Jul 26, 2004, 5:34 PM
Post #1 of 52
Yet another Katana thread
Demoed a Katana in 107 (1.84:1) and 97 (2.03:1) flavors this last weekend. The 97 was one of the yellow and red ones with the giant logo, which was rad. I don't have enough jumps on the Katana to give a complete review, but I can tell you what my experience was and that within 14 hours of my last jump on the Katana 97, I bought one off the shelf from Square 1.
I have about 300 jumps on the Sabre2 107 I bought last year. It's great for flying a wingsuit, and for awhile, was a lot of fun to swoop, but it's start to feel like a dog, and I feel that I've wrung it out pretty well. Time to move on. Vladi Pesa showed up on the PD tour right when I was in the market. So that's where I'm coming from.
My first opening was at 10,000', at terminal, and I figured it'd be fast and stingful. It was smoother than anything -- which defines everything about this canopy. The 107 had a lot of characteristics I wanted. It dove like a mother with very light front riser pressure that builds very slowly. The rear riser pressure is perfect -- low enough to trim in easily from a fast dive, but high enough to make stalls difficult. There's enough power there to easily land 100% on rear risers without stalling (which I did on jump #3 with only a little slide (into a 10 knot headwind)). It handled turbulence very well and a long spot with a headwind was cake on rear risers (passed other canopies very easily).
The toggle pressure is high, but not much input is needed in turns or flares, and I found the toggle range to be huge (bigger than I needed or had the chance to use). Toggle turns are very fast. It doesn't take much to throw yourself up above the canopy. Spiraling loses altitude very quickly. Pull one toggle down about a third stroke and just watch the needle on your altimeter drop (need new Neptune batteries).
Harness input results in a slow turn. It's enough to make harness corrections during a dive and get you facing the right way after opening, but not enough to spiral or do aggressive turns. The downside is that harness doesn't help a swoop a whole lot. The upside is that I can fly it with my wingsuit.
There's essentially no "oversteer". When you finish an input, the canopy stays right on the heading you let go at. Correcting the path mid swoop was easy and non-detrimental to the dive. Letting up a toggle in the middle of spiral just stopped the turn right on the heading where I let up (my Sabre2 has a lot of oversteer compared to this).
It DIVES. A lot of people have wondered what the recovery arc is like on a Katana. That was what I was most curious about (though after finding out how much fun this was to fly in general, the long dive was just a bonus). It dives and dives and dives. When it's done diving, it dives some more. The front riser pressure is light, and the dives are super smooth and easy to control. I do my 360s from around 500' on my Sabre2, over a period of about six seconds (when I'm doing it right), and even then, I often end up a little high. A 180 from 550' over about five seconds was perfect for getting on the rears and trimming the canopy out of its recovery arc (on the 97). I played with everything up to a 720 up higher. My usual left hand 270 lost about 700' (from 2,500' to 1,800') over nearly eight seconds (also on the 97). It builds up a lot of speed in the dive, as well -- I felt my shoes wanting to fly off my feet.
However, the 107 still just didn't "feel" like what I wanted. It felt a little doggy in full flight (not much different than my Sabre2), so I tried the 97. The 97 is EXACTLY what I was searching for. It just felt like an extension of my body. Nothing felt slow, but nothing felt so fast that it was too much.
I have about 35 jumps between the Crossfire and Crossfire 2, both of which I also considered for purchase. With that little bit of experience, I'd say that the Katana is, in fact, in that same "class". I did find the Katana to have only a little longer recovery arc, but the dive built up a lot more speed. All controls felt a lot crisper and more natural -- you don't have to force anything. The Crossfire 2 probably gets the opening award. The Katana had soft openings, but they weren't entirely consistent -- especially subterminal (noticeably more heading hunting at low airspeeds). However, I DO like the fact that the openings aren't quite a snivelly as the XF2. The openings were smooth, but not excessively long. Two other people complained about hard or wild openings, but I experienced no such thing -- body position .
This is just my opinion with my limited data sample -- your mileage may vary. I don't feel quite ready to go all out on a small X-brace. I feel very comfortable with this step. I'm a weekend jumper that makes about 50 - 70 jumps per month in the jumping season, and about about 5 - 20 per month in the super-depressing Oregon winter. Given my overall annual currency, I feel that I could stay with this canopy for a long time. If I ever do go cross-braced and/or smaller, I think I'd have to keep this around as my "early season" canopy, even if I do get something else dialed in over the summer.
Here's the safety disclaimer: I do have to say that this canopy is not for someone who wants to start swooping -- it's a swoop machine for someone that already knows how to swoop. There is definitely a chunk of the dive that would be very, very difficult to recover on a low turn. Not knowing when to abort on this canopy can very likely end up in a PLF -- parachute lands first.
As soon as I have this hooked up and flown, look in the classifieds for a nice-looking Sabre2 107 with only 300 jumps. Sorry for wasting your time with this big, fat post.
(This post was edited by ManBird on Jul 26, 2004, 5:41 PM)
Now I'm waiting for that 150 size so I can test it as well, head to head with my XF2 149. Although, I don't foresee myself ever buying one, I like jumping everything I can so I know whats out there and what its like.
A review like yours was really needed, putting a Katana and a XF2 against each other, since they are really the primary competitors in this canopy class, IMHO.
I demo'd a KA 120 with the killer logo also- I totally agree with Steve it kicks ass, i landed it downwind, loaded at 2.1, I had to run but the thing had a huge amount of flare for the size and design -Perfect.
