About the 2017 Matrixx III. HQ does a great job of producing a kite model and sticking with it for a few seasons before they offer a new version. Regular updates and improvements are always welcome but it can be frustrating from a consumer point of view and for the dealers. But HQ tends to stick with stuff for a bit before any major changes. For example the original Matrixx was around for a while before the Matrixx 2 came out. The Matrixx 2 was a considerable jump in design and performance over the original and an absolute joy to fly and came out a few years after the original.
This year however, counter to HQ's normal product release cycle, they have already come with an updated version of the Matrixx and we now have a 3rd version. After some production issues with the Matrixx 2 series HQ now has a new design being produced in a new factory.
Though the kite looks very much like the Matrixx 2, the Matrixx III has had some changes made to enhance it's performance and optimize it to make it more compatible with rapidly growing and popular foil boarding segment of kitesport. How do these changes benefit those of us on snow? Only time will tell. But even in the short amount of time we've spent playing with it, it is clear that the new kite offers a very similar comfortable feel that we loved about the Matrixx 2 but with a bit more performance.
Handling : Like the Matrixx 2 in experienced hands the new kite launches easily without any pre-inflation. Riders less experienced will benefit from some amount of pre-inflation but really, with a little practice, it launches pretty easy right out of the bag. A little extra back line tension as you launch is helpful. The intakes on this kite have been repositioned to help improve inflation and maintain internal air pressure and from what we saw they do a very good job. The Matrixx 2 inflated very well and this kite is even better.
Once in the air the Matrixx III feels a bit more "sporty" than the Matrixx 2. Turn rate is faster and it feels more lifty than the Matrixx 2. This could simply be a byproduct of the shorter turn response or it may actually be generating more lift. My feeling is that it is a little bit of both. Until we really get out with it and put the kite through some proper paces, I really can't say for sure.
But I can say that I like the feel and the snappy but smooth power delivery.
Even in the erratic winds I've been flying this kite in the last few days (4kt-15kts) I felt comfortable snapping the wing around, sheeting in and getting some low but floaty static boosts. At speed I would bet the Matrixx 3, especially in the 12 and 9m sizes, will be a crowd pleaser for those who want to send it to the moon.
The kite is uber stable. Being a closed cell it has some advantages in light shifty winds as it resists collapse and and is able to power through holes in the wind. Some major shifts that caused the kite to fold in half, the internal air pressure helped maintian shape and greatly increased your chances of recovery. The same collapse on a kite like the Zeekai or other open cells would be less likely to work out. One thing that we noticed is some tendency to overfly in gusts when sitting at the zenith. Nothing drastic that couldn't easily be offset by sheeting in slightly or repositioning the kite but it was noticable compared to the Matrixx 2. By no means is it a deal breaker or a mark against the kite's stability. Just something noteworthy to anyone who is familiar with the Matrixx 2.
Given that the Matrixx III has been optimized to make it more foil board compatible, and has a higher AR than the previous Matrixx series, it's not suprising that it exhibits some amount of overflight tendency similar to other high AR race variants. At a lesser level of overflight than many race kites but slightly more than you would see from the Matrixx 2. We think that the Matrixx III is beginning to blur the line between freestyle kite and race focused kites an the overflight that we saw is minimal and within reason given the potential performance benefit. It's worth noting that when set at the edge of the window the kite was very stable and rock solid, even in gusts and ehibited no overflight at the window edge, which for our area is important as we rarely can safely sit with the kite at the zenith if we need a break.
Another thing we noticed is a lack of wingtip collapse. Even while hot launching a completely flat kite. Even if you get heavy handed and over bar steer the via the leader, the kite was solid and resisted wingtip collapse or wrapping around the bridle.
Gust handling seemed on par with the Matrixx 2. When static flying, you really get a sense of how well the kite is handling the gust factor as you don't have the ability to alter your ride to deal with it. The Matrixx III did very well in the gusts and the depower when needed worked as you would hope. Turn rate was slightly affected by trimming the kite out completely but it was still good.
The Depower on this kite is great. Static flying you can trim it all the way out and bring it across the window and it is very gentle and forgiving. Let the trim out and she is a beast. Hard to say how it compares to the Matrixx 2 without side by side comparison but it is good and should instill confidence.
