This is Aaron from MACkite with Ben from Duotone. I was asking Ben about some of the overlap within the Duotone kite product line.
Aaron: I've been a fan of both the Neo and the Dice because of their surf characteristics, and I started thinking how, within the entire line of kites, there is some functional overlap between the different models. What are your thoughts on the design process behind that and how those design concepts come into play?
Ben: We do have quite the lineup of kites. We have the shapes of the kites, we have the constructions of those shapes, and there's a tier of high-performing models. We have the Rebel, the Evo, the Dice and the Neo, which you like, and the Juice and the Mono. The Rebel is a high-performance freeride kite, and the Evo is a freeride kite. The Dice is our freestyle surf kite, the Neo is a freeride surf kite, the Juice is for light wind freeride, and the Mono is a light wind freeride foil kite. So there are a lot of words that cross over among models.
Aaron: The Dice and the Evo have a little bit of that. One's five-strut and one's three-strut, but still...
Ben: Yeah, performance-wise, or what you're able to do on the kite, there is overlap. The Evo is a pretty good unhooked trick kite. It's not the best, but you can do it. The Dice is a great unhooking freestyle kite, so there's overlap right there. And as you said earlier, the Neo and the Dice are surfing kites.
Aaron: I feel like the Evo can be in that conversation too.
Ben: Yeah, it's not a bad kite to use in a surf environment. The Evo can go and play ball with the Dice and the Neo, but if we're talking specifically about just the Dice and the Neo, the Dice is a freestyle unhooking kite. You can kiteloop, and it's really good in waves.
Aaron: I love it. That's my new favorite.
Ben: And I'm a Neo guy. So your Dice is spectacular in waves. My Neo is a kite that's great for waves. I've always found the differences of where the Dice outshines the Neo in waves, versus the Neo outshining the Dice, is the Dice is great for waves if you're crossing the wind window, you're slashing the wave and you're redirecting, and you're using the kite to keep your momentum. It's kind of like old school wave riding.
Aaron: It is, isn't it? Like back when we used to use C kites for wave riding, and they were good at that back-and-forth. You're out in front of the wave, you come back at it, hit it, out in front, back at it...
Ben: Yes, the Dice has that nimbleness.
Aaron: At KoGL last fall is where I got hyped on that again. I was a Neo SLS fan for as long as the SLS was available. There wasn't any other kite that I was willing to take a look at because, if I could have a 9m kite and some chest to head-high swell, that'd be it. I'd hit repeat all day, every day. But then I jumped on the Dice SLS to compare those two back-to-back, and I had a different experience than I was prepared for. I liked the Dice SLS better, and it was purely because of that ability to get out in front of it and back, and out and back.
For us, our wind and swell is always traveling the same way, so we're not drifting down the line per se, but if you are, on the Neo you can run right at that kite. On a foil with a surfboard, you can chase straight at that kite and it has that ability to just stay in the pocket down the line. You said something yesterday about it being able to pivot, as opposed to arcing across the window. It'll just redirect and go.
Ben: Yeah, if you have the right conditions with the Neo, it's a park and depower. If it's side/side-off and you are drifting down the wave, using your board, tightening up your turns, and you're keeping the kite drifting downwind, those ideal conditions make that happen with the Neo.
Also with the Neo, if you're in lighter side-off wind and you've got to keep yourself planing on your surfboard, when you have that kite parked there you can sheet in and loop it in one spot. It's a pivotal loop, and it generates that nice power that doesn't yank you off your board. It stays in one spot and allows you to focus more on surfing and doing something on the wave instead of having to worry about your kite.
Aaron: I've noticed in downloop transitions if I'm getting around a section on a wave, you can pivotal turn the Neo and you know that you're not going to get yarded. On the Dice SLS, I just anticipate that I'm going to get a yank out of it, so I'll point and run right at it, knowing that I might have to run out some speed and then come back in and hit the wave.
