Duotone Neo SLS 2021 Kite Review

Duotone Neo SLS 2021 Kite Review

The Duotone Neo has been the weapon of choice for many these last few years, especially when it comes to surf style kiting. For 2021 we’re seeing some huge improvements. But what’s this new SLS is all about? We’ll take you through the new Neo SLS and our feedback so far below.

Duotone Neo SLS 2021 Kitesurfing Review

On the Beach:

First up, the difference is immediately obvious looking at the kite. The new Penta TX material is quite different to Dacron in feel and appearance and you can spot it covering the leading edge and frame of the kite straight away. The Penta TX is a significantly lighter fabric (reducing overall weight of the kite by 15%) as well as being up to 5 times stronger in terms of tear resistance. It’s also a lot stiffer, with 50% less elongation than Dacron.

SLS stands for “Superior, Lighter, Stronger”, a little gimmicky but hey it looks like it does what it says on the box! The new SLS range kites are the ones that feature this Penta TX fabric on the LE which is exactly that (Superior, Lighter and Stronger). It’s also more expensive, which unsurprisingly they left out of the acronym, (SLSME didn’t have the same ring to it).

If you don’t want to shell out an extra 15-20% more for your new kite this year you don’t have to, because the regular (non SLS) range of kites are still available and it looks like they’re aiming to run two ranges with the “premium” SLS range being akin to the “top end” models we see with cars and the like, specced out with all the latest features.

Looking over the shape of the kite you can see there are a few differences in the outline. Using a material with 50% less stretch is going to have a major impact on how a kite flies, so design adaptations have been made to take this into account. The wingtip outline appears a little more squared off rather than swept, but the rest of the leading edge appears to follow the same shape as the 2020 Neo.

Kite review Duotone Neo SLS 2021 wingtip shape comparison

Aside from the small tweaks to the shape, the SLS Neo 2021 also features the “flex strut” design that we’ve seen on the Juice. The struts are designed to be stiffer at the front of the canopy near the LE to hold their shape and respond quickly to user input, but they deform and flex more towards the back of the kite allowing it to twist and turn more dynamically in the air. This is how you get that super fast and snappy response, the front of the kite can start turning without having to wait for the back of the kite to follow, it catches up through the turn rather than delaying it.

Additionally, we’ve seen a major update to the Duotone bag for the first time in many years. The new bag is a smaller and more compact bag with a “duffle style” zip that runs the full length across the top of the bag. This can be clipped down and tightened up/compressed using quite a few different straps on the bag, and so far it hasn’t been too difficult to get the kite in and out of. Overall, it can be compressed to a much smaller bag which will make a huge difference to those of us who travel a lot or are restricted on storage space. It is a bit harder to get your kite into, but not enough to cause a major problem with the sizes/models we tested, definitely not sleeping bag level!

Kite Review - Duotone Neo Bag Comparison 2021 vs 2020

In the Air:

The new SLS material comes to life the second you get it in the air. The differences are pretty much what you’d expect from a kite that is both lighter and stiffer than its predecessor… it’s basically better in every way.

This is to be expected really, reducing the weight on something that flies is nearly always going to have a positive impact all around in terms of aerodynamics. It accelerates and turns quicker. It drifts better. It stalls out less in light wind and has a better bottom end. We didn’t really notice any setbacks at all, it’s an overall improvement, the only real downside of the new Penta TX frame is the increased cost.

The 10m still has the power of a 10 from last year, but in the sky feels as agile as an 8-9m Neo from 2020.

It’s worth noting that we’re also flying this on the new 2021 Duotone bar featuring a few upgrades including new lines, which will provide some level of performance increase too. We’ll do a separate review on the new bars soon but one of the big upgrades is new lines with 15% less elongation, so this is bound to have some impact on our experience with the new kite.

Where it really seems to excel is lighter wind and marginal conditions. Due to the lighter weight and increased agility you’ll get a lot better performance out of the kite on the lower end of it’s wind range. It’s not really much more powerful than the previous model so you probably don’t want to go down a size, but due to the better speed, performance and handling you can get away with a few less knots on the bottom end compared to where you would normally get going.

In terms of high wind performance we saw a significant increase here too. We only got one day of decent wind, but that increase in stiffness of the frame definitely seemed to make a difference when it comes to holding shape and maintaining control in strong conditions.

It is a shame they didn’t bring this out in anything larger than a 12m, as the light wind potential is huge. We’re under the impression that an SLS Juice is coming though so they likely didn’t want to have too much overlap between the two kites there.

