Kitesurfing, kiteboarding shop & school. Lessons - Durban, PE, J-Bay, Cape Town
Slingshot RPM 9M, 17”*20m compstick bar setup.
Board: Nobile 50/50 2012
Wind: 15 – 22knts
Rider level: 11 yrs on the water
For those who are not familiar with the RPM series: this series was created for riders looking for the power of a Slingshot Fuel, but the depower of a bow/hybrid kite. On the water this means you can pull some big air tricks but that you can just as well hit the waves with it (which wasn’t possible with the Fuels as they just pulled you over the lip). Having ridden almost 9 years of C kites (Gaastra GXR, Naish Torch, North Vegas, North Rhino, Slingshot Fuel) the RPM felt exactly like the kite I was looking for: fast, very powerful but at the same time big depower when needed. This is probably the biggest reason for its success: from beginner to expert level (World champ Youri Zoon still rides them), everyone will enjoy this kite. The second reason for its massive sales: durability. These kites are just bombproof. Having ridden them in the rough conditions of the Canary Islands and Europe’s North Sea this kite just survives it all. To illustrate the durability: on previous kites I had to change my lines every 6 months because they would break, whilst with Slingshot I can ride a year without having to worry if and when they will break (Slingshot power lines are tested for a massive 800 lbs, steering lines for 600lbs!).
First impression of the package: not much of a change compared to the previous RPM’s: new kite graphics (they do look nice!), just a color change of the bag and the bar looks pretty much the same as previous years. The only change they made on the bar is the small insert in the middle which should prevent your fingers from being pulled into the hole in your bar, but I found this insert to be very slippery for unhooked riding…
I currently ride my 2011 RPM 9 in the freestyle setup with max bar pressure and the steering lines attached to the second knot. Did the same for the 2013 RPM and it also feels exactly the same: good bar pressure and a very responsive feeling. Leaving it attached to the last knot on your steering lines makes a big difference for this kite so I would suggest you ride it on this second knot.
Contrary to previous versions of the RPM, the 9mtr now comes standard with 20m lines and I don’t think this is a good setup for kiting in KZN. Having ridden Slingshot Fuels in the past on the Len10 Pro Bar (also 20m) in rough conditions (averaging 25 – 30knts) this worked perfectly for me but with KZN winds averaging 17 – 22knts this setup is too light (I weigh 80kg). Unless you’re a lightweight rider (60-70kgs) I would absolutely not recommend using 20m lines, so rather go for the 23m.
The 2013 RPM again comes with the One Pump system which has proven to be a good system, so not much to say about that.
On the water, the kite feels very similar to the 2011 RPM (if not exactly the same). Slingshot doesn’t pretend to have changed the kite for this year and in fact: why would they? The RPM is still considered as the benchmark for its class, so not much had to be changed. The only thing I might be missing in this kite is a bit more hangtime: the kite launches you quite high when jumping, but I don’t experience the hangtime like I had on a North Vegas or Rhino in earlier years. But apart from that there’s absolutely nothing I miss in this kite.
A last word on the relaunch of the kite: unlike 5 line kites, this one just requires to swim towards the kite to make it flip, then pull a steering line and get it up. No need to be afraid of your 5th line cutting your kite in half, this simple setup just works. Same for the safety system, very easy lock and load system which can even be done in the water after a bad crash.
In other words: great kite with probably the best durability you can find on the market. For owners of previous RPM’s: if your current RPM is still fine, then don’t spend your money on this one, you won’t get anything more out of it. For anyone else: if you’re looking for a responsive, powerful and predictive kite, then look no further: this is it.
Thanks to Simon Pollet for the great review!
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