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2012 Freeride All Terrain Kite Buyers' Guide

Feb 3, 2012

Author: John Bryja

New for 2012 each week we will be providing category specific Buyer’s Guides. We have compiled information from the manufactures, along with videos and advice to help you find the perfect kite and board for your style of riding. If you have any specific questions or comments please feel free to post them in the comment section at the bottom of the article.—John Bryja, editor

Be sure to look for our test team's Head-to-Head reviews of these models in SBC Kiteboard magazine's 2012 Gear Issue out this March.

Freeride All Terrain

"The best of the Freeride All Terrain kites are designed to offer simplified, easy to access performance which can adapt to the widest variety of conditions and can also cater to the full gamut of riding styles, disciplines and skill levels. They are the industries most successful models and tend to blend the best of the high performance with the simplicity that suits all levels of rider. Whether its new school or wakestyle, big boosting freestyle, simple freeriding, or hard core wave riding, the best of these models equip riders with the control and handling required for any situation. They need to have good amounts of depower and offer an easy to access user friendly control but with high levels of steering performance that’s easy to adapt with. Smooth pull, with appropriate drift and balance while unhooked is a must, along with stable drift and quick handling for wave riding. In addition the Freeride All Terrain kite needs to have easy water relaunch, plenty of smooth upwind pull and offer ultimate in useable wind range. Generally, they don’t deliver the most aggressive power through their loops, or the fastest available pull speed,  and many of them have more pivotal style turning than sweeping power.  But the All Terrain kite is ideal for the largest portion of kiteboarders out there because they focus more on that plug and play style of flying that make things easy and playful but with enough performance to build new skills and let riders dabble in every  kiteboarding discipline."—Shane Thompson, Test Editor, SBC Kiteboard magazine

2012 Airush Lithium2012 Airush Lithium

Maintaining the characteristics that made the Lithium such a successful kite in 2011, the 2012 Lithium introduces a new three-strut platform with more power, increased range, decreased bar pressure, and improved hang-time. The Lithium 2012 possesses the fast turning-speed, easy relaunch, and power house low-end that has made it a proven all-around performer. Standing out as the easy choice for all levels, from beginner to advanced, excelling in all conditions.

LITHIUM 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14 LW

  • Fast Turning
  • Relaunch
  • Low end

Airush Lithium Performance

2012 Best TS 2012 Best TS

Every size of the TS kite is uniquely engineered for a specific set of riding conditions - allowing the TS range to cover all riders and riding styles. Every aspect of design, shaping, material selection and construction in the TS has been refined to bring each size even closer to perfection.

Any rider looking for a high wind kite that is stable and predictable needs look no further than the 4m and 5.5m TS kites. Unhooked wave riders will find that the medium size TS kites offer the perfect blend of tight and fast steering responsiveness, light bar pressure and unhooked control, allowing them to express their style like never before.

New-school riders searching for blistering performance will be blown away by the improvements in handling, power delivery and jumping from the mid-sized TS kites. Hooked or unhooked the 7m -14m TS kites deliver greater stability, precise feedback and more performance than ever before.

For course racing and light wind conditions, the 15m and 17m TS kites are the most aerodynamically refined kites we've ever made. Refined even further they have been trimmed back to deliver maximum light wind performance and racing advantage. Changes to the center strut design and bridle positioning make them even easier to relaunch in the lightest conditions.

With sizes ranging from 4m to 17m there is a TS for every rider and every riding style.

Highlights 2012 Best TS Wind Range

Ride optimized kite geometry
Responsive unhooked handling
Wide wind range
Stable in all conditions

2012 TS product video from Best Kiteboarding on Vimeo.

2012 Blade Trigger 2012 Blade Trigger

“All-around” is too many times mistaken for “good for everyone”.
If you are looking for an all-around kite, you likely want to do a little bit of everything and need a kite with well-balanced characteristics. But riders have different personalities, different mindsets out on the water, and that means a different definition of their ideal all-around kite.

