2012 Naish Torch test and review by Naish South Africa team rider Steve Bertie-Roberts,
What revelation this kite is.
Every year every new kite gets ‘more pop and hang time’, quicker turning’ etc etc and very year you convince yourself of the truth of all the marketing splab. The Torch range included. So for years the Torch has of course been fettled and fine tuned, but such small changes every year, sometimes the evolution so imperceptible that one wondered if it was simply no longer possible to tweak the world’s best C kite. In fact I don’t even think the 2011 Torch changed besides a massive appearance upgrade over the garish 2010 color scheme..
This is no longer evolution; this is the re invention of the C kite. At last, a quantum leap you can believe in.
The bag, bar kite and lines all ooze quality. As per previous years the excellent fifth line Shift System is retained.
The most obvious visual change, besides the best ever graphics (no more goblins in suits!!WTF??) is the shifting of the two end struts right to the wing tips. Add this to the stiffer but still narrow leading edge, and you have a super firm and efficient wing, especially at the tips making for instant turning response. The now stiffer canopy is on a par with a bridled kite. This firming up of the profile maintains the integrity of the aerofoil shape leading to a pronounced increase in efficiency and hang time. Glide is phenomenal and second boosts of lift available in mid jump with a quick pull on the bar, like an SLE. All this with no bridle, just the support of Naish’s excellent shift system. No bridle = direct feel.
The kite still has the typical C kite bar pressure. Not too much but still way more than most bridled kites. C kite riders love the intuitive feel afforded by this direct connection to the kite. Bar pressure increases in such a linear smooth fashion. To me this is one of the best reasons for riding a C kite.
All round handling is sublime with no surprises. Kite loops pull hard, but that is the whole idea. Lift is excellent lift as the kite comes round.
Hooked in wave riding is smooth and predictable with great turning response. Depower is not as much as a bridled kite of course, probably around 80% but this is the perfect amount for freestyle and freeride. You do not need more. Significant depower trim adjustment is however necessary on a wave. Thankfully, turning whilst depowered (the achilees heel of previous Torches) is now significantly improved.
No matter that this kite is targeted at the more experienced extreme freestyler, unhooked wave riders etc, the average ‘all terrain’ rider will probably wonder if it is still usable for cruising around, boosting a few jumps, hooked in wave riding etc. Lets get one myth out of the way for ever. C kites are not the vicious unforgiving monsters (goblin in suit), that they used to be 10 years ago. These kites feel more like hybrids in terms of depower and usability BUT retain the bar feel boost of a C. The SLE revolution forced the one or two lone manufacturers like Naish and Slingshot who continued with C kites, to start pursuing usability and safety. This is done. A bridled kite is easier and less demanding for sure, but a kiter of any level can still reap the rewards of these kites.
Where a bridled kite like the Park (2012 not yet tested), will have massive appeal due to its slightly more benign nature delivering foolproof handling, better wind range, depower, and more pivotal turning, the Torch will appeal to those who enjoy massive boost, float, kite loop pull, that ever elusive bar feel. The unbridled direct connection to the kite is what it all about. Everyone is striving for it. ‘C kite feel’ is being claimed all over the place, but there is nothing like the real thing, The 2012 Torch IS the real thing and a whole lot more.
The best for last. The new bar is a work of art. The finish and feel top of the class. Superlight carbon. Depower has been put back where it belongs, above the bar. No fiddly adjustments anymore, this system works flawlessly. The centre line is at last sheathed in clear plastic, awesome silky smooth feel and no more frayed centre lines (and nerves) after long after sunset swims!!
Lastly; the R&D department only just realized in 2011, that they should put a little white plastic ball in the main bladder valve. Now that is a quantum leap. I wonder how many years of exhaustive testing Reo Stevens put into this
Well done Naish!