Level One Kites always have a distinguished look and feel to their models, and the BadAss is no exception. Jens, Peter, and Paul’s collaboration have resulted in a product that encompasses and interesting shape, a bold graphic, predicable flight, and more.
Quality and first impressions:
The Badass comes with the brilliant bag that we all know and love from Level One. Something to be aware of is the single piece leading edge and lower spreader mostly for future shipping costs. It also does require a bit of study to build, being mindful of clearing bridle lines, etc., from the larger carbon pieces.
In terms of quality, the Badass is just what we’d expect from Level One’s sails and Paul’s framework- the end product is clean and very well thought through. The kite is built to last. I personally liked how each leg of its three-point bridle is detachable from the pigtail. For what seems to be a new revision of flying (hopefully in pairs and team, too), having small details that lend themselves to a quick replacement times is something that elevated my respect for the kite, company, and its designers even further.
I won’t lie- I was a bit unsure of my impressions of this kite during its release, and boy was I pleased to be able to fly one. The kite encompasses a very firm pull, less nose rocking and smooth tracking even in low winds. In gusts, the buzz of the trailing edge produces a bold, undertone-filled sound that aids speed control. As the wind increases, the leading edges slowly flex into a different shape. A more pointed angle is present towards the nose, creating a more precise feel. As such, the bottom half of the kite creates a great cupping effect around the lower spreader fittings. Sharp turns feel very connected and immediate in all conditions, albeit with a different feel. An “odd” characteristic lay within tight circles, where the kite feels as if it is turning quickly from the lower spreader fittings. This produces a brilliant tight turn but might feel a bit different for many fliers, but never out of control.
There’s almost nothing to report in the trick category- basically everything is in there and delivered at a reasonable pace for developing fliers. I personally felt a conflict within comets in high wind. I felt as if the frame’s constant flexibility wasn’t fully supporting the sail from the lower spreaders downward. This feeling remained present within various approaches to the comet. The kite responds quite quickly to various inputs within tricks, and happily hands out Taz’s, backspins, etc. bearing the pilots inputs are developed into a smooth touch. For those fliers that have a hard touch, don’t be surprised if the frame absorbs your blows, instead of covers them up. Personally, I think this is paramount in the developing kite community. As such, this kite is not only great fun, but also a fabulous teaching tool.
Where does this fit into the market? Simple. This kite is what I would consider a very important part in the US style progressing to a more modern, worldly approach. If you’re a flier that’s overcome issues with kite orientation, slowly crossing the bridge from combo’s, etc., the Badass is a great kite to peruse. Bold flight style, full trick ability at a slower pace influenced with an overseas feel make this a must-try for many kiters looking for something new.