WATCH CHRIS AND JIM DROP THE NEXUS KNOWLEDGE BELOW, HERE’S THE FULL REVIEW THAT FIRST APPEARED IN KW #93 IN JUNE 2018.
Words: Jim Gaunt / Photos: Thomas Burblies, unless stated otherwise
There have been more head turning / controversial new product launches when a brand believe they’ve got the next step cornered for innovation. Of course, most fresh in the memory are North’s Click Bar and Cabrinha’s Fireball bar / harness systems. Going further back we could highlight Slingshot’s One Pump system or the bow kite.
So what is the Nexus? It looks remarkably similar to many other mid-aspect hybrid kites with seemingly no glaringly, new and defining design look. The three strut layout with quite minimal bridling is clean, but not ground breaking, while the squarish struts lean into that very current hybrid or ‘future’ C shape.
However, it’s the ride feel and endless possibilities that the Nexus offers where the real big billing lies.
When it comes to distributor / dealer / press meetings there’s a certain amount of formality and grand presentation involved to enthuse collective froth in a product / idea. We didn’t know much about Core’s plans for this new kite beforehand, other than it was to be replacing the ‘Free’ model in the range – which was very much a freeride kite with easy power for intermediates.
Core really kept the formal presentations to a minimum for the week in Sal. Along with a few other magazines and a crew of dealers / distributors, Chris and I were welcomed to our accommodation at the KiteWorldWide house in Santa Maria, told by Philip (one of Core’s management leaders) that the forecast looked great and all that was expected was that we test the gear as much as we liked. Sometimes silence speaks volumes…
4X4s shipped us all to the beach where there was always a big selection gear for whenever we were ready to ride. Putting products back-to-back was fun and we were hitting Cape Verde’s trade wind season in early April and got six days out of six on the water. The cross-on winds came from the left, peaking at 30 knots for one afternoon, averaging 20 most of the time and dipped to 12 to 14 knots on the last day. If you’ve not been to ‘Kite Beach’ at Santa Maria, there’s a nice combination of flat water and kickers that start from fifty metres upwind for twin-tip riding. Straight out from the main beach launch there’s a small rocky section a hundred metres offshore that marks the start of a nice wave section where you can link three waves in a row. It’s a proper playground! Ideal conditions for getting to know a quiver.
As Chris said to me at the end, ‘Well, we definitely scored it!’
It’s likely you’ll have heard of Core’s XR5, their big boosting freeride kite that sits at the top of the Woo Sports boosting charts with a 29.9 metre boost that was sent by the hands of Joshua Emanuel in Cape Town last year. The XR5 also offers accessible performance to intermediate riders the world over. Their GTS kite has been made more famous in the hands of Red Bull King of the Air athlete, Steven Akkersdijk, and is synonymous with incredibly consistent kite loops (check this issue’s cover) and yet mixes hybrid levels of depower with advanced handling and punchy power delivery. Finally they have their Section, a pure wave rider’s kite. Very neutral through the window, it has rapid turning, light handling and shut-off drifting.
The new Nexus doesn’t just plug the gap between the more sheet-and-go drive and lofty hang-time of the XR and the powered and pokey GTS, it virtually spans the entire spectrum with Core’s new Intelligent Trimming system (CIT) that allows you to quickly and easily change the character of the kite by tuning the power and turn radius.
The ‘CIT’ is made up with simple three knots on both front tip corners of the leading edge that attach to the front bridle. Changing these knots is very easy, requiring only the simple loosening of a pigtail and re-tightening over another knot. Balance things out by repeating the move on the other CIT and you’re set up.
Very often people are scared of playing with the settings of their kites, never mind altering the bridle attachments at the front of the kite. The easy but dynamic handling changes in the Nexus are a standout development, but should you accidentally set it up on the wrong knot for your own standard / style, you’re not going to get in trouble and suddenly find yourself tapping into scary performance. The kite will just handle a bit differently. As you get more specialised, those differences can really add to the performance you feel. We’re big fans of simplicity in the sport and the chance of a smaller quiver of kites. The Nexus is next level when it comes to that approach.
CIT SETTINGS AND HANDLING PERFORMANCE
Coming out of the factory on the middle ‘Allround’ jack-of-all-trades setting the Nexus is half wave kite, half freestyle / freeride kite. Flying with a stable window position that offers a mix of good depower and power at the bar without being technical to fly. You can literally do everything on this setting, from foiling to wave riding, to big air and freestyle (though it needs some trimming for lots of unhooked riding).