Safety Systems and Bar : The 2017 Matrixx III uses a FLS (Front Line Safety). As we now sell the kite in the KO (Kite only) option, this means that anyone with a 4 line bar that uses a FLS safety, can mate thier bar to the new kite. Some people may find that some bar tuning is required to get the best perfromance out of the Matrixx III but this could be as simple as adding a few pigtails. There is nothing exotic here and the kite should work fine on most 4 line FLS bars. When the safety, a push away design, is activated the Matrixx III flags out off the front line.
The kite is attached to your lease by a 4.5 line that runs through the CL, bar, a ring on the cleat and then the spinner. When activated the bar slides down the 4.5 line and eventuallyto a stopper. Like other systems, the stopper needs to be at least the wing length away from you to flag out effectively. Which this is. The 4.5 line has an integrated bungee which does a good job of mitigating the shock that can occure when releasing the kite. It works well and takes the edge off.
Like many FLS systems, the kite can flop around a bit upon release. This might make a mess in the lines while the bar is sliding to the stopper. If you pay attention to what the bar is doing it is an easy thing to pick up the bar, reset the safety and feed the 4.5 line out until even line tension and relaunch.
The only "issue" we had with activating the safety system is occasionally one of the bridles would fall behind the wingtip. This is not uncommon with kites that have long thin bridle assemblies and it is easily remedied by rolling the kite over, leading edge down, and reverse launching.
The FLS is the "end all" means of bringing the kite down. Otherwise, depending on the bar you use, a stall handle is likely your primary means for landing the kite. The bar we are using on the Matrixx III is the HQ One bar and it's the nicest bar HQ has ever offered. The only "downside" to it is that they have gone to stall/reverse launch balls on the back line leaders. Similar to what you see on other brands. Generally we install stall handles on if it doesn't affect the function of the safety systems. Stall handles are easier to grab with winter gloves and we will be installing them on our Matrixx III demos.
Build Quality: Like the Matrixx 2 from last season, It has the same super thin low drag bridles that we saw on the Matrixx 2 but it almost seems to be less bridling. I'd have to compare them side by side to be sure. Stitch work seems great and there were no indication of any issues. The new vents are completely different. New rectangular shape and placed in strategic locations to ensure faster inflation rate and consistent internal air pressure. There are no odd panels cut for the sake of graphics and the kite is covered with sublimated graphics.
The new vents are completely different. New rectangular shape and placed in strategic locations to ensure faster inflation rate and consistent internal air pressure. There are no odd panels cut for the sake of graphics and the kite is covered with sublimated graphics. All the bridle points look solid, the rear zip is the same as years past and includes the lycr bit to cover the zipper and keep it from snagging. The dust outs work well are big enough and have the blocking flap to allow you to fly with the dust outs open incase you need to vent water, sand or snow. The kite flies very well with the dust outs open.
The Matrixx III has a higher cell count than the Matrixx 2 did. The cell counts are the same throughout the entire size range.
Bottom Line: As I type this review the snow is finally falling and in the next few days we should have conditions worth riding. Once we get to use the Matrixx III in motion it we will have a better idea of the kite's personality and performance. Obviously static flying isn't going to expose all the traits of the kite to us but it does let us know a lot about it. If the kite can fly well in choppy winds and be managed while standing still in most of it's wind range, it's a well behaved wing. At this point we're pretty excited about the Matrixx III. I have confidence that it will be as great a kite as the Matrixx 2 and a good option for anyone that wants a kite that can do a bit of everything and do it well while not killing off thier bank account. As we said last year, HQ is really producing some great kites and the Matrixx series is really worth considering if you are in the market for a new wing. Especially if you are in the market for a kite to ride year round.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this review which will be posted as soon as we can get out and really ride!
If you'd like to come demo the new 2017 Matrixx III or purchase one HARDWATER KITING (www.hardwaterkiter.com) has them available for this winter. Come visit and check them out!
Thanks for reading.
Hardwater Kiting: You will not find many reviewers with more depower foil experience anywhere. These reviews are non-brand biased and based on our first hand experiences and those of our customers. The reviews are intended to educate and help kiters make the often hard decision of which kite to spend their hard earned dollars on.