At HARDWATER KITING we've been using the Viron 2 as a back up school kite to augment our school kite quiver. Having a 2.5m closed cell depowerable kite is great when you are faced with students in the sub 100lb range or for a kite to be used strictly as a trainer for raw beginners. However we have found the Viron to be a great kite in all it's size options and we felt that after a sufficient amount of time in our service it was due for a review. So here we go!
About the Viron 2 DLX: The Viron 2 DLX is Flysurfer's entry level closed cell foil. Intended primarily as a beginner/instructional kite (a task which it excels at) with a top end factory wind rating of 40 kts for the 2.5m it is a phenomenal high wind kite as well. The design has been around for a little over half a decade and although the original in our opinion was not a great kite the current version is more refined, more lively and fun to fly while retaining the docile qualities that make it an ideal kite for novices or riders who want to fly something that won't get them into trouble in conditions that are outside their comfort zone. The Viron 2 DLX is confidence inspiring to say the least.
Set Up and Launch: Set up is pretty straight forward and not unlike other foil kites. The bridle system is extremely simple and doesn't have the same intimidation factor that other kites may have for riders who have not flown foils before. Initial launch can be somewhat tricky, especially in light winds as the kite is closed cell and effective flight is impossible until the kite builds internal air pressure. The DLX (light weight) material and the resulting reduced weight offers considerable benefit in the initial launch however. All the Viron 2's have only one intake yet in a steady wind, even light wind, it tends to inflate rapidly. On really cold days we found that it's a good idea to reach into the intake during set/pre-flight and open it up a bit as static cling will reduce the airflow and slow inflation. Unlike some other closed cells however, the Viron 2 intake is open and easily accessed.
Handling : The Viron 2 DLX, when first flown, may be a bit sluggish for some people's tastes. It's slow methodical and completely absent of any rapid response to steering inputs. This is likely intended as it keeps novice fliers with zero experience from making errors due to heavy handed steering inputs. For raw beginners we feel this is beneficial but for experienced fliers it's just really sluggish. However the steering response can be adjusted with setting found under the floats and the kite can be set to fly much more responsive and similar to what one might expect from most kites. The stock setting ranges will work for most people but the settings, which are knots, can be removed and re-positioned to better fine tune the kite's steering and sheeting response to individual tastes. For the kites we use in our lessons we adjusted the knots to fly best in the broad range of conditions we experience here in New England.
Once in the air the uniqueness of the Viron 2 DLX become evident. It is an odd looking kite without a doubt with an unusual shape and bridle system. One would even say it is somewhat ugly but after using these kites for a while you come to appreciate that Flysurfer opted to follow function over aesthetics and have produced a kite that does as intended and does it well. The kite seems almost alive and in a short period of airtime you come to realize that these kites are clearly designed to instill a sense of security and confidence. Almost "cuddly" if there is such a thing in kite design. For trainer kites they are phenomenal. At Hardwater Kiting we discontinued fixed bridle (non-depower) trainer use 2 years ago. A move which some would say is wrong but one we think is prudent as it removes the confusion students experience when we shifted them from fixed bridles to depowers. Now, with a 2.5m depowerable kite we can train even the most novice riders on a depower with even greater safety than small fixed bridles ever offered and without any confusion as they transition to larger wings. This eliminates the time we often have to spend breaking the students of flight habits students developed while flying the old style trainers.
Resulting in better use of their lesson time and faster progression towards being a self sufficient snow kiter.
For advanced riders the Viron 2 DLX really shines. One of the few kites on the market that has a size that is rated to 40 kts on land this tells us that the kite is capable of so much more than just being a beginner friendly kite. Everyone knows how much we love the Ozone Access kites. They have proven to be some of the best high wind, gust handling kites we have ever had the pleasure of riding. The Viron 2 is right up there with the Access in terms of just being a dream to fly in the nastiest conditions you can imagine. In comparison you cannot go wrong with either kite depending on what you are looking for. The Viron 2 DLX is like a closed cell Access. It has slightly, SLIGHTLY less power than the Access in each size and slightly more depower. It's closed cell and can be used on water. However it does not go upwind as well as the Access and has a slower turn rate. If you want the absolute easiest and forgiving kite the Viron is the one to go for. The Access for a little more excitement without getting into freeride/style kites. The Viron 2 is a bit more forgiving than the Access and more forgiving of your mistakes at the cost of some "sportiness".
In 30 kts on firm snow with a 200lb rider the 4m Viron is fun although can be a little under powered especially as you try to head up wind. The 6m is a joy to ride and all of these kites will change the way you look at high wind days. This kite eats gusts for breakfast!
