RRD are unique in the kite industry; they were the first brand to adopt a “don’t change it until it’s ready” launch program. While many brands scramble to “change” their product by the deadline, usually in August, so they can be the first to market with an entirely new range of product, RRD have adopted a different approach.
They are always working on product cycles, but will only release a new version when it is ready. The advantage for the consumer is easy to see; you get a kite that suddenly isn’t out of date after one season. This increases its resale value, plus it means you are on the latest kit for longer. For RRD it means they can concentrate their R&D and ensure each product is perfect before it gets launched.
This year they have been busy as we will see new Emotion, Religion, Obsession and of course Passion kites. The Passion is their high-end all round kite; it’s a three strut design that occupies one of the most hotly contested sections of the market. RRD pitch the Passion at the freeride, wave and big air riders out there looking for all round performance in a well-polished package.
There are some significant changes for the MK9 version too, the three-strut design introduced on the previous version remains but the look and design of the kite is radically different. The bridle has been updated, there are now no pulleys, and the bridle itself has been made shorter. New construction techniques have been used too, with Kevlar reinforcements and double Dacron areas, meaning the Passion is tough.
If you’ve ever wondered about the crazy patterns on these kites, they do have a purpose. If you put a tear in the kite, it will only run to the next seam, as there are so many individual pieces that make up the canopy you are assured of a small tear and an easy repair if you damage the kite. TechnoForce D2 is used throughout the canopy to ensure the maximum strength and durability too.
Each size of kite has a slightly different leading edge diameter, to get the most performance out of each size. The larger sizes have been designed with light winds in mind, while the smaller sizes are intended to be stable in high winds. The bar pressure has been lightened across the range, and the kite has been designed to fly off the front lines a little more, improving the upwind ability and increasing the speed of the kite.
The turning speed has also been increased for this model too, Abel Lago, who worked extensively on the Passion, tested just about every kite on the market and tried to make the Passion the best three strut kite out there.
Your connection to the kite is arguably the most important aspect of kiteboarding; you need a great bar to get the most out of a kite. RRD launch their updated Global Bar V8 for this year, and it is a thing of beauty. There are no fancy click depower systems, just a simple and achingly good-looking bar designed to provide total functionality.
At the heart of the bar is a CNC milled and anodised aluminium piece with an oversized central recess for the depower rope to slide through. The depower PVC houses a dual chamber that contains the safety, and the depower line, this makes the set up incredibly durable as the ropes cannot wear out. Moulded and integrated EVA bar ends add grip and look stunning, not too bulky but also offering enough space to wind up your lines at the end of a session.
Talking of lines, the Rigid Thread Lines from RRD might just about be the best thing since the BOW kite, or sliced bread at least. RRD are unique in using these lines, something they created with a manufacturer of fishing lines over eight years ago. They have been refining them ever since. If you imagine a traditional line it is woven, the weave allows for stretching and shrinkage, even when it is pre-stretched.
RRD’s Rigid Thread Lines feature uni-directional fibres that run all the way to the kite; these fibres are bunched together for added strength and then sleeved in a protective outer layer. The result is an incredibly durable, strong kite line that cannot stretch or shrink. Lines are important as they transfer all the energy from the bar to the kite, imagine putting an accelerator cable into a sports car that was made out of elastic. It would be awful, put a rigid connection in there and you have instant response.
There is also a new chicken loop with a very well thought out safety release system. A new head on top of the chicken loop allows you to rotate the lines after tricks, meaning you will never have tangles. A simple Clam Cleat and rope set up allows you to depower the kite with ease and there is also a “stopper ball” system for old school tricks.
All the kites this year fly on the same bar, one size fits all if you like, and all of last year’s kites are compatible too.
We were hugely impressed with the total range from RRD this year, the build and production levels feel like they have taken another leap forwards once again and the whole package you get, from the kite to the bar to the bag is extremely polished. The Passion is billed as a do it all kite, and this is a tough segment of the market. There are some serious competitors in this area, so we were keen to see how the kite performed.
It has some impressive tech, the Rigid Thread Lines are unique but also the elasticated pig tails on the trailing edge of the kite are noteworthy too. Something we hadn't seen before and had to get some details from Roberto and Abel about.
It turns out there is a method to the madness when you depower the kite you end up with slack in the rear lines. This slack means there can be a delay in the steering response. As you pull on the rear line first you take up the slack; then you engage the kite. The idea with this feature is it removes the slack from the lines and allows for a faster response from the kite. Once we had rigged up, it was time to check it out!
On the water the Passion is fast and dynamic, it feels noticeably faster than last years kite. The bar pressure is lighter too, there is still some feedback, but flying the Passion is an effortless affair, even in strong and gusty winds, you feel like the kite is working with you, rather than fighting against the wind and the rider. This is partly due to it flying further forward in the window thanks to the new profile and shape, but also as it is designed to fly off the front lines more.
Front line biased kites produce a much softer pull on the rider, leading to less fatigue, while still providing plenty of power thanks to the increased flying speed. This aspect also improves the upwind, and the Passion is certainly a rocket in this regard. The handling and turning speed is impressive too, it isn’t the fastest kite on the planet, but the turn is progressive, and it’s fast enough to ride waves should you want to.
This turning speed also means the Passion is great for boosting jumps and throwing down some kite loops too. The loop does generate a fair amount of pull; if you want a less aggressive loop, you can engage the bar harder and faster to get a more pivotal spin. The kite offers a good amount of float in the air too, and the speed means the kite will always race back to the top of the window when you want it to.
The low-end range of the kite is very good, especially considering how the flying characteristics have changed so much since the previous version. With the right flying skills, you can get a ton of power out of the 10.5, with a surfboard or good light wind board you’ll be out as soon as the leaves start to flutter.
The top end range is excellent too; we had it out on days when riders were on 7m kites and had no issues. The elastic pig tails do work, fully depowered the rear lines remain engaged and steering and handling is impressive. Relaunch is a breeze, just let go of the bar and grab a rear line and the kite responds quickly and effortlessly and is off the water in no time.
Excellent build quality, well thought out design and a great package with a fantastic bar. The Passion is dynamic and fun to fly; it's no slouch in the sky yet offers an excellent balance between speed and stability that many riders will love.
No real complaints here, we did notice the depower throw on the bar is quite short, great for riders with short arms, but in the waves, we’d love a little more room to manoeuvre. RRD have said you can remove the stopper mechanism to get an extra 5cm of length on the depower rope. If you are really into wave riding and strapless tricks requiring complete power loss, then you might want to look at that adjustment. RRD wanted to create a bar for everybody, and they’ve done that, but if you have long arms and want certain things, you might need to make the adjustment with the stopper to get some extra room.
We were hugely impressed by the Passion; it’s a great all rounder that is stable in the air with great handling characteristics. The light bar pressure allows you to spend longer on the water and we loved the quality of the overall set up on offer. This kites a thinker, ride it once, and it will leave you thinking about leaving your existing quiver for another session on the Passion…
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This review was in Issue 64 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit RRD
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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!
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