- KTEST TEAM NOTES
"Matt taught people to kite using Airush’s DNA for years, which is, essentially, a less expensive and less tricked out version of the Lithium. As a result, he logged quite a lot of time on all the available sizes and in a variety of conditions, so was keen to get on the more luxurious Lithium in a non-instructing capacity.
All the Airush kites look great this year. The graphics are very smart and low-key and there’s reinforcement in the key areas along with Airush’s dyneema load frame technology, so the Lithium is certainly robust. Airush use the Boston valve inflation system and most pumps have the mid-sized nozzle that it requires, so you should always be able to borrow a pump with the right attachment. Airush’s bags are really smart and are easy to get the kites in and out of with a quality feel, they’re more like a regular bag you might choose to buy on its own, which is all part of the overall style package that Airush exhibit.
We have ridden the Lithium for many years and each year we see only minor tweaks in the pursuit towards intermediate freeride perfection. This year we rode it in very gusty, cross-off, fully powered conditions as well as more comfortable cross-on conditions.
The Lithium is designed to be a user-friendly, do-it-all kite that can be ridden in variable conditions and that comes across very early on when you ride it. Extremely stable in the air, even in gusty winds, the canopy retains rigidity, even when the wind gets particularly patchy, so as a rider your comfort is very well taken care of at all times. There’s plenty of juice available through sheeting at the bar and, equally, it’s quick to depower when you sheet out. Nicely balancing on/off power that beginners can understand, with a more subtle build up in power that intermediates and advanced riders can start to appreciate, the Lithium inspires confidence and progression.
Bar pressure wise it’s slightly beyond medium and towards the heavier end of the spectrum. It’s not overpowering, but it’s quite direct and always gives you a good indication of where the kite is and what it’s doing. The low end is really impressive; something that we’ve noticed across the last few years on the Lithiums / DNAs even as a much heavier rider, Matt was able to get upwind and build speed faster than lighter riders who were out on the same sized kites and boards. Maxed out, the Lithium retains good levels of comfort with the depower making it still very usable, even in unpleasant gusts. The Lithium is really stable, and that extensive wind range means that you can safely cope with a wide spectrum of winds before having to change up or down. You will also need less kites in your quiver when starting out.
The handling is responsive enough to make sense for any rider and there’s good feedback from the kite with a quick relaunch – that’s reliable, even in lighter winds, which has always been a key design feature of the Lithium. Quick enough through the sky to feel fun and rewarding, it never seems to run out of control – characteristics that are really going to inspire confidence in the early stages.
The natural bar position is just past midway up the throw, which is in contrast to the Union where it’s closer to the chicken loop and requires a little more technical skill. Sheeted out beyond the optimum bar position, the Lithium still steers well, but loses a bit of responsiveness. The steady balance in the reduction of power will encourage riders who don’t have high levels of kite control.
Early freeriders can feel happy to push themselves on the Lithium and, while the lift and hang-time are very good – considering this is Airush’s entry-level kite – the key point here is that you don’t feel any reservations about fully sending it, even when you’re powered. In fact we were well satisfied for hours.
Rewarding poor technique with steady air time, good technique can unlock big airs and the Lithium always looks after its pilot in the sky. There’s never any jerkiness; just constant trajectory. You can certainly loop it too – it’s smooth, consistent and not overly aggressive. Relatively pivotal, it catches you nicely.
There’s a pretty constant tug of power through the turn, so in waves it does feel a little meaty for high performance riders, although the depower is good enough that you’ll be able to shut the power off and put in some tight top turns once you’ve dialed in to the kite. The Lithium is capable, but it’s not designed for performance riding, but as in everything else the kite does, it allows intermediate riders to progress quickly with their turns as it’s very predictable.
For freestyle, the Lithium will take care of all the basic tricks you may want to try and, thanks to the rapid relaunch, you can crash it time and again and be back riding in an instant.
The Airush Smart bar control system is highly functional and very easy. One of the most plug and play systems on the market, the above the bar trimming tabs work cleanly via a webbing strap. The below-the-bar chicken-loop release is extremely clean and well designed and the bar can be extended for different kite sizes via a push-pin extension system, which is very handy. There’s not much not to like about that system.
SUMMARYThis is a kite that anyone can get something out of. It performs well up to a point in all disciplines and the ‘plug and play’ ride characteristics, ease-of-use, build quality and impressive low end mixed with a simple upwind ability make it an awesome kite for beginners and intermediates. Advanced riders can find plenty of boosty freeride fun in it too. If you ride somewhere where conditions can be variable and challenging, the Lithium is a very reliable option.
KW LIKEDSolid build quality, great looks and real all-terrain intermediate capabilities.
KW WOULD CHANGELighter riders may prefer a lighter bar pressure in the bigger sizes.
LITHIUM BALANCE POINTSBuild quality: 9
Full package: 9
Low end: 9
Top end: 8
Steering speed: 6.5
Turning circle: 8
Power through turn: 5
Bar pressure: 7
Water relaunch: 9
- KiteWorld Magazine