This is our first look and review of the 2016 edition of the North Kiteboarding Mono.

Heritage

2016 brings us the first iteration of the North Mono kitesurfing kite from the company that just put two riders into the final of Red Bull king of the air 2016 and consistently produced amazing kites for the majority of the time kitesurfing has been around. Through the design process, no strut, single strut and dual strut kites were tested in the pursuit of bringing a kitesurfing kite capable of taking a beginner through the first stages of kiting to a high level, taking all the beatings that it might need to on the way and doing it at a price that will encourage more people into the sport.

Target audience

Beginner, free riding and wave riding. This kite should be perfect for anyone starting it, with easy relaunch, great depower, intuitive control and sturdiness. Its super lightweight which means its great for travelling with and it will drift well for wave riding.

Price point

So this comes in towards the lower end which is a really nice move from North at Over £150 less than the advanced Rebel, as this means that beginners get to choose a kite from a premium brand at a really competitive cost, the old adage that you get what you pay for is true, and if you can stump up the cash and buy a rebel then nothing will jump you higher that I’ve ever experienced. However the North Mono will do everything very well for the people its targeted at and it has a few surprises up its sleeve as I found out when I got my hands on it.

Sizes

I love the fact the North will be coming out as a 3.5m kite too, having a small kite option is for starters a brilliant high wind kite and you’ll have a que as long as lanky persons arm waiting to have a go on it next time we get the tail end of a large storm piling through from the U.S. but its also great to get people into the sport.

North Mono 2016 comes in 3.5m, 5m, 7m, 9m, 12m.

Interestingly this is a light weight kite, but has also been spoken about as a light wind kite, seemingly odd when you think the largest size is a 12m, looking further into it, it starts to become clear. This kite is designed for free riding, wave riding and beginners, all disciplines that won’t be looking to be super powered, combined with the fact this is a single strut super lightweight medium low aspect ratio kite then, yes it does actually produce a great amount of power for its size, and it flies in very light winds because it weighs very little.

This kite is also great for foiling, another area of kitesurfing that does not require a large amount of power, and where starting out, a kite with a gentle touch really is the best option.

Set up

As standard with all North kites this kite can be ridden on a 5 line setup, but just as easily you can leave the 5th line tucked away for the ability to utilize a 4 line bar. combined with this there is the option to adjust the steering responsiveness via toggles on the connection points on the kites,

Hands on test

The day was perfect, the wind was blowing and I had eaten breakfast, so actually it turns out my perfect day is pretty easily to come by, then it got even better as we pumped up a range of the 2016 North Mono’s and various other kites. After trying out the North Dice and boosting a pleasing amount of height, riding the new Hadlow Pro model and trying to throw a kiteloop handle pass for the first time in about 4 years I progressed onto the Mono thinking OK, I’ll give it a good test then I’ll grab the Rebel and really have some big air fun.

5 Hours later I was still hogging the Mono, I was lucky enough to be riding in the presence of Aaron Hadlow and the amazing freestyler Tom Herbert, Tom had put a bit of a show on earlier with some big board offs, multiple rotations and inverts which was absolutely brilliant to see, firstly because the skill level required to do that is amazing but secondly because its so rare to come across!

It’s safe to say I was Old School inspired during my testing of the North Mono, I have always been an old school rider at heart with lots of tricks to my name on land, but I’ve never explored a lot of Old school tricks on the water. This day that all changed, The Mono has plenty of pull as soon as you tug the bar and whoosh you’re off.

The kite felt great, not rough, not too soft, not too hard, its easy to hold and edge and easy to swing the kite around the sky, then of course you throw a jump and Wow! It took me a couple of jumps to really get what was going on, I stuck at it, it felt like I was going miles, then I throw a down loop and continue flying for a while. The hangtime and float of this kite are something really special in such a simple kite, and this is only complimented by the really intuitive flying characteristics. The most pleasing feeling from this kite in the control, and a really direct feel, shortly after getting on this kite I was throwing double inverted front rolls then board offs and 1800 deg spins, these are tricks that I can do on my North Rebels but didn’t think I’d be doing on the Mono because I’ve experienced other brands beginner kites and whilst they tick all the boxes for beginners they fail to entertain an advanced rider.

The confidence this kite inspires is something really special, and with my new drive for transferring my Old school repertoire to the water I couldn’t help but spend the rest of the day chipping away at all my tricks from board spins, legs wrapping round the bar, double board offs, foot out front roll down loops and more, the consistency and predictability of this kite facilitated a day of progression that is unrivaled in my 21 years of kite boarding so far.

I’ve got one of these kites on my order list, a 3.5m, 7m and a 12m! I’d recommend most people go for a less extreme range but I want the 12m for big jumps, 7m for hydrfoiling and the 3.5m for big storms.

The confidence that comes from this kite is in part due to the smooth lift and float, its not an explosive launch, but you can still get high, this means you can really send a big jump and not get spun off by the sudden pull that comes from the ultra high performance kites, you’re not going to win king of the air with it, but you still get plenty high enough.

Secondly the progressive steering! I’ll explain further, if you pull the bar one way and steer a C shape kite, a Vegas for example, it gets shifting, that’s why the pro’s love it and full respect to the king of the air guys jumping 16+ meters inverted, rotating and kitelooping, it takes big kahoona’s. Most mortals will make mistakes if you spin, invert or even jump but this kite doesn’t punish you if you lean on the bar a little which would otherwise steer a more responsive kite. This encourages more exploration and allows for more artistic flare with your kiting. Now don’t be thinking this kite is slack, some kites just don’t steer, but this isn’t the case, when you steer the kite and hold it it quickly responds and the more you pull on the bar the faster it moves, its a great balance and a very fine line indeed to get this just right, but it really works. I didn’t have enough wind but with a wave coming towards me I threw a few kiteloops on the 12m and it got round with ease.

This will be obvious to most kiters, but for those who are unfamiliar, this kite does produce a massively different kiteloop to a Vegas, or even a Dice, I’d say the Dice is my favourite hybrid LEI for kitelooping at the time of writing because its close to C-shape construction. Comparatively the Vegas being a full C shape will really loop and give you that trademark punch as it drives around a very nice circle in the sky.

Summary

This kite is a fantastic example of where the technology has progressed, North have created such a seemingly simple design, robust and no frills, and I’ll be recommending to every beginner wanting a fully capable kite to take them through all the first stages of kiting. Equally however the North Mono entertained me all day, I try not to judge a book by it’s cover, this mantra covers everything from books to people but I didn’t apply it to this kite, I judged it on my experience of other Entry level kitesurfing equipment that have left me wanting. I was wrong. So the more suprising side is that it’s great for jumping and hang time, and fits really well for learning tricks especially free riding and old school!

This kite won’t be as good for new school wake style tricks though, it drifts and finds the edge of the window so you won’t get the power release delay, or a great pop from the kite when you compare it to others such as the North Vegas, the “King of POP” but I was able to add a cheeky downloop at the end of almost every jump and with a bit more wind than we had I think the 9m will be a great kite for throwing a few kiteloops for beginners! (get instruction before you start kitelooping!)

Get out and try this machine! Its a really neat package which North is famous for and even with the Entry tag on, this kite will keep the majority of kiters happy!