Atelier “Transfer XT.S” Review



The mighty Transfer XT.S was introduced by Atelier in 2005, the second in the Transfer series, a full sized competition/team kite.

With a 2.65m wingspan and framed in SkyShark 7pt spars it truly is a massive beast and it looks, quite frankly, a little intimidating at first. I’ve collected a fair number of sport kites over the years, but I’m not sure I have any others with 7pt framing all round … that fact alone makes it a little intimidating in my mind.

Approaching the XTs for the first time you might well expect it to pull “like a truck”, require huge arm flapping inputs and be some sluggish/lazy lump which has to be wrestled from one trick to the next. Fortunately though, that is not the case at all, at least, not in its wind range sweet spot. The XTs it turns out is quite a surprising kite, competition (team even) oriented it may be, but its got plenty of freestyle fun to offer, a true polyvalent.

The Transfer series (the XT.R, XT.S and eventually the XT.Z) were quite radical for their time. Diverging from the typical sail dimensions with an innovative, wide aspect ratio design. The trailing edge is cut back which reinforces the narrow profile the kite. Kudo’s to Atelier for something completely different, nobody can label the design in any way derivative.

On the whole it’s nicely put together. I like the bungee tensioning on the wingtips which are fuss free, although I know over the years the bungee will stretch, I have a pair of old Masques on which I’ve had to replace the cord.

The nose uses a traditional trianglular cut which can be more prone to snagging lines than more modern techniques. Not been any issue for as yet and a touch of insignia tape would address it. I’m a fan of the yo-yo stoppers they do their job but don’t cause the types of irritating bridle snags which necessitate the dreaded “walk of shame”.

Niggles ? Well, I wish they’d finish them a little better. Why not hot cut the reinforcement fabric such that it does’t fray ? Two or three sessions on a new Atelier and it’s already looking a just a little tatty. Compare that to a Benson, like my Deep Space UL which still looks nigh on perfect 10 years and countless beach sessions later.

Precision is first class. Whether it be punching out corners or flying smooth curves the XT.S excels and the size and consistent speed of the kite make flying figures a piece of cake. The easy speed control make for clean landings too, spikes, two points, kombos etc make for impressive punctuation points from either precision or freestyle flying.

A popular misconception, in the US at least, is that French kites demand big inputs. I don’t subscribe to that opinion and it’s certainly not the case here. Sure, you can man handle it, but it’s not necessary to get get results. The leach line and large mylar trailing edge reinforcement keep the kite quite too, especially compared to its sibling Masque design.

Whilst the XT.S couldn’t honestly be described as nimble, once you get acquainted with the feel you can string endless combinations out of this kite. And because the kite is so slow and predictable it makes a great vehicle for experimentation and trying out new moves and combinations. The duplex: backspin, flic-flac, backspin in the other direction” for example is a new trick to me, I’ve tried it before on smaller faster kites but it’s not something I’d achieve very reliably. On the XT.S though with its slow transitions between the positions this trick becomes pretty straightforward.

The XT.S pitches readily and quickly and the fade is fairly stable, certainly more so than the smaller XTr.
A firm input is required initiate the transition from fade down to nose away pancake. The kite doesn’t tend to over rotate to nose high pancake meaning there is no dreaded “deadspot” on the return journey to fade which all makes for easy-peasy flic-flacs.

A deep turtle position enabes all manner of lazy based moves, kombos, multi-lazies the current hot item – the cynique, check, check check.

Cometes are particularly slow and eat up a lot of window as they tumble down pretty quickly. I’m sure with more aggressive inputs and more flier energy they could be sped up and look more impressive but I’m okay with them as they are. There’s a bit of inertia to overcome to get ’em started – but once they’re rolling they’re easy enough maintain. I’ve read that the timing of the inputs differs from other kites and that might well be, but my cometes are pretty slow anyways and I’ve not noticed much adjustment.

Flatspins are better than expected, slot machine are nice and floaty and easy enough to fly back to back. Does it Taz you ask ? Not for me, not yet. I’m informed that it will, but requires a third input to help it complete the rotation. The slow pace make fractured flatpins cake too, providing another entry into some combination.

The kite rolls up easily, one pops, two pops, forwards, backwards and the stoppers are easily caught. Wrapped flight has plenty of drive and the kite unrolls smoothly for clean looking Wap Do Waps, Lewis and the like.

Jacob’s Ladders are no challenge at all and particularly fun close to the ground or straight from take off. Improvised combinations can be effortlessly chained together, JL to dupex to yoyo and back to JL for example. Of course this type of flying can be done with most any kite if have sufficient skill but it is that much easier on XT.S because of its weight and lazy pace.

Yofades and Crazy Copters ? I’m afraid those tricks are beyond me, so I’ll leave them as an exercise for the reader

Wind Range
The achilles heel for the XT.S just might just be the usable wind range. When the wind gets to 12mph it’s starts to feel every bit of 8ft and whilst not exactly pulling your arms off, it’s definitely stretching them a bit. The good news is however that it remains plenty trickable and the speed across the window remains slow and deliberate. Tricks in the centre of the window require firm inputs and footwork, but towards the edges it’s very little effort.

I’ve not tried it above 12mph but I’d imagine its pull would increase proportionally with the wind speed and it’d be quite a beast above 15mph. Of course this is just my personal opinion and I’m sure there are plenty of competition and/or mainland European fliers who’d think nothing much of the XTs‘ pull as they’re used to powerful kites and heavy set bridles.

So, as far as I’m concerned its sweet spot is from 6-10mph which would seem to be a pretty narrow range. But like I say it’s workable 2mph below and above this range just with more effort/footwork.

I don’t know why this kite was never more popular. Perhaps its sheer size deterred fliers ? Or might it have been considered too Team/Precision/competition oriented ? Those people who took to the XT.S certainly seem to love them, it’s a shame more people haven’t gotten to try the XTs (and the Transfer series as a whole). I’m here to tell you it doesn’t fly as big as it looks and has plenty freestyle to offer.

The XT.S is a very versatile all round kite with a winning mix of old and new styles, love it