Ben: Yeah. The Dice is a moving kite for waves, and the Neo is a park-and-ride wave kite.
Aaron: How about the Neo and the Mono? Are there some similar characteristics? I know they're three-strut versus one-strut, but profile-wise they look kind of similar. Maybe the Mono's a little deeper?
Ben: Yes, the Mono's going to be a little deeper and much lower aspect than the Neo, but the Neo is also a low aspect kite, so they're fat and they hold a lot of wind and they stay up in the air. They do not fall out of the sky.
The Mono has a single strut. It's not a high-performing kite, but it's a kite that'll get you out when there's almost no wind. It's fantastic when you have one suitcase and you need one kite to get you out kiting because you're going somewhere your wife wants to go but you don't.
Aaron: Hahaha! Ben, I don't know what you're talking about, dude.
Ben: Haha, yeah, sorry. So you're going to go sightseeing with your significant other, but there's wind and you have a backpack with your gear. The Mono is a great travel kite because it packs down into almost nothing, but it's also a great light wind kite.
Aaron: It has good low-end power for its size.
Ben: Yep. It's stable enough for a one-strut kite. The canopy flutters a little bit, but it flies great. The Neo is definitely more high-performing than the Mono, but the DNA from Neo to Mono is similar.
Aaron: Then I look at the Mono and the Juice, and again, that's going to three struts.
Ben: Yep. The Juice is a big Evo kite. It has the same shape that the Evo has, but it's built in the larger sizes. It has a different kite material and a bit lighter bladder, so it's a lightweight construction. We do have the Juice in the D/LAB construction now, which is the ultimate light wind kite, but it's still a big Evo.
Aaron: I was under the impression that this is a big Neo, but now I see.
Ben: Well, it's similar...
Aaron: Hence this conversation. I've yet to take advantage of the Juice D/LAB, because I know I'm going to love it. I'm trying to downsize my quiver a little bit, but I'm having a hard time.
Ben: Yeah. The D/LAB Juice is something where we threw as much advanced technology as we possibly could into a kite to see what we could do with a rigid frame kite for light wind. The juice D/LAB is extremely efficient at light wind flying.
Aaron: I've got to say I have had fun on the Juice. On a day where the wind is dying off but there's still a little swell rolling in and I've set my 9m down, I can get out my 13 Juice.
That's what makes it challenging as you're trying to look through the Duotone line and figure out which kite you want. There's some blend between all the different models, and I really had to break that down into what I like doing. I would take surf every day, but in Michigan we don't get that every day. So surf is priority, then freeride. I've also got half a dozen unhooked tricks that I like to do, and I like to jump and boost with the occasional kiteloop. The Dice SLS is actually perfect, and I feel bad, like I'm cheating on the Neo SLS, but I have been loving the Dice. I love how the Duotone line does give you some crossover to help you really fine tune what your style is.
The Evo is that good baseline kite to help you establish that you love kiteboarding, and then as you branch out and go into some specific niches of riding styles, then you can get off into foiling, surfing, boosting, unhooked and whatever else.
Ben: There's always a starting point with any brand. Everyone has that all-around kite, and we're fortunate enough that the Evo is such an amazing all-around kite that it truly flies well in almost any condition. Anybody can do anything on it. If you tell someone to do the Evo the first time, it's really hard to get them off the Evo because they just don't want to.
Aaron: Yes, because it's immediately fun, regardless of what you're riding: a foil, a surf shape, a twintip.
So those are some of the differences between the Duotone line and why they're designed with some overlap built into them. You can figure out what you like to ride best, and as your riding style develops and changes, you can change with that and pick out the next kite in the line.
If you have any questions about that, any of us here at the shop are always happy to help. You can ring me direct on those Duotone questions because I tend to mix my Duotone Kool-Aid pretty strong. Ben has been an amazing rep for us, and is always extremely helpful in backing us up with all the products. Dude, thank you for your time. I appreciate the explanation here. Guys, I hope to see you on the water. Thanks for reading!
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