"The Access is Ozone’s entry level De-power foil kite that has been designed to make the learning process of Snow kiting as safe and easy as possible."
This is in our opinion the understatement of the year. We don't deny the accuracy of it but really it doesn't do the 2015 Ozone Access series of kites justice.
About the Access: When HARDWATER KITING picked up Ozone we did so as an effort to expand the offerings of kites for our students and clients. Ozone has a long history both globally and locally in the snow kite game and it's difficult to find a snow kiter who has been riding the last decade who didn't own at least one Ozone snow kite at some point. Most of us got our starts on the venerable Frenzy series back in 2004. Honestly we didn't have a lot of personal interest in the brand after nearly a decade of drifting away from the Ozone locally and seeing it replaced by other offerings. Offerings that were either more affordable or better suited for riding in our generally tough conditions.
That changed last season when we brought in some of the 2014 line as demo kites. We were thoroughly impressed with how far Ozone had come. Especially kites like the Access and the Summit. We weren't too excited about the 2014 Frenzy to be honest. Felt like the Summit and Access had a baby IMO. Not a bad kite just wasn't very exciting. Given that it has been completely redesigned for the 2015 season we can only assume Ozone felt the same.
This season we purchase 2 kite quivers to be used for teaching/demo kites. In 2014 Access proved to be an excellent kite. We found it performed better than the kites were were using at the time for teaching. For 2015 we decided that we would use the Ozone Access as our moderate to high wind school kite quiver. In discussions with Ozone we found the 2015 was identical to the 2014 but with the new Re-Ride safety system.
In our normally gusty conditions choosing the right kite for our students is critical in ensuring they feel safe and confident which is key to their success in learning. If you aren't comfortable and feel as though the kite is trying to beat you up, learning to fly will be stressful and not much fun.
The 2015 Ozone Access eliminates the uneasiness that some people feel the first time the fly a kite. It truly is an awesome beginner kite as Ozone states. But really in terms of versatility and usefulness the 2015 Ozone Access is really so much more.
Obviously the 2015 Access is being marketed towards beginner riders. And without a doubt it is a top level kite for beginners. Ozone has a reputation for making top quality kites and even as a beginner kite the Access is still a premium wing with the same attention to detail that "higher" end offerings tend to get.
And although it is being marketed as a beginner wing it really has a much farther reaching range of use.
The 2015 Ozone Access is an unbelievable high wind kite. As with most kites the factory spec'd wind ranges on the Access are pretty conservative. The low end wind ranges tend to be fairly accurate with the Access but the high wind ranges are a bit higher than spec'd if flown by a pilot with experience. We have flown these kites in gusts up to 45kts and the Access not only allowed us to to this with a feeling of security but also enjoyment.
The Access will change the way you look at high winds. It is remarkable how the kite handles gusting and how stable it is. To the point where as an experienced rider I initially found myself doubting my senses. The first time we did a high wind test session on the Access we were riding in winds blowing 30kts gusting to 45kts. When we arrived to the riding site all the information being fed to me by my eyes, ears and wind meter, told me we were going to be working hard today. Looking into a haze of snow being torn from a lake's surface and throw 25 feet into the air usually causes me to a little hesitation. But when we got into it, on the the Access, I comfortable as I would cruising in 15kts.
In fact I started to doubt my senses.
The lack of abuse I was experiencing, the smoothness in the wing and the fact that I was on a 6m without any need to trim, really made me second guess what I was hearing and seeing. I only became aware of how well the kite was working when another kiter asked me what kite I was on. He asked because he was getting the hell beat out of himself on a 4m while I was riding effortlessly. At that point I gave him the 6m and switched UP the the 8m. Again in winds gusting over 40kts. I had to trim the 8m by about 3 inches to be really comfortable. After the other kiter rode the Access for a while he decided there was nothing in his quiver that could do what this kite does and purchased one from hardwaterkiter.com.
It was an enlightening experience. In conditions that I would normally shy away from bridled kites and resort back to my Peter Lynn Arc flying the Access proved to be more than suitable. Add the safety and effectiveness of the Re-Ride system and you have an amazingly safe and easy kite to fly.
I know. "Amazingly safe and easy" isn't really the description that elicits feelings of excitement in kite terms. The Access isn't a lifty freestyle hucking machine. In situations where you want to fly an Access you don't want a freestyle kite. It's a "beginner kite" or more accurately we like to label as a "Touring" kite. Even the original Access was in kind of that same vein. Thus the name "Access". A kite designed for touring the back country just so happens to usually be good for beginners and for teaching. Low aspect ratio, easy to fly, low lift make it a winner in both categories.