I thought it had oversteer on toggle input, but whatever. I have 2000+ jumps, about 900 of which are HP landings on various x-braced canopies and I was very impressed with the Katana for a 9-cell design. Kudos to PD for backing up all of the hype 100%.
I was most impressed with the fact that Vladi- not what you'd call a small guy, is flying a Katana 97 loaded WAY higher than I was flying my demo @2.1. He was also landing it downwind at our HP landing area. Wow.
Front and rear riser pressure is ideal in my book for this type of design (I'm not one of those freaks who likes VX front riser pressure) the flare is very powerful and like steve said the dive just goes for days-longer than my Xaos 21, which is a custom-sized 125.
If you get the chance, jump a Firebolt 101 or smaller. I too jumped the Katana 107 and found the 2 canopies to be very similar in many aspects. The person I borrowed the Katana from jumped my Firebolt and actually got the longest swoop they have ever gotten on the 2nd jump and this person has several hundred jumps on the katana and other hi-per canopies. IMO, the big difference in the 2 is the Firebolts glide ratio which is longer and flatter than the Katana but for the most part the 2 are in the same class if not identical. I like it becasue I can jump it when Birdmanning with out worry and when shooting tandems. The openings are fantastic( see it HERE) and I still get awesome swoops for the landings.
Jul 26, 2004, 6:59 PM
Post #7 of 52
Re: [LouDiamond] Yet another Katana thread
[In reply to]
Too late! The payment has been made. BWAHAHAA!!! Besides, I have a Katana backpack, beanie, and shirt -- I wouldn't want to go around looking like a poser with all this Katana gear and no canopy to match. ;) That is a pretty damn, smooth opening.
I hadn't really considered a Firebolt. Looks a lot like the XF2's openings (a good thing). Personally, I like a slightly brisker opening, because I tend to pitch low these days. The only Firebolt that I see flown regularly in my neck of the woods really isn't flown the way it should/could be (usually just straight in landings). S/he's not a sponsored jumper or anything, so it's Jump Shack's fault that they can't make the canopy look good. I was watching Vladi fly a Katana -- a pretty good advertisement for its potential.
I guess the reason for going with the Katana was more that it felt really right, as opposed to any other canopies feeling wrong. If I was AggieDave, I'd demo the Firebolt, A-Max, Comp Cobalt, Vengeance, Samurai, Nitron, and Crossfire 2 (I've only jumped two of the aforementioned), and I'd probably find that one or more of these canopies meet some or all of the attributes I seek. I had some specific characteristics I wanted, and the Katana delivered.
I forgot to mention the lines on the Katana. I'm hoping I get the same ones. I'm not sure what it was -- sort of like a super thin microline. Not quite HMA thin, but really damn skinny. Probably the thinnest cascaded lines I've seen on a non-pro competitor's canopy.
Re: [AggieDave] Yet another Katana thread
[In reply to]
It easily gets the same distance as the XF2 back from spots - a teammate and myself did a hop n pop this weekend while I was evaluating my wifes new Katana 107 (he's on a xf2 109) at similar wingloadings and I easily outdrove him. So much so that he commented on it.
I'll be posting a review soon (I was very impressed).
EDIT: This IS NOT an intermediate canopy - it's dive characteristics were incredibly close to a velocity (much more so than I expected).
(This post was edited by ianmdrennan on Jul 27, 2004, 8:01 AM)
Just curious have you tried similarly sized and loaded Crossfire?
Yes... 109. And my comparisons were more between the 107 and the 109.
In reply to:
Drop your Katana reviews here:
I was going to drop it in reviews, but I don't have enough jumps on it. Once I get a good 50 - 100 jumps on it, I'll probably write up a review.
In reply to:
Can the canopy be made to float a bit on a long spot with rears?
Yes. I mentioned that more or less in the original post. It has a lot of drive. On rears, it really flattens out and moves forwards very quickly without much altitude loss. I found this surprising, as every other mode of flight is very ground hungry.
In reply to:
This IS NOT an intermediate canopy
Yes. This can't be emphasized enough. Don't let it's lack of cross-bracing fool you into thinking this is just another 9-cell. It's very fast, it dives like crazy, and it's very responsive to all but harness input.
Jul 27, 2004, 7:21 PM
Post #17 of 52
Re: [ianmdrennan] Yet another Katana thread
[In reply to]
I had a friend comment to me that he couldnt fight the stiff wind we were faced into as I cruised back to the dropzone on my xfire2 this weekend.
I saw him on my level to my left and thought he wanted to fly relative a bit so I kinda dicked around to try to let him catch me. Then I went and made my approach to the dz and found out that he couldnt make it back.
I havent found a canopy on the dz that can outglide me yet when Im on a little bit of rears.
Jul 27, 2004, 8:11 PM
Post #19 of 52
Re: [diablopilot] Yet another Katana thread
[In reply to]
Xaos has a very flat glide. In a little swoop comp down in Eugene, OR, I had to go ahead of the guys on Xaoses (sp?), even though I was loading my Sabre2 a lot less. The Xaos in full flight had a better glide than my Sabre2 in rears.
In doing a cross country type jump the other weekend, I was flying with a friend on his V-Lo 96 at about 2.1 and me on my 27 cell Xaos about 2.05. We start doing simultanious harness turns. I had to do two to his one 360 to stay down with him....
(This post was edited by diablopilot on Jul 27, 2004, 9:59 PM)