It’s rare you fly a newer generation of a kite and find that the changes after years of evolution can still be so significant. The Flysurfer Speed 5 returns to its original DNA, it is the kite that should of been released after the Speed 3.
When the Speed was originally released over a decade ago it was an evolutionary step, does anyone still remember that goofy video with Armin pushing a team rider off the boat to water launch? ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2PCJsKf3Jo ). The Speed was at the forefront of development, then came the Speed2 and it maintained that DNA of light wind and large float. The Speed3 then came along, and it was the largest evolutionary step that the Speed had taken, it had all the low wind ability however with the Triple Depower the kite nearly doubled its usable wind range and made the top-end all the more usable resulting in a huge boosting and highly floaty kite. Then the Speed4 released, and for the first time I felt that they had mixed far too much of the DNA from the old Psycho IV in there, it was an amazingly versatile kite but it didn’t feel the same as the old Speed series. They went back towards the Speed’s original DNA with the Lotus, however even then there was still room to move. After a session on the Speed5, you can just feel that the pure DNA of the Flysurfer Speed series is back. The kite performs at the bottom end, remains versatile and usable for such a high-aspect kite at the top end, and feels completely refined all over. Most of all the kite brings back the feeling of fun to flying as it’s incredibly forgiving.
Laying the kite out on the beach pre-flight I was amazed at the vibrancy of the colour of the 12M even though it was a completely overcast day at the start. The kite looked incredible, I always thought the Speed3 Deluxe colour scheme was nice however the purple of the 12M and the slightly more detailed and intricate graphics look brilliant. The demo I was flying came with the Flysurfer Airstyle Infinity 3.0 bar, which is the green and black series bar. The bar has had again some small refinements to it regarding the chicken loop, however apart from colour scheme for the most part it’s very similar to the Infinity 2.0 bar.
Pre-Inflating and launching the kite was a breeze, sanded one wingtip and slowly pulled the opposing edge up off the sand as it pre-inflated. Eventually with enough air inside it slipped out from the sand and took off. Once in the sky again it looked increidble, however it also looked higher aspect than the Speed3 whilst still seeming to retain a somewhat similar overall canopy shape. One thing that is clearly evident is that there’s no more crinkling across the front of the canopy, and whilst it’s slightly thicker between the top and bottom skins compared to a Sonic-FR it certainly has been reduced in thickness compared to the previous Flysurfer Speed kites making it feel like a faster wing flying forwards.
The wind was fairly light, starting off on about 9 to 12 knots and I took off with the kite in the GT-Race Rapide++ buggy. All I could say is WOW, the kite felt solid from the start even in the light wind however it didn’t feel like a truck. Once in the buggy and moving the power the kite was producing just continued to increase until I scooted over 70km/h in incredibly light winds. The longer I held my line the more the kite continued to increase in speed.
Dumping the power was incredibly easy, however I noticed when slowing down rapidly and really dropping the power out of the kite it remained incredibly stable and responsive. There were no surprises or shocks, it just behaved as I had the buggy slide sideways slowing the kite down preparing to turn. During this I noticed the vastly increased amount of depower on the kite compared to the previous versions I had flown. However the one point that I really noticed was the increase in turning speed, I was no longer going for the leader ends on a tight turn the bar was more than sufficient to get it to snap around 180 degrees when required.
The depower range on the kite is far smoother on the bottom 3/4 of the bar throw, however release the bar to the very top 1/4 of the bar throw and you dump nearly all the power out of the kite. If you’re used to still having power there at the end of the bar throw it’s a quick fix, just use the stopped by sliding it down to your desired length on the bar. The bar pressure also felt a bit lighter than previous generations, I still don’t classify the Speed as a “light” bar pressure kite however I’m of the opinion less pressure the better allowing for longer kiting sessions and more aggressive handling in higher winds that typically increase the bar pressure.
During flight in the buggy at speed the kite felt consistently solid, and for such a high aspect kite it continued to feel incredibly stable. One are the Speed 5 significantly excels over both previous models and kites such as the Sonic-FR is its stability, being slightly lower aspect and holding a bit more air in the kite just brings on a completely new level of stability. After a short period of time you become so trusting of the kite you pay less and less attention to it and more to your surroundings and where you’re kiting. The kite not only points incredibly high upwind, however downwind compared to previous Speed models it’s again significantly improved. Going downwind didn’t feel anywhere near as challenging as on previous models, some where you would need to loop it back over your shoulder to keep it back in the window from time to time. This allowed me to surprisingly park and ride downwind.
Everything you do with the kite, how it responds, how it feels through the bar, how it behave in flight, it all just feels incredibly well refined over previous versions. There’s literally no single feature of the kite that I can say is a complete standout improvement area as so many areas of the whole kite have been so well refined that it’s the sum of all these improvements that makes the Speed 5 in my opinion the greatest evolutionary update to the Flysurfer Speed series of kites since the Speed 3.
If you’re currently flying older Speeds, get your hands on a demo, it’ll be that familiar feeling you’re used to, just that the more you fly it the more you’ll notice how much of a step forward in performance the kite is whilst being incredibly stable, fun and trusting.
This kite was provided for demo by James at @specialist_kiteboarding for as long as required until I felt comfortable having flown it long enough to write a review. Overall both flying the kite and the process of arranging a demo from James was a great, pressure-free experience. If you’re interested in a Flysurfer Speed 5 get in contact with Specialist Kiteboarding.