After a long windless stretch I finally got out in some waves with my new Element 6 (9M) which replaced my E5 that died an honorable death on the reef at Backyards here on O'ahu. My skills are definitely rusty, and the gopro definitely made me ride even more kooky, but I really wanted to get a few vids on the new setup... I'll post up the vid and then get to my thoughts on the kite in the next reply.
First off, yes, I almost face planted the reef on the last wave...second, if anybody has advice for rendering video from gopro with sony vegas I am all ears. I'm not a tech guy and the video came out a bit blurry. Moving on: I will focus on comparing the E6 to the E5, as I had a lot of time on the E5. Here we go.
-Right off the bat, Felix told me to get the 8M (9M is the every day kite here on O'ahu). I just bought a brand new Element 5 7M, which is pretty much the perfect kite, so I couldn't force myself to order a new 8M. It's a powerful kite, I only got the 9 because I also like twin tip and strapped jumping and being powered up. If your day to day kite is a 9, and your next kite down is a 5, then yeah, get an 8. If you want a bit more power get the 9. I'm stoked on the 9, the low end is awesome.
-Compared to the Element 5, the overall feel and especially turning is much smoother. I don't know if it's actually a faster turning kite or not, it may just seem faster because the feel is so smooth.
-With the smoothness comes a small loss in overall feel, I'm thinking maybe like a 5% loss of absolutely feeling the kite. With that, I felt like after flying the 6, the 5 felt a bit more mechanical and kind of boxy with the turns, where the 6 feels super fluid. I fly the 6 on the lightest bar pressure setting, I know Felix flies it on the heaviest so that might solve the issue for some people. When I first flew the kite, it was on the medium setting and the kite felt crazy raw, like a mean beast of a kite. On the lightest setting it's perfect for me.
-Jumping/hangtime/float... It is f***ing awesome. The first time I flew the kite I did a few little test jumps on the grass to test the power, holy s**t, I ended up 15 ft. in the air. It's a jumper. Stoked on it for sure, it has some awesome float. I am an aspiring strapless freestyle guy, and also guy that just fricking goes for it, this kite will catch you, it's awesome.
-Drift. I got to fly the kite about 7 times, unfortunately it was usually really onshore so I couldn't really test the down the line drift so much. In the video the wind was side on, changing to really onshore...all I can say compared to the E5 is that it didn't lose anything in drift but it gained a lot in stability. I know in the upper range or doing something stupid, the E5 could luff pretty bad, the E6 is just solid as a rock. Super stable kite.
-Upwind is noticeably better, definitely not going out as far to get to the top of the point.
-On to the bar... it's super simple, they lightened it up a s***oad, but some things kind of irritate me. For one, the larger bar doesn't actually fit into the bar pocket on the bag anymore. Not really an issue for me, but if you are traveling and want to pack efficiently it's a pain that you have to stash the bar diagonally or somewhere else. I know it is at the expense of soft, big ass bar ends, but at least have the thing fit in the designated pocket. Also, the super soft bar grip has already peeled off in a few places after very few sessions. It kind of makes me hate all the people who complained about the bar hurting their soft, pansy hands...come on! The original bar grip was awesome, my controller 2 bar is still perfect after thousands of hours of use. I already feel like just putting the bar in and taking it out of the bag is screwing up the soft end parts. On a brighter note, the bar does now if fact float.
-Stuff that irritates me: It is what it is, but when I originally ordered the kite, I had some problems with my credit card company. When I was originally ordering they had an offer for the kite bag free. It's $75...I cleared up my bank issue and ordered my kite, but the offer was already gone...dammit. A couple weeks after I bought my kite and bar, I saw that they were giving a free trainer kite (which looks awesome) with a new kite purchase. Dammit again. I guess you just have to get lucky? Like I said, it is what it is, just a little bit bummed.
Good review. Wondering if you had a go at doing the velcro thing on the depower strap so it doesn't dangle around when depowered? Better than the magnetic hoodackey on the controller 2?
Gutted to hear the soft bar grip is peeling, yeah the original bar grip is a beast and mine too is perfect after a gagillion sessions!
I think the H3 is now the new E5, as far as wave kites go in the new Switch line up.
Ha that nasty reef! I've kited there, it's pretty much the switch kites beach...
I also have an E5 7m which I only use on very windy days and Felix also told me to get the E6 in 8m instead of 9m to replace my E3 9m. Now that the Helium 3 is out I'm glad I didn't get the E6 as it's more of an all round kite. I only do strapless and foil.
Pleased to read about the lighter bar pressure, this is something that annoyed me heaps on the E3&5.
My controller 4 is holding up so far but the de-power rope always wears out fast. I never use the velcro bit because it doesn't dangle around much with no weight at the end.
I did play around with the velcro thing but thought it was harder to adjust...luckily I rarely trim my kites and if I do it's only a small amount. Just lucky to live somewhere with pretty steady winds. When self launching and landing I fully trim and the excess just dangles, little irritating but not a big deal. I had the Controller 2 little ball thingy for ever and was fine with that (the slot one, not the magnet).
Just have to clarify a bit, I do really like the bar. It's super streamlined and seems like a great design, just a bit concerned about long term durability of the grip and soft ends. I will update after some hard use on it and see how it's holding up.
Also, I think the H3/E6 decision will have some guys on the fence. For me, I didn't notice any drawbacks from the Element in the surf but I'm sure the H3 probably has better drift due to the lighter weight. I think if you like to jump and wave ride stick with the Element, for foiling and strapless surf, the H3 might be the call. I'm wondering also if the new Element is similar to how the Method was, I never flew that kite (was still only windsurfing!) I might ask Felix if he can compare the two. Aloha.
Quick update after a bump and jump type session: Felix was right, it is a bit better on the heavier bar pressure setting. Was working on strapless back and front rolls and was definitely losing the feel of the kite. I'm on the middle setting now and it was a noticeable improvement for strapless jumping. It didn't feel like it lost much in turning speed either, I was whipping it all over the place today in dead onshore crap waves and it was fine...and kinda fun.
that new bar looks sick. cant believe i payed for the controller 3 just a few months ago