The Rebel is a kiteboarding kite that’s been around forever, pretty much has a cult following and last year was completely redesigned. Purist lost their minds, new riders loved it and everyone else is still trying to sort it out. We’ve had this kite for well over a year now and we’ve been testing.
So, do the new changes actually make for a better kite? Can you expect the same classic Rebel feel? And the big question? how does the new Rebel actually stack up?
Getting some air on the new Rebel
What is the Rebel?
When you're looking for the best person for a particular job, do you pick a jack of all trades or a specialist? Of course, you pick the specialist!
This is the case with the Rebel. Most brands have an all-around freeride kite. The Rebel is not one of them. It is, however, one of the most unique feeling big air /freeride kites I’ve tested to date. Most kites make certain trade-offs for different characteristics.The Rebel, however, does not make any of the classic trade-offs. Making for a fast, stable, user friend, explosive, controlled kite with plenty of hang-time.
While many kites have these traits, they are almost never paired together.That’s not to say there are no trade-offs but we’ll get into those later in this review. The Duotone Rebel is after all a unique specialist when it comes to freeride kiteboarding kites.
The wind range is a huge consideration on the Rebel
The Wind Range
No other kite in Duotones lineup can touch the Rebel on this point. The Evo or the Cabrinha Switchblade would be the closest contenders. When testing the newest Rebel, I had two sizes for comparison. A fourteen meter and a ten meter. First up, I gave the 14 a try at the top of its wind range. About 21 plus knots.To say the Rebel is a powerful yet controlled jumper would be an understatement.
Even on a flat board like the team series, I found it easy to control my edge. Surprisingly, there was no skipping this is a testament to the high end of this kite. Not exactly surprising but its good to know the modern rebel has maintained the depower it's always been known for.
Something the purist have always loved about the Rebel is "its grab you by the back of the neck and toss you up" feel. On the high end, 2019 maintains that feel albeit, it’s not as raw. Great news for newer riders. And a good hack if that’s an aspect you’ve always loved about the Rebel. Now, on the bottom end, I switch up to the 10m. The kite rocked upwind just as easy as the 14m and the jumps were still fun.
On the bottom end, you can expect the Rebel to feel more like a standard freeride kite. Still fun, still powerful, somehow grunty without feeling overbearing. At 165 pounds, either kite would have been a fun choice.This is hands down, one of the best features on the Rebel. The wind range is so massive, You would have to try really hard to pick the wrong size. Many kites boast this but the Rebel really delivers.
Does the new Rebel feel like the classic?
Bar pressure and feel.
So the big question here. Will the 2019 Duotone Rebel feel like the old Rebel. Well, sorta but no.
A little history, the classic Rebel was known for it’s loaded fifth line feel. Characterized by a crisp feel in the bar paired with a shorter depower stroke. Making for fast and easy depower with minimal movement. This also came with ridiculous stability and easy relaunch in light winds. So what do I mean by it sort of feels like the classic Rebel? We’ll let's start with the obvious. The Kite is still ridiculously stable, no change there. While the fifth line isn’t loaded, you can still use one for the benefit of easy light wind relaunch.
What about the crisp feel and shorter depower stroke? Here’s where you’ll notice some differences. The power stroke is not as short and the kite feels just a bit different. A rider who’s used every iteration of the Rebel is going to notice. Some will like it, some may not.The good news is Rebel has two front line pigtail attachments. One can be used with older bars. Now you can set the kite up for a semi loaded feel. It’s not going to feel like the original but it does make for a more familiar feel. I suspect Duotone wants to keep the pursuits happy.
If I had to sum up my experience on the new Rebel, I would say it was powerful and controlled, yet somehow raw at the same time. It’s an interesting blend of forgiving yet a kite that leaves a lot in the experienced rider's hands.The faster turning speed of the 2019 model makes a difference and is a good pairing with this unique kite. It’s not quite as raw as the traditional 5 - Line Rebel but in this case, I find the change to be good. Give one a demo and make your mind up for yourself.
On that note, this is an open forum. I’d love to hear your feedback on the feel of this kite! Leave a comment on YouTube so others researching the kite can get a wide variety of opinions and help them get some bearing on the new Rebel.
Something I noticed is the 2011 Rebel has quite the following. While trying to figure this out I was speaking with Steve at the shop and he had a pretty good notion as to why. 2011 was the year most kites started getting really good. Many people who upgraded that year we're coming off gear that was many years older. This was a time when gear was making massive leaps on a regular basis.
So in that sense it sort of solves the riddle. When you upgrade from a model T to a modern day mustang its going to stand out in your memory. It's a funny thing but It does explain why so many feel in love the the Rebel and why it's achieved legendary status. They really knocked this kite out of the park and since then, it's been refined many times over until the 2018 redesign that brought the Rebel into the modern arena.
