Rider: 78kg, advanced (meh)
Style: Freeriding, Surf, Freestyle
Weather: 16-22 knots
Build Quality: 10/10 (I think this should be removed from new gear reviews, imo)
Satisfaction: 8/10 RPM, 12/10 Dice
Disclosure: Not a pro rider. Just an average Joe with 11 years kiting exp under his belt.
Ok, so this is not a singular item review article per-say, rather just wanted to share my recent experience while testing out new kites before I made a purchase decision. I was so taken by the results, I thought someone else might benefit as well.
I guess the best way to describe my kiting style and "expertise" as "endurance upwind sessions with epic freestyle big-waves downwinders" which diminish my abilities to comment on Wake style somewhat, but gives me some credibility on upwind edging, speed, waves and big air.
I was on the lookout for a new kite, so I did a lot of research and took as many kites for a test drive as I could (kudos to SurfFX for that!).
What made this experiment so unique, and therefore I believe would be interesting for others, is that I was already biased before I started out. I'm a long-time Slingshot fan. I had a Turbo Diesel, Rev, Octane and Rally, while experimenting with Cabrinha's Crossbow and Switchblade for a couple of years there too before getting back to my old slingies. My next natural progression and the result of my research concluded in the obvious direction: the 2017 RPM. That test drive completely turned me around.
To be thorough, I tested out several other kites this time around for several weeks, like the 2017 Evo, Neo, FX and others, that were ruled out pretty quickly for different reasons (main one being too little feedback on the bar). This left two last runners in the race: the RPM vs the Dice (and again, I was already hellbent on the RPM from all I read).
I took both 12m kites out with a mate on a day that started strong and died out, and we kept swapping to gauge the differences. Here's what I noticed:
RPM - This was a definite upgrade from my old Rally (which I loved) - except in one area: upwind abilities. Although it was adequate, it didn't have the steep angle to the wind I could get with the Rally. The compstick sentinel bar was unbelievable - especially the raised volcano mold at the insert - which made a big difference for me as I ride single handed a lot. While flying, the RPM had a similar feel to my 16m crossbow (aka "the truck") in the sense it felt bolted in the air, with lots of power, and was harder to turn (eventhough it was set on the freestyle settings). Boosting was very easy and hangtime was awesome. I could feel power throughout the jump and blindly knew exactly where the kite was at all stages. Speed. Man, once that kite gets going and the board is planing, it goes really fast. Faster than any other kite I flew (didn't take the Chronos out yet...). It didn't matter if it was upwind, sidewind or downwind. I did several runs against other kites that day and was 2 to 5 knots faster on every run. Same goes when I swapped kites and was riding the North. My mate on the RPM was significantly faster. My biggest disappointment and the biggest problem I found was when switching directions going upwind, the kite loses power completely and you almost waterstart from standstill on every single turn. Very weird. I tried different tacking techniques (side-to-side, kiteloop, backroll tack, etc) but got the same result every time. This problem, obviously, wasn't there when jibing downwind. If you happen to know what I did wrong, do let me know.
Dice - My mate did not want to swap kites with me - and he had a point. That kite is pure fun. It just encourage you to have a blast. Extremely responsive, very fast in the wind window, pops you out so smoothly, keeps you in the air for long - and takes you upwind probably better than any other kite in the category. Probably as good as, if not better, than the Rally.
The two kites were an obvious upgrade compared to my old Rally. Both gave great feedback on the bar and gave very similar feel when popping and through the air while jumping. I felt both give me same depower and control abilities on the high-end and it will easily be manageable in an overpowered conditions. Also worth mentioning that both kites felt equally good built. I'm already sold on Slingshot excellent build quality, so I didn't need any convincing there, but North didn't give me any reason for suspicion so far.
The significant differences I found between the two:
RPM - Gets your board go so much faster in any wind direction. Superior bar (Sentinel) in almost all aspects (I found the 2017 grip to be fine. I don't know what people are complaining about). The kite is probably much better suited for wake style as it locks so perfectly in the air and lets you do whatever you want and it'll still be there. Probably not the kite I'd take wave surfing.
Dice - Much better lower end. I felt I could easily have taken a 10m Dice where I didn't feel a 10m RPM would hold. Much faster turn with lots of power through the window. Had to pull an emergency jibe in front of a massive wave breaking immaturely - and it did it wonderfully. With the RPM I'd be caught powerless under the whitewash trying to do the same. Better upwind angle (5~10 degrees better) - which is important for me, as I go for long upwind journeys.
The Dice manage to win a rigged game. After almost a decade of being a loyal Slingshot rider, I'll be giving North a try.
I agree with most of this but the part about the power in the turns with the RPM. There is so much power in the turns, just have to look at the size of those square wing tips to verify that. Other then that I think I agree with all. They are both wonderful kites.
I like to think of the dice being "ok" at everything, wile the RPM being really good at freestyle but not the best in waves.
Just out of interest (I have no intention to promote the kite or brand), have you tried the Enduro? Sounds like it could be match for what you are after.
For some reason the Enduro wasn't on my radar during these last few weeks. Only after I made my decision (and my purchase), someone suggested I would have really enjoyed it. I guess its low aspect-ratio appearance fooled me - as I do read awesome stuff about it now. I guess I'll have to put in on my list for the future.
enduro is like a watered down rpm/dice it is ozones old catalyst it fits a simular market to the rpm/dice but a little more forgiving and less performance i think OP was pretty well on the money with his choice. if he had of been a bit less experience then maybe the enduro.
for example i would happily teach students on enduros but i probably wouldnt on rpms or dices if that makes any sense
Don't agree Miser. But as usual it is down to personal feel and preference. Enduro is a more sporty, slightly more C-ish evolvement of the 2015 Cat. In the right hands it outperforms both RPM and Dice imo. It needs to be milked ie flown actively though to maximise the fun but that is true for any hybrid C and C kites.
RPM's bar pessure implies it is powerful but it is not, it also is somewhat rubbery and has a crap upwind performance in larger sizes. Always had. If Dice has overcome its teething issues and feels similar to a Vegas then perhaps this will indeed be a good option. Wih a bit more grunt per se.
You are correct that the Enduro can be harmless unless moved and looped aggressively. So will be safer in the hands of beginners. But I see exactly the same being true for the other two kites.
Anyway, all three are good allround kites, and I consider the FX being part of that bunch too.
Enjoy, I am sure it was a good choice.
Should have probably also mentioned that my observations are made in proper WA wind. So I am talking sizes 9 and mainly 7. Enduro 7m in 30 knots (70kg) has an optimal bar pressure, is as direct as it gets, reliable (a good thing in strong winds), loops nice and powerful yet predictable. And most importantly is not a gutless twitchy bee which many other kites become as of size 7 and smaller.