Handling : The 2015 Ozone Access is a surprisingly nimble kite. The turn rate is excellent and can be enhanced considerably with over bar steering. The size with the broadest usable range for most riders seemed to be the 6m. We feel it's the "sweet spot" in the size range as it has an unbelievable high end wind range but a good lower end range in non-deep snow conditions. As a school we really only use the 4m for high wind/small student situations. The wind conditions that would warrant use of the 4m for a rider like myself in the 200+ pound range are relatively rare and usually not much fun to fly in. Much like an 18m Ozone Chrono or 21m Flysurfer will ensure a few solitary session in light winds, the 4m and 6m do the same for high wind days. The 8m is a great all round kite and a good moderate high wind (25kt+) for heavier riders (180lbs)+. Although it has much of the depower and gust handling of the smaller kites it can still generate some lift if put in the right place. Intentionally or unintentionally. The 10m is a solid powerhouse. It will get you moving on smooth, firm surfaces in 7kts and is still fun up to 20kts. We haven't flown the 12m. We can only suspect that the 12m follows suit with it's smaller siblings but works as a better option for heavier riders in average to moderate low winds. Given the kite's nature and it's being made of standard material it is not a true light wind kite.
Safety Systems : for 2015 the Ozone Snowkite Series received the new Re-Ride system. This is a purpose built depower specific to Ozone snowkites and found on all models but the Chrono. It consists of a 5th line actuated bridle assembly cunningly place inside the kite! When the safety system is activated the 5th line will draw on the internal bridle and cause the kite to fold up a bit like an accordion for lack of a better description. Essentially the kite balls up and falls from the sky. This system works great as a safety system but it also works well as a method for landing and relaunching.
For example the Re-Ride system reduces or eliminates our need for ice screws.
Our normal landing procedure is as follows...
1. Depower the kite.
2. Set an ice screw.
3. Anchor depower line/brakes to ice screw.
4. Secure/pack kite at end of lines.
5. Wind your lines.
6. Pull ice screw.
With the Re-Ride system we do this...
1. Activate Re-Ride system.
2. Wind lines. This winds the lines but also BRINGS THE KITE TO YOU. No need to secure the wing. (Something you should NEVER DO with a non Re-Ride equipped kite)
3. Pack the kite.
The ability to do this shortens launch and pack down times to just under 3 minutes without rushing.
When we first saw the video of the Re-Ride system in action we were skeptical as what is often claimed to work doesn't work well in our shifty and gusty conditions.
The Re-Ride however has been phenomenal and we are true believers in it now. The only snow kite that doesn't come with a Re-Ride is the _Chrono. As it's a closed cell for use on water as well as land having a couple of mid-wing holes probably isn't the best option.
If you don't want to use the Re-Ride to land the kite the Access still has a brake handle which attaches to both back lines and allows you to stall land the kite the same way we have been since 2004. Note: this is the same handle used to reverse launch the wing.
Build Quality : Maintaining Ozone's reputation for offering premium products the Access is built on par with the "higher" end offerings. The kite is made to be durable and is smartly designed. For example Ozone has implemented internal cross bracing in this kite which drastically lowers the number of bridles required. This reduces the parasitic drag as well as the risk of tangles. The Access has blow out valves that will reduce the risk of over pressuring and blowing out cells in a leading edge down crash. This is a great feature while learning as well as for advance riders in high winds who maybe make a mistake and whip the kite in. There are other brands that offer kites that may fall into the same category and use as the Ozone Access for less money. But the resale value and longevity of Ozone at just a couple of hundred more is well worth it down the road.
The bar system is comfortable to use with or without gloves. Occasionally the 5th line will get tangled on the flag out ball and is sometimes difficult to untangle. This isn't specific to this kite or to Ozone mind you. This is a common problem at one time or another with most 5th line kites which is why we really like front line flag out systems over 5th lines. But as the 5th line actuates the Re-Ride and does it cleanly 99% of the time we are willing to live with it.
The packs that come with the kite are very basic but seem durable. After a season of getting kicked around in the van, in the kite sled and on our backs they have held up flawlessly. They have enough room in them for a couple of kites as well as extra food/water and clothing.
Bottom Line: For beginner kiters the 2015 Ozone Access will allow you to grow as a kiter but you will never out grow the kite as it will transition from your learning kite to your high wind weapon of choice.
For expert fliers, over the years there have been a lot of kites that local riders have adopted for use in high winds. After flying the 2015 Access almost all the other kites seem like more work than they are worth in high winds. And much like a kite like a 18m Ozone Chrono will add to the number of light wind days you get in a season, a 4 or 6m Access will do the same at the other end of the spectrum.
For both of the reasons outlined above the Access has been one of the most sought after kites we sell.
Kite design and performance has really improved over the last few years and a thoughtfully chosen quiver of kites will ensure that you are unlikely to miss a snow kite session these days. Whether a beginning kiter or expert the Access is an excellent choice for your quiver.
If you liked what you've read and you found this review helpful in making a decision on a new kite, please show your support by purchasing your new wing from HARDWATERKITER.COM so we can keep the lights on and continue to offer this type of review.
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.