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Author: Subject: Hardwater Kiting long term snowkite review of the Flysurfer Peak.
Feyd


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[*] posted on 8-4-2014 at 07:09 AM
Hardwater Kiting long term snowkite review of the Flysurfer Peak.


Here in Northern New England we have gusty winds. The average gust factor on any given day is usually double the baseline wind speed so if it's blowing 15kts we get gusts in the 30kt range. These are standard wind conditions and they really force you to choose kites that have great gust handling and depower properties. As you can imagine this makes for a shallow pool of options if you want it to find kites that don't beat you up so low AR "touring" style kites are usually the "go to" option.

Hardwater Kiting (www.hardwaterkiter.com) picked up the 6 and 9m Peaks back in December as part of our demo kite inventory. Our initial impressions, based on photos of the kites, was that they would be a issue in the occasional conditions where bridles kites get snagged on rough frozen surfaces and the Lack of bottom skin and the long thin bridles just screamed "snag me!".

To be honest, they can become a mess if you make the mistake of landing the kite on some frozen slush snowmobile tracks. But after a season of multiple kiters flying the heck out of these kites we have found they aren't prone to snagging any more than any other bridled kite. This was a pleasant surprise and Peak has actually turned out to be one of our most popular offerings, especially to our customers looking for their first depower kite.



The Peak for novice/intermediate snowkiters.

First, why do we feel the Peak a great kite for this segment of snowkiters? To put it simply the Peak is really the best of many worlds. Think of what you would get if a Foil and SLE inflatable had a baby. From a depower point of view the only kites that depower as well and as quickly in our opinion are SLE inflatable kites. There are a lot of kites out there that have great depow range but the immediate depower available, the ability to dump all the power in an SLE is really amazing. The Peak depows the same way. Like many kites when things get nasty, let the bar out but unlike many kites, the Peak dumps nearly 100% of its power. We try to explain to our students and customers how the wing dumps so much power so fast but if you don't get to see or try it firsthand it's really a little hard to believe.

Nobody really understands it until they get to try it.

This ability to dump power so quickly has made the Peak an excellent tool for getting some of our more conservative students to the next level. Students and riders worried about being overpowered and constantly wanting to rig a kite too small. The PeaS-P-A-M-L-I-N-K-s depow range allows them to really explore and test the waters of being fully powered. It gives them the confidence to try a kite in the appropriate power range even if they go back to a more traditional foil. This season we saw the Peak move a lot of "perpetual intermediate" kiters into more of an advanced level of riding. The Peak is a huge confidence builder for intermediates and beginners.

From a novice/intermediated riders "ease of use" point of view the Peak really shines. Simple to fly, simple to depow, simple to pack up and unpack. No cells to over pressure and blow out. Of course no pumps or bladders. Lays on the ice much like a Paraski Flex. Reverse launches better than any other kites we had in our school or demo inventory this season. In my opinion it reverse launches better than any kite we've ever flown. Flags out beautifully when the safety is released, reloads and relaunches with ease. No "mechanical" trim system beyond shortening or lengthening the center leader from "Freeride" (which we found not much fun most of the time) and "Tour" (Which we pretty much have the kites set at 99.9% of the time). All the kiter has to do is fly and sheet in or out as need be. Only occasionally did anyone ever have an issue and it was usually due to the kite rolling on the surface while not being flown and a bridle would fall behind the kite and cause a bowtie on launch. In reality this is easy to avoid by simply paying attention while the kite is on the ground.

Also if you ride in an environment like ours where "Hot" launch is actually the safest way to get up and out into smoother winds away from shoreline turbulence. In hot launches the Peak is unmatched.

The Peak for advanced/expert snowkiters.

If you know anything about backcountry or Alpine Tour skiing, Flysurfer designed the Peak in much of the same design philosophy as a Dynafit designed their alpine touring system. Bare bones, uber light weight, super simple. The wind ranges listed on the Flysurfer site are in our opinion a bit conservative as we have found that the Peaks have a much higher top end than Flysurfer states but the ranges are kind of a "moving target".

