Feb 5, 2009
Author: Shane Thompson
Size Tested: 9 m2, 11 m2, 14 m2 / Style: Five-line hybrid / Wind range: 15-32, 13-28, 11-24 knots / What’s new: Four-strut configuration, heavily reinforced Dacron trailing edge, rounder arc and one-pump inflation system
The new Rebel is positioned as the freeriding surf specialist in the North lineup, with simple, easy-to-access performance that any rider of any discipline can appreciate. With more depower capability than the freestyle-inspired Vegas, and more pivotal and snappy turning than the high-powered Rhino, the Rebel is capable of handling any condition and any discipline.
Bar setup and safety systems
The 5th Element control bar has some industry-leading features including adjustable bar length, vario cleat trim-line adjustment, easy-to-adjust stopper ball and iron-heart quick release. Long, thin bar floats and colour-coded lines with kook-proof connectors come standard on all North bars. With no reliance on complicated bridles or pulleys, some argue that the fifth-line safety system offers the simplest and most foolproof safety system available today.
Key kite features
New four-strut configuration puts the Rebel in a distinct group of four-strut designs on the market. This configuration is made possible by a new leading-edge construction and revised four-point front-line connections. Built to handle the abuse that riding big waves can inflict on a kite, the Rebel is bomber built, with a huge trailing-edge section made of Dacron. Also new this year: a one-pump system called Lazy Pump.
The Rebel has a distinct direct feel with quick pivotal turning. The kite maintains good stability at the apex of the window and has no tendency towards oversheeting. Although it takes a while to become accustomed to the back-line pressure, it’s not fatiguing and gives great positional feedback to maintain kite position—ideal for waveriding. SBC testers made the Rebel a top choice for some of the classic ocean-side downwinders.
The excellent depower of the Rebel and its ability to maintain steering while depowered also gives it great advantage, both in waves and for the freerider who wants that added range. The Rebel’s upwind capability was impressive. It rockets upwind, which makes getting back in the lineup that much easier. The flat midsection of the canopy also lets the Rebel soar, and it gets top marks for big hangtime jumping capability. The windier it gets, the higher this kite goes.
A fun kite for any condition, the Rebel is ideal for the everyday rider who values simplicity and safety. Compared to previous models, the 2009 has improved water relaunch capability, which was a weak point of earlier models. With a quick pull of the steering line, the Rebel will flip and you’re ready to go. The excellent functioning of the safety and relaunch systems will give any rider the confidence to practise some difficult new manoeuvres.
It takes some time to get used to the positive feedback offered by the increased bar pressure, but once dialed, it virtually disappears.
The North Rebel delivers top-level performance for riding waves and can win the hearts of any freerider with its excellent range, stability and unmatched upwind performance. Its easy handling and predictability also make it a winner for intermediates looking to get to the next level.