Review : 2013 Blade Trigger 9m

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“The 5th generation Trigger went through a bold reconstruction of the profile shape, which positions the kite to sit further in the edge of the window, causing more vertical pop, significant increase in hangtime and much better upwind performance. Still maintaining its reputation of ridiculously quick turning speed and powerful delivery gives the proper Blade-edge to riders who don’t fear going all out on the water. Don’t expect a park and ride kite. The Trigger would be insulted if used in such ways. The high performance characteristics let you position this kite exactly where and when you want it.”

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Well that is the blurb from blade kites, how does the 9m trigger stack up to in some of the toughest conditions and does it travel well?

In the 2013 Torres Crossing Kite Expedition Blade kites blew everyone away by producing 24 custom printed PINK kites in only a few weeks. This was an amazing feat and all credit goes to Blade kites for getting on board, pulling out the stops and getting us pimped out for the trip. So how did they fair up?

For the entire 400km crossing I used a single 9m Trigger unstrapped on a surfboard, The Trigger saw conditions ranging from < 15knots to 35 knot rain squalls. Long 100km upwind legs and a dead downwind leg of 110km.

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I’ll stick on record right now that the kite is a good kite, it’s quite an intuitive kite to fly and gives more than adequate feedback back through the bar to know where it is and what its up to without visually looking at it all time. This is nice when riding one handed, toeside & unstrapped on a surfboard in 3m breaking swell whilst trying to keep an eye on other people. Not once did the kite want to fly itself up high or drop downwards into the water. Bar pressure is very nice, there is some without it being too much to cause fatigue for extended durations. I’m not a fan of kites with no bar pressure, it can lead to all sorts of rookie style errors with kites flying all over the place.

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As stated the kite does want to fly forward, you’ve got to let it go there, find the sweet spot on the bar and it’ll haul you upwind as well as any other but that can cause problems when wanting to crack off dead downwind. In the normal bridal setting you’ve got to work hard to keep the kite back in the window, it won’t park and ride unless you’re really lucky. Give it one wiff of an edge downwind and it’s off trying to find the edge of the window and you’re no longer going downwind. I found oversheeting the kite will slow it down a little when slightly depowered and helps to keep it deep in the window and the 12m’s seemed not as hungry for the windows edge from an outsiders view.

One thing I did find curious about the Trigger was the knots on the steering lines on the kite. There is 2 and on mine they were a good 4+ inches apart. This is a quite a big gap and testing both led to either being over sheeted or under powered. I tied another knot between the 2 stock knots and this proved perfect for the whole trip! A few others were complaining about similar things and followed suit on the 12m Triggers too.

Let’s talk about the bar.. Hmm the bar. I’ll come out with it blunt. It’s crap, maybe that’s a bit harsh. All the running gear on the bar is good quality, credit goes in here for keeping it simple, a lot of big brand kite bars are way too complicated. The Trigger setup is good with depower of a decent cleat and pulley at the top of the chicken loop rope, not my personal preference as I have short arms and like to adjust depower when unhooked but it’s something that I’ve now adapted to with my usual brand. When depowered the tail of the rope does wrap up around the chicken loop rope and it a little frustrating but is manageable. Lines seem reasonable quality and the safety system works well. The bit I don’t like is the actual bar itself. Firstly the grip, it is WAY too abrasive and hard, it has a diamond like studded finish that is very hard. I kite a lot and have tough hands but in one day this bar ripped a callus off that has been there for years and was so bad I swapped to another bar that I usually fly and continued gloveless for another 4 days without so much as a blister. There also seems to be a bend in the bar, maybe more of a slight curve. I’m curious to know why this is, surely its more expensive to make and I see no real advantage. When riding toeside for an extended period I found that it twisted my wrist just the wrong way as to cause me some pain, with the wrist twisted a little its just not as mechanically efficient to hang from it for so long.

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Build quality seems on par with most other brands. It’s not a leader but it’s certainly not the worst. The single point inflation system is ok, the hoses seemed quite plasticy and tended to kink a little but sorted themselves out eventually and the clips seemed to work. The ‘old style’ inflation valves with the balls inside them are a PITA. They were never very good and it’s surprising to see them still in use, the small valve also does make pump up a little slower. It’s certainly not a deal breaker but worth thinking about when looking at $$ value.

 The pumps are standard cheapies with a metal shaft, we broke quite a few handles and when pumping up hard (oh these kites need to be rock hard to work well) you can feel the handles bending.

The bags also are not too bad, I managed to get 2 kites, harness and a whole bunch of other stuff in one 12m bag (without bars) and it came in at around the 10-11kg mark. (handy for travel & a bar weighs ~1kg)

There were a number of other little niggles that really started to bug me on the trip. I launched a lot of kites in the week for other people in all sorts of totally non IKO approved ways and locations :) and it’s the bridals! The 12m’s did it a lot, we only flew a few 9m’s so I’m unsure if is a common thing but the bridal seems to be configured just so that the front one will hook around the tip and not release. Countless times we were screwing about in sharky water trying to untangle the things. Maybe by adjusting the length of that V this problem could be rectified.

Over the course of the week landing on coral beaches, squalls, constant loading and unloading from boats, crashing into things and generally not nice conditions for a kite we had one LE pop from landing onto dead coral on the beach, one kite totally shredded from crashing into a reef and one mysterious strut valve blowout on a LE on the last day when the kite was on the beach. This is from a sample of 24 kites where 16+ were abused daily. This is pretty good by all accounts.

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Roundup.

Good

Performance is great, feedback and bar pressure are good.
Quality is OK
Top and bottom and on par with others for the size.
14 kiters of all abilities didn’t complain and had no issues flying them
It got me safely 400km from Aus to PNG unstrapped and for that I thank Blade Kites.

Not so good

The bar grip and the curved bar.
Pump up system not the best on the market
Bridals that hook up all the time
Pump could be better quality

 

About the reviewer.

Pete has been kitesurfing for over 7 years and has a background in world championship level sailing. Currently a Team Rider for WindSurfnSnow Watersports in Sydney.

 

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