KITE TEST

DUOTONE EVO SLS 10M

DUOTONE

EVO SLS 10M

WORDS BY: Jim Gaunt

TESTER BIOS AND TEST PARAMETERS: Here

TEST TEAM NOTES: Duotone have three long-standing models in the twin-tip / cross-over freeride category, including the Rebel, Dice and the Evo. That’s not to mention their two lightwind specialist models and the Neo wave kite ­- which also offers superb freeride cross-over performance for the TT basics, too. The choice is quite overwhelming, but each model is distinctly different. The Evo has always sat in between the higher aspect, more pure-specialist boosting / hangtime kite, the Rebel and the more sporty, all-terrain design of the Dice. Taking elements of both and packing them into a very user-friendly, swept back shape, most of the Evo's focus tended to be on providing more powerful sheet-and-go performance and hangtime, rather than quick response and manoeuvrability. Duotone are marketing the new EVO SLS as their most all-round kite in the range, which is quite a change to how we’ve felt about it before now. A power machine it has always been, but now with the implementation of Duotone’s lighter, stronger PentaTX material on the leading edge and struts, there’s now improved agility while you still have lots of power at your fingertips.

PERFORMANCE I’ve ridden this 10m Evo SLS from its bottom end of 15 knots through sessions averaging 28 knots and I’m around 70 kilos. The word that constantly comes to mind when I ride this kite is ‘majestic’. The Evo SLS has an incredibly smooth power band that makes your riding feel easy and your sessions, fun. There is still bags of lift but the delivery through your harness never feels like its spiking with power. This is a freeride kite for riders looking for a power source with plenty of juice, but also with an ability to be easily controlled by most people (but you do still need to put some weight against it in the stronger winds). At its bottom end the medium bar pressure remains easy and, as we’ve seen on the NEO SLS, the new stronger and lighter Penta TX air frame material has also injected the Evo with more spritely performance on the upstroke of the kite. Increased stiffness and reduced weight improve a kite’s responsive nature, especially in lighter winds, and the Evo SLS is a fun and easy kite to throw around the sky in its low to mid range. The jumps feel good every time and, even at the kite’s lower end, you’ll enjoy fun amounts of hangtime for your transitions. If you want to bring yourself out of a move with a downloop for extra forward speed, the Evo SLS's intuitive response and positive climb up through the window are a joy. At the top end, on the windiest session I rode it, most people were on eights, nines and there were a few other tens. On full power the Evo SLS felt very powerful as I walked to the beach so I pressed the button on the Click bar a few times to depower the kite to just over halfway (which you can see on the visual indicator that’s embedded into the control bar). However much you trim the kite, there’s no rope dangling in your field of vision on the Click bar and once I hit the water the kite felt so good that I actually forgot to adjust the trim; an indication of how well the Evo performs with that much trim on.

The jumping was great, as was the hangtime and I wasn’t sheeting in or out hard for more or less power; the power management just felt spot on... majestic. It was only near the end of the session that I realised I had far more depower on than I’d usually ride with, so I powered the kite back up for the remainder of the session. There was indeed loads more power, but rather than spiking hard and sending pulses of power through my rail, there was just a complete all over feeling of more power. My back didn’t suddenly feel over pressured in my harness, my legs didn’t suddenly lock; everything smoothly increased in tension as the power on tap increased. When I sent the kite up there was more lift and more hangtime, but a very similar character as before. It was just more powerful with a stronger pull when in the power zone at its top end that, which good riders will really engage with. Edging harder you can rail the kite forward, but this isn’t a kite that naturally always wants to be at the front of the window, which is why it’s always ‘on’. Why it always has power to give, always has lift and is always nicely responsive without being too quick. WHO IS IT FOR? Primarily this is still a twin-tip freeride kite but the stability, drift, super smooth turning and generally reliable handling of the lighter weight Penta TX material has now made the Evo SLS a kite you could take into a lot of conditions. While certainly capable of delivering a really good session in the waves, where serious wave riders will find more benefit in the Neo is that it gets further forward in the window and when you pull on the bar to turn the kite it move inwards more instantly, rather than drifting wide and then swooping more tightly, like the Evo. The Evo is of course amazingly stable, drifts well, has bucket loads of sheeting power and depower, so will work for most of the situations we find ourselves in on a wave board. Similar characteristics also help on a foil, particularly the sheeting, drift and depower; and this is all quite a feat for what is still a big boosting machine. Weigh this up against the Dice, another all-rounder – the Dice drives with more of an arc round the bottom of the wind window, has less sheeting power, is quicker off the mark when turning, has more vertical lift than hangtime and drives further forward in the window when you unhook, so is the more athletic freestyle / big air / wave rider’s choice.

FIXTURES AND FITTINGS Duotone use their own unique pump valve which is robust and lets the kite inflate very efficiently, but does require a specific attachment for your pump hose, so it’s worth getting a nice new Duotone pump with your kite (though you’ll usually find someone with one to borrow if you’re at a busy kite spot - hopefully!). On all Duotone kites you’ll find a second dump valve near the end of the leading edge to help expel air quickly when you roll the kite tip to tip, rather than having to roll the tips to the centre of the kite. On the rear bridle attachments there are just two settings to choose from for more or less pressure / bar feedback, so it’s a really easy set-up. The Click bar may be amongst the most expensive bars on the market, but it’s a really classy cockpit experience with new, stronger, stiffer lines and we do always enjoy it. Not only is the click depower system easy to operate and makes for a super clean area in front of your eyes with no flapping trim rope, the rectangular shaped plastic coating on the centre lines automatically untwists your lines when you sheet the bar in and the rubber grip on the bar itself is bang on for both comfort and grip. The push-away quick release is as easy as they come and the kites always flag out sweetly.

“Now with improved steering response, it’s a really fun kite to throw around, to progress with kiteloops and to downloop around a turn.”

SUMMARY: Ultra smooth power delivery and plenty of it, the Evo SLS is a kite that makes you feel good about your riding. No yanking on the bar for power and no missing the big sweet spot overhead for jumping; this is a kite to help aid your progress. Now with improved steering response, it’s a really fun kite to throw around, to progress with kiteloops and to downloop around a turn. Thankfully, perhaps still best of all, is the hangtime and stability in flight... especially if you fancy learning to do one footers or board-offs! The Evo is the no brainer for people who primarily ride a twin-tip but may also just want an easy kite that will allow them to ride whatever board they decide to session on for the day – if you have the smaller sizes. If you’re foiling or riding a wave board more than a twin-tip, the Neo would probably be the choice for you. KW LIKED:

Kiteboarding generally made easy and exciting. KW WOULD CHANGE: Even though the Evo depowers excellently, lighter riders may still find the sensation of power remains a bit too robust at the kite’s top end as it doesn’t sit as far forward in the window as some other models. Other than that, there’s very little to change for most people. This is an all round freeride kite with more of its emphasis on twin-tip riding. If you expect that, you’ll be winning.

EVO SLS BALANCE POINTS: Build quality: 9 Full package: 9.5 Low end: 8.5 Top end: 8 Steering speed: 5.5 Turning circle: 5 Bar pressure: 5 Water relaunch: 8.5 Drift: 7 Boost: 8.5 Hang-time: 8.5 Unhooked: 6.5 Crossover: 8 Ease of use: 9.5 SIZES: 12, 11, 10, 9, 8 & 7m

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