Comparisons like "the 6m pulls like a 9m" can be either be considered understated or overstated depending on the surface conditions and the rider's weight and pilot skill. And though it's true the Peak will fly in 4kts it's not likely to pull you in that wind if you have anything but clean ice underfoot and even then you will have to work it to get it going and build some apparent wind. That said we have come up with some simple mods that really broaden the wind range of both sizes but that's for another write up.

How they tour and transport.

From a snowkiting set up and pack down perspective the Peak single skins are to traditional open cell foils what open cells are to LEIs. Easier to use and transport-the 6m and 9m complete, 2 kites, bars and lines will fit in an 8m open cell foil kite pack with room for extra clothing, climbing skins and food but as you usually have one wing in the air and one on your back there's even more room. The 6m will fit in a medium size hydration pack with the bar and lines. The 9m RTF with the bag and repair kite/owner's manual, weighs the same as an 8.5m HQ Apex 4 KO. If you are an occasional snowkiter that likes to get out once or twice a season and ride short distances near your launch area these aren't really great benefits. For those of us who like to fly long distance and do 70-100 mile day tours these details are pretty damn cool.

Steering and handling.

Both the 6m and 9m come with the same length bar. On the surface the bar seems short but in use it works fine for both sizes. Steering pressure is medium and the feel is nice and direct. There is a period of getting used to the flutter that the kite produces when depowered but in time you learn to ignore it and after a while you don't even notice it. Turn rate can be cheated by over the bar steering if need be and the kite can actually be reverse steered or spun by tail stalling one side. Some of our riders have experience with stunt kites and they say the Peak actually flies a lot like those kites. In the right hands it really does amazing things.


Power and Depower.

The instant and immediate power/depower range of these kites make them really shine on large lake and alpine environments. Obviously in an alpine environment where you are using a kite to climb, there is sometimes an issue with the broad wind range from the bottom of a climb up higher where you get into the compression gradient at the ridgeline. Sometimes you're underpowered at the bottom of the ridge, limping and looping your way up only to find yourself overpowered or borderline OP'd at the ridgeline in addition to the risk of getting lofted. The Peaks almost completely eliminate a much of this risk and really open up areas that for many years we felt were not worth the risk to fly in. The same goes for long excursions where the wind you find yourself in 20 miles from your launch is often not the same wind you started in. In both cases, change of wind due to locations or due to gradient, even if it gets to the point that you do have to swap wings, they are so small and light you don't really mind carrying the extra wing.

Advanced riders will find there is a lot of overlap between the 6 and 9m. The 6m has been by far the most popular kite we've sold to our students and customers as it really does pull much like an 8 or 9m open cell but it depows to about the same as an un-trimmed 3-4m open cell. The 9m pulls much like an 11-12m open cell and depows to about the same as a 5m un-trimmed open cell. This said, if you put a 5m line extension set on the 9m and have a low resistance surface the 9m can go head to head, can in some cases outperform it's Speed 3.5 15m brother in light winds. In low winds a 145lb kiter will have roughly the same power on the 9m Peak as a 200 lb kiter does on a 19m Psycho 4 SA DLX. And what it lacks in low end grunt it makes up with turn rate in comparison to the bigger kites.

We have found the Peak provides roughly the same wind range for advance riders as 2 traditional open cell depowerable kites. And as most traditional depowers cover the wind ranges of 2 or 3 fixed bridle kites the economics of flying Peaks is really good.

As far as high winds go we have had the 6m in winds in excess of 40mph and found it surprisingly manageable for advance riders and we even saw some fairly new (2 yrs of snowkite experience) riders actually having fun on the 6m in 30mph+ winds. Winds that they would have struggle with on smaller depower kites. We've seen the 6m pulling riders at speeds beyond 60mph.