We designed the Trigger to promote progression especially for riders who are powerful, playful, and dynamic. If you like to do a little of everything on the water, and like to be actively in control of responsive high-energy fun, the Trigger was designed to be your ideal kite.
The 4th Generation Trigger continues to excel as a fast, nimble, and powerful all-around performance kite.

The powered profiles and refined overall kite geometry leed to the Trigger’s dominant feel and provide the big low-end fun. The perfectly engineered bridles are a key factor in the kite’s excellent stability and depower, balancing the Trigger’s dynamic handling with predictability and safety. This refined engineering is also responsible for a very direct bar feel that is rarely felt in a bridled kite. The swept back LE contributes to the Trigger’s effortless Reflex Relaunch, so you can push yourself past the limit and get up and riding again in seconds.

The 4th generation is based on its successful predecessor, and like the Triggers before it, each size boasts individually designed geometry.
Many small refinements are made individually to each size so that it performs ideally in the conditions it is meant to be flown, here are some of them: The Trigger 12m and 14m received beefed up power profiles and the 14m also features narrower struts to deliver the same low end grunt and turning speed as their smaller siblings. The Trigger 9m and 10m received a special bridle geometry to seat them slightly further forward in the window, giving them the right balance of power and stability for their wind range. The Trigger 7m has been modified for excellent depower performance and rigidity in strong wind. The Trigger 5m hasn’t been touched, we’re proud to say it is one of the best kites on the market.

Finally, we have added an Advanced Wave setting to the bridle of the new Trigger.
Setting the bridle in this position adds depower and seats the kite even more forward in the window. The more tolerant ride is perfect for carving waves, trading up only a little of the power and rock solid stability in the Trigger’s standard mode.

Active pilots looking for the ultimate fun ride will love the quick handling, perfect stability, direct control, and generous power in all conditions. If you are a dynamic rider looking for a kite that can deliver the ultimate fun session, the Trigger’s high energy all-around performance will put a big smile on your face.

2012 Blade Trigger Windrange


2012 Cabrinha Switchblade

Sizes Available: 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16
Wind Range:
Click Here

2012 Cabrinha Switchblade

The Switchblade has become synonymous with versatility. Its reliability and predictability are two of the reasons why it excels as a performance wakestyle kite as well as an all round freeride kite. The number one choice of Wakestyle riders world wide, the Switchblade delivers a stable source of power which transfers into incredible pop. Once in the air, the kite will steer effortlessly with minimal input from the rider. The Switchblade isexcellent for unhooked or hooked in riding in just about any conditions. If there is one kite that can back up all of the accolades being thrown at it, it's the Switchblade wakestyle, freeride kite.

  • 5 Strut Design
  • QuickLink Control System with IDS
  • Effortless Handling
  • Variable Tuning Options
  • New canopy material
  • Sprint


  • Re-positioned & tuned Bridle
  • Improved balance
  • Lighter feel
  • Custom Tuning creates drastic differences
  • Freeride Setting: Lighter bar pressure
  • Wakestyle Setting: More stable. Requires more impulse to turn


2012 Cabrinha Vector
2012 Cabrinha Vector

Wind Range: Click Here
Sizes Available: 3.5, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14

The Switchblade has become synonymous with versatility. Its reliability and predictability are two of the reasons why it excels as a performance wakestyle kite as well as an all round freeride kite. The number one choice of Wakestyle riders world wide, the Switchblade delivers a stable source of power which transfers into incredible pop. Once in the air, the kite will steer effortlessly with minimal input from the rider. The Switchblade isexcellent for unhooked or hooked in riding in just about any conditions. If there is one kite that can back up all of the accolades being thrown at it, it's the Switchblade wakestyle, freeride kite.

