How’s it going everyone, been reading the kiteforums for a year or so now, and all of you have helped me immensely in the gear choices and location advice I’ve received. This site has been great. Since there is already the Average Joe reviews, which are really great videos, I’ve decided to dub this the average “Texan” review.
I’ve noticed a lot of discussion about strutless kites as well as a lot of misinformation about the BRM Cloud. It is this misinformation that has made me write this detailed review in the hopes giving an unbiased review/comparison of both of my “regular” kites, a 14m 2012 Slingshot RPM and a 17m Board Riding Maui Cloud C1. I love both of these kites, and I think being able to compare the Cloud to a well known kite like the RPM will be valuable.
First, a little bit about my background: Age: 27, weight: 160. I’ve been kiteboarding for about two years now. Previous to my addiction to kiteboarding I was an avid wakeboarder for about 10+ years, also owned two line kites as a kid. My style is “freestyle”/ “old school”. I got out of wakeboarding due to successive knee and leg injuries, so I like the big jumps and easy landings of hooked in tricks.
My gear: 14m Slingshot RPM ; 17m BRM Cloud C1 (no bridle mod), Slingshot Asylum 146 TT, Shinn King George 146x50 TT, Slingshot Dialer Surfboard. The Cloud and King G are my lightwind combo, the RPM and Asylum for “medium” wind.
My spot: Texas City Levee, Texas City, TX. This is my usual spot along Galveston Bay just north of the Texas City Dike. I live in Houston so I regularly go to the Levee for the shallow water and small chop. I occasionally head down to Galveston Island or Bolivar Island for some waves.
The wind: We get consistent South winds ranging from 6-15 MPH coming up from Mexico and off the Gulf of Mexico, so it makes for great light and medium wind riding. The conditions are very similar (I believe) to what the XL guys get in Fort Walton Beach. The local shop regularly teaches lessons on 17 turbines, 14’s, and 12’s.
Wind Ranges: I ride my Cloud from 7-15 MPH and ride my RPM from 12-20 MPH.
The Cloud I can keep in the air in 3-4 MPH. I can ride/hold my line starting at around 7 MPH on my King G or Surfboard, and be rocking upwind at 8/9 mph. 10 mph constant and I’m doing 5-7 ft jumps and flying on either twin tip. Anything up to 15 mph constant is real fun, anything over that is a little too much power for me but is not scary, a great attribute of the Cloud I will discuss further.
The RPM I can keep in the air until it drops to about 7-8 mph, which it promptly hindenbergs out of the sky. I can ride the RPM from 10 MPH up, but it does not become “fun” for me until 12/13 mph. “Fun” to me is being able to jump and not have to work the hell out of the kite just to hold a line.
My first kite was the RPM. It’s a great all around kite and got me riding in 10-20 MPH winds. As a beginner with my only other kite experience being a 9.5 and 11.5 Best Kahoona (lessons and a friends kite) some of my first impressions of the RPM were: awesome low end power, never any lack of power to get going when the wind was over 12 MPH. The RPM produces a very powerful initial power stroke and this power isn’t for everyone, I personally liked it because I never struggled to get planning and riding when I was learning. Additionally, the RPM is a very stable kite in the sky and provides a very large usable wind range for a beginner/intermediate who can handle the power. Additionally a great kite to park and ride. For me it let me really focus on board and body technique to get upwind while keeping the kite parked and powered up. My initial quams with the RPM would fade with kiting experience, but initially it somewhat scared me. After a failed transition the kite got sent to the zenith and I went flying unintentionally off the water. I would come to learn to trim the kite better and learn better kite control to overcome this. Additionally, when a strong gust hits the RPM, it is a challenge as a beginner to control that power.
As I progressed into the intermediate rider level I started loving the RPMs huge hangtime and consistent power delivery once riding. It’s a great overall freestyle kite and will do pretty much anything I ask of it, but I started missing a lot of time on the water due to marginal wind conditions that we often get here in Texas.
I started my research for the ultimate light wind kite, something to get me riding and having fun in 8-14 MPH. I looked at flysurfers(I decided I wanted a inflateable), turbines (too expensive, too slow turning, doesn’t handle high wind well), dyno’s(same problems as turbine), and after much research stumbled upon the now 46 page long BRM Cloud development page. As time went on and more riders submitted their reviews I knew I had found my choice, the Cloud. After many an e-mail with Greg Drexler, owner of Board Riding Maui, I decided to order the 17 Cloud, and boy am I glad I did.
BTW, Greg’s customer support and interaction with customers is un-paralleled in this industry. I have exchanged many short novels of e-mails with questions and comments, and he has always been great with response time and detailed help.
Our launch area at the Texas City Levee is a grassy area with a 2-3 ft deep rock breakwater to get over. My RPM would scare the heck out of me in light wind with its tendency to hindenberg. I definitely did not want to drop my new 17 in those rocks if the wind lulled. I wanted something that stayed in the air in the most marginal wind conditions, and that is one amazing attribute of the 17m Cloud. I’ve had over 40 sessions on the cloud in just over a year, and it has yet to fall out of the sky on me. That’s right, never. I’ve had to do the walk of shame back upwind multiple times after the wind dropped from rideable to nothing, and even in 3-4 mph lulls, the kite just sits in the sky. So, stability in low winds, check that one off the list. It really is that good. It has amazed me how light of wind it will handle. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve put the Cloud in the water on some failed jumps, but it has never fallen out of the sky.