Mid-season last winter while doing a demo we had two expert riders doing a tour to the north end of one of the larger lakes we frequent. Round trip is about 25 miles with the most technical aspect of this trip being a 1/2 long narrow tree lined cut that in a West wind a dead zone apart from the occasional rotor/gust that you can hook into and limp through on. We had a straight West that day. The kiter on the 6m was 210lbs,was on the 6m Peak Demo the other, 165lbs on a 12m Speed 3.5 SA. The 6m rider found his way fairly easily as he was able to throw the 6m around to keep it powered in the dead spots and able to quickly reposition it where it needed to be for a given wind situation. The 12m, even though slightly more powerful and piloted by a lighter rider, lacked the ability to maneuver and take advantage of the limited opportunities to get good power and get through the dead spots. The kiter on the Peak made the 25 mile out and back trip. The 12m Speed rider turned back as the winds were getting lighter and he couldn't get through the cut. We were really blown away by this and it really illustrated to us the potential of these kites.

Launching and landing.

In our local snowkite community we feel strongly that as snowkiters we have to be self sufficient and keep reliance on others to a minimum. Self launching and landing in these parts is the general rule and when touring it's a mandatory requirement. The Peak is super fast to set up and launch. Faster than any kite we've ever flown. There are ways to pack it that make it deploy even faster, basically the time it takes to unwrap your lines and hook in, but they rely on special packing procedure. From a packing/unpacking standpoint our only complaint is that unlike most kites the Peak lacks a strap to keep the wing secured when unwrapping lines during set up or pack down phases. It's not a requirement but we strongly recommend using a strap with these kites. It makes life a bit easier if the wind is nukin'.

The Peaks (to our surprise) can be "Ghost Launched" if need be. A prime situation would be where you are on glass ice with no way to secure the wing to the surface or if you have to land in an emergency and have no way to secure the wing. We're sure Flysurfer would probably frown on it but you can secure the chicken loop to your ice screw and either hot launch or edge of window launch completely unassisted. If "Ghost Launching" we recommend edge window launch.

You can also "Ghost Land" (see pic at bottom). If you want to ghost land it you fly to the edge of the window, secure the chicken loop to your anchor, disconnect yourself from the kite, approach the kite from the up wind side, grab the ground/ice level wingtip and simply walk it toward the anchor. The kite flags, pack the wing and wrap your lines. It's very easy as the Peaks are very good and just bouncing at the edge of the window when you want to stop and land or take a break.

The Peak can also be landed in traditional ways such as grabbing the back lines and tail stalling or flagging the kite out either manually or via the safety system. It does not have a rear cross over brake line.

Jumping and Freestyle.

Although the Peak is a lower AR touring kite designed to offer minimal lift and is not designed for freestyle type riding many have found that the Peak not only jumps but it actually has a very "Flysurfer" floaty feel in jumps. The timing is a little different than you would find in a freestyle based kite but it's manageable and actually really nice. The direct feel in the steering is also there when sheeting in or out while jumping. In the event that a jump is going badly it is very easy to reduce lift fairly precisely if needed. The turn rate, even with the bars as short as they are, is fast enough to allow kite loops in higher winds.


Build Quality and Durability.

Build quality is much like what you expect from Flysurfer, obviously at a lower dollar amount than the brand's pricier offerings. When you open the kite up for the first time nothing about it screams "budget" kite.

From a durability standpoint we've found the kite by and large is tough as nails. On the surface it seems like it would be prone to damage but in practice it has proven to be able to handle everything we see here in New England. The only issues we've seen were due mostly to pilot error, mostly from dragging the kite leading edge down and wearing into the fabric on the leading edge stiffeners and one instance where one of the stiffeners came out due to a bad stitch which was a warranty issue and Flysurfer dealt with it quickly and satisfactorily.

Otherwise the build quality and durability is first rate.

As with most kites there is a ton more we could go into but it would equate to writing a small novel. Bottom line is this kite is unlike anything we've ever seen. The 6m has been the more popular seller for us and is easily the most versatile for most people's needs. Really a great kite.

