Feb 5, 2009
Author: Shane Thompson
Size Tested: 10 m2, 12 m2 / Style: Four-line SLE / Wind range: 12-26, 10-22 knots / What’s new: No centre strut, variable canopy curve shaping though the centre, Aramid sandwich construction for stiffer LE and wingtips
The Flow FT returns another season with some major refinements to the canopy shape and construction. The key philosophy of the Flow FT is to deliver the absolute highest all-around performance levels and reduce the complexity for the rider. The Flow FT continues to promise the ultimate in enhanced wind range combined with C-kite-style direct steering.
Bar setup and safety systems
The Airush four-line cleat bar has great functionality and multiple safety features that give any level of rider confidence. With flagging lines on the bar ends, an optional O-ring attachment at the centre V and an easily activated trigger-release chicken loop, this bar gets top marks for safety. Some testers appreciated the optional above-the-bar depower straps that come available for retro fit. In the below-the-bar trim mode, the Ronstan pulley makes it easy to trim the kite for power adjustment. New features for this year include a streamline housing for the trigger release, new leash placement ring, a new stopper-ball system and redesigned locking tube.
Key kite features
New variable canopy curve means a flatter angular section through the central canopy for optimized efficiency over traditional kite shaping. The centre strut has been eliminated. Reduced leading-edge diameter and an increase of the diameter-to-stiffness ratio has enabled elimination of cross bridle and pulleys. Stiffness in LE and wingtip has increased by 50 per cent with Aramid composite sandwich construction in the wingtips. Single-point inflation and quality scuff-guard components are also highlights.
The Flow FT proved to be one of the most powerful kites per square metre on the test. Its low-end constant pull and power was noticed and appreciated by every tester, especially in lulls and less windy days. Intermediates and beginners will appreciate the easy-to-access power and drive of this kite.
Like last year’s model, the Flow has light bar pressure and good turn initiation and response, with quick pivotal turning. The Flow FT pulls smoothly off the front lines and is adequate for unhooked tricks and pop. Perhaps due to the angular central canopy shaping, testers noted bigger loft and glide capability over last year’s model. Water relaunch was also improved, with quicker reaction to steering-line pull. Ample depower comes on moderately and progressively, but with more stability the kite can be quickly trimmed for total depower. Overall stability and less sheeting sensitivity means less back flying on the new Flow.
During the evolution of this SLE, improvements have been constant and the Flow FT takes the SLE concept to the next level. Easy freeride cruising and good glide with access to big jumping capability are where this kite really shines.
Depower comes on quicker initially but isn’t as dramatic as last year’s Flow. The trade-off is that the new model ensures no back flying or sheeting sensitivity.
The 2009 Flow hits the mark for a freeride and freestyle kite that will satisfy 90 per cent of riders out there. It has great power and pull that’s easy to access, ample depower and safety, and improved stability with advanced big jumping capability.