Size Tested: 9 m, 12 m The Fuse is North Kiteboarding’s high-performance, four-line, dedicated freeride wave kite that has improved depower control and wind range with some new bridle technology and tons of North-quality, high-tech materials. It has versatility and performance for a diverse range of skill levels and conditions.
Control Bar and Safety Systems The North Trust Bar quad setup has an aggressive, narrow EVA grip that’s textured but soft on the hands. The bar is adjustable in length and has streamlined bar floats. Great safety and reliability back this setup’s name, and North’s Iron Heart IV trim loop sets high standards for quick release, even while under extreme load. Multiple-level leash options are well-designed and can be engaged quickly as you stay within reach of the Iron Heart. The Vario cleat trim works easily above the bar and is customizable as to how much sheet-able versus trim-able depower you want. Over the years, North has built upon the functionality of this bar, with well-engineered components like the below-the-bar swivel, which make it easy to untwist your front lines.
Performance Highlights • Huge boosting kite with optimum control • Fast pulling and good upwind • Improved depower and control while sheeted
When the original Fuse was tested in 2009, we were impressed by its huge glide character and direct steering. This new Fuse steps it up a few notches with improved handling, better depower and more responsive control at all angles of attack. The Fuse has a Rebel-like familiarity to it, but with easier water relaunch and quicker onset of depower. The depower comes on faster and more completely while sheeting at arm’s length, which also makes the Fuse better-suited to the progressing rider than the more wave-focused Rebel. The Fuse’s performance doesn’t misstep for the advanced freestyle riding; it lit up the test score charts in jumping, hang time and overall range of use. The boosting nature of the Fuse is characterized by big and long, but controlled, gliding jumps, with reactive steering overhead that can let you down for a smooth landing every time. If you like going big and checking out a Plover’s-eye view of the beach, the Fuse is for you. Unhooked, the Fuse performs admirably with some trimming, and there’s good pop and control with smooth power delivery through kite loops. Testers also noted the awesome upwind drive of the Fuse: it holds together, sits on the edge of the window and powers upwind well. There’s no doubt the Fuse might be able to light it up to the windward mark on race day, or get you to the backside quickly for the next waveride.
Reality Check Trying to get the kite packed into the bag is hard sometimes when there’s these pesky little battens built into the wing tips. Good idea: take the course on Kite-packing With Battens 101.
Bottom Line The Fuse is tame and safe enough to learn with and can now step up to challenge thoroughbred models designed the more advanced disciplines. It has huge jumping character and top-notch control at more levels of depower than any kite of this test.