There it is in a nutshell. This is one of a series of reviews that I'm trying to catch up on now that I can type.:smilegrin: Stay tuned for more.


Snapshot - 122b.jpg - 215kB

GOPR0528.jpg - 136kB IMAG1179.jpg - 225kB




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[*] posted on 8-4-2014 at 09:06 AM


Awesome review, Chris. I was wondering how these things did in our gnarly wind conditions.



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[*] posted on 8-4-2014 at 09:28 AM


Thanks for this great review. I've had my eye on a set of these ever since you posted that teaser video a while back.

The kites are beautiful and the single skin design seems like a great idea that hopefully will gain more traction.




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smile.gif posted on 8-4-2014 at 09:36 AM


Thanks.

Works well in here in the mountains and tree lined lakes. My guess is it would work out in your neck of the woods too.

Here's the link to the vid I made from some footage . At the end it demonstrates a Ghost landing. In case anyone's missed it.


http://youtu.be/ziI6hs1co48?list=UU8RK0aY462-E5dDCzEWfZNw




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[*] posted on 8-4-2014 at 11:54 AM


Very nice detailed review Chris!





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[*] posted on 8-4-2014 at 12:37 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Cheddarhead  
Very nice detailed review Chris! I think Flysurfer would be proud of the work you did:cool:



Was that a veiled threat that you're going to report him to Flysurfer? :)




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[*] posted on 8-4-2014 at 02:15 PM


No way, no how, no sir. I would NEVER do that. I am not implying anything. I just thought Chris's review really highlighted what a great product they have is all. If I was Flysurfer I would be happy about the rave review he gave the Peak. In an indirect way, Chris is promoting what a great power kite the Peak is. I think it came out wrong.....been known to happen.



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[*] posted on 8-4-2014 at 03:35 PM


That's one of the best reviews I've read. Many thanks!!



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[*] posted on 8-4-2014 at 04:12 PM


Lovely review Chris. If there's anyone in the thread who doesn't now want to fly / own one they didn't read your post :-)

I'm curious what applications you don't think the kite is well suited for. Or features of the kite you don't like if any. It sounds a lot like it's the ultimate kite for snowkite touring, would you do other land based powerkiting with it? Concrete and objective comparisons with kites you normally use would be helpful. The story of one rider getting stuck vs the other completing the lake tour with the peak is an example. More details along those lines please ;-)




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[*] posted on 8-4-2014 at 04:34 PM


I wonder if a simple loop sewn onto the bag and a kite screw wouldn't be a solution to the high wind clean ice launch issues ?
You could then launch straight out of the bag like the do in this video.
http://vimeo.com/78772663




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[*] posted on 8-4-2014 at 05:39 PM


Great review Feyd :cool: :thumbup:



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[*] posted on 8-4-2014 at 08:40 PM


Wow....talk about setting the bar on kite reviews :thumbup:

Would love to demo one for my conditions. Any chance on getting a 9 sent to L.A. I of course will pay shipping back and forth and leave a deposit if necessary...




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[*] posted on 8-5-2014 at 03:42 PM


nie stuff!



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[*] posted on 8-5-2014 at 06:50 PM


Nice review.



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[*] posted on 8-5-2014 at 07:37 PM


Chris .... we need more people like you ..... this review is awesome ..... I wish my english is better ... I would contribute some reviews too ...



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[*] posted on 8-5-2014 at 08:52 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Cheddarhead  
No way, no how, no sir. I would NEVER do that. I am not implying anything. I just thought Chris's review really highlighted what a great product they have is all. If I was Flysurfer I would be happy about the rave review he gave the Peak. In an indirect way, Chris is promoting what a great power kite the Peak is. I think it came out wrong.....been known to happen.


Naw man, I was just ribbin' ya... I need a better /sarcasm emoticon :)

Totally a great review... even if I'm now a little pissed at Chris for adding Peak considerations to my wild vacillations between next-kite-purchase-preferences.

