At A Glance
Last year the Lithium caused quite a stir, billed as a ‘do-it-all’ kite it was well received amongst riders and journalists alike. This year the airframe has been modified to leave it with just thee struts, but the designers at Airush have tried to maintain all the characteristics that made the kite so popular. The bridle is very simple and short and there is a direct connection to the rear of the kite. You can trim the rear settings to tune the bar pressure, which is a nice touch. The Lithium is a hybrid delta shape, with quite a wide chord and a deep profile at the leading edge.
The SmartBar III is a culmination of development and design, and is packed full of features to ensure you enjoy your session. It features the Brain Quick Release, which is very easy to activate and equally simple to reset. You can also extend the bar length so if you have a couple of kites you can get away with just the one bar. There is a pull-pull trim strap above the bar and the depower line is encased in a PVC tube to avoid any wear. It is a 4-line set up for the Lithium with a “mini 5th line” total depower system.
In The Air
We really appreciated how well set up the Lithium was, it came from the UK distributor rather than the factory so he may have had a hand in it, but it isn’t often a kite pops out of the bag and the lines are set up exactly as they should be to give the kite perfect trim in the air. Quite often we are left trimming and adjusting the kite to get the most out of it. However, the Lithium was spot on straight out of the bag. In the sky when you look up you will notice the low aspect ratio of the kite and the deep chord the Lithium has. It looks like a chunky beast for an 8m that’s for sure. The low end power this shape generates is impressive, the 8m really packs a punch for it’s size, but the clever bridling and line connection points allow it to depower and retain good steering characteristics. There is a good amount of “throw” within the bar, so you can instantly ditch power when you need to, without the need for long arms. That said if you have short arms the above bar depower strap can be a little hard to reach, especially if the PVC tubing has “curled” from being wrapped around the bar. The bar pressure is tuneable, so while we found it a little heavy for our liking on the medium setting a quick switch on the kite and it was reduced a touch. It is great to have these options on modern kites and will allow you to trim your kite to your style of riding. Through the window the kite is very direct and fast, this means you can be very precise with your steering and generate good lift for jumping, the Lithium is more of a glider than a rocket ship though, providing nice floaty airs with gentle landings. The Lithium would suit a lot of riders looking for a dependable freeride kite, it can turn its hand to just about anything, waves, freestyle or jumps. Beginners will enjoy the stability and easy relaunch while more advanced riders will appreciated the simplicity of the set up and the ease of use.
Solid construction, excellent bar set up, consistent performance even when depowered, large wind range with lots of low end power and extremely easy to use.
As an all round kite the Lithium excels, the low end grunt needs to be respected though, especially by beginners and those new to the sport. Also if you have short arms you may find the trim lines a little bit of a stretch.
An excellent kite from Airush, we loved the direct handling and responsive performance. Small inputs into the bar had the kite exactly where we wanted it. The low-end power was great for riders looking to have smaller kites in their quiver and the depower range available at your fingertips still made the kite a contender when the wind picked up.
This review was in Issue 32 of IKSURFMAG.
By Rou ChaterRou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!