I have had this kite for 2 seasons now and wanted to do a review for a while.
I have no affiliation to any brand or kite shop however this is the first non Cabrinha kite I have owned since 2003.
I bought the 12m Solo as a dedicated light wind kite to add to my 9m Cab Switchblade
Weight: 62 kg
Board: Cabrinha Ace 135 x 40 or Crazyfly Addict 136 x 41 ( heavy rocker with boots)
Experience: Kiting since 2003 but took a 7 year break while having kids and living in cold climate.
I love this kite, it has easily doubled the number of days on the water for me. My first experience: I tried to fly the 12m on my 44cm Trimlite bar in 12-14 knots and it was horrible, couldn't get the kite to come back up after I directed it down for my water start. Traded my bar for a Cab "Overdrive" bar which can be used on 48 or 56cm setting, only ridden it on 56cm since then and been very happy.
This kite excels at it's lower wind range, the secret for the Solo is "apparent wind". Even in 12 knots, get a bit of speed going down wind before you start carving up and before you know it, you are way more upwind than you would have thought possible. Need a bit of extra power, make it move, apparent wind is the key. Turning speed on this kite is pretty good for a 12m, I have done down loop water starts, kite loops and more without any issues. The timing for jumps and loop transitions is a bit different to smaller kites but only takes a few minutes each session to adjust to after coming from your smaller kite. You get used to initiating the loop or transition a little earlier but i suspect this is similar for most larger kites. Overall float and ride ability: I have been cruising along, still maintaining ground in 12 - 14 knots on the TT when 80% of the other kites were sitting on the water, once again, apparent wind!
Biggest tip I can give to those riding this kite: "Let it breathe!" In light winds, pull your trim strap in about half way and the kite will sit a little further back in the window giving you heaps more power, added bonus is the reduced probability of over sheeting and having the Solo fall out of the sky from above your head. As long as you don't over sheet this kite, it will keep flying, let the Solo and apparent wind do the work, bar in a little (not all the way) to move the kite then straight out again and she will truck along pulling you with plenty force to make your way upwind in the lightest of breezes.
In the mid range winds, the Solo behaves well, smooth power through the turns, predictable performance and in spite of only having one strut, I do not recall this kite ever "fluttering" like some other multi strut kites I have seen, even in the higher wind ranges. This kites drifts well in light wind and although I haven't tried surfing or foiling with it, I imagine it will be superb.
The biggest drawback for the Solo comes when you start reaching it's top end, there is very little "dump' or drift available when it starts gusting 6 or 8 knots above the average. Apparent wind picks up and she starts trucking, as your speed increases, so does the power produced by this kite. I've had a few instances where I thought to myself "OK, I'm just going to hang on and hope I don't get hurt!" rather than pull the safety. There has been one or two really gnarly sessions (gusting 10 knots above average) where I did end up pulling safety and de power on a single front line was instant, like shutting off a switch.
This brings me to Re Launch: The Solo re launches like a dream, the only issue I have is the length of the centre line bridles. One of the spots I go to regularly requires a drift launch and i'd say two out of three drift launches results in one of the centre line bridles being caught on the wing tip. I have learned how to release this by pulling on the required line but it is a pain and takes time. Even more difficult in deep water when you are being dragged by the kite and cannot put enough pressure on it. This happens more often than not when you have used the safety release system too.
Overall, I love this kite, it has it's downside, more so at the top end of its' wind range, but for me the pro's far outweigh the con's. I cannot justify the cost of changing it at this stage and when it starts blowing near the top end of this 12 meter, the low end grunt of my 9m Switchblade more than covers my requirements.