"M" kite reviews: McBird & Manta

The McBird is a nice indoor/light outdoor wind kite.  Christine and Daniel work hard to make a lot of nice kites and this is definitely one of them.   All icarex and carbon tubes keeps the weight down.   Like a few other xUL (extra Ultra Light wind)) single lines there is a nicely designed pocket in the nose to accommodate a coin or two to produce more of a glide out of this kite.  
Rods are all attached to the skin with thin bungees for easily removal/assembly.
The flight is very easily controllable, although i have had a bit of trouble coaxing a flat spin out of it since the skin forms a deep keel at the spine when moving forwards.   Practice makes perfect though as I imagine if you wait a second or two before giving a tug to allow the kite skin to go slack much better spins would be the outcome.  
In terms of a gliding flight I have not had any change in my pockets (a normal occasion) to be ableto  drop another coin in there to help bring the nose down - but then I also like McBird as a better tracking and up-and-over kite, a little more active flying than other kites.
Overall, the McBird is a very good quality kite to add to your Light wind arsenal!
You can find more about McBird, how to order one, and about Christine and Daniel (and their projects as well) here at their website: http://lcvs.ca

The Manta, made by Hunter and Paul of Focus Kites Designs, is a scaled up, and tweaked version of their already well known xUL/indoor kite, the Skate.   Having owned a Skate for a couple of years I am very familiar with its flight characteristics, and quality; and both are top notch!   
Focus has a line of top end sport kites and the guys bring their designs into their single line kites as well.   
To start with, the Manta is not small!  It is over 10' wide and its spine is over 6' long.   That creates a vast area of skin that, along with its nice light framing, gets this kite up and flying in almost no wind.   Indoor flight is possible, but I would rather pull out my Skate since it is a bit more manageable in the areas I get to fly in now.  
The spreader has an adjustable bow line on it that is done in a very classy way with the tension being formed by a sliding and lockable splice (LOVE the knot-a-tool device of old!).   Simple clean pockets are very easy to put rod ends into and are reinforced with flat webbing as well.   The spine and leading edges are all 2 pieces so that the kite ends up folding and rolling into a bag around 48" tall, not bad for this bugger!   
Like the Skate, this kite is able to be tuned and adjusted for more of a gliding flight.   On the Skate there is a coin pocket in the nose, while on the Manta there is some brass tubing that is slid onto the nose end of the spine.    That will flatten the kite right out for when you want to play with it.   If you get out to your flying spot and there is just barely any wind pull the Manta out and get ready.   It will catch any gust (if you can call a 1mph wind a gust) and soar right up to as high as you let it.   Then as the wind drops off the Manta will settle backwards on its tail, if you have removed that brass weight, or start to become activly gliding around, with its weights in place.   a big kite in low winds will create a big grin!!!
The Manta is a definite kite to add to your bag that will bring a huge impact on a xUL wind day or situation!
To check out Focus' Manta and other kites head to: http://focuskites.com/

Good extra light winds to all!

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