Sooooo... 9m Peak or 15m Speed 3? I kinda struggle with the 15m in Colorado garbage winds, which is what makes me think the Peak might be just lovely. But then I think... "wait a minute... SPEED for a PEAK?!?!?! What am I crazy?!?!" Then I go back and read Chris's review and think... the Peak might be just lovely and the whole cycle starts over again. I'm in kite-indecision purgatory thanks to you and your hard water kiting ways... :)




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[*] posted on 8-6-2014 at 07:37 AM


You increased my interest level with the speeds over 60 and depower range. I hope to get to try one someday. Oh, probably the best kite review I've read in years. At least on par with tridude.



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[*] posted on 8-6-2014 at 02:17 PM




What can you say about such a kite...and such a review, both?

Impressive.

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[*] posted on 8-6-2014 at 03:22 PM



Quote:

You increased my interest level with the speeds over 60 and depower range. I hope to get to try one someday. Oh, probably the best kite review I've read in years. At least on par with tridude.



BB, would you say it "Peaked" your interest?

Edit: Sorry, dumb joke, carry on. Great review Feyd.
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[*] posted on 8-6-2014 at 10:05 PM


Quote: Originally posted by ssayre  

Quote:

You increased my interest level with the speeds over 60 and depower range. I hope to get to try one someday. Oh, probably the best kite review I've read in years. At least on par with tridude.



BB, would you say it "Peaked" your interest?

Edit: Sorry, dumb joke, carry on. Great review Feyd.

I keep getting more and more interested! So yes my interest is "peaked" again. :P




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[*] posted on 8-7-2014 at 05:49 AM


If I had read this review before I finally decided to get a Peak, I probably would have gotten one several weeks earlier! :lol:



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[*] posted on 8-7-2014 at 07:57 AM


Madday... Would you choose a peak over a speed 3 for inland?



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Meat–river


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[*] posted on 8-7-2014 at 09:39 AM


Question for you Feyd.... I'm hearing a lot of "pros" regarding this kite, are there any real "cons" that you/others have experienced. I have heard a few disappointed with the fact that when the bar is cranked hard to the side it binds on the chicken line restricting de/powerability.

Also, how is the upwind? Any kite you can compare it to




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madday92


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[*] posted on 8-7-2014 at 10:31 AM


Quote:
Madday... Would you choose a peak over a speed 3 for inland?


Unfortunately I have never flown a speed 3. So I don't believe I am the best person to answer this question.

Anyone else feel better suited to answer this?




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Feyd


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[*] posted on 8-8-2014 at 05:56 AM


Real quick...

Of the Speed series the Speed 3 and above variations have been the best gust handling Speeds.

Historically, there have been days with earlier models where some of the local Flysurfer riders get done for the day and have exclaimed that they have never been so happy to get off the kite. Meanwhile those of us flying Arcs hardly noticed the gust factor at all. Depow and gust handling are what made Arc's so popular with the more dedicated riders in our area.

The Peak is the first kite we've seen that comes close to an Arc's ability to handle gusty inland conditions. And as improved as the Speeds are now they don't handle the gusty nearly as well as the Peak nor do they dump power as quickly. The Speed is going to be a better option in terms of going upwind and flying on water but if looking for ease of use and handling in nasty conditions I would rather be on a Peak myself. Easier on the body and let's face it easier on the wallet.

As far as "Cons" go, I'm honestly having a hard time coming up with any worth mentioning. I suppose the occasional line wrapping behind the wing that I mentioned earlier could be one. Kites with both skins are less prone to this and easier to untangle. Sometimes if you don't know which side got wrapped you pull the wrong one then end up disconnecting the kite to fix it. Not major but a pain if it's nukin'.