On a whole, the SLS Neo is a clear winner. The performance increase is significant and while it might cost you a bit more up front, it seems like it’s a worthwhile investment especially if the durability claims hold true with testing. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this SLS option present in all kites next year, if not replacing the regular dacron construction for good.

You can check out our video review below, the new SLS Neo are still not quite on our shelves yet but are now available for pre-order online here!  Any questions at all, feel free to Contact Us.


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Fanatic Aero Foil Review

Fanatic Aero Foil Review

The Fanatic Aero foil was initially a foil we'd dismissed based on one reason alone: It's heavy. In a sport where people are constantly looking for something lighter weight and talking about how many grams they can shave off their setup we thought there was no way the Fanatic Aero could match other competing foils, so much so we didn't even order any when they were first released.

Turns out that was a big mistake, and we're here to tell you why!

On the Beach:

First thing you'll notice about the Fanatic Aero is very obvious.. the weight.  When you pick it up it feels like a bit of a brick compared to some others. The complete Aero 2000 we have here weighs in at about 6.25kgs which is a good kilogram or more on top of many similar sized setups from other brands we keep.

But as it turns out there is a method to Fanatics madness here. This thing is solid as a rock!  Stand it up and give it the "wobble test" and it's very clear this is an extremely rigid unit. The mast only flexes a minimal amount, and the torsional strength of the fuselage is pretty amazing, it doesn't twist or move at all!

Overall, the build quality is excellent. It's a very well finished unit, all the joints are rock solid using M8 bolts with stainless steel helicoil inserts to prevent corrosion and thread wear we've seen in other constructions. The travel bag and covers are all well designed and it packs down nice and neatly with everything well protected. 

There's 3 different wing options, a 1500, 2000 & 2500.  There's also a couple of different fuselage (640mm & 800mm) and mast (750mm & 900mm) options too, and all of these are interchangeable.  The kit also includes 4 different rear wing shims to tune the lift/performance to your own style and size.

We're running the 2000 wing on a 640mm Fuselage and 750mm mast.

On the Water:

While that weight might slow you down when you're trekking down to the beach, out on the water you don't really notice it having a big impact.  You can feel a bit of extra weight down at the base of the board, but if anything it makes for a little more stable feeling. We're using it on a SUP, on a small prone foil board it would maybe be a little more noticeable, but still, when it comes to actually riding an extra kilogram or so really doesn't make a lot of difference.  At least, I'm sure that's what we all tell ourselves when it comes down to that last slice of pizza!

The rigidity however is noticeable immediately. This thing is so solid, there's no slop, no flexing, no wasted power or effort.  Everything feels extremely stable and efficient, especially when pumping. The result here is a foil you can "read" a lot more accurately, what you're doing on the board and what the foil does in the water feels so much more in sync. Little inconsistencies that would normally throw you off or slow down your reactions just don't seem to cause the same problems they would otherwise.  

We've been using the Fanatic Aero for teaching, both SUP and Wing foiling, and the difference is pretty staggering especially for a beginner. The Aero provides a very consistent and predictable ride, and the direct feel and feedback means you can learn from your mistakes much more effectively. We've had people struggling on their own setups, get up on the Fanatic and ride easily within a few minutes, which is always a good sign. 

In terms of the more performance aspects, it continues to impress. We're using it with the short fuselage and it's quite agile, reasonably fast, and provides a huge amount of initial lift to get you up and going, but without becoming uncontrollable.  At the higher performance end the 2000 wing is probably not quite as fast or aggressive as some may be chasing, however there is a high aspect wing we have yet to test that would likely give that fast and responsive ride some of you more advanced riders are looking for and it fits straight on the existing mast and fuselage. 

Overall:

The Fanatic Aero foil is an excellent foil that far outshines our initial expectations.  It's stable and easy and would make an ideal option for any learner, especially larger riders who will greatly benefit from the rigidity it provides. It's well priced, well built and versatile. It's certainly a little on the heavy side for transporting and carrying, but doesn't seem to suffer in performance for it at all. The weight compromise was obviously a conscious decision on Fanatics' part and now having tested it quite extensively, we can say quite confidently that they made the right decision here. 

As always, any questions at all feel free to contact us.  

You can view the Fanatic Aero here online, it's a two part kit consisting of the Mast & Fuselage Set, and the Wing Set.

Check out our Youtube video review here below: 

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Konrad SUP GLIDR Foil Review

Konrad SUP GLIDR Foil Review

Today we're taking a look at the GLIDR SUP Foil from Konrad, SUP foiling is taking off and there are a huge range of boards to choose from with shapes and designs developing rapidly, but we have to say Konrad seem to have nailed it with this one.