Move onto the front ‘Wave’ knot (remember to always adjust the same knot on both sides) and the kite becomes a bit more ‘flighty’, less rooted in the window and to inexperienced riders will seem less stable. Punching further forward in the window it’s quicker, less powered, more nimble, pivotal and generally more responsive to bar sheeting.
On each setting the Nexus becomes more suited to certain conditions or what more advanced riders are looking for in a specific type of riding. Basically, you’re adjusting where the kite is able to go in the window.
Switching the knot to the back ‘Freestyle’ setting takes on a more locked-in position. The kite will take a little bit longer to initiate a turn and holds a bit more power.
There are also extra settings for the back line bridle on the ‘Radical Reaction Tips’ to either increase / reduce reactivity and bar pressure.
IT’S ONE THING TO OFFER A LOT OF SETTINGS, AND WE’VE SEEN IT BEFORE IN THE PAST, BUT THE EXCEPTIONAL THING WITH THE NEXUS IS THAT THE SETTINGS NEVER GO TOO FAR THE WRONG WAY.
It never becomes too flighty and punchy, never too unstable at the edge of the window, never too slow and rooted. In the middle setting, you can literally do everything in the same session, from smashing waves to throwing big freestyle – and in fact on that middle setting, Chris set a new all time Woo record for Cape Verde with a jump of 16.1 metres on the 10 metre in fairly average boosting conditions of around 22 knots. So it’s very impressive.
“CREATING A KITE THAT WILL WORK REALLY WELL IN THE WAVES AND GIVE GREAT BOOSTING AND HANG-TIME AS WELL AS BEING ABLE TO DELIVER COMFORTABLE LOOPS (OR UNCOMFORTABLE LOOPS MORE PREFERABLY!) IS THE HARDEST THING TO ACHIEVE. WHEN YOU’RE RIDING A WAVE YOU DON’T WANT TO BE TUGGED HARD WHILE YOU’RE LOOPING THE KITE, BUT WHEN YOU’RE JUMPING HIGH AND DOING MEGA LOOPS YOU DO WANT TO GET A GOOD TUG. SO IT’S A GREAT SOLUTION.
“I like to wave ride, I like to ride twin-tips, I want to boost, I want to do loops and when the wind’s right I want to throw some freestyle as well. I want a kite that works well and does those different things without requiring a lot of fiddling about. The changes are real and apparent and have no detrimental effect on the performance of the kite.
“In its base setting the Nexus is very usable, but if you come to thinking, ‘Well I want it to feel more wave oriented, lose a bit of lift, turn a bit more pivotally’, then you’re just changing a knot on either side of the leading edge and it does that job without changing anything negatively.”
In their own marketing, Core say that the Nexus is a blend of the DNA from the GTS and the Section, but we extensively back-to-backed the Nexus with the XR, because we think that is probably the kite where most people are either going to be progressing from, or as intermediates are going to be looking at as a new kite because of its easy power and well documented, flattering jumping performance.
This was a really interesting test for us because we know the XR is so good for jumping and hang-time, but it doesn’t take long to dial into the Nexus and be jumping just as high. You go up a little bit quicker and you come down a little bit quicker, so there’s a little bit less hang-time in the air than the XR, but the Nexus has more than enough boosting capability to keep anyone who has owned an XR happy. If you’re coming from an XR you’re going to have to spend a bit of time dialling into the fact that all you have to really do with an XR is pull down on the bar and edge a bit to get performance. If you are a bit lazy in your handling, the sheeting power in the Nexus will still drive you forward, but the power is slower to come on through sheeting, so it’s also easier on your quad muscles than the XR, too.
The Nexus is more focused in its flying and sits a bit further forward in the window, so you can do more with it. It’s also quicker in response speed, but it’s still very easy to use and the talk-back from the kite is exceptionally smooth.
Featuring good low and top end range (especially when you utilise the CIT to your advantage in different winds), so bigger and smaller riders don’t need to worry. The Nexus is a bit less ‘torquey’ at the bar than the XR (which is pretty manly), so the Nexus is a better solution for smaller riders.
