North Gambler Review
The 2016 North Gambler was designed to handle the abuse that wakestyle and freestyle riders give their boards, with plenty of pop, smooth landings and a tough grind base. Well, we've been riding this board for years and decided it's time for a test review.
There is a lot of boards on the market these days that are targeted for those people who mostly kite, but want to hit the cable park from time to time or some rails and kickers like you'll find in Hood River, Cape Hatteras and several other kite parks around the world. The Tona Pop, Slingshot Refraction, Cabrinha Custom and a huge range of others have always been popular amongst the wakestyle crew. But our staff, team riders and customers seem to have a favourite that they can't go past, year after year. And 2016 has barely scratched the surface of what Craig Cunningham, Tom Court, Colleen Carroll and the North team have in store for the North Gambler.
So you drop your boots into the track system, which we have to note is COMPLETELY different from the early versions. It's no secret that the earliest season track systems were simply not tough enough. The North R&D team have obviously put the hard yards in because this season we haven't had any issues with tracks.
Once you're on the water, you'll notice the board has small fins allowing for plenty of slip on the tail, but with the built in channels you have more than enough grip to power upwind and setup for your first tricks.
The gambler has loads of pop, and the large rocker and channels provide a super soft landing, which really suits me as I get older! Younger, more agile freestyle riders who are really wanting to go fast and pop HUGE may find more from the Team Series and Livewire. They are lighter, snappier boards, so ensure you're dialled into your riding style before comparing these of boards.
On the cable, we've tried a LOT of different kite boards. The biggest drawbacks are that the boards are flat, soft and not tough enough to stand up to rail riding. Thankfully, the Gambler has all of these things covered. Durability wise you don't even need to think about it. I've been cabling this board for months and I've seen kiteboards in worse condition than our demo Gambler. Once you hit a rail, the Gambler provides enough flex for presses, a tough grind base and no catchy edges.
Probably the biggest issue we've found is that when you 50/50 a rail, if you start to come off to the side, the toe/heel channels can grip in the edge of the rail and hold you from slipping off the side.
Air tricks the board is a tad fast when compared to a standard cable board, but really you'll only notice a difference if you jump from cable board to kite board in one session, and even then the Gambler bridges that gap quite comfortably.
If you're a rider who likes your freestyle, rides boots and hits a cable park from time to time, then you need to seriously consider a North Gambler as your next board. While the board isn't the lightest and popiest when compared to pure freestyle boards, it'll save your knees every landing, stand up to the amount of abuse that rails and kickers give it, and really will allow you to treat it like SH*T without any complaints.
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