The shop asked me to try to compare Duotone's SLS kites and the Aluula kