2015 presents us with yet another polished product from North, the 2015 North Rebel. Big Winds received a Rebel 9m for the demo fleet, coupled with the new 2015 North Trust Bar 5th Element (24m lines). The first thing we noticed was the smaller bag. With the elimination of a wind-tip batten and the ability to roll the kite from both wingtips to center with the new and improved Airport inflation/deflation system, the new Rebels pack down smaller than ever.
Pumping up the kite is super easy with the Airport Valve’s big air passage. There is still a short hissing noise that comes from the valve’s interspace, but once it gets closed and capped, the kite is air tight. One thing to remember is to close the wing-tip valve before inflating, as out of the bag it is open.
When unwinding the new 5th Element, there is a noticeable difference in the line set where a “blue bullet” replaces a red stopper ball at the junction of the 5th line and center lines. Down at the bar itself, one must set the width when fresh out of the box, which is easier than ever with the new push pins on the flip-flop bar ends. Be sure to check all connections as you walk the lines up to the kite, as I noticed the red line attachment to the 5th line was a little loose from the factory.
When attaching the lines to the kite, North made it very easy on the adaptive tip and clearly states the differences on the wingtip between the “yellow” knot and “blue” knot setting. Out of the bag, the Rebel comes set on “yellow” for lighter bar pressure, but the heavier riders looking for more to lean back against might prefer the “blue” setting for increased bar pressure. I personally like the “yellow” setting, finding it not overly light, faster turning and offering a smooth pull in the loop.
The first thing I did was test the turning speed with the wider bar setting (53cm). On the 24m lines, the 9m Rebel was faster than I’d experienced in previous models. I managed to bump the bar down to the narrower (46cm) length in flight with the easy new flip-flop mechanism and gave it a rip up wind. My first reach across the river was as smooth as it could get in the up and down, gusty winds. The Rebel once again proved itself here in the Gorge, depowering with a short stroke in the gusts and powering through the holes when keeping the kite actively moving. The 9m’s recommended wind range is 15-33 (not sure if North measures knots or mph, but I’ll assume knots) and that was about what was being served up. In the gusts, I pulled the trigger a few times and the Rebel soared with huge hangtime and soft landings. I’m not sure if we will have the new 18m “Airstyle” Rebel to demo here at Big Winds, as people might want to test jumping the barges and bridges!
All in all, the 2015 Rebel and Trust Bar are solid. Since introduced in 2006, the Rebel concept remains very much the same:
1. More Depower than a C Kite
2. More Power than a C Kite
3. Retain the safety, stability and relaunch of a 5-line kite
4. No pulleys on the bar or on the kite
5. Direct bar feel, ability to sense location of kite in the sky
6. Avoid the complexity of the bridles
Thanks Ken Winner for giving the sport of kiteboarding 10 years of easy, safe, plug and play fun!
207 Front Street
Hood River, OR 97031