  • Stability. Park and Ride Simplicity
  • 3 Strut Design To Aid In Light Wind Efficiency And Relaunch Performance
  • Direct Line Bridling
  • Variable Tuning Options
  • Amazing Relaunch
  • QuickLink Control System With IDS
  • Sprint

Epic Renegade 3G2012 Epic Renegade

Sizes: 5, 7, 9, 11, 13

The 3G Renegades have new sizes, so now there is one for every rider need. We'll be producing them in 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 sizes as well as the popular light wind Infinity. The Renegade Infinity proved to be our best seller, and will be back to complete the Renegade line. The Infinity set the benchmark for powered kiting in light wind conditions. The 3G Renegades have a sleek new look, a more powerful profile, is even more stable and eats gusts like fatties at a free buffet. If you want a kite that is more reliable and predictable than ever, the Renegade is the tool for you. Packed with power and precision this kite delivers in waves, freeride and any other condition you can throw at it. Bottom line — this kite is best in class!

F-One Bandit V 2012 F-One Bandit 5

Since the first generation Bandit we have been committed to offering one single kite in our range. Our goal is not to offer just a "versatile" kite but rather the best kite for each discipline and style of rider, from the beginner to the pro athlete.  
To be successful in all areas is a real challenge from an R&D perspective; this process is proving to be much more complex than developing several highly specialized kites. The most difficult challenge faced with the B5 was to improve from the B4 in all areas without losing any of its qualities - an extremely tough call that is ongoing.

Range: To further increase its range, we needed both a kite that you could easily power up in the low end and a kite that was even more forgiving in strong and gusty conditions.

Lightness: In order to improve its performance when under powered, and add to the ease of use at the bottom end its lightness was a priority.

Handling: To immediately position the kite where you want it, to precisely manage its rotation during a kiteloop, and to have the most responsive kite in larger sizes, its maneuverability is crucial. This is why we have focused our attention on this particular aspect.

Technical solutions:
The whole structure of the kite ,  its profile and its bridles have been reworked in order to achieve these goals. Its construction has also been fundamentally updated both in the choice and the distribution of materials and in the manufacturing processes.
Because the structure of a kite is soft, it can deform and twist allowing the kite to rotate. A fully rigid profile wing will not turn at all.
Therefore, maneuverability and responsiveness of the kite depends directly on its ability to twist, one important point that we have greatly improved on thanks to a thinner leading edge, a new 3-point bridle system and a new shape for the struts. All this to "free" the kites profile.
Reducing the diameter of the leading edge, with almost 25% less air volume, brings an important gain in terms of weight and aerodynamics. The result is better performance in the low end, but in the also at the top end thanks to an improved handling thinner profile.  We have also gained in terms of set up comfort as the inflation time has been reduced.
A new type of flatter profile was employed. By reducing the profile curve depth it is easier to depower and keep control at the top end. In the low end, a flatter profile is more efficient when powered-up and fully sheeted in providing constant power.

The result is a better control of the kite aerodynamics, less lateral traction and less pressure and therefore effort through your legs and into the board when the wind picks up.

Finally, some important work was undertaken on the bar feeling and pressure . The feedback from the bar provides you with constant information and lets you know what's going on allowing you to adjust the position, the pull and the speed of your kite in the wind window at any given time?

These sensations must be precisely delivered so you can receive them all without the steering becoming a physical burden. The B5 puts more effort through the harness and less through your arms. The direct bar feeling allows for the transmission of all necessary information.

Each year, we test more than sixty prototypes in order to meet all our chosen criteria and we spend more than 120 days on the water to develop each new collection.

With the B5 we have largely achieved all our initial objectives over the B4.
Lighter, more maneuverable and responsive,; the B5 is even smoother and ultimately more enjoyable and more effective regardless of the type of riding you do.

Sizes and wind range:

5m² : 30 + knts

6m² : 27 + knts

7m² : 25 + knts

8m² : 18 > 35 knts

9m² : 15 > 30 knts

10m² : 12 > 28 knts

11m² : 11>24 knts

12m² : 10 > 22 knts

14m² : 8 > 20 knts

2012 Griffin Argonaut 2012 Griffin Argonaut

The 2012 Argo is a medium-low aspect kite designed for super stability, smoothness in the gusts, auto relaunch, controlled pivotal turning and masive wind range. Excellent for waves, learners, pros, free riding and light to strong winds. With even more wind range and unbeatable upwind performance. The Argo is the most tunable kite available, riders have ability to ajust the amount of drift, bar pressure and turnning speed to suite the rider level and style. Settings are clearly explained and labeled on the kite wing tips

Auto Relaunch: A combination of the leading edge curve, bridle design and bar setup allow the kite to easily turn onto its side, move to the edge of the wind windo and sit there waiting for you to relaunch. The 2012 Argo is one ov the easiest kites to relaunch on the market. For beginners and schools using the Argo we have found students and beginners progress many times faster, in the surf the quick and easy relaunch often saves the kite from the onset of waves.

