Picked up the new Flysurfer Speed 4 8m kite a week ago from Briskites. I went with the standard cloth rather then the delux cloth, because I figure if the wind is strong enough that I need an 8m kite, a light weight cloth really isn't needed
Since getting the kite I haven't been able to test fly it, so this is just a write up of my initial impressions of the kites build quality and features. Hopefully this week I will get a chance for a test fly and will write up another review after that.
Bag: Like most bags it has a zipper and buckles and the kite goes inside. The Flysurfer bag does this really well
Control Bar: The Speed 4 comes with the newer infinity 2 control bar, which has already been talked about a lot, so I won't go into too much detail about it.
The design of the bar is great. Large slots and thicker centre line should help maximise the life of the line, which was a problem with the Infinity 1 bar. The chicken loop has also been completely redesigned from the original Infinity 1 bar and should rotate a lot easier.
One small complaint is that the finish on the bar doesn't look quite as good as the Infinity 1 bar, with excess glue and raggedy egdes on the foam.
Small things I know.
Kite Build and Features: The build quality, like all Flysurfer kite, is exceptional. I'm a big fan of the new colour scheme, with the generous use of black cloth and contrasting red, the kite looks great.
One of the biggest improvements to the Speed 4 is the addition of ribs in the leading edge. The ribs feel to be made from a flexible plastic tubing and help the kite keep the shape of the leading edge. The ribs start at the bottom skin and run around the leading edge to about 10" along the top skin. The true benefits of these ribs probably won't be obvious on the smaller sized Speeds were inflation and maintaining internal pressure shouldn't be a problem because of the higher wind speeds. However on the larger sizes these ribs should really help the kites low end.
The pictures below shows how the leading edge holds it's shape and the intake vents open even when the kite has zero internal pressure.
Another new addition that should help with low wind inflation are the so called X bridles. These are bridle lines that run to the centre of the intake valves to help hold them open.
It has been a long wait for the smaller sized speed kites. If they have anything like the outgoing speed 3's depower range and float they should be a fantastic kite
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Test flew the Flysurfer Speed 4 8m today for a few hours, riding a Peter Lynn buggy.
I have been flying a 12m Speed 3 for a couple of years now and although it is hard to compare an 8m kite to a 12m, some comparisons can be made.
Wind was cross onshore, starting at about 14knots (gust 19knots) picking up to 18knots (gust 22knots). On land, in the buggy, I felt that 17-18knots was about the mid range of the kite.
Before the flight I had checked the mixer setting and line lengths, all were ok.
The factory mixer setting has the B bridles at +1cm and according to an addition page in the manual, is the optimum setting for the 8m and 10m Speed 4's
The steering lines are delivered slightly longer then the front lines to allow for shrinkage, but I adjusted these (according to manual recommendations) to get the lines back to optimal length for the first flight.
General first impressions?........ Flysurfer FAIL!
Launching: The kite launched ok from the centre of the window, with no pre-inflation (I never pre-inflate my speed 3 kites even the 15m in only 5knots).
The 8m took longer then I expected to inflate and flaped around a bit until it did, but got there in the end with no big dramas.
Landing: This is FAIL point of the 8m Speed 4.
When back stalled down to the middle of the wind window the kite still had quite a bit of pull and unlike the Speed 3, folds in on itself the more the back lines are pulled, the Speed 4's trailing edge started to catch the wind and looked like it could invert.
When the safety is pulled and the kite is flagged out to the FLS, the kite begins flapping around and spinning, never actually coming to rest on the ground. This is the case no matter where the kite is in the window when the safety is pulled. Even when the kite is already back stalled and sitting on the ground, the kite picks up and flaps around. This flapping and spinning creates a large tangle in the bridle, which can take 5-10 minutes to undo.
The video doesn't show the worst landings I experienced, but they were the ones on recorded.
Reverse Launch: This is one area where the Speed 4 was excellent. Simply pull on one of the steering lines and the kite flipped itself around and relaunched.
Steering: In my opinion, this is the biggest FAIL for the Speed 4 and caused me nothing but frustration.
The kite simply did NOT want to turn, unless the bar was pulled all the way in. Then turning speed was lightning fast and the kite can easily shoot the wrong way if you are not paying attention. For some this will be a benefit for unhooked kite loops, but that is not what I want and when jumping in the buggy the kite was hard to possition correctly.
I tried moving the steering lines to the widest setting on the bar. Didn't help.
I tried lengthening the front lines (which shortens the steering lines in comparison). Helped a little, but still not great.
I then adjusted the mixer to the flat profile, rather then the factory setting of B +1cm, which helped a bit more.
Pulling the stopper ball down about 4 inches and limiting the bar travel was the only way that I could bet a slightly acceptable bar out turning ability
It's my opinion that the bar travel on the 8m is too long and needs to be shortened or limited to allow the kite to turn.
Pop and Float: The 8m Speed 4 has loads of pop and can send you skywards very easily and quickly. However there is non of the easy floaty hang time of the Speed 3. Understandably an 8m kite will not have the ability of a 12m kite, but there simply wasn't even a hint of it. Every time I left the ground I came crashing down. Perhaps with time and getting used to the kites turning speeds I can produce smoother landing, but it is not the simple ease of the Speed 3.
Power and Up Wind: The power delivery can be a bit brutal with the Speed 4. Going from zero to rip you sideways in an instant. Most of this is due to the speed that the kite flies and can enter the power zone. Also the fact that the bar needs to be pulled all the way in to get decent turning speed.
The kites upwind ability is decent, not exceptional, which is suprising considering that the kite can easily fly completely out of the wind window on a redirect.
Final Thoughts: I am not completely disappointed with the 8m Speed 4, but not far off. Perhaps with time to learn the kite and some adjustment to improve the steering it will improve.
For anyone, like myself, who was hoping that the 8m Speed 4 was going to be exactly like a small Speed 3, based on my first flight I would not recommend it. And if the larger sizes turn out to have the same traits as the 8m I think that I will be holding on to my Speed 3's.
This of cause was only my first flight of the 8m Speed 4 and hopefully with time it will improve and I can do a more positive review.
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