Relaunch: The Viron 2 DLX has what Flysurfer terms as "Auto-Relaunch". Memories are fuzzy but it seems to us the Viron 1 auto relaunch was exactly that, AUTO. The kite would simply roll over and launch itself with minimal or zero pilot input. For us and our teaching environment that was NOT a desirable trait. On the ice sometimes when the kite comes down you want to keep it down and let the student figure out how to relaunch. It is probably a great trait on the water in steady winds and direction but here in New England on the lakes, not so much. The Viron 2 however is less "auto" and more "assisted". The Viron 2 is extremely easy to get righted and back into the air. Reverse launches are a easy as can be. The low AR (aspect ratio) and closed cell design make maneuvering the kite back into the air almost effortless without being fully automatic. Again, when working to get the kite back into the air there are no surprises and the term "cuddly" comes to mind again. It is the easiest kite to relaunch that we've ever used. And being made of DLX material allows it to relaunch easily even in light winds.
Safety Systems and Depower: The Viron 2 DLX safety systems are activated the same way as other kites in the Flysurfer line up. Pop the push away safety at the chicken loop however and unlike the FLS found on other kites the Viron has a small internal bridle system that compresses the kite while also putting all the tension on a single line attached to a small split at the kite's leading edge centered on the intake. This both kills the kite but also reduces its projected area. The kite lays dead. Similar to the safety found in the Ozones and similarly effective.
Depower of the Viron 2 is broad, effective and responsive. The Viron 2's depower is a close match to the depower found in the Flysurfer Peak series but without the negative affects on flight quality. The bar throw on the Viron 2 is generally all the depower we have ever felt a need to use but all the kites come with a clam cleat trim system to mechanically set the angle of attack and further enhance the depower sheeting effect. Like many kites, heavy trim results in excessively slack back lines and extremely slow steering response. Almost no steering response if fully trimmed. But We have never had to fully trim the kites. Generally with just 3-4cm of trim and the bar fully sheeted out the kites can be flown directly across the wind window while generating near zero pull. There are a number of kites that come close to this quality but when you fly the Viron 2 you notice the depower is a bit more effective. Like other kites in the Flysurfer stable the Viron 2 uses "Triple Depower" allowing the kite to change not only angle of attack but also projected area and the kite's physical profile. It's really remarkable.
Build Quality: The Viron 2 shares the same build quality found in other Flysurfer offerings and is top notch. Design details are well made and work as expected. The minimal bridles, the single pulleys on the wingtips, blow out valves and wingtip water drains are are solidly made and smartly placed. Little features like red and green wingtips, which aid in determining wing attitude and linsets that are mudular and allow easy half-lining (thus great increasing upper wind range on a given size) are helpful little features for us as we use them for teaching.
The Viron 2 is said to be built tougher than the Viron 1 yet it the Viron 2 is made of DLX fabric. Stitching looks excellent and the only noticeable wear we've experienced with our kites is the centerline. Which is essentially the same as the center line found on the Peak 1 which also showed wear somewhat quickly. This was mostly evident on the 2.5 and 4m sizes. the 6 and recently released 8m kites have the Infinity 3 bar which has a better eyelet which seems to wear the center line a bit less. Otherwise the kites themselves have shown very little wear while in use in our winter conditions.
Bottom Line: The Viron is yet another "dark horse" kite. It was designed to be the easiest and safest kite Flysurfer could offer and we feel they really nailed it. However it is also an incredibly versatile kite and is a valuable addition to anyone's quiver looking for an extremely safe and predictable kite in high winds or gusty conditions or a kite that they can let their novice friends play with and not be too concerned about what may happen if they make a mistake. It is a high quality product that offers many of the same qualities of kites like the Ozone Access V6 but in a closed cell, light weight material version and at roughly the same price. The more we use these kites the more we appreciate them and with a starting cost of $499 RTF for a depower 2.5m water relaunchable foil made of deluxe material complete with bar and lines its actually a heck of a value. Some fixed bridle trainers sell for $275 for comparison and are not depower, closed cell or made of deluxe material.
Our only complaint, (and it's really specific to our use), is the color of the kites. The main body being black makes the Viron difficult to spot against the treeline. When someone is on the kite with it low in the window and more than a half mile out the kite becomes very hard to spot. In high winds with high haze we often keep an eye on each other by keeping tabs on other kites as the riders are usually obscured. Hard to see with the Viron. Otherwise it's a great, smooth and friendly kite.
If you'd like to come demo the new Flysurfer Viron 2 DLX or purchase one you can come visit us on the ice or purchase them here on the website.
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.