Super Stability: The 2012 Argo medium aspect design gives the kite exelent stability in gusty winds and prevents the kite from over flying. A lower aspect design also gives better light wind performance and grunt, stability and float.

Massive depower: The 3 point bridle has been designed to give maximum power and depower. This is great for riding in the surf withour being pulled off your board and for beginners letting go of the bar or depowering the bar can quickly depower the kite by up to 98% without having to pull a depower strap. The Argo is also excellent for riding in the surf because of the light wind grunt as well as the total depower available when on a wave and the fast turning speed. You can kite loop without being pulled of your board when depowered and power up when needed.

Amazing Power and Grunt: With the lower aspect design, the kite generates a lot more power and turning for its size, as an example the 13.5m Argo has the same grunt and pull as a typical older 16m bow kite, but turns like a 12m bow kite and de-powers more than many older 10m bow kites. Having a light wind kite that you can kite loop and throw around in the waves is a better options than a large 16m slow turner. We have riders using the Argo 13.5 from 10 knots.

Boost and Turning: The Argo is excellent for jumping. The low AR design makes jumps floaty and landings soft. You can jump higher in lighter winds and land softer. The adjustable turning speed can be set from slow, med, to fast which is great for the pivot turns needed for wave riding.

Upwind Performance: We designed the profile of the Argo to have the best upwind performance possible in light, normal and strong winds.

Centerless Strut Design: Griffin Kites were the first to design centerless strut kites, giving better performance.

Battenless trailing edge: Invented by Griffin Kites, the 2012 Argo is designed with reinforced battern free layered dacron striped traling edge, This removed flutter in the kites and makes the kite much more durable if dumped by a wave. Kites with batterns are hard to fold up and often get damaged when the fabric bends and the battern does not.

2012 Liquid Force Envy

2012 Liquid Force Envy


Rock solid stability, directional float, pivotal turning and effortless re-launch highlight the Envy’s “beyond delta” design for all around performance.This ultra lightweight three- strut platform gives light, responsive bar feel with impulse pivotal turning.

The Envy’s flight characteristics blend to produce a distinct “set it and forget it” feel.This makes it the perfect kite for everything from progressive wave riding to kite low freestyle domination.

Land a jump a bit too hot, under run the kite in a bottom turn… forget about it! The Envy’s lightweight design allows the kite to float directionally, enabling you to forget about the kite and concentrate on the important issues: making grabs, spotting landings and reading waves straight into the pit.

Size : 5m | 7m | 9m | 12m | 15m



2012 Naish Park2012 Naish Park

Target: Designed with fun in mind, the Park is the one kite that does it all – any rider, any style, any condition.

The Park's 3-strut design and Swept Compact C outline provides a stable and responsive kite. The powerful profile and leading edge give the rider good low-end power and consistent pull over a wide wind range.

The Park utilizes just enough sweep to maximize depower and allow easy relaunch. The Swept Compact C platform remains very close to a real C-shape in order to provide the crispness and feel in the bar that you really need.

Designed with fun in mind, the Park provides the rider with the power to boost, the handling to hit the lip with style and the ability to feel good in any condition.

Design Characteristics:
* Super easy handling
* Effortless water relaunch
* Power to boost
* Superior low-end performance

Sizes: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14


What's New: We focused on the low-end power delivery without losing any of the light, crisp feel. LE percentage and profile depth have been tuned to improve the low-end pull. We also slightly reduced the sweep in order to get the overall platform closer to a real classic C-shape. To maintain the relaunch characteristics, we slightly extended the wing tips, to keep the same leverage on the overall kite when the rider pulls on the back line.