The potential for excessive wear on the leading edge. Snow can be extremely abrasive and if the kite is down on it's leading edge and dragged at all you can wear through the fabric that retains the leading edge stringers causing them to be exposed or worse pop out. On our demos I placed extra material on these potential high wear areas and have had no issues. As long as you're mindful it's an easy problem to avoid.

The snag factor in frozen slush is pretty substantial but not much more if at all than any other kites with bridles. I ride Arc's primarily so bridles aren't an issue for me and I forget what a pain bridles can be when they snag. Again, not sure if it's a "con" but just something to note.

Under full depower in high winds the kite nearly folds in half. It actually flies and turns well but if you look at it you'll cringe at the site of it. From an inexperienced spectators view, it just looks broken. The best solution I've come up with is simply don't look at it under heavy depow. Just be happy it's flying and not trying to kill you because the winds picked up.

I have not experienced any binding issues sheeting in and out with heavy steering. As there can be a lot of sheeting in days with high gust frequency there can be substantial wear on the center leader and maybe these individuals have enough wear on the line that it binds up? After a season here our wear is pretty acceptable and does not hinder the sheeting action. Now if we're talking in terms where you have the bar turned like you would in a kite loop then maybe I can see it binding some but I feel most bars bind in that situation to some point.

As a general rule I never buy the first release of anything. I wait till some bugs are worked out in the real world and go for the second or third series. But I have to say Flysurfer is really onto something here. Other brands should take note. I'm the first to admit when I saw the initial photos I though this kite was some kind of joke. I was very very wrong. Some people disregard the kite, say that it doesn't do as advertised or that it's just not much of a kite to fly.

All I can say is those people aren't flying it correctly.

This kite is in standard material and its and extremely versatile wing. A UL version, maybe in a 12-15m would be an unstoppable light wind engine.

A smaller 4m version would be an unbelievable high wind wing. Also a great teaching kite. We used these kites in a few lessons but are hesitant to use something like this exclusively as these kites lack many of the technical features our students will encounter out in the world on their own. However the students that want to make post lesson purchases are often attracted to the Peak 6m as their first kite purchase. With it's wind range and ease of use it really is an excellent option.


All we do is snowkite here and we have developed a good grasp on what works and what doesn't in a situation in the last 12 yrs. In an environment where you have to be self sufficient and you know you have no vehicle support to haul your butt home, The Peak is an absolute killer choice.













Chris Krug-Owner @ Hardwater Kiting. Authorized Dealer of Ozone, HQ and GIN kites.
www.hardwaterkiter.com 518-407-KITE
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[*] posted on 8-9-2014 at 11:27 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Feyd  
From an inexperienced spectators view, it just looks broken. The best solution I've come up with is simply don't look at it under heavy depow.


Actual LOL here from that sentence. Thanks again, Feyd, once you started comparing it to the arcs, you had me. I love the arcs for gust absorption and general ease of use, but our wind directions are stupid-variable here, so the arc isn't a viable option if you don't want early grey hairs.

Man, I really want to demo one of these. I don't suppose FS would start a "Pass the Peak" program, would they? :)

Also, check out these nice boosts in relatively light wind... this was my concern, but it looks pretty floaty and smoov:






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[*] posted on 8-17-2014 at 08:30 PM


There... Happy, Chris? My Peak is on order. You are an agent of disruption, damn you :)



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[*] posted on 8-17-2014 at 09:22 PM


You do know this means we will be expecting a review from you at your soonest possible convenience, right?:thumbup:



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[*] posted on 8-18-2014 at 01:20 PM


Totes. It ships tomorrow, so hopefully here by Friday, which I happen to have off. It'll be a buggy situation since my leg is still in heal-mode, but it'll be a review nonetheless.



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[*] posted on 8-18-2014 at 05:30 PM


SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET.... can't wait to see him at JIBE!!



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Flying-- HQ Symphony 2.1.4 (its old), 2.5m & 4m Born Kite NS2, 6m Flysurfer Peak 1 (a minty fresh Gift) and 12m Flysurfer Peak 2 (the gnat fart catcher).
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