Issue 52: Review of B-Series by Revolution Kites

Manufacturer: Revolution Enterprises
Model: John Barresi Signature Series 1.5
Wingspan: 90 inches
Height: 33 inches
Type of kite: Quad line
Materials: Two frames, 2 wrap and 3 wrap Revolution Advantage, ripstop polyester sail, Revolution connectors/endcaps connectors and two 2 gram insertable weights.
Source for test kite: Manufacturer
Available from these fine retailers: A Wind of Change, The Kite Shoppe, MidWest Kites, Elmer’s Flag & Banner, Cutting Edge Kites

In some ways, this is an odd kite for me to review. For one, John is a good friend, and we’ve talked about the development of this kite over that fall quite as bit, but also I’m also a die hard Revolution kite flyer. So, I’ll try to review this without bias, but, sometimes, I probably am.

For the 18 years that Revolution has been putting out kites, only person had previously merited a “Signature” edition Revolution and thats Lee Sedgewick, a true and legendary innovator in the sport, whether with his large stacks of Rev 1s or with his own UFO design, Lee has been involved with Revolution for a very long time.

But, another person who’s also long been tied to Revolution Kites is John Barresi and when Revolution decided they wanted to do a new Signature series kite, John’s name came up immediately. Having won probably more individual multiline kite competitions than any other person who has ever competed in the sport, John has also been an innovator and guiding light for multiline flyers around the world. Now, as the leader of iQuad, John has finally had the opportunity to put together a great quad package that is good for any level of quad flyer.

When making a “Signature” kite for a flyer, there’s two approaches that you can take. You can duplicate what their “trademark” kite was, which in John’s case would have been the blue fade Rev I kite that he flew for over decade or, considering the fact he switched to the Rev 1.5 more than a year ago, you can give him a designers hat and say, “John, what would you like to see in a kite”, and have him come up with something a little more forward thinkings and incorporate some new directions for multline flying.

After what eventually became hundreds of emails and a few prototypes of the various pieces, a final design was approved. A Rev 1.5 sized kite, complete with 2 frame sets (standard and an ultra light frames), new sail graphics, custom tied handles and weights on the bottom tips. Not necessarily what one would call an earth shattering departure from Revs of years gone but, more of a refinement of the Rev package and certainly the largest package ever sold for one Revolution.

Two other points of note with respect to this kite, you will see that there is no more mylar in use for this particular kite, due to John’s preferences. And also, you won’t find an SLE rod, due to for John’s preferences for the thinner 1/4″ ID rods, for which he has long preached as giving superior flight characteristics over the thicker SLE rods. Unfortunately, my sole contribution to the B series design, that being that every kite would come in a custom blue velvet bag with fake snow leopard fur was ultimately dropped.

Quality of Construction
Given that this kite is meant to be at the upper end of their “regular” production kites, the quality of the kite, and the accessories it comes with are excellent and typical of Rev 1.5 SLEs that have been out over the last few years. Visually, its definitely a little different with a completely new sail pattern that John developed which incorpates essentially the same look whether the kite is vented or not, with an eye towards a consistent visual impression in the sky. Beyond the visual differences, its essentially the same construction materials as well, with no changes to the long established end cap/bungie combination thats been used for years.

Below is a picture of the weighting thats being used with this kites, which is a first in Revolutions. While various people have worked with weights and Rev kites (notably Fabrice Baldan from France) this is the first time we have seen anything like this on a production Revolution. They are removable but, I do recommend you take care to not lose these and at some point, if you always have them on, you may wish to tie them directly to the end caps themselves

Lastly, the handles that come with the B Series are what has long been known as the 13 inch or SUL handle, with the metal tubing utilizing the thicker foam. But, in a departure from whats long been Rev’s approach to handles, these ones actually come pre-knotted to allow for different positions in the same fashion John and many of the other top Rev flyers have been doing on their own for years.

One minor difference between previous Rev 1.5’s and the B-Series is that the bridle is all black instead of the typical red/black thats been the norm for the last few years. This was strictly a visual preference for John and probably stems back from so many years on Rev I’s with their thicker black Dacron bridles.

Design Features and Tuning
Often, when reviewing a quad kite, there’s not much to put in this section, at least with a design thats been around for roughly 20 years, however in this particular case, there are a couple of specific design features and even some tuning that is possible.

First off, there are the handles. Modeled from what John has been using for many years now, the handles are the first Revolution handles to come with the top leader lines pre-knotted for various wind ranges and flight styles. While its excellently explained in the brochure that comes with the kite (in a break from their past, Revolution had John write up a custom sheet specifically to augment the “usual” instruction sheet that comes with Revolution Kites) the handles allow for quick adjustment, letting a flyer have more or less forward and reverse flight with a simple handle adjustment.

John designed the sail paneling with stretch in mind, so that as the sail loosens, those vertical stripes actually create channels running from the leading edge to the trailing edge, which will increase precision for those who have enough skill to notice the difference.

With the pair of frames this kite comes with, some amount of frame tuning is possible as well. Is the breeze a little lighter than “standard” wind? Replace the verticals with the included 2 wrap ones. Still need to gain a little more? Replace the leading edge tips with the UL rods as well, leaving merely the leading edge center as the heavier one. Or, Is it so windy that the standard leading edge is flexing a little too much for your comfort? You can simply slide the entire UL leading edge in beside the standard one, nearly doubling the strength. As a side note with respect to this, iQuad has successfully flown in 30+ mph using this combination method of leading edges, ie, a vented kite, and TWO leading edges will provide enough strength to keep your kite in one piece. That being said, DO exercise caution in very high winds. While it may be possible, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wise.

