The Rebel is one of the longest standing kites in the business, it’s been one of the most popular kites ever made and has an army of devoted kiters who will choose nothing else. A bold move by North then to make the jump from 5 to 4 lines after championing the 5th line system as being the best out there for so many years. Have they managed to create a masterpiece, or will hoards of Rebel lovers be demanding heads on the beaches this summer?
North have experimented with a 4 line Rebel for a while now, firstly with the Fuse in 2012, which was the Rebel with a bridle attached to it, and in more recent years as they tried to perfect the formula. Why the switch from 5 to 4 lines? North always maintained that the 5th line system was safer, and arguably in certain situations, such as self-landing on a windy day, it still is. However 4 line safety has come a long way, no longer are you left with a depowered kite on two front lines, there are now front line flag out systems offering similar performance to the 5th line safety system.
North were also almost alone in having a five-line freeride kite; the market was ready, if you will, for a four-line Rebel. With such a big move North wanted to wait until they could make a 4-line version that was better, or at least equal, to the Rebel everyone loves. 2018 is the year as they say!
The kite is still a 5-strut freeride and big air machine, billed as performance freestyle it also offers characteristics that will lend it well to beginners, although, with the totally new Evo, North are looking to steer newcomers towards that kite and pushing the Rebel into a more high-performance arena.
You can, if you do desire, still fly the kite with the 5th line, it’s an unloaded 5th line though so it won’t change the handling and will just add to the safety aspect of the kite. It’s still got 5 struts for unrivalled stability and the build quality is, as ever second to none.
New this year is the Trinity TX, this new Ripstop material from Teijin features a weave of triple fibres along the horizontal axis and a double weave on the vertical axis. The design of this means that where most kites rip, vertically from leading edge to the trailing edge, the tear will have to get past the three fibre weaves. The double fibre weave reduces overall stiffness and still allows the canopy to flex improving the handling. Essentially it is a step up from the D2 Technoforce fabric that North championed a few years back.
Another small, but important detail is the increase in diameter of the one-pump tubes, these have increased from 6mm to 9mm this doubles the volume of air moving through the tubes, making the kites inflate faster with less effort and deflate even quicker too. It’s a small detail, but you do notice it on the beach!
The Click Bar was launched to a huge fanfare last year, and the Game Changer (as it was known) has certainly stood up to the test of time. We had one on long-term test and treated it appallingly to really see how it would stand up to some abuse, never rinsed it, never really took any care of it and it is still going strong today. Any fears of the mechanism not working can be firmly consigned to the bin.
This year there are some upgrades to the Click Bar which are great to see, basically, the few small niggles have been addressed and there have been further improvements. The mechanism is unchanged but the floats have been beefed up and reinforced to prevent any early signs of wear or damage (something we never personally experienced, but there were a few reports of an issue last year).
In addition, the V point adjuster has been changed to be much simpler, it’s now a plastic screw affair, which allows you to simply unscrew and slide and then tighten in the desired spot. The line, which passes through the V point adjuster has also been reinforced so there should no longer be wear issues here.
One of the biggest changes is the new chicken loop program, the bar is the first that we can think of that sells without a chicken loop. Don’t panic though this is for good reason. You have the option of the Freestyle Kit, which comes with a longer leash and a bigger chicken loop for unhooking and freestyle tricks. There is also a Freeride Kit which comes with a smaller loop, positioning the bar closer to you for improved control, this also comes with a shorter leash, which is tidier when you aren’t unhooking. Finally, there is the Rope Slider Kit, this is the same as the Freeride Kit but the chicken loop has a low friction metal tube, which the rope can then slide through at a far lower friction rate. Less damage to your rope and no risk of damaging the chicken loop either.
You still get an automatic untwisting safety system with a front line re-ride that works exceedingly well, the now legendary Iron Heart V release mechanism and a long-lasting TPU covered depower line. Also new is the dropping of the 5th Element Trust Bar, now if you want a 5th line set up it is an easy add-on to the Click Bar, it takes about 3 minutes to do and is really simple too.
We rode this bar all last year and for freeriding and waves we wouldn’t be without it, the upgrades this year are fantastic and we would highly recommend you try it out if you haven’t already!
I’ll be honest, weirdly I’m not a huge fan of the Rebel, in the past, it never really suited my style of riding, and I prefer fast nimble kites that are light on the bar and not powerhouses like the Rebel. I was quite surprised then to discover just how good this new kite is, and it is a new kite. It still retains some of the Rebel DNA, it’s easy to control and offers unbelievable hang time, but it feels much improved in almost every other aspect.
First up, it’s easy to fly, in the past, I’ve jumped on the Rebel and found it took me a while to get used to the handling as my muscle memory is used to faster kites. Not so this year. That’s not to say the Rebel is now a speed demon around the window, it isn’t it just feels a little quicker, while still retaining that legendary stability that the 5-strut design provides.
The wind range is hugely impressive too, we flew the 8m in super maxed overpowered gusty conditions and it handled it with aplomb. Equally, at the lower end of the scale, it delivered solid low-end grunt that the kite has always been famous for. Bar feel is light enough to not bother you, yet with enough feedback that you can feel where the kite is at all times.
Dumping power is fast and responsive; you don’t have to move the bar too much to retain control when the wind is up and down like a kid on a pogo stick. Control was the name of the game here, in the air the stable nature had us boosting to the moon with huge floaty airs that left us full of confidence for more, no nasty surprises or drops, just consistently awesome jumps every time.
Upwind is excellent, we like to play a little game on the water called upwind kiter, the goal is to be the most upwind kiter at the spot. In Tarifa with 300 kites out this is no easy feat, but the Rebel will charge upwind when you set the edge and power it up. Relaunching is also excellent, the leading edge doesn’t stick and the kite comes up with ease.
This year North are billing the Evo as the main all-rounder freeride kite, and we rode that back to back with the Rebel and will have a full test in the next issue. The Rebel is pitched at the high-performance freeriders out there and if that is you it won’t disappoint. If Woo scores and floaty tricks set your sessions on fire you won’t be disappointed. For us this is the Rebel, but better…
Fast, stable, easy to fly and control, predictable and confidence inspiring with huge boosting and hangtime potential!
No complaints here, if you want a fast, boosty freeride kite the Rebel fits the bill perfectly, and even if you want 5 lines it can do that too.
With winter fast approaching and Woo scores up for grabs the Rebel would be a perfect tool for boosting to the moon in the stomng winds. It works exceedingly well on 4 lines and feels like a much-improved kite overall. We were impressed and we think you will be too! If you want a 5 strut freeride machine that will put a smile on your face and fill you with confidence to go bigger and bigger, this is it…
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This review was in Issue 65 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit North Kiteboarding
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Rou 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!