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  • jhn.holgate Born Kite Nasa Star 2 Review


    Low down grunt and direct steering make for a brilliant low speed cruising traction kite. 

    Positives
    Easy to fly.
    Tons of low down grunt.
    Direct steering.
    Negatives / Considerations
    Narrow window.
    Relatively slow.
    Lots of side pull.

    I've been flying these over the last few years now and have done lots of km's in the buggy with them.  The things that stand out for me are they are just so bloody easy to fly.  They are Steffen Born's take on the NPW design with his patented 'air half pipes' which are two narrow panels down either side with bridles on each side to create a sort of 'half pipe'.  I've never actually flown a regular NPW wing to say what difference it makes, but the Nasa Star 2's are incredibly stable with great directional stability when in motion.  The other main draw for me is that my home has pretty gusty winds often characterized by lulls in the wind which cause my foils to tend to collapse and luff.  The NS2's are very light and tend to stay up in the lulls.  I have never had one luff, then crumple into a ball and fall back into the power zone and then suddenly unfurl.  Both FB and Depower foils have done this to me plenty.

    Nasa Star 2.jpg

    My NS2's are made in EU and their stitching and construction certainly seem first class to me.

    Nasa 2 trailing edge details.jpgNasa 2 stitcing details.jpg

    The other unique thing about the NS2's is the depower line on the nose.  Pull this line and the nose will start to fold over reducing power.  Unlike a regular depower which will sit further forward and speed up when depowering, the Nasa Star 2 will sit back a little and slow down just a bit when depowering.  Possibly an excellent thing if your on a longboard or skates with the kite high, but not quite what I'm after in the buggy.  As a result, I tend to occasionally pull the depower if I get a sudden gust or I use it as a primary safety if the poo hits the fan and in those cases it works perfectly well for me.  

    Nasa 2 depower line.jpg

    You can fly them on a bar as a two line kite plus the third depower line, or you can rig them on 4 line handles without the depower line.  You can rig them up quite a few different ways to suit.  I quite like the 2 line bar plus depower line - it's simple, steering is wonderfully direct and unless it's really windy and I'm super powered up, I can fly with one hand on the bar and wave the camera around with the other.

    NS2 4 Buggy.jpg

    Speaking of power, these things are the 4wd low range gear of kites.  They produce power almost as soon as you start moving them.  One or two sines and it's park 'n ride and away you go.  The 4m pictured here is quite buggyable from about 10 - 11 knots up to 20 knots.  I'll usually swap to a smaller NS2 around the 17-18knot mark.

    Being single skin, you can't bust anything if you crash it head first into the ground, it just crumples up.  A quick step back and it flies up backwards, a quick turn and away you go again.  Very handy - but there is a small price to pay for the backward launching ability - if you try and hold the kite steady in light winds and there's a bit of a lull, the Nasa Star 2 will drop a little then begin to fly backwards.  A little disconcerting the first few times it happens but once you get used to it, you can feel when the wind is getting too light and you just move the kite around a little.  It really hasn't been a problem for me over the last couple years.

    There are a couple limitations with this design.  It has a relatively narrow window which means a: quite a lot of sidepull, b:  relatively slow speeds and c:  harder to get upwind.  You won't keep up with a mid aspect foil or depower, so if speed and upwind ability are your goals, then this is not your kite.  The sidepull also means you'll need a comfy harness or you'll tire the arms out pretty quick.

    Having said that, the wonderful ease of flying and stability have made these the only kite I have buggy'd with since Nov 2013.  I've sold my Apex's and haven't used my Ozone Access since then such is my pleasure of flying these kites.  Speed wise, I'd say I lose about 15kph top speed when compared to my Ozone Methods - but if I'm doing 40 - 50, I'm quite happy.

    The other feature of this design is very little lift.  Almost none.  If you're wanting to jump, then these are not the kite for you.  If you want something that won't lift you out of the buggy when you put it over your head, then these are great.  They probably will lift you in the wrong wind, but compared to most foils, there is very little lift.

     

    I've had the 4m NS2 on the beach running side by side with a 4m Octane (could have been a Ozone Flow...).  There was only ever a couple kph difference between the two kites.  In lighter winds, the NS2 would pull away a little.  In stronger winds, the Octane/Flow would pull away a little.  Performance differences between the two kites were small.

    Other advantages is they are relatively cheap and they pack really, really small.  If you were going to do a bit of an expedition somewhere, you could do a lot worse than have a few of these stashed away.

     

    If you want a kite to cruise with that's child's play to fly with tons of low down pulling power, these are great.  You will need a comfy harness and you'll need to fly with a bit of power to gain ground upwind but you'll soon get used to that.  Safety is a big factor for me and the NS2's are slower to react to gusts than my foils - it gives me more time to react to gusts and the gusts tend to be absorbed a little more with these kties than something with a higher aspect ratio.  These are the best kites that I've ever flown - not performance wise and not speed wise, but just for putting that stupid grin on my face when I'm cruising up and down the beach.

    Nasa Stars.jpg

     

     

     



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    User Feedback


    windstruck

    Posted

    Nice review John!  I watched with interest the video about flying the Star from handles and separating the bottom four lines from the rest of the bridle.  I may just have to try that!  I don't have any handle flyers left in my quiver and I miss flying handles every once in a while, particularly when flying static.

    Thanks for the post! :Thumbs-up-smaller:

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    ssayre

    Posted

    umm, @jhn.holgate, I'm not quite sure how the ns2's aren't 10/10.  They're pretty much amazing :clapping:

    Only negatives that I can see is that they aren't still made :yes:  Guess, I'll have to try out the ns3 at some point.

