The Nirvana has been the high water mark for sport kites for a number of years now but I’d never really spent any time with one till now, so here is my retrospective review.
The one in my bag is the 10th Anniversary edition, #11. It is framed in Icone White, both the leading edges and the lower spreaders which makes for re-assuredly stiff, shudder free, frameset. The only concern with Icone is its availability and sourcing a replacement spar in the event of breakage. I’m not sure what the framing plans are for Icone kites looking forward given that Icone might soon be discontinued but some Sky Shark Nitro’s would surely make for an ample substitute. The sail layout is arguably the best ever produced, most everybody is a fan of the design irrespective of what they make think of the kite itself. Thankfully, R-Sky appear to have abandoned the awful button style sail clips, responsible for many a lost standoff, much cussing and Yosemite Sam style tantrums. New kites ship with screw in style fittings which are going to be there for the life of the kite and represent a most welcome upgrade.
Pretty soon it becomes clear that the inner bridle leg catches over the spine enough for it become very irritating. You can shake it off by cartwheeling the kite or some such but it remains a PITA. The simple solution is to tie a short keeper line between the inner and upper bridle legs such that the bridle can’t catch the spine. And this is something you are going to want to do, else you’ll be cursing the kite and your sloth, each time out.
As for the tricks, its textbook clean. The old school stuff, flatspins, cascades, backspins, flic-flacs are all effortless. As for the newer stuff, its all pretty easy on this kite too. Point in case, Taz Machines. This kite will put out the prettiest Taz Machines you might ever pull. You’ll read all about these newer German designs which excel at the Taz, and its true they do, but they don’t look any better than on the Nirvana and that’s a fact.
The kite is great in anything turtle based, Multi-lazies are flat and stable and the kite doesn’t fall out of them backwards like some others can tend to.
One area of weakness though, at least with the stock Icone version is rolling the kite up, I’m afraid it’s a bit of pig in that regard. I tried hitting it harder and adding more tailweight but to no avail. Then I remembered, most owners shorten the upper spreader a tad. The stock spreader is 50cm and I’m assured by respected R-Sky fliers that when shortened to 49.5cm or 49cm the ‘Vana rolls up much, much better.
Precision must be best close to best class for a design which tricks so well. Snappy corners and constant speed across the window make this a great precision machine and its competition heritage proves this. Not that this should come as any great surprise of course, the ‘Vana has been the gold standard for a number of years now. As an all around freestyle/competition kite its yet to be bettered, even by R-Sky themselves.
Time to dispel a few myths then. First up, the “pull”. You often hear people on the forums complaining about the excessive pull the kite generates. Well, I flew it up to 15mph and I’m here to tell you thats stuff and nonsense. I’m not fond of strong pulling kites, but the Nirvana gave me no reason for complaint. I didn’t notice any excessive or unpleasant pull.
Next up, “the large inputs required”. Well, I’m happy to report thats more poppycock. The Nirvana responds very nicely to light and small inputs. I know it can be flown aggressively too and in the right hands that this might yield even better results, but there is no need to manhandle this kite.
Some Negatives ?
Well, it really needs a couple tweaks as mentioned, a shortened the upper spreader and the bridle keeper line. For a design of this maturity you might have expected these mods to have been incorporated into the stock design.
For all its qualities and undeniable greatness, it feels a little soulless. A little too clinical, it lacks personality and grin factor. Perhaps this is because the kite is just so damn good, its almost as if its flying you, rather than you at the controls. And if there are no struggles, then there’s little sense of achievement and it feels less rewarding to fly. The Nirvana has no vices, and that should be a good thing, but we do so love our little vices don’t we ? :wink1_tb:
Finally, theres the price. The Nirvana is an expensive kite, in Sky Shark and very expensive in Icone. Now much of this can be attributed to the exchange rate and the relative strength of the Euro. This is a problem with any European kite, so what you going to do ? Pass up all these killer Euro chic designs or suck it up and pray for a return to the days of the more favorable exchange rates ? I suggest the later, in the words of the great satirist Craig Hibbert “lifes to short to fly crappy kites”.
So, the aging Nirvana no longer represents the bleeding edge, there are more radical designs available, designs which can out perform the ‘Vana in one area or another. But there can’t be many designs which are better all around performers, at least I’ve not flown any. This is a truly awe inspiring kite, definitely a kite everybody should at least experience, if not own. A few minutes with this will show you just what is lacking in your other kites and just how good a pilot you will be, one day, when you can fly those others well as you fly this.
Oh yes, the Nirvana is really the flatterer, it makes most everybody look better than they really are :biggrin_wp: