At A Glance
This is a new kite from North Kiteboarding, and we were excited to get it on the water. One strut kites have always been a bit of an anomaly in the past, great in light winds but with a poor top end wind range. Would this be the holy grail we've all been looking for? The design team have stripped this kite back to its bare minimum, with the single strut and the leading edge built with N-Dure Dacron, which is considerably lighter and stiffer.
The trailing edge is a double canopy layer to further reduce weight, and the usual clutter we find on some kites has been completely stripped back. The wing tips get a little bit of extra protection with the DuraLite chafe protectors, but this kite is all about being light. North say that this huge weight reduction adds a blistering amount of low-end performance, allowing you to ride a size smaller than you might imagine.
Sizes: 3m, 5m, 7m, 9m, 11m
In The Air
The Code Zero gets its name from sailing, where a Code Zero is a big sail designed to excel in sub-par wind conditions. If that was the only sentence in the design brief, then the team nailed it. We were using these kites foiling in the Bahamas, and I had my mind blown time and time again by what it was capable of.
I rode the 9m and 7m extensively in the Caribbean and the 9m back in the UK. Firstly, this kite is light; it can do things I've not seen many other kites do in winds that are ridiculous. A few times, I said no way is this going to work, and sure enough, the kite not only worked but relaunched too.
Talking of relaunch, it's easy, and the kite will happily reverse launch if it is really light and you can't get it up. This is a technique worth learning as it will get you out of all sorts of light wind mischief. Being light and good at relaunch is no good if you don't generate power, and this kite has that in spades. Once up in the air, you can fly it around the window and generate plenty of apparent wind to get you up on the foil and keep you there.
The bar pressure is light, with just enough feedback, so you know where the kite is. The turn is very responsive, and you can really throw the kite around when you need to. It's also worth remembering to grab an armful of line if the kite stalls in really light winds; some kites don't respond well to this, but if it's really pushing the limits and you kite loop and put slack in the lines, just grab an armful, and the kite will pivot and power up with ease.
The low end is an exception, but what about the top end? Fortunately, we have been blessed with a bit of wind back home, and I was pretty lit on the 7m in the Bahamas one day too. Yes, it will flutter when right at the top of the window, but the stiff frame, thanks to the N-Dure Dacron, keeps this to a minimum. The kite just keeps on pulling as the wind increases, and the impressive handling sharpens up too.
It won't have the range of a three-strut kite, but when you factor in the gap between its low and high end, it is incredibly impressive. The handling makes it great for waves, too. There is a video online of Jesse Richman putting it through its paces, and as long as you don't drop it (remember it's light and only got one strut), you'll be fine. The drift on the wave is totally bonkers. If you get some cross offshore conditions, this kite is going to excite you as you park it and ride.
We were incredibly impressed with the Code Zero, and we bordered on the incredulous at times. It will launch when you wouldn't think it possible, fly when you wouldn't think it possible, and actually pull a rider on a foil when you wouldn't think it was possible. More than that, the top end is very respectable, and the handling is fantastic too. If you are into foiling and like riding small waves, this could be the kite for you!
If you want a kite that is going to get you out when conditions are at their worst wind wise, this is for you too. Goes perfectly with a hydrofoil and a surfboard. It's worth mentioning as a caveat that if you lack the skills, you might not unlock all this performance. Reverse launches, grabbing an armful of line, controlling stalls and launching in no wind are all possible, but only if you have the minerals…
This review was in Issue 97 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit North Kiteboarding
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!