    I might be inland wind bias

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    jhn.holgate

    Posted

    umm, @jhn.holgate, I'm not quite sure how the ns2's aren't 10/10.  They're pretty much amazing :clapping:

    Only negatives that I can see is that they aren't still made :yes:  Guess, I'll have to try out the ns3 at some point.

    I might be inland wind bias

    If I give 'em a 10, there won't be any room for improvement with the Nasa Star 4 and Nasa STar 5.  

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    windstruck

    Posted

    As a fellow lover of Steffen's Star kites, I too would give them 9/10.  My only quip (not a gripe, just a quip) is the degree of sideways pull experienced during buggying compared to, for example, a Peak 2, the only other single skin kite I have any real hours logged on with the bug.  This plus its not-so-spectacular upwind performance, again compared to a Peak.

    I'd give my beloved Peaks an 8/10 if that helps any Sean.  First point off for tip tuck and tip flap, the second for bridling that just seems so excessive.  I appreciate that the bridling complexity and enormity is likely driven by its single skin DP design, but having previously owned similarly sized PL Lynx DPs gave me a taste of exquisite minimal bridling in a non-LEI kite, something I sort of miss in my Peak 2s.

    The Uniq Quad? 6/10.  Nuff said.

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    jhn.holgate

    Posted

    I've rated them compared to every kite I've ever flown and what I, personally, think a perfect kite would be.  And for me, that perfection would require another 15kph in the top speed and another 15 degrees of upwind usability.  I also prefer the depower of a traditional foil where the kite will go further into the window and speed up - but that's really a personal preference. 

    I'm also not a fan of super glowing reviews that don't look at the negative aspect of kites and am still bitter about being sucked in by some of them.  As has been seen in a recent thread, statements like 'best kite this or that' will be sorely tested!

    As someone who likes relaxed cruising in a bug, they are very close to being darn perfect for me, but I know that I'm not like the majority of kiters (at least the ones I kite with) and have to take that into account.

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    ssayre

    Posted

    I'm going to argue that their versatility of use bumps them back up to 9/10 :grin:

    I'm just living in the past at this point since i've never flown a an ns3

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    jhn.holgate

    Posted

    8 hours ago, ssayre said:

    I'm going to argue that their versatility of use bumps them back up to 9/10 :grin:

    For you and me, no argument at all.  I was trying to strike a balance between people like us who like ease of use and cruising and the high aspect racing guys who want performance and upwind.  Personally, it's about 80% of my perfect kite.

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    windstruck

    Posted

    45 minutes ago, jhn.holgate said:

    For you and me, no argument at all.  I was trying to strike a balance between people like us who like ease of use and cruising and the high aspect racing guys who want performance and upwind.  Personally, it's about 80% of my perfect kite.

    The bummer in this situation (and sort of the elephant in the living room IMHO) is the venerable LongStar.  Like you John, I had high hopes for these kites.  We've both gotten them to work by dumbing them down with five line FB bar and line setups but they just don't behave as well as the NASA Stars IMHO.  Back stalling and related odd behavior seem to plague them even when rigged as well as I can muster.  Lots of grunt per square meter, that they have going for them.

    I'm heading down to IBX in about 10 days and potentially have a buyer for the whole quiver and bar and line setup.  I'm accepting $500 for the whole shooting match, viz, the bar and five line rigging, and 3, 5, and 7m LSs.  That's less than 50% of what I paid for them and the kites are in near-new condition.  I feel OK about this sale based on the price and the fact that the potential purchaser doesn't already own and NS2s or NS3s and I've been upfront about their character traits.  We'll see if the sale happens. :cray:

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    ssayre

    Posted

    hey steve, do you mind saying who the potential buyer is?  just curious.  They are probably the only ones in the states

    59 minutes ago, jhn.holgate said:

    For you and me, no argument at all.  I was trying to strike a balance between people like us who like ease of use and cruising and the high aspect racing guys who want performance and upwind.  Personally, it's about 80% of my perfect kite.

    It's a very fair and honest review.  I admit I'm a little biased. :lol:

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    windstruck

    Posted

    18 minutes ago, ssayre said:

    hey steve, do you mind saying who the potential buyer is?  just curious.  They are probably the only ones in the states

    It's a very fair and honest review.  I admit I'm a little biased. :lol:

    Fellow named Dustin, goes by "dman" on PKF.  You want in on this action?  I don't think it's worth it to me to split up the set or drop my price below this already rock-bottom floor, but I'd happily send them to you for 500 clams if dman doesn't pick them up. I've wondered too if they were perhaps the only US LongStars. They certainly seem to be the only ones of those folks chirping up on PKF.  

    Dont get me wrong, I don't dislike them, and still think they look super cool (very bat-like) it's just that I have a complete quiver of NS3s and they just don't replace any of them for utility. 

    I will say two things about them that are better than the Stars IMO.  They are 100% better at reverse launching and the central line "DP" is more refined. Did I mention they look super cool?

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    ssayre

    Posted

    Hopefully dman takes them from you.  I would love to own them, but i have several "wants" ahead of the longstars.  Good to know who is interested in them.  I had a good transaction with dustin on a beamer 3 meter.  Just keeping track so I know where they are.  Good luck with the sale, I hope he buys them.  If not hopefully you can shock and awe somebody with them at ibx.  Fridays are "Shock and Awe" around the office.  It means I have to sell a roof every Friday.  So far so good. :yes:

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