At A Glance
The Rebel has been in the North Kiteboarding for what seems like an eternity, it’s got thousands of fans all over the globe and continues to be a benchmark for other kites to follow in the freeride and boosting category. There have been quite a few changes to the 2016 Rebel, although North are fully aware how much people love this kite so it is always a balance to improve it without changing it’s handling too much.
For this year the smaller sizes have a lower aspect ratio, to make them more stable in stronger winds and give them better gust handling characteristics. The mid sizes, such as the 9m we have on test here have had the profile and aspect ratio tweaked to offer the ultimate in stability and handling. The larger sizes, 12 and 14m have a higher aspect ratio to improve their low end and also their jumping abilities and the 16m has had the low-end range improved so it now replaces the 18m model that was in the line up previously.
The Rebel is still a five strut design, with a fairly high aspect ratio, it’s a 5th line set up with a direct connection to the front lines, the 5th line splits into a V before connecting to the kite. The rear lines use the Adaptive Tip system that North introduced a couple of years ago. There are two setting so you can tune the way the kite handles. New for 2016 is the improved Airport Valve II, which makes inflating the kite an absolute breeze. There are also self-rescue handles and Anti-Snag tips.
As you would expect the build quality on the Rebel is second to none, North have set the bar high when it comes to putting kites together with every little detail carefully considered. The construction isn’t overly heavy, allowing the Rebel to remain light and nimble, but there are load distribution panels and anti-scuff patches in all the right places as well as TechnoForce D2 canopy material.
Sizes: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16m
There are no major changes to the 2016 5th Element Bar aside from a new colour way; red and blue is the new blue and yellow it would seem! The whole set-up is of a very high standard, clean and uncluttered and using quality Teufelberger lines.
It is very comfortable to hold due to the ergonomic bar grip and the chicken loop slots into the bar well when unhooked, preventing the lines from twisting. Safety is one of the key aspects this bar boasts about, and it is for good reason, the Iron Heart Quick Release is probably one of the best on the market.
You can buy the bar with different line length options, giving you the choice to opt for shorter lines and more handling/less power or longer lines and less handling/more power. The bar-ends themselves are integrated into the floats like last year giving a clean finish, and you can also make the bar shorter or wider by unclipping and twisting the bar-ends around.
You can also easily tune your back line lengths by removing the red plastic covers, which gives you access to the rear lines. It is easy to tune them and a very tidy feature.
The 5th line safety system works exceedingly well at dumping power from the kite very quickly. The depower trim is catered for with an above-the-bar cleat system that allows you to tune the amount of depower throw you have on the kite. If you have small arms, simply move the cleat further down towards the bar to make it easier to reach.
In The Air
There are two things you notice when you first launch the Rebel, power and stability! Firstly the Rebel has always been famed for its solid nature in the sky; it’s the reason beginners love the kite so much, but also the reason it is so good for freeriding and old school tricks. It is exceedingly well balanced and small movements on the bar won’t result in big movements on the kite.
Instead, when you engage the bar, you get a gradual acceleration in the turning speed of the kite, as you keep the bar engaged that responsiveness increases. If you are used to flying fast and nimble kites, you’ll find the Rebel a very different beast. If you are looking for a steady, forgiving kite though, then you’ll fall in love.
The power the kite delivers at the low end of its range is immense; it’s a progressive controllable power, though, simply sheet the bar in and go, when you want to turn it off, sheet out and stop. Riding with the Rebel is as simple as that. Through the air, the high aspect design has a good turn of pace and it flies forward in the window to generate lots of upwind lift.
“If you want to boost big airs, then this kite is not going to disappoint!”
Sending the kite through the window for jumps is one of our favourite things to do when flying the Rebel. While the kite isn’t particularly fast, it builds up huge amounts of tension in the lines as this powerhouse winds up for take off. Once you release the edge, it hauls you skywards and seems to leave you up there for what seems like forever!
Once you have the timing dialled in you can get some huge, floaty airs with this kite. Bar pressure this year can be tuned as in previous years at the Adaptive Tips. It’s worth playing with these, as the two settings feel very different. On the soft setting, the bar pressure is light; the kite has a more pivotal turn and is more reactive to input from the bar. The power delivery is also a little smoother. The more adventurous will want to try the hard setting which increases the bar pressure and makes the steering more dynamic. Kite loops are more aggressive and kite won’t pivot through the turn as much, it is more progressive.
Who should fly a Rebel? Anyone looking for a stable, forgiving and easy kite to fly, riders looking for great hangtime and awesome jumping characteristics will get lots out of it too and if you are into old school riding then the Rebel should be on your radar!
Amazing build quality, fantastic all round package with a long heritage. Great for freeriders but also suited to beginners looking for a stable first kite. If you want to boost big airs, then this kite is not going to disappoint!
As a stable forgiving freeride kite you can’t find fault here, if you want a faster more dynamic ride however, then the Dice might be better suited to your style.
The 2016 Rebel has had a reasonable overhaul this year, but fans of the kite will be pleased to hear it has kept it’s DNA well and truly intact and this is only an improvement on the previous version with all the famous Rebel characteristics well and truly intact!
This review was in Issue 56 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!