At a Glance
Starkites have been around for a few years now, born from the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean you cannot argue they have one of the best testing grounds for developing equipment. Previously they have concentrated on one kite, the Sbow, which was aimed as an all round freeride kite that was well suited to beginners and intermediates alike. This year they launch the ExA, which is their first foray into the world of kites designed with freestyle performance in mind. The first thing you notice about the ExA when it is on the ground is the super flat mid section to the kite. The middle strut bends in the opposite direction you would expect it to. Starkites call this the A.M.P. or Auto Morphing Profile. In layman’s terms the idea is that it will make the kite more stable when it is at the edge of the window. And when you sheet the kite out it changes not only the angle of attack but allows the centre profile shape to flatten out which increases the kites depower range from a smaller movement on the bar. The leading edge also has an inner curve, which leads to a minimal contact point on the water to avoid the kite getting stuck. It also comes with one pump inflation as standard, which is a neat addition to the package. The construction this year looks amazing and it is hard to pick fault with the kite as it sits on the ground. It really seems like the new brands have picked up their game in terms of construction this year.
At first glance the bar looks very well made and it is certainly well thought out. There is an excellent spinning safety system that can either be used as it is supplied, or you can adjust it to a handle pass leash style set up. The depower is an above bar pull webbing system, but it is easy to reach and works really well. The chicken loop is moulded so it fits into the bar, which makes hooking in and out easy and the whole set up looks very well made. Our one complaint is the chicken loop release; the release pin sits at 90 degrees once it is released and it won't disengage from the metal loop. Both bars we were supplied with have a black pigtail with a plastic end cap around the release pin. We noticed it was this that stopped the pin releasing. Once we removed this black pigtail the release worked perfectly. We suggest if you buy one you do the same and we will be expecting Starkites to put out a notice of this issue.
In the Air
The ExA immediately feels stable once it is in the sky; riding along behind it the kite seems to sit like a rock in the window and no matter what you do underneath it the ExA sits there patiently waiting for you to finish your move before it does anything untoward. It was designed with freestyle in mind and this super stability seems to be something that all freestyle kites are featuring these days. The thinking being, of course, that while you do your handle passes you don’t want those inputs into the bar to send the kite spiralling out of control. In order to get the kite to engage in a turn you really have to put some pressure on the bar. Once the turn is engaged the kite is very quick round the window and you can pull some impressive kite loops with the ExA. Jumping takes a while to get used to on the kite. It needs a lot more input into the bar than some of the free ride kites that are around today, so at first you’ll find yourself dropping like a stone having sent the kite way to far back in the window and not being able to get it back across your head in time. Once you have the timing dialled though it has some impressive hangtime and float to it. Upwind is good too with the kite really attacking the edge of the window. The bottom end for the 11m is impressive too and the kite delivers a lot of low-end power. The relaunch is excellent with the inner curved leading edge allowing the kite to release from the water really quickly and get airborne again.
A super stable kite that is perfect for riders looking for something which won’t move too much when they are upside down hanging on by one arm. Good build quality and a sweet bar set up.
Black mark for the chicken loop, it is easily fixed but make sure you make the modification.
Buy Star Kiteboarding Kites
Star kites have upped their game this year, one pump, good construction and great freestyle characteristics make the ExA a good choice for the rider looking for a freestyle orientated flat kite.
This review was in Issue 14 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit Star Kiteboarding
Buy Star Kiteboarding Kites
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!