2015 North Juice 18m Review

December 29, 2014

When North Kiteboarding released their lightwind freeride kite, the 2015 North Juice, there was a lot of hype floating around the web about how it would perform. We've now had the kite for quiet a while and thought it's about time we let you in on a few rider reviews.


Firstly, we should mention that unlike other popular light wind choices such as the North Dyno & Ozone's Edge & Zephyr, the Juice is not a high aspect race kite. Take the 2015 North Neo as the basis of this kite, double the size and you're starting to get the picture. With a lower aspect ratio and super fast turning, this isn't your average light wind weapon.

The Juice comes in two sizes, 18m and 15m, depending on your definition of "light" winds and your weight. We've not ridden the 15m yet so this is purely an observation of the 18m. Being only three struts and with the big Airport inflate valve, it is surprisingly easy to pump up for it's size. The kite is designed for the Quad Control bar, but as is standard with all North Kiteboarding four line kites, it has the optional nose line if you'd like to run your 5th Element bar on the kite. We'd suggest riding it with the Quad Control, however the 5th Element could be a great option to help with lightwind relaunch when you're pushing the boundaries of it's low end.

WA SURF 2015 North Juice David Probert

Team Rider, David Probert, is seen on the right, riding the Juice 18m and a 5'2" Nugget in about 8 knots of breeze and plenty powered




Session 1 = Flatish/chop 10 -12 knots - 24m lines - Medium bar setting - North Nugget

Session 2 =  Downwinder in waist high waves 12 - 14 knots - 24m lines - light bar setting - Naish Custom 5’10”

 I haven’t had a mass of experience with lightwind kites since my 20m North Rhino back in 2004 which took a week to turn and being a 4 line full on c kite there was no relaunching that beast. I have flown a couple of race kites but again not enough to have a good comparison with the Juice, these are just my honest opinions and findings from a few hours of riding it.

What can i say…. Well straight out the bag as expected you get all the nice North quality that we’re used to, nice simple looking bridle, reinforcements where needed but not too much dacron as i guess to save weight oh and not forgetting the new Airport Valve which is a godsend on such a giant kite. The only thing I did find a little strange when packing down is how far the deflate is from the wing tip, on the North gear you obviously roll all the way to the tip but the dump valve is probably a good 2 meters from the end of the leading edge, minor thing really but still a little strange.

So getting this thing in the air the 1st thing that shone was the stability of kite, the wind was pretty light and the kite just sat there at 12. Tiny bits of movement dropping back in the window to find the wind but when a gust hit it never tried to overfly or give the impression it was gonna fall out of the sky. As i was running to the water i was slightly nervous that i wasn’t gonna go anywhere as it didn’t seem to be pulling too hard through the harness but as soon as i dove the kite for the 1st board start, with a super smooth power delivery it got me up and going straight away. As soon as I got moving the kite built up apparent wind really quickly and I could just park the kite and lean back into it.

The turning of this thing was the real impressing feature, No longer do 18m kites feel that big thanks to the way they turn. To me it felt like a big Neo, I could apply some pressure and do a nice big cruising arc of a turn or if you cranked in on bar it would literally just pivot on the spot and power across the window.  Also the bar pressure especially on the medium setting was just right, had great feedback and turned really smooth, I found on the light setting it was a touch too light for my liking being a lover of C kites I’m just used to having something to hold on too. If you have elbow issues you’ll love how light it actually is in your hands. 

It took a little getting used to having to throw the kite that bit earlier on a bottom turn but as soon as i got it dialled I felt like i was almost on a 12m and Even though the bar pressure was a little light I still struggled to choke the power and stall the kite at any time, obviously on the downwinder there was a few moments but thats when the lightness and drift capabilities of the kite really proved themselves. It actually drifted really well considering the cross on conditions.

To be honest it’s really hard to pick any bad points about this kite, being on the water in 10knots is always gonna be better than not but North really have produced an easy, fun freeride lightwind kite that will give you many more hours than your mates on the water. And in relation to the rest of their line you can definitely tell its take its main characteristics from the Neo which was without a doubt my favourite wave kite last year.

Will definitely be hitting up WASURF for a few more demo’s of this kite to give it a real go on a twin tip and jumping but so far I’m pretty convinced I’ll be buying one.

Construction only needs to be mentioned for those not familiar with North Kiteboarding (ha! Like that's ever happened). It is top notch. You would find it near impossible to find a better constructed product in the world of kiteboarding.

The kite has three settings for the rear lines according to your required bar pressure and required turning speed. The factory "medium" settings are pretty good, but we moved it to the lighter settings and found it to be slightly faster turning and just the right amount of bar pressure. This one is worth playing with as it does make a fair bit of difference.

One of our newest staff members, Tom Butler from the UK was seen throwing double back-roll kiteloops on the 18!


No need to mention build quality as in true NKB fashion its only the best... that super big valve is a nice treat on such a big kite though!!! Launching the kite for the first time I already knew the light wind ability of this kite could be ticked off...it pulls like a train! I am 70kgs so even in 14knots I was getting pulled down wind .. sheet the bar out and dig your heels in and I am sure heavier guys would hold it easily. The kite turns super quick for an 18m meaning you can still send it for some hangtime and because its so big and stable it gives you the confidence to try some new stuff, exactly what you want in light winds. It doesn't do anything silly it sits there and lets you get on with cruising up and down, popping off the water and doing some carves.

For those wanting to know what was going through the head of the NKB designers when coming up with the JUICE, perhaps have a read below. For those not too interested in the tech stuff, perhaps skip to the bottom of the page.


There are at least three main types of big kites:

-There are the big race kites, which are fast and have big wind range but aren't generally the best for handling or jumping. These kites need at least five struts and need to be light, so they have to be lightly built and are not the most bomb-proof kites around.

-Then there are the big airstyle kites, which have great wind range and jumping but are slow turning. These kites don't have to be particularly light because they are flown in plenty of wind, but this means they aren't the best at staying in the air in light wind.

- Finally, there are the big handling-oriented kites. These have to be light, durable and quick-turning. They're good for jumping and popping in light wind, but can also go big when powered. Unlike airstyle kites, they need to be nimble and quick. Unlike race kites, it's ok if they're not the last word in upwind performance.

This is where the Juice comes in. The Juice is based roughly on the Neo arc, strut count, profile and outline, but the aspect ratio has been stretched from 4.5 to 5.3, and the leading edge diameter has been shrunk a bit. The center strut is conventional -- so as to improve overall stability -- and the back pigtail is conventional because a relaunch bungee won't work well on such a thick LE tip.

- See more at: http://www.northkiteboarding.com/products/kites/juice/#sthash.ZbTZNc34.dpuf


Anyone looking for a light wind freeride kite that can perform above the rest in both waves and flatwater should definately give the Juice plenty of consideration. It turns quickly, has plenty of juice and will take you wave riding when your mates tell you you're dreaming! Demo one today at WA SURF and you'll be stoked!

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