The one we tested was the 6'4" model.  6'4" x 28' 1/8" x 115.3L.  There are two other sizes, a smaller and a larger one (6'0" & 6'8")

On The Beach

First up, the build quality looks great.  It feels sturdy and while we haven't beat it around too much yet so far it's held up well!  The weight is really good, very light weight under your arm so great if you need to trek it a good distance to the right waves!  Finish is excellent too, it's a nice matt finish which looks very nice in the brush carbon style, and seems like it would hold up pretty well in the long term.

Design wise it's very much in line with what a lot of popular models are doing at the moment, short and stubby with good volume, and the bevelled/cutaway rails & tail.  It's got footstrap inserts for those who want them, and a very flat top deck with the raised strip down the middle of the deckpad, running right to the tail.

A nifty little feature is the foil box, which includes a whole bunch of little markings and measures you can use to really tweak your setup and ensure you're consistently able to get the same performance out of your foil and board combo.  This is a simple concept but very effective, I think we'll be seeing a lot more of it. 

On The Water

When it comes to getting on the water, the SUP GLIDR performs great.  Surprisingly stable for it's small size, took a bit of getting used to a smaller board but it was quite manageable.  Lifting off from the water was very clean and easy, those bevels really do wonders to remove that "sticky" feeling a lot of conventional SUP shapes tend to have.  Same when you have a little touchdown or two, you can bounce back off the water effortlessly.

The small platform was very controllable when up on the foil, we had it out with the Fanatic Aero foil and the placement seemed just perfect.  The footstrap inserts and deck pad were all laid out in a way that just worked, it was almost hard to get it wrong!

Overall, an excellent little foil SUP and they're great value too, with the current model coming it at $1750 which is an excellent price for a carbon board like this.  The 6'4" would definitely be a challenging board for a more novice paddler, but it handled quite well really so anyone with a good bit of SUP experience who's getting into foiling could start out on this, or likely be a little better off with the larger model.

Check out our video review here below, and if you've got any questions at all as always feel free to get in touch!  Click here to view the SUP GLIDR on the store.

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Duotone Juice 2020 Kite Review

Duotone Juice 2020 Kite Review

The Juice from Duotone has been the ultimate light wind machine for a while now, and the new 2020 model doesn't disappoint. 

We've used it extensively in our kite school for lighter conditions and beginners and had a lot of success with it, as well as just having the opportunity to get out on those light days and have fun where you wouldn't otherwise.  

On the ground: 

Major changes for the 2020 model include a new lighter weight construction pushing the light wind performance further than ever.  When it comes to light wind weight is everything, and we're looking at a decent reduction here.  New light weight bladder material, an alternative panel layout removing unnecessary heavy dacron, and even thinner and lighter bridles and leader lines.  

Along with the weight reduction we see a tweaked outline for 2020. A deeper delta design with more depth in the centre of the canopy provides additional lift and grunt, and this outline runs back to the increased sweeping on the wingtips to assist with relaunch and tighter turning speed. 

Finally, the new Juice has lost it's pulleys!  Much like other Duotone kites in the range this year it benefits greatly from a more direct turning feel thanks to this change. 

In the air: 

What does this all translate to when you actually fly it?  The weight reduction is immediately noticeable in light wind, where the older Juice would have stalled out a little this one floats effortlessly and continues to generate power, especially noticeable when you're trying to get power out of a big upstroke through the window.  The difference in lift is quite significant and would extend the wind range of the kite a good couple of knots on the bottom end compared to it's predecessor. 

The combination of that deeper delta shape and lighter construction really shines on the very bottom of the range, which on a light wind kite like the Juice is exactly where it really matters!

Unsurprisingly, the removal of the pulleys does create a much more direct steering feel, something pretty well appreciated by all.  The removal of the pulleys doesn't seem to have impacted light wind performance or relaunch at all, so definitely a good design change in our opinion.

Overall, a significant improvement from the 2019 version, the new 2020 Juice continues to impress and I'm sure we'll be using it regularly over the next year both in our kite school and just for getting a few extra days on the water.

Check out our video review below, and if you have any questions or want to organise a demo locally feel free to get in touch!

 

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Adventure Sports Gear Reviews - Kitesurfing, SUP, Foil and more.

Welcome to our new gear reviews section, where we'll be posting write ups and videos of some of the latest and greatest from all the major brands we deal with.

Choosing a new kite or board isn't easy, there's a whole range of awesome equipment out there these days and often getting the opportunity to test out new gear can be a challenge, so we'll do out best to do it for you!  It's a tough job we know, but someone has to do it right?

As always, if you've got any questions or want more info you're welcome to contact us via phone or email. 

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