The Result: The rider can expect earlier planing without sacrificing handling.  The bar feel is crisper, which means the rider can better feel what the kite is doing and can steer it with precision. The relaunch is also improved over last year’s edition.

2012 North Rebel2012 North Rebel

The 2012 Rebel remains North’s flagship kite, combining all the ingredients you need to cover a huge wind-range, rip apart any size surf, boost huge airs and ride comfortably in nearly all conditions. It is quite simply our best interpretation of what a modern free-ride/wave kite should be and it’s really no mystery why the Rebel is THE most sold kite ever.

The 2012 Rebel remains a loaded 5th line kite, offering its most acclaimed performance attributes like a short bar stroke, crisp, direct feeling, rock solid stability in all conditions, and it’s unique ability to steer while de-powered. The new square wingtip design maximizes the effective tip area, makes the tips less prone to distortion and fluttering while steering and gives the Rebel its new stylish and modern appeal. Super clean tip panels account for greatly improved, ultra smooth turning and easy handling that remains smooth even in over-powered conditions. Size-specific tuning ensures that the big sizes feel crisp and lively and the small sizes feel forgiving even in blistering wind. The Rebel also features a simple back-line adjustment to tune it for greater or lesser bar pressure to suit your desired feel. As with all North kites, the 2012 Rebel is built to last utilizing our proven construction methods and the highest quality materials like our exclusive Teijin D2 canopy fabric.

-Loaded 5th Line
-New square tips
-Tunable bar pressure
-Rock solid stability

2012 North Rebel Wind Range

2012 North Rebel Wind Range

2012 Ocean Rodeo Cypher2012 Ocean Rodeo Cypher

5, 7, 9, 10, 12
Superior Unhooked Park / Wake / Surf Performance! The 4 strut Cypher is a rock steady and forgiving kite for handle passes, sliders and unhooked riding. The Cypher sits deep in the window and flies well off the back lines, the Cypher is fantastic in the park or unhooked down the line. All 2012 kites fly perfectly with any of our 3 bars, Freeride, Fusion or Freestyle and all kites feature our unique Direct De-power System, designed to fully roll over and disable your kite in the event of an eject or total depower.

2012 Slingshot Rally 2012 Slingshot Rally

Sizes: 4m, 6m, 8m, 9m, 10m, 12m, 14m

Slingshot presents one of the most progressive kites in the lineup and is focused to keeps heads turning for 2012. The Rally blends C kite DNA from both our legendary Fuel and RPM, and then mixes the third element of the Delta shaping to create the industry first Open Delta C kite. The Rally and the new Open Delta C kite platform will deliver all the desirable features of a Delta coupled with the performance of a C kite.

The 2012 Slingshot Rally is the top choice for crossover freestyle and surf minded riders.
Proven Delta features such as low end power, responsive pivotal turning, endless lofty hang time, effortless relaunch and unbelievable range are matched with C kite predictable power and uncompromising stability. The three strut design of the Open Delta C delivers smooth efficient power through the stroke and offers a light weight balanced build for maximum flight stability. Our industry first pulley-less bridle lends itself to a direct feel, enhanced responsiveness, and unmatched upwind performance. The range on the Rally has been optimized for maximum low-end grunt. This means riding in lighter wind speeds with smaller size kites and noticeably bigger boost with longer lofty hang times. The stroke at the bar combined with our pulley-less bridle lets you tap into a top end range that translates into complete control when the wind picks. Fine tuning the Rally is easy with Custom Fuel Injection attachment points. CFI alters the overall feel and bar pressure enabling you to tune the kite to meet your personal riding preferences.
New for 2012 will be the addition of a 9 meter for ultimate quiver building potential and added Ballistic Aramid scuff guard reinforcement to prevent wing tip wear.

Star Kites Taina

2012 Star Kites Taina

Be sure to look for our test team's Head-to-Head review of these models in SBC Kiteboard magazine's 2012 Gear Issue out this March.

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