Jun 23, 2010
Author: SBC Kiteboard test team
Over a two-week period the SBC Kiteboard Team tested the mettle of a formidable cross-section of the industry’s leading twin-tip models, as well as an assortment of new surf shapes, skim boards and wakeskates. There are many board options available today, and most riders are building a quiver of boards that cover them for different conditions, riding disciplines and styles. Advancements in core materials, laminates and construction processes continue to drive board performance to new levels as board designers keep pace with the improved range and handling delivered by today’s kites. With today’s user-friendly kite designs, more kiteboarders are becoming better riders at a faster pace than ever before and new disciplines of riding are constantly evolving and driving board production into new realms. The wakeskate riding is becoming more popular as a lighter wind and flatwater strapless alternative. Also the strapless skim board models have popped up in some board lines this year. Both skim and the wakeskate disciplines push riders into developing different types of skills and present a fun, low pressure alternative from the everyday freestyle or freeride session. This is the start of new decade and the perfect time to broaden your kiteboarding experience into new disciplines, styles and skill levels.
The vast multitude of different freestyle and freeride twin-tips on the market today differ in many ways. Construction material, length and width, outline shape, bottom and rail shape, and dynamic flex patterns all work together to define how a board performs on the water. A helpful step in deciding which new twin-tip is best for you is to understand how the different board attributes translate into distinct performance traits that might fit your riding preferences. Once you’ve narrowed down the attributes your looking for, go to you local shop and demo as many models as you can. Make sure the setup of straps and stance is customized to your preference as a board’s ride and feel can be altered by even small adjustments in stance and strap setup. In this test the majority of twin-tip models fall into the high performance freestyle and freeride shapes that cater to the intermediate to advanced levels. These twin-tip freestyle and freeride shapes have benefited from the universal trend towards wood cores and enhancements in material combinations and construction process advancements. Wood core boards are better at providing both durability and improved dampening and reflex response. Most companies have come close to mastering the flex dynamic of their boards to provide the desired amounts of reflex response, pop and smoothness and control through different water conditions. Each company’s board line has models that cater to the advanced freestyle rider, new-school wakestyle, do-it-all freerider or the progressive entry level rider. Understanding which category you fit in will narrow down the models that are best suited to your riding.
Strap and Footbed Systems Diverge
Many companies continue to evolve, tweak and redesign their footbed and strap system with the intention of improving the foot hold, comfort and board feel. There are several companies that distinguish themselves from the pack. Within the traditional bed and strap system, North has added heel cushion customization with different stiffness inserts under the bed. The North straps are also distinctive with a softer flexing strap that has more adjustability in the asymmetry. Most of these traditional strap and footbeds systems are also easier to assemble than years past, and two companies, RRD and TB Kiteboarding have even designed tool-less assembly systems for their straps and beds. The laced adjustment systems continue to evolve with Liquid Force paving the way and delivering the most popular and refined lace top strap. Other lace top straps include the Sync binding from Cabrinha. This system’s top strap has more boot-like contact on the top of the foot. Leading the pack with the newest, outside-of-the-box strap and bed systems is the Grav D straps from Naish. The new Grav D has the distinction of being the only strap on the market that barely touches the sides of your feet. With lots of options available the best thing to do is try them on and ride them. Find out what suits your foot and locks you down the best.
Read the 2010 Twin-Tip Kiteboard Reviews