The Rise, Fall and Rise of SF
If you were starting your archery journey in late naughties/early-mid teens, its likely Sebastian Flute (SF) risers/limbs would have been recommended to you. An entry to intermediate level brand from Win&Win, its quality and price were fantastic. There were SF fan bois, new kit was hotly anticipated and easily half the bows on any line would be SF. Then in 2017 the brand abruptly ended! So let me tell you the tale …
Frenchman Sébastien Flute won Olympic gold in the Men’s Individual competition at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. On his way to the medal he defeated three South Korean archers.
Three! .. South Korean! .. Archers! Well … damn!
He retired from International competition after the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Now around 2005-ish Korean bow maker Win&Win saw an opportunity in the market. In partnership with Seb, over the next 10 years or so, they created the SF range of archery kit specifically targeting the entry/intermediate level. FABtastic value, the brand was a great success. Everything from risers to chest guards. Stabilizers to sights. Limbs to buttons … although to be honest that button was a travesty! So good was some of this kit that by 2016, the top riser and limbs in the range were arguably better than some W&W kit and far better priced.
Then on 1st April 2017 Win&Win announced that the SF brand would be renamed WNS (pronounced wins) and their relationship with Seb had run its course. Initially thought to be an April Fool joke, this was surprising because at the time the SF range had never been wider or more loved. Its been speculated that W&W wanted a more integrated product range with WNS and W&W kit each occupying their own niche. There was a lot of duplication between SF and W&W items where SF often undercut the equivalent W&W product. Also it was a long time since Barcelona and some felt Seb’s name recognition had fallen … ignoring the fact that “Sebastian Flute” had become a mainstream archery brand in its own right. Thus SF kit like the SF Forged Plus riser slipped from the catalogues and onto ebay where they became one of those items where bidding got “frisky”.
Thus SF is no more? Well yes ……. but then again, no!
To very little fanfare, in late June 2021, a phoenix rose and gently slipped onto archery store webpages. A range of limbs and risers under the brand name Sebastian Flute had appeared. The SF brand and logo (see top image) is probably still owned by W&W but you can’t trademark someone’s name. So lets take a look at the bows…
NEO Riser : Seb’s entry level riser is limited to 44lbs draw weight or less. Its a 25″ riser weighing in at a reasonable 1200g making it towards the lighter end of 25″ risers preferred by ladies or juniors. A fairly attractive, slightly more curvy riser than the others painted in standard colours. Its nothing ground breaking where other brands have started anodizing their entry level kit but it looks to be a reasonable first bow where cost or weight might be important. Approximately £100 which is a fair price although it will find itself in competition with Kinetic’s fantastic entry level range such as the 23″ Scopus. There is a reveal video to be found here
EVO Riser : The more intermediate, “first bow” suitable riser in the range, the EVO has quite striking angular looks with some bright anodized colours to chose from. Again a 1200g riser putting it on the lighter end of 25″. Likely to be the riser that stands a good chance to become the spiritual successor to the much loved SF Forged plus. Well priced for an intermediate riser at around £190.
ISO PRO Riser : More towards the top end for an intermediate riser, the ISO PRO is marketed as a stable riser with vibration dampening built into the limb pockets. Touts an easy adjustment system for the limbs. A definite step up from the EVO it appears with these innovative limb pockets. Slightly softer looking design than the EVO, again weighing in at 1200g with an anodized coat. There is very little superfluous metal apparent in the design. A more expensive intermediate “first bow” or upgrade riser coming in around £285.
ASCENT Riser : The flagship riser for Seb is the Ascent. Quite a striking riser harking back to the more angular design of the EVO. A little more heavily built at 1320g for stability, the riser comes with top, bottom and handle rod positions and a classy wooden handle. The limb pockets, similar to those on the ISO Pro are said to be quite innovative and easy to adjust. Definitively not a first riser and aimed at the more serious archer. One to be on your radar when thinking of upgrading your kit to a more experienced level. Its angular anodized good looks will catch the eye on the equipment line so expect a few questions about it if you splash out the required £500ish.
There are no independent reviews of these risers or the performance of the associated limbs at present so the above is based on their looks and some basic information currently available. Seb’s partner is GK Archery from Korea and its reported there will be a range of ‘innovative’ accessories coming soon. There is some info floating about that 15 Korean international prospects have been using the kit but as yet no real confirmation. Check out the bow porn pics on this link for Quicks and see what you think.
However, our editors fav archery store Alternative, who were carrying this range, for some reason their suppliers terminated their relationship and the line is being phased out (see statement below). Their stock level status for each riser announces: Discontinued. Available whilst stocks last. Other stores are still carrying the line. As yet we have not been able to find out if this is a supply or distribution rights issue or indeed something else.
All in all its good to see a Sebastian Flute brand back on the market however, we’ll leave the final word to the man himself … Seb Flute introduces his new range of bows.
UPDATE: There’s been some really quite unbelievable developments in the Sebastian Flute/SF situation as of Jan 2022. Jump over to this article for the shock news and no, that’s not click bait!
GK Archery Facebook page with some information and pictures on the new Sebastian Flute brand.
Statement by Alternative: “Our suppliers are no longer working with the Sebastien Flute factory and all remaining stock is being phased out. All affected customers have now been contacted. We apologise for any inconvenience.” promo email dated 1/12/2021
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