But wait, one further adjustment, to weight or to not weight (or is that knot weight?)? Weights are really only going to benefit you with respect to slackline-ish moves on a Rev, ie, Axels or Flic-Flacs. Additionally, you can experiment with placing the weights in any of the six different end capped rods for different effects. But, if you have no intention of doing anything like this, simply put them in a safe place somewhere for the time being.

Flight photos by David Hathaway

Wind Range
Give the options afforded by supplying two frames with this kite, you end up with a kite that has a very large wind range, from as low as 3 mph with the UL frame in place, up to 25 mph once you have dual (double) leading edges in place.

Amount of Pull and Sensitivity
Given this model’s heritage, the pull is much the same as you’d expect from a Revolution 1.5, from next to nothing in a low breeze to a “tilt yourself 45 degrees backwards” pull in a high wind, but, as always, the beauty in the Revolution designs in general is its still flyable in much the same manner regardless of the wind. You can move across the sky at a specific speed regardless of whether its 5 mph or 15 mph. For sensitivity, it is noticeably different in comparision to the EXP and last years 1.5 SLE, due to the slightly longer handles. These come stock with the 13 inch SUL handles but, also with the handles knotted in multiple places as discussed before, giving you one of the most tuneable “as is” Revs ever sold.

The key factor with regard to pull is the fact that you can ride the brakes (bottom lines) and not only control speed, but also reduce the pull by shedding wind. The Rev pulls hardest when flying in a “full forward” fashion.

Unusual Flight Behaviors
While the weighting certainly does make a slight difference to the overall performance of this kite, its not one of those night and day kind of differences, its a subtle effect. Of course its noticeable with any slack line type tricks but, you will also find it adds a little bit of help with precision moves as well, just by providing a little extra weight to give momentum. What’s more noticeable for many flyers though will be the lack of SLE sized rod for a leading edge. If you have spent all your time flying with SLE sized rods, the bending characteristics of the thinner rods may weirds you out for a short time, but, speaking from personal experience, it can be worth the short term pain to get the thinner leading edge under control. For quite a few years, I flew nothing but SLE’ed 1.5s and at this point, I’ll never go back, I simply prefer the bend and give/take of the thinner.

Strongest Tricks
Rev tricks? Revs don’t do tricks! Well, usually not, however there’s been a few that have been available and perhaps with more of a focus on Rev trick flying, someone will develop some new ones as well.

As you’d expect, by adding a couple of grams to each lower tip on a 1.5, you gain some momentum on the wing. This makes tricks such as axels a little bit easier to get under control.

In addition to axels, the weights tend to assist with even more exotic tricks like the Falling Leaf or Lazy Susan… Yes, Lazy Susan… John is still working on consistency, but he’s been able to pull the move off successfully about 10% of the time while using this new kite.

Precision (corners, tracking, speed)
As you’d expect from a kite with John’s name on it, its a bit of a precision monster. I referred to it above but, the extra weight (once you get used to it) can make your corners just a little bit tighter and sharper. Having the weight on the bottom also acts to spread the overall weight of the kite a little more evenly around the outer edges. Given the short amount of time I’ve had on this so far (I’m slated to get my first one in mere days now, so, I will probably update this through the Revisions column after having it for a couple of months) I figure I have yet to really tap what this will offer in the long run.

As described by John, the Rev doesn’t truly lock into it’s precision and tracking abilities until the leading edge takes on a slight bend (allowed by the 1/4″ ID leading edge), which also enhances reverse flight precision significantly… Using an SLE, the Rev tends to oversteer more, it jerks into accelleration and tends to waver more during reverse flight.

Flying Experience
While I would have preferred to have WEEKS on this kite before reviewing it, its also fair to say that I’m very familiar with whats gone into this kite and why he’s chosen what he has, as I spent much of the last year getting beaten by him in competition. Mercilessly. Repeatedly. But, the change in my flying style by going back to the thinner leading edge and the wide wind range afforded by having multiple frames made a definite difference in last years competition for me, and I expect that anyone who owns one of these packages will get a lot of mileage out of the kite and a lot of fun trying out various framing options. Maybe the Vented model should come with a standard frame and a 2 wrap, SUL frame! You’ll enjoy this kite in a wide variety of winds and situations and with the sharp new sail patterm it will stand out quite nicely in the sky. Summary
Given the price of this kite as a package (MRSP is set at $299.00), your local dealer will sell for less, you get the SUL handles, a complete 1.5, a complete second UL frame and better instructions… This is less expensive than a 1.5 SLE with the added frame, plus you get the extra options such as weights and a pre-tied adjustment system on the handles.

I’d rate this package as a great deal, even if there wasn’t an iQuad logo on it. An excellent first Revolution if you are serious about getting into quad line kites with the newer instructions, and also a great Revolution to add to an existing collection of kites.

Available from these fine retailers: A Wind of Change, The Kite Shoppe,
MidWest Kites, Elmer’s Flag & Banner, Cutting Edge Kites