Josh Fletcher runs us through some of the latest North gear…
The first item is the Click Bar! It’s been in development for about three years. The concept is making something that can be used on heaps of different kites and suit a wide range of riders, but keeping it simple. The key factors are depowering it or powering it from the end of the bar, rather than from below or above the bar centre line depower. The big one is it’s multi-brand and multi-kite compatible. So you’ll be able to ride it on any big name kite. Cabrinha, Slingshot, Ozone, whatever. Upgradeable from four line to five line – the fifth line can be added super easy. It has full depower as a conventional North bar, but it also has full throw as well in the chicken loop.
So why would someone be interested in this system rather than just your conventional depower rope?
It depends on what sort of rider it is. As a surf rider, I like to have huge bar throws so that I can power and depower the kite in the movement of the bar. Conventionally, I have to shorten my depower line. With this, I’ve got full throw of the bar but also full depower out of the cleat part of the bar. Basically It means I get far more range out of one kite. And there’s no depower rope swinging around which can result in tangles, it’s all internal, so it’s nice and clean.
One of the first things people say to me when I mention this product is, will it last? What are your thoughts there?
Well I think that’s the biggest thing. It’s been in development for three to four years and we’ve had over 180 prototypes internationally go out.
I have been testing it for about eighteen months, and I’ve been trashing it, to be honest, and it’s still going strong. We’ve also spent about €140,000 on making parts that are tailored to what we want, so they’re going to be durable. Rather than using third party parts and just putting it all together, we’ve actually designed the whole internals of the bar so that it’s going to withstand the sort of stuff that kiters put their gear through.
Your one that you’ve been using for the past year or so, you haven’t washed it or anything?
No, part of the whole debrief is to make sure you don’t wash it out, you store it wet and shitty and you rub it in dry sand and stuff like that. You try to clog it up as much as you can and it’s still working fine.
That’s a pretty good sign.
Yeah, and I know the other guys have been doing the same for twice as long and have had no issues. We’ve made some tweaks along the way to cover what problems we had with durability, but we feel that the finished product ticks all the boxes in that area.
I really enjoyed my session on it. I noticed how quickly you can depower without having to reach across on your bar.
Yeah it’s great like that. Traditionally with four line kites, the depower is on the front line, and that’s the loaded line.
If it gets super windy and you’re really holding an edge and you want to depower, you’re sort of going against the geometry of your body when you’re riding in windy conditions to reach above and grab that depower.
Now with the click bar, it’s on the back line, so there’s less power and less weight and you don’t have to reach as far. It’s just a matter of grabbing the end of the bar, hitting the button a few times, and it depowers the kite for you.
And then when you want to power up, it’s just three or four winds?
Yeah, so there are a few ways to know where your kite’s power is at. Obviously feeling it – you’ll feel if the kite’s depowering or powering. There’s also a gauge on the bar that has a sliding rope internally that has a mark on it so you’ll know visually. It’s got some markings to say depower or power. And there are also some marks on the end of the bar loops, so if the end of the bar floats they’ll go up and down, and they’ll show you where your depower range is as well.
I also like when you’re looking down the line at the kite, there’s no big tangly gunk in front of your face.
Yeah, it’s super clean. Whether it’s above the bar or below the bar depower, there’s always the end of the loop swinging around. Sometimes it’s not where you want it to be. But having this, it’s all pretty clean and tidy, and if you need to depower or power it, it’s there ready to go.
When do I get a spare test bar, mate? I want one!
Haha! They’ll be on the shelves in about a week (they are out now), so hopefully you can get you one and do your own testing, for sure.
So Josh, tell us about the new North Dice.
Yeah, so the Dice model was introduced in 2014, sort of tailored towards that new-school free-rider. It’s a good all round free-ride kite, but it’s probably got a bit more freestyle orientation to it. It works fine for unhooking, it’s a 3-strut configuration, so in the waves it turns pretty good too. Really good low end, it’s a full on bridle system so it also has good high end. We found that more people are getting into recreational wave riding, so we wanted to make a kite that covers that along with good freestyle performance too. It’s just a good all-rounder!
I mean, obviously, your surf kite’s got superior drift, but what’s the drift like on the Dice?
It’s probably a bit more C-oriented in the shape, so it still has good drift, but probably not anywhere near as much as the Neos (our dedicated wave kite) might, but it’s still pretty good, for sure.
“We found that more people are getting into recreational wave riding, so we wanted to make a kite that covers that along with good freestyle performance too.”
“WE CALL IT THE NEW PRIDE SCHOOL FREE RIDE KITE”
It suits someone who just likes to do a bit of everything?
Yeah, exactly. So that guy who wants one kite to maybe ride some flat water, do some freestyle, you know, if he’s going downwind with his buddies he can still join in and have fun riding on a good all-rounder. We call it the new-school free ride kite.
Ok what about the Jaime Textreme?
Jaime has been around forever, since the start of North, he was one of our team riders. And he’s still heavily involved as a team rider and in product development. He’s based in Spain and formed the Jaime or the high-mee (pronunciation, depending on where you’re from). It’s our biggest selling twin tip. It’s a good compromise between a nice flexing freeride board, but has a good amount of rocker, and then what we call Quattro V, which is like, pressed channels in the tail so it gives you good traction for your freestyle stuff.
For 2017 the Jaime is still in the range, but we’re adding the Jaime Textreme. So it’ll be the same board, but it’ll have the same construction as our select, which is our AMG, Rolls Royce, Ducks Nuts. So it’s our super lightweight Textreme carbon construction, but in the big selling Jaime shape. We’re pretty stoked about it to be honest. It’s a sweet board and super light, but you still get the freestyle features that the Select lacks, which is a bit more smooth water-oriented. So yeah, it’s going to be wicked.
So a bit of an all-round board?
Yeah, totally. It’s the best all-rounder for sure. Not too much rocker like our Gambler wakeboard, and not as flat as our Select or X-Ride, it’s a good middle ground. If someone wants to do freestyle, wants to do freeride, you know, it’s perfect. You get good tail traction for your pop and your landings and then the medium rocker makes it good as a freeride board. By adding the Textreme, it’s super light now as well.
“THE JAMIE TEXTREME IS OUR BIGGES SELLING TWIN TIP, IT’S A GOOD COMPROMISE BETWEEN A NICE FLEXING FREERIDE BOARD WITH FEATURES OF A HIGH END FREESTYLE BOARD”