In all my years of flying I’ve never been so excited for a new wing to arrive. With the 2021 Red Bull X-Alps getting close I’ve been thrilled with what I’ve heard from Niviuk’s test pilots and their lead designer Olivier Nef; and the photos I’ve seen on social media have displayed an extraordinarily profile, but you never know until you have it in your hands and take her for a spin.
Mine arrived a few days ago and I wasted no time to take her out in really gusty winds to see how she felt on the ground. At 2.67 kg the first thing you notice is just how incredibly light this wing is. I didn’t think it was possible to come in below the Zeolite (2.9 kg in the same size range), but a fantastically mesmerizing internal construction combined with even thinner Niviuk trademark nitinol rods in the leading edge and canopy and a combo of skytex 27g and dokdo 25g fabric (which also makes it SUPER small to pack) and it feels very close bundled to a single surface wing. For more info on the construction visit here.
But after unpacking this beauty she begins to really come to life. The first thing I noticed was the proper B-toggles just like Niviuk puts on their high-aspect EN D Peak 5 and CCC X-One. Score! Then I noticed the long bar travel. Somehow I knew before even letting her fly this was going to be a very fast and capable cross country machine!
With very unsteady gusty winds cranking I was a little worried about getting plucked when I first brought her up on the A’s with one hand and the B’s in the other. I needn’t have feared. She responds beautifully to inputs on the b’s to dampen or change the trajectory. You can learn a lot about how a wing flies through some kiting on the ground, and I really liked what I saw and felt.
Tim Rochas, the lead test pilot for Niviuk promised me months ago that according to their tests the Klimber 2P was faster on bar and had a better glide than the Zeolite, but had better “Niviuk” feel. I’ve been a Niviuk pilot for over a decade, but I flew the Zeolite in the 2019 race as it was so ground-breaking and shaving a half a kilo on other light EN D wings in it’s category just couldn’t be ignored. If it had Niviuk feel (which I adore), better performance, AND its lighter? Well well!! The next evening I got to take my new toy out for a proper flight to see how she felt off the ground and how she felt compared to the Zeolite.
In one word- ENERGY. If Niviuk got one thing wrong about the Klimber 2P it’s possibly the name. I’ve been flying the original Klimber now for three years. It’s a really fun and capable hike and fly wing. But it’s not the XC hungry animal that this new wing is, and it’s bar performance isn’t close to the new Klimber 2P. My instant read on how much energy a wing has it to take them out and do BIG wingovers. In a few wingovers you can tell how a wing turns, how stable the tips are, how much energy it carries, how it dives, and how it responds to inputs. In other words- how fun they are and how well they perform. There is actually almost nothing similar between the two wings. The Klimber 2P isn’t just a few small improvements to the original. This is a completely new wing, built entirely new from the ground up. Risers, B-Toggles, fabric, nitinol, internal construction, optimized leading and trailing edge, completely different profile (which you can see in the pics below)- all new.
Toplanding and launching? Simple. She’s featherweight, precise and responsive. Bar performance? Boom baby! B riser handling? Gorgeous, pinpoint, and excellent feedback. Speed? I got to try that the next day in slightly thermic air on a couple vertical training sessions. Without someone flying next to me it was hard to get an exact read on trim and bar speed, but the acceleration felt similar to what I experience on the Peak 5, which is at the top of the EN D class. So…I think we’re going to be very good friends.