At A Glance
The Pivot has been a highly regarded kite ever since its introduction, but it has since gone on to cement itself as one of the standout model names within the whole industry. This may only be the 7th generation, but its status is comparable to competitors that have been around twice as long thanks to its prolific use in the Red Bull King of the Air (2 times of which it helped its King win it!). As the KOTA 'go-to kite' for the Naish team over the years, it has received a significant amount of Naish's R&D efforts, unlocking as much performance potential as possible. But, thankfully, for our sake, it never lost its 'high-performance freeride' roots.
The 3 strut platform retains its progressive profile and now features the 'Power Lock Bridle'. The progressive profile refers to the difference in profile between the middle section of the kite and its wingtips. The profile thickness is greatest around the centre strut to maximise lift production, while the profile is flattened nearer the tips to reduce drag and improve turning speed. The Power Lock Bridle features an additional attachment point to further support the centre section of the leading edge. This is to ensure this central lifty profile section does not deviate even under the heaviest of loads associated with powered up freeriding and big air.
The Pivot is built to last. The use of the already stiff and durable quad-tex canopy is optimised through diagonal seam loading. This aims to distribute the canopy loading through canopy seam lines which are inherently strengthened because of their necessary overlap for stitching. The reinforcements are clearly not an afterthought. Generous EVA bumpers wrap around from the leading edge partially down the canopy behind the struts, and the strut ends are reinforced with both multiple plys and moulded bumpers. The trailing edge also has multiple plys along the whole length, and the usual aramid patches cover leading edge segment seams. Overall, a kite built to last, even when ridden powered!
Sizes: 5m, 6m, 7m, 8m, 9m, 10m, 11m, 12m, 14m
In the Air
Naish has always promised an all-around freeride kite that "you can wave ride with it, you can learn with it, you can foil with it, you can freestyle with it, and of course, you can do big-air with it". This was considered during testing. Does the Pivot meet the needs of a rider that wants to go big on a twintip, but also wants easily accessible performance in other disciplines too? Every effort was made to ride powered, jump high, and see how engaged the kite feels when the rider is airborne.
First of all, the Pivot delivers performance. Once you dive the kite, it feels like it is generating forward speed, not just 'pull', and gets you up to planing speed very quickly. As soon as you take to the air, the big air influence is clear. This kite jumps high. It is noteworthy that it does so even with suboptimal timing and technique! Having had less than 60 seconds on the water with the Pivot, the first jump surprised me in terms of both vertical height and hang time. From then on, it took very little dialling in with regards to loading and take off timing. I made intentional adjustments (as well as unintentional mistakes) but always seemed to go high, have easy access hangtime, and have a soft landing. The canopy is noticeably tight at all times, and steering feedback and response remains consistent even when hanging from the kite in the air.
While no megaloops were going to get pulled on the 12m, the unhooked loops were some of the biggest I've done on a 12m. The loops were smooth with a consistent lifty pull, and the kite continued to drive forward despite being a bigger size and unhooked. I got the impression that the type of loop you get from the Pivot (arcing with power or fast and pivotal will be very much dependent on the amplitude of rider input on the bar). You could feel this characteristic in general when moving the kite around to ride and jump. The steering is best described as progressive. The kite definitely responds instantaneously to steering inputs, but it almost feels like the steering response you get ramps up even more as you keep the steering input applied.
The Pivot went way beyond expectations in terms of unhooked freestyle performance. Whilst there wasn't heaps of slack available like you'd get from the freestyle dedicated Torch, the take offs were consistent and smooth, whether moderately or fully powered up, which made dialling in the timing of rotations and passes quick and painless.
This year's Pivot had enough of a job on its hands matching the performance of its predecessor with that being one of the best performance freeride kites available and so well received by the market. I'm pleased to report that Naish have only made positive changes, having both improved the stability of the kite with the new 'power lock bridle' and made sure, through the use of high-end materials and optimised construction details, that the kite will perform its best for session after session. If you want an easy to use, forgiving and versatile kite that has bags of performance for all disciplines (particularly freeride, big air and freestyle) then this is definitely one to consider.
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