The Rebel is explosive and powerful
I’ve already addressed this while discussing the wind range. I wanted to elaborate a bit further as this was a point that really stood out to me on the Rebel. We mentioned how the original Rebel had a crisp feel and when it comes to jumping, that’s still the only word that comes to mind. Especially when you’re flying the kite on the high end.
A unique point on this kite is the explosive feel to the jumps. Now, there are plenty of kites that feel explosive. The Dice comes to mind. That said, most, if not all kites with an explosive feel come at the cost of ease of use. Not only that but they often require a more advanced rider. They tend to lack hang time and often the landings can be more abrupt. The Rebel, however, does not require rider feedback and while the jumps are explosive, the hangtime is ridiculously good. Somehow, it bypasses all of these traditional tradeoffs for the explosive powerful feel.
When it comes to jumping, you can expect powerful vertical jumps. The take off is fast and powerful. You’ll probably spend more time in the air than you are used to and unless you really dive the kite before you land, expect some extra airtime. On the lower end, the kite has plenty of grunt and stands up to its name by jumping effortlessly.
Some kites require a bit more work to build up speed and jump on the bottom end of their wind range. This is not the case with the Rebel. Jumping does take on some different characteristics when a little under-powered. The good news, you won’t really feel under-powered. The bad, you will lose the raw powerful feel in exchange for what feels like most all around kites when it comes to jumping.
When it comes to jumping, these unique traits really make the Rebel stand out in this category.
As I mentioned, the Rebel is a specialist. So when it comes to the waves, it gets the job done. For your average rider, I would say good enough. Now, for advanced riders, you’ll really want to be on the Evo the Dice or the Neo if waves are your main game. Every brand has a line up that spans all the disciplines. I’ve done a number of videos now talking about how most kites are in fact all around kites and do it all quite well.
This is one of the few cases where's this does not hold true depending on your ability level. The Rebel really is the most refined and advanced freeride kite I’ve tested to date. It’s the best jumper, the easiest jumper, the largest wind range in Duotones lineup. While it does work in the waves, it wouldn’t be my first choice.
So to reiterate, I’m not saying the Rebel will not work in waves. Not at all. It is however simply not this specialists strongest point. It’s aimed at riders who want maximum airtime maximum upwind ability and pretty much the most user-friendly kite duotone or most brands for that matter, have to offer.
Chances are if you’re a Rebel rider, you could care less about this. I thought I would mention it anyway. This is another point where you’ll want to be on an Evo a Dice or the Vegas. Will the Rebel work? Yes, but it’s not exceptional. The Rebel isn't really designed to be flown unhooked like the rest of the lineup. So while you can do it, it’s easier to backstall this kite when you load it unhooked. While this is possibly the best jumping kite I’ve tested to date, this seems to be an area where Duotone has traded off for superior performance.
When it comes to stability, we also touched on this regarding the feel of the kite. Hands down, the Rebel is one of the most stable kites I’ve tested. Now, I don’t want to diminish this point. We often talk about how many modern kites are very stable. For example, three strut kites have come a long way in terms of stability. Well, the Rebel takes that up a notch or two.
Next, to its unique feel and superior jumping, the stability is a major plus. You can expect a feeling of security in some pretty awful conditions and even if the wind picks up during your session, you can expect a controlled feeling ride.
This is particularly useful if you live somewhere with the inconsistent wind. On our local beaches, south winds are smooth warm and gentle. Due to the shape of the coast, our north winds actually travel across the land a bit making for cold dense turbulent and gusty conditions. The Rebel would not only be the kite of choice but would absolutely shine on a day like that.
What really makes this point shine is often, superior stability like this comes at a cost. For example, some of the most stable kites, are accompanied with a more damp feel or less reactive kite. The Rebel somehow delivers a crisp raw yet safe and stable feel. It’s unique to this kite and something I’ve not experience on any other kite to date.
Stand by, I'll update this section shortly.
In summary, few kiteboarding kites match the wind range, the explosive jumping, the hang time, the ease of use. Often, kites that turn fast lack low end. Kites that have a crisp raw feel lack low-end and power or are simply not as user-friendly. They demand a high-level rider. Kites that match the Rebels stability are often more damp or delayed.
You get all these perks without the traditional trade-offs. The only trade-off here is the Rebel does not boast full all around kite status like the Evo. If waves or unhooked freestyle are on your radar, every other kite in North's line up will outperform.On the flip side, no other kite can touch the Rebel when it comes to the unique experience you will find on the water.
Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic
Just a dude from a kite shop testing all the gear one session at a time.
Many people dream of quitting their job, traveling the world and pursuing their passions. Rygo is one of those people who pulled the trigger. About eight years into a postal career, he decided to change everything and travel as a freelance videographer & writer. This took him from coast to coast and a variety of countries. Nowadays you can catch him on the phones, doing lessons, or working on videos. Of course, he still makes a point to travel as often as possible. His mission is to help people and share the stoke with his customers and students alike. Get out there and kiteboard.
Producer of: Ride with Blake I Sessions I Versus I Destinations I Foil Fridays