At A Glance
It could be argued that, as a tester, you shouldn't get more excited about certain products than others, but we're all human, and Ozone has just released something special…
Ozone has just dropped the new version of the legendary Reo and, in doing so, given us two construction options. The Reo V7 has similar Dacron and canopy types and weights as previous years, but the Reo V7 'Ultra-X' is an extra lightweight, performance materials option.
So, why is this one that extra bit exciting? Ozone doesn't follow a typical annual product release schedule, and they don't follow the crowd. They'll typically release kite updates every couple of years, but they'll gladly bring this forward or push it back if they feel like they've stumbled across something game-changing or need more time to perfect things.
The Reo V7 has always been a well-regarded wave-focused kite that has prioritised weight savings even in standard construction materials. Previous standard versions of the Reo have been lighter than their competitor's special lightweight material offerings, so it will be interesting to see what the GTI boost brings to the Reo.
So, what's actually different? The overall design of the Reo V7 Ultra X is based on the Reo V7. The big story is materials. The Reo design team utilised the expertise housed within Ozone's own factory and implemented an intense material development and testing program in collaboration with the factory's prototyping department. Apparently, they've been at it for over three years!
The outcome is the use of the 125g lightweight performance Dacron for the leading edge and struts. Not only is this around 20% lighter than the standard 160g Dacron, but it is also more rigid. Is it possible to make the Reo's handling even more responsive to input? The Ultra-X edition also has Teijin's new 46g double ripstop canopy material (17% lighter than standard) and ultra-thin Technora bridle lines, which are both lighter and more aerodynamic than ever before.
Both versions of the V7 Reo showcase Ozone's new 'transverse sail shaping' methodology inspired by their paragliding products. There is an extra seam line close to the leading edge spanning the full width of the kite. This creates a significant number of extra small canopy panels close to the leading edge, which is intended to create a more 'true to design' 3D shape and improve canopy tautness.
Both versions also retain the variable bridle geometry seen in previous versions, which allows quick adjustment to optimise the kite for onshore or offshore conditions. Simply loosen a larkshead and slide it to your preferred selection to control the bar pressure and how far forward the kite sits in the wind window. This is one of those features that I have always taken advantage of when using the Reo and one that anyone interested in the kite should take note of. It is a very quick adjustment that makes a very positive difference in optimising the kite for your local conditions.
Sizes: 4m, 5m, 6m, 7m, 8m, 9m, 10m, 11m
In The Air
For those seasoned Reo users, the Reo Ultra-X won't take too long to get settled into. Imagine someone took your regular Reo and force-fed it a couple of cans of highly caffeinated, carbonated, sugary drinks that get marketed to us action sports enthusiasts.
For those new to the Reo platform, the Ultra-X will require concentrated piloting at first to make sure it doesn't end up two steps ahead of you. This is because the Reo Ultra-X is both fast through the air and fast to turn. There is no delay between steering input and kite movement. The turning response really is immediate.
Any fairly proficient wave rider knows that onshore conditions require a lot of work with the kite, and the responsive nature of the Ultra-X required a bit of re-calibration on my part as I warmed up into the session. Not being used to such a fast wave kite, I often found myself oversteering the kite, initiating a turn too early, or going into a bottom turn, for example. After a little while, I got dialled in, and there was synergy! Instead of me waiting for the kite to catch up with my bar inputs as I usually do, the Ultra-X was always one step ahead, flying the line you wanted to ride with your board.
The Reo Ultra-X drift characteristics are next generation. The 'traditional drift' characteristics (which I consider to be those most displayed in cross shore conditions: kite at the edge of the window, rider riding towards the kite) are superior compared to the regular Reo, but it's when you make piloting mistakes or attempt to ride more extreme lines directly downwind that the Ultra-X comes into its own.
The Ultra-X seems to redefine the wind window. If excessive board speed results in you ending up with the kite behind you, it still partially responds to steering input and drifts back into the wind window far better than I've ever experienced before. Rest assured, if you're in cross/cross off conditions, the Ultra-X will eat these conditions up for breakfast. It'll be a fantastic set and forget wave riding kite.
The Ultra X generates a good amount of power thanks to its speed through the air, so if you're used to riding wave kites and working the kite to generate power, you'll be able to ride a small kite 'underpowered' with ease to benefit from the associated increased turning and flight speed.
The V7 Reos (both the regular Reo and Ultra-X) see an improvement in the lift and hangtime characteristics when jumping compared to previous versions. Surprisingly, given how fast the kite is, optimal kite positioning was less critical than I'd expected to ensure a soft landing when attempting more ambitious airs, having sent the kite for extra height.
The Reo has always been a dedicated wave kite. This focused development on this one discipline without compromise has produced a very impressive surfing tow vehicle, which has been genuinely enhanced by this next generation of materials.
Ozone has summed it up well. "All materials used in the Ultra-X have been chosen because they’re stiffer and often stronger for the intended use. However, like a carbon fibre road bike, the Ultra-X just requires an appreciate for how to handle high performance gear".
Translated for you, if you regularly bin your kite in the shore dump and end up with your lines wrapped around the kite tugging you to shore, this might not be the one for you. For anyone else, whether you're already flying Reo's or not, I'd recommend you try and have a go with the Reo V7 Ultra-X!
This review was in Issue 102 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit Ozone