Although the Nexus is a stepping stone to the GTS, it’s unaggressive and there’s no on/off in the sheeting, it’s all very predictable and you’ll take your riding further, quicker because the power delivery is less abrupt and explosive. The turning is beautiful, holding a moderate amount of power through the turn giving a really engaging feeling and for your first loops it’s excellent.
Equally you can get a good yank when you want it. However windy, or however hard you pull it, you can loop with confidence knowing that the kite is going to catch you. The GTS is a handful at times and although does depower well, the bite in power can catch riders out, so the Nexus is also ideal for riders who are looking at the GTS and thinking that they like the style of the kite, but perhaps aren’t riding a hundred sessions a year, and need something more manageable.
THE NEXUS PERSONALITY DOESN’T CHANGE AT ALL THROUGH THE SHEETING RANGE, MAKING IT COMFORTABLE AND PREDICTABLE – THERE ARE NO GAPS IN FEEL, ESPECIALLY THROUGH TURNS. WHETHER AGGRESSIVELY SHEETING IN OR OUT, YOU’RE ALSO GETTING THAT NICE SMOOTH FEELING OF POWER DELIVERED TO YOU, WHICH MAKES SO MUCH DIFFERENCE.
It’s not just about the talkback at the bar; the time and awareness that you have in the air is sublime. Differing to the Section which a lot more focused on driving forward without lift (you need to be a better rider to benefit from that) we’ve seen all week that you can go out and smash waves in a pretty legitimate way on the Nexus and at the same time we’ve watched pro riders Willow and Steven throwing huge strapless freestyle tricks, and you need lift for that. The ability that you have to send the kite for lift, but also direct it hard across the window and not get pulled off your board when riding strapless is very impressive. We don’t know about you, but we’re so often correcting our position in waves after ending up a bit too far in front of the wave and then needing a bit more drive from the kite to make up for the lack of wave power. There’s enough sheeting and turning juice in the Nexus to provide that, so a lot of riders, especially bigger wave riders, will appreciate that performance quality.
As standard with Core’s Sensor bar systems you get the option of rigging your kite up on either 20, 22 or 24 metre lines and playing around with those makes so much difference. As a team we’ve seen that they all love customising their set up. (For their bigger kites you can go up to 27 metres.) We rode 11, 10, 9, 8 and 7 metre models across different conditions over the week, but perhaps the ten metre gave the biggest tell-tale impression of the kite’s character.
Chris: “One thing we should talk about is how impressive the ten metre is. A ten metre is usually designed in a batch with the bigger kites, whereas a nine metre is more turny, like an eight or seven, so I usually much prefer looping on a nine. But with the ten metre on 20 or 22 metre lines it takes such a nice journey around the window, getting nice and low, generating enough G force for you to feel a good pull, but catches you every single time. I was like, ‘Wow, here I am on a ten in 20 knots, looping confidently off waves and it’s never stalling or letting me down.’ Equally, when we put the ten onto 24 metre lines, the slight increase in power and smooth drive made the kite even more accessible and gave it a few extra knots of get up and go in lighter winds. So the transformation that there is in the kite is really, really good. And every single set-up just works.”
ALTHOUGH WE’VE TALKED A LOT ABOUT THE HIGHER END OF JUMPING AND LOOPING PERFORMANCE, MAKE NO MISTAKE, THE NEXUS COULD BE YOUR FIRST KITE. THE BASICS ARE COVERED REALLY WELL AND THE NEXUS IS FANTASTIC FOR TRANSITIONS, WITH A LOVELY AMOUNT OF LIFT OVERHEAD, WHICH ALSO TRANSLATES TO GIVING YOU MORE TIME WHEN IT COMES TO LEARNING TO SLIDE TURN, OR EVEN SWITCHING YOUR FEET WHEN GYBING A SURFBOARD OR TACKING A FOIL.
You’ll be hard pressed to not like the Nexus because it offers simple, uncomplicated and fun performance. Core have done a fantastic job of breaking through the great contradiction of producing a kite for waves that can go out and set local Woo boosting records. But it’s really all about the feel. When you first plug into the Nexus, it may not set your world alight in terms of your initial sensations and good unhooked riders are going to miss some line slack, but the combination of smooth control and very progressive tweaks to performance make this a kite to comfortably push yourself in all sessions.
There are a lot of really good all-round super-kites on the market these days, but for an almost absolute blanket-covering of the entire riding spectrum, if you’re a real all-rounder, the Nexus is worth taking for a spin.