Another reason I chose the cloud was the ability to handle gusty winds. Greg designed the Cloud with this in mind due to the gusty condition on Maui. We have those same gusty winds down here in Texas. The Cloud has an amazing ability to de-power in two ways: Sheet out just a little, and you can depower the Cloud just like any other kite. Sheet all the way out to the max and you can make the kite “flutter”, where really what is happening is the kite is shedding excess power, excess power that you don’t want pulling you off your edge or wave. Some have described this initial short on/off depower as “twitchy or unstable”. I disagree, I feel like the short (its not that short) initial on/off throw gives the kite just as much depower as you would normally get sheeting all the way out on my RPM, with the ability to sheet further out and make the kite “flutter”. This dual depower gives the kite an amazing ability to handle gusts: I can be cruising on an upwind tack with a 10 mph constant, when a random 15 mph gust hits. When this happens I sheet all the way out, wait a second or two for the gust to quit, then sheet back in without ever changing my body position or board direction. In addition to de-power on the water, this amazing ability to de-power really helps if you get overpowered on the water and have to come in to switch kites. On my Cloud I can ride in over-powered, then de-power to the max if I haven’t already, and let the kite flutter above me as I walk in. It is the easiest kite to walk on land with that I have flown.
The other positives of the Cloud:
Price: The Cloud is a great deal for the money. I would have spent double on a 17m Turbine or Ocean Rodeo Flite.
Hangtime – this kite gets my jumping at 10 mph, and makes riding low wind just as fun or more fun to me as riding medium wind(15-20) with the RPM. The Cloud produces most of its lift higher towards the zenith as compared with the RPM, but other than that, hang time is pretty equivalent.
Relaunch: Lots of misinformation on this subject of the Cloud as well. The Cloud is EXCELLENT, yes excellent at water relaunch. Let the kite drift downwind, pull a control line just a bit, and bam, it’s in the air, and all without ripping you 10 ft harness-first downwind like the RPM sometimes like to do. Yes, water relaunch can be a challenge, but only if you back-stall the kite. The only way you can back stall the cloud is by holding the bar all the way in during a lull or panic situation. When you do this the canopy falls backwards into the water. It can be relaunched from here with some effort, but that also depends on the available wind to blow the water off the canopy. Again, I’ve had the Cloud out 40+ times, and I have never once backstalled it into the water. As long as you have intermediate kite control skills and hold to this advice, the Cloud relaunches great.
Upwind ability: Again, at 7/8 mph I’m holding my line, 10 mph and I’m jumping/upwind with east. Trimming the Cloud properly and time on the water with the kite will greatly increase your ability to fly upwind. As others have stated, owning the Cloud has made me pay more attention to how properly trim both my kites for the better. The RPM flutters just like the Cloud, the flutter is just more localized and harder to see due to the dark colors of the RPM. To attain maximum upwind angle on the Cloud, you want to be sheeted out as much as possible without the kite “fluttering”. I’ve never had any trouble getting upwind with ample wind speed.
Other comparisons/differences between the two kites:
Power delivery: The Cloud has an amazingly smooth power delievery. It is very linear whereas the RPM has more of a jerk when it comes to power strokes.
Initial Power Stroke: The Cloud, as mentioned above, has a very smooth power delivery but more than ample power to get you going even in the lightest winds. It does not produce as much of a yank as my RPM, however if you get the Cloud moving before a downstroke, its even better. In my opinion, I think this is due to the weight of the kites. The RPM and other strutted light wind kites are much heavier than the Cloud, and I think because of this weight gaining momentum with the help of gravity, you get the strong yank. On the Cloud, it is apparent wind generated pull. A trick I use when it is really light is moving the kite from 10-2-10 sheeted in and then doing your power stroke.
Turning Speed: The Cloud outperforms the RPM by a very large margin in turning speed. It is much more lively in the air, and feels like more of extension of my body whereas the RPM just feels like a controllable wakeboard boat so to speak.
Transitions: On the Cloud, I can sheet out killing all power and power slide to a stop very quickly, allowing me a very snappy and quick transition. The RPM takes longer to depower, as such transitions are longer. I don’t have a preference for either way, just an interesting observation. After riding my Cloud I switched to my RPM, depowered as I would have on the Cloud and tried to powerslide to a stop, only to find I was still way overpowered.
Overall, love the Cloud. It has saved many a session for me and continues to be one of my favorite kites to fly.
It’s my opinion that any review of the Cloud by anyone other than an owner or someone who has flown it 5+ times is going to be negatively affected. While the Cloud is by no means that different in regards to flying characteristics compared to any other LEI kite, it does have a learning curve. The first few times on the Cloud are a learning experience, and after that you learn the intricacies and the tricks to make it fly like no other kite can. In my opinion that is why there is such a wild range of opinions on the Cloud, it really is a different kind of kite, and as you get more riding time you will learn to fly it even better and better. Of course everyone has their own opinions on kites, and no kite is perfect for ever person so I thoroughly respect others opinions on the subject. I admit, I am a relative young blood in the sport.
I read an analogy that I really liked on another strutless post: The RPM is like a muscle car, where as the Cloud is like a Turbo 911. The RPM, like a muscle car, has amazing low end power and handles most situations with excellence, The Cloud, like a turbo 911, doesn’t have the grunt off the line, but once you get any sort of kite speed and board speed to build apparent wind, it takes off like a rocket. And just like the 911, the Cloud out-handles and out-performs the RPM. If you put someone that’s used to driving a muscle car into a 911, they are going to hate it initially, but once they learn the intricacies they begin to love it.
Hope this helps,
The “Average” Texan
Last edited by Viper1918
on Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.