I treated myself to a new board... the MBS all terrain longboard. These are brand new out from the USA by MBS who are known for their mountain boards. Where I live over summer we get nasty cat eye thorns that seem to grow everywhere so it was great to get hold of a board and not have to worry about pneumatic tyres.
I've had the chance to take the board out on a number of surfaces and given they are new out thought I'd give my impressions.
Overall I'm impressed with the board. Riding it is like going from the old 26" mountain bikes onto the 29ers. You just feel like you can roll over anything. The board easily handles uneven footpaths, road surfaces and loose stone that would stop an ordinary skateboard. I've taken it down a few grassy slopes and as long as the grass is pretty low, and the ground hard packed then it goes great.
If kiting strapless is your thing then this board would be fine on any hard packed surface.
In terms of just general cruising the board is much easier to push than a standard mountain board. On a road surface made from rock rather than bitumen there is much more vibration through your feet than you get with pneumatic tyres. Off road the vibration disappears. The board is very much at home rolling over mown tufts of grass on hard packed soil, which is what many of our local playing fields become over summer.
On smooth surfaces like concrete the board makes a pretty cool noise through the tyres due to the tread pattern. The board has got decent bearings in it so it rolls smooth and far.
I found the board length comfortable and build quality high as you expect with an MBS board.
Some pics of the board are below including size comparison between standard skateboard and MBS mountain board so you can see the difference.
Test Report on the Peter Lynn UNIQ QUAD Single-skin power kite, 4.5m2 version on 2 handles/quad lines
Just for something different, I tried a single-skin kite, this one an offering from the Peter Lynn stable.
Photos courtesy of Peter Lynn Kitesports (On account of I was too lazy to photograph my own-same size, same colour)
TEST LOCATION & CONDITIONS
Inland NSW, on a large, open sports complex
Wind E to NE, 1 to 12kts, mostly around 5-6 kts.
Static flying only. No buggy or board
HQ Toxic 5m2
Zebra Z1 3.5M2
The kite is promoted by P/L as being compact, lightweight, relatively cheap, stable, easy to fly, crash-damage resistant, very manoeuvrable and very powerful for its size. It also comes in a 2-line version or a 3-line on a bar
The kite bag is VERY small, particularly for a 4.5m2. (It looks like something you’d use to take a bottle of champagne to a party)
Everything necessary to rig and fly is supplied and packed into the well-made main bag;
The kite itself
Quad 18m x 200/100kg Dyneema pre-stretched, colour-coded lines and padded handles
A soft drawstring cloth bag for the lines and handles
2 x P/L Kite-Killers (nice bit of kit)
A plastic P/L anchor stake in a well-made fabric sheath. (Sand use only. It’s next to useless trying to shove it into grass or dirt. The HQ version is much more versatile)
(You’ll have fun trying to stuff everything back into this bag after flying, although the kite certainly does wrap up into a very small bundle.)
All stitching and line attachments are of the usual very high P/L standard. The main (200kg) and brake (100kg) lines look very similar in size, but fortunately are colour-coded and labelled.
As this is my first single-skin jobbie, I admit to having a few Senior’s moments trying to find the leading edge due to the absence of those lovely big holes that normally identify the LE. The kite plan form is a low-aspect design, which keeps the span quite short for the area.
This is quite conventional using the supplied line number matching and lark’s-head knots.
As expected, the kite fills easily and lifts almost instantly. Once line tension is steady, the leading edge shape becomes apparent and the kite flies normally.
Some early observations are;
The kite is not particularly fast, compared to most double-skinned foils
It is quite agile, allowing for the lower speed
The wind window is somewhat smaller/narrower than double-skinned foils
The kite won’t overshoot and collapse at the zenith because it doesn’t really get that close to it. Approaching the edges of it’s own wind window, it just slows and either stops or drifts back until it’s back in a sweet spot. Quite neat!
(Note: I refer to the zenith as a point directly overhead the flyer)
This 4.5m2 pulls very hard in gusts (10-12kts) and is happier when it’s kept moving. Pull is at least equal to the HQ Toxic 5.0m2
Tight turns are best made with just a light touch on one brake. Main line pulls produce a much slower, wide and smooth turn
Backing down to the ground is very easy and controlled using the brakes
Reverse launching was easy
I tested turbulence behaviour by standing in the lee of a large light tower just upwind of my flying position and this caused the occasional tip tuck which easily un-tucked itself with a tug on the lines
Overall, it was not quite as stable as the delightfully mild-mannered Zebra Z1 3.5m2
Pumping the lines to keep it up in between soft gusts had markedly less effect than with a double-skin foil
The kite showed little or no lift at the zenith, due mostly to the slightly narrower wind window
MEETING PL’s CLAIMS
Now that I’ve flown the kite, I thought I might match up my experience with the claims P/L have made:
Pretty much correct. You can dive it straight into the ground at any speed and it just crumples up briefly, then is ready for an easy reverse launch
Not sure about this claim. It seemed to behave much the same as any double-skin foil with regard to pull vs. wind speed variations
Supremely easy to fly.
Overstated a bit. It is easy to fly, but nothing to get too excited about
Great performance, more pull per size than any comparable ram airfoil while needing much less wind.
The kite did pull very hard in very light conditions, although truly objective testing would be needed to see if it really out-pulled an similar sized double-skinned device at the same wind speed
A lift to drag ratio that is easily equivalent to modern foils, excellent handling and instant power.
Yes. The kite certainly powered up very quickly in a gust
No overflying, no collapsing or luffing, ever.
Not quite, P/L. Any turbulence in very light conditions will induce mild tip folding, but it certainly didn’t want to overfly
Is it suitable for a beginner?
Certainly, although there are perhaps better beginner options like the Skydog Power-Foil, Zebra Z1, HQ Beemer, etc..
Is it suitable as a static fun/workout kite?
Absolutely! It does fly well, inland or coastal, where it’s lightness and the tiny Pack make it a must-carry anytime. Not too good for jumping
Is it useful as a buggy engine?
Yes. So long as you can live with losing some wind window width. It certainly pulls hard at lower angles and has very low lift at the zenith, which is safe. On a buggy trip, it’d be very easy to carry one as a compact, spare larger kite in case the wind drops