kHiTe StarTransfer xt.r €260

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Review: kHiTe Team.
Photos: Randy G.

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Introduction

When British freestyle crashed at the beginning of the millennium it is fair to say that it was the French who became torch bearers for the sport. Following the direction of deep sailed polyvalent kites, freestyle flying was expanded by a whole new range of tricks and a significantly different style The Transfer xt.r is the latest kite in this tradition, from French company L'Atelier. This Transfer xt.r is just one in a whole family of different kites planned over the following months - the 'UnLeaded' an ultra light is already available, and the xt.s, a 2.6m version of the kite will be soon.

In brief, the 2.4m Transfer xt.r is a surprisingly high aspect ratio French Ballet kite with dead straight leading edges and a significantly cut in sail trailing edge. The kite has yo-yo stops and and yo-yo glides fitted - it is ready to fly out of the bag.

Construction

L'Atelier offers the best construction quality of the big French manufacturers. The Transfer xt.r's sail is constructed from Icarex pc31 panels using the zigzag stitch method. The panels are cut neatly enough and there are no loose threads. It is fair to say however that the work is not as good as some other workshop hand built kites.

The area around the two closely placed standoffs is a thick mylar which seems to add some stiffness to the trailing edge.The trailing edge itself has no leach line, but the mylar section is taped. Not only does this reinforce the trailing edge at the vulnerable area where lines wrap round it in yo-yo's but it also seems to avoid the Transfer becoming too stuttery in stronger winds as fully taped trailing edge kites tend to suffer from. The tail has the L'Atelier trademark long dacron reinforcement and comes installed with an easily removable15g of ballast.


Trailing Edge :: Full Size

The frame is Skyshark 5p; tapered for the spreaders and leading edges and standard for the spine. The top cross spreader is Structil 5.9, so don't lose it. Overall the frame and fittings are excellent quality. The centre T is the R-Sky type, and the cross spreaders are internally ferruled with fibreglass rather than carbon rod - in theory this is to enable the kite to bend at this point. The two closely spaced standoffs are fixed to the sail with the L'Atelier screw in fittings.

The leading edge is also done well, with APA fittings and everything very neat and tidy. The yo-yo stops are capped and sewn in so they don't move, and the upper spreader fitting is protected by a molded plastic guide. Irritatingly the xt.r still has a traditional triangle cut nose webbing piece which does catch lines - tape it up.

The Bridle is three point with a fade line to pull the tow point down the leading edge in a fade. The Bridle is fixed below the T-Piece by some 3cm. There is no easy adjustment system for the bridle apart from the fade line - you need to loosen and slide knots - which I think is a bit of a disappointment. There is also no cheater line on the bridle itself to stop it hooking over the tail, another small oversight.

Overall the build and attention to detail on the Transfer is great. The main modifications that people expect to make to kites are done for you. The choice of a tapered frame over the Skyshark P-series is also refreshing. The attention to detail and quality is not quite as complete as Robertshaw's work, but it should not disappoint.

Style

The Transfer has an attractive and unique symmetrical panel layout. Its high aspect ratio and in-cut trailing edge is certainly unique and stands out well against the dark sky.


Transfer Colour Options

Much like the Fury, the darker central panels on three of the colour schemes improves the appearance of straight lines in flight. L'Atelier always make good looking kites and the Transfer continues that trend.

Flight

The Transfer feels light but solid on the lines. The stiffness of the frame is noticeable despite its high aspect ratio. It is quiet in light winds but buzz's slightly as the wind picks up, which of course slows the kite down. Precision flying requires a deft, or perhaps we should say, a French touch. Not to say that the Transfer over or under-steers but the xt.r does not produce sharp corners without thinking. In general in flies smoothly and steadily, ideal for individual or pairs ballet. We were a little disappointed that the Transfer didn't offer slightly more aggressive precision performance - it is no Fury in this department, but the 2.6m version may well remedy this.


Tail Detail :: Full Size

The stated wide range of 1-5bft is realistic, although we found the Transfer doesn't enjoy gusty or variable wind conditions as much as some of its competition. In less wind we were able to adjust the bridle and take the Transfer out in very light conditions, where it has a surprising amount of float. We didn't find the pull of the Transfer significant - but if you are used to smaller freestyle kites you might be surprised by it. This is a 2.4m kite even though it doesn't always behave like it.


In a fade :: Full Size

The Transfer was not designed purely for precision of course, but for tricks and freestyle flying. We found the Transfer more than able in this department, which is hardly surprising The Transfer axels nicely, and offers a very full range of cascade variants - from old school facing left right to aggressive French nose down versions. Ground work is also good, although the the Transfer seems keen to get up and fly. Cometes are slightly harder than on some other kites due to the high aspect ratio - careful timing is required to make them continuous without a wing wrap. The Transfer is highly recoverable from mistakes and flows nicely - although it is quite capable of flying an aggressive up down left right French style you can relax and let the kite do its own thing in a less technical style. Line catches are rare, even on the wing-lets. We like the way the Transfer 540's - flat and fast.

The Transfer xt.r fades nicely, with the nose quite high. Backspins are easy to initiate, but the first spin tends not to be very flat. This is a problem in the pop up to backspin launch, where the wingtip tends to catch the ground - unless you give the kite a little pop to flatten it first. The Transfer is not an easy backspin kite - backspin cascades do not flow effortlessly from the lines, however learning the correct control techniques this area of performance begins to open up. Perseverance pays off.


Upper Spreader :: Full Size

Pop the Transfer on its back and await a revelation. In a lazy susan is where the Transfer excels, and we believe, opens up a whole new range of flying. Multi-lazies are as easy with the Transfer and they are not uncontrolled either. Ladder moves in the back-flip position flow effortlessly in experienced hands, lazy susan cascades are easier than with nay other kite we have flown another Transfer specialty is the cynique, a wap-do-wap cascade - impressive. The Transfer wraps up very smoothly, although it took us some time to tune into the position of the yo-yo stops. You can wrap up from a back flip, from a flic-flac (which are also fantastically controllable), or from a lazy susan. In fact it is possible to cascade your lazy susans with a new wrap every time, and then unwrap them with lazies again. If your style is less vertical then the Transfer will wrap at angles and the horizontal too with practice, although yo-yo lines are better for this sort of trick. The super-start, is plainly, super and again flows into multi-lazies. The Transfer is quite simply the most controllable back flip kite we have flown in a long time. There are brand new tricks just waiting to be found in this kite.

Conclusion

So the question is, how does the Transfer compare to the present polyvalent top dog, the Nirvana? Plus points for the Transfer are:

The negative points:

In this field there is also the STX series to consider, and of course the Fury and Fury.85, although the Robertshaw Kites fly with a very different style. And style is something that the Transfer has plenty of. When we reviewed the Fury we felt it had a bit of Carl Robertshaw in it, and watching the Transfer in the hands of team L'Atelier, like kHiTe French correspondent Denis Placette or of course Mat' Mayet himself, it all becomes clear. This kite was designed to fly the way they fly.

That is why we are happy to award the Transfer a kHiTe star. If L'Atelier had come up with a kite that was just as good as the Nirvana then it would not warrant the accolade; the Transfer is as good as the Nirvana but it is also different from the Nirvana, it has a different style and can open up an emphasis on new tricks. It can also be flown in a way that is far closer to freestyle rather than a purely technical approach.

The Transfer is not the perfect kite - but trade offs have been made with a purpose. It is a kite that will contribute positively to the development of freestyle and technical trick flying.

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