the best all-around kite on the water and its jumping ability is hard to beat. The two largest sizes, 13 and 14, have deeper, more draft-back profiles for maximum grunt and low-end power. They still have plenty of depower and quick turning, but there’s less emphasis on depower than in the smaller sizes. The smallest size, the 5, has a unique arc that gives it a more forgiving feel than most 5-meter kites have. The turning speed has also been moderated a bit for this kite size because fives tend to turn a bit quicker than a lot of people need. Sizes 6 to 8 are biased a bit more toward smooth turning, as these are the sizes most often used in good wave-riding conditions. Sizes 9 to 12 are biased most for short bar stroke, positive bar feel and sky-high jumping.
In general, we like to keep the bar feel on the Rebel as intuitive and predictable as possible. Bar pressure is linear – sheet out, less pressure, sheet in more pressure – and this increase in pressure as the bar comes in doesn’t reverse suddenly and go away, as happens with some kites. We also like to keep all sizes of Rebel as stable and clean-feeling as possible.

Here are the only two disagreements I would offer to what the SBC testers have said:

(1) You can remove the complexity of the bridle on a kite and get the complexity of a 5th line, or you can remove the complexity of the 5th line and get the complexity of a bridle. In neither case do you reduce complexity. One huge benefit of the 5th line is that it permits you to relaunch more quickly and in less wind.

(2) The other point is that while some may feel the 5th line is a liability in the waves, others feel it’s an advantage. The fact that the 5th line allows you to relaunch more quickly means you can often get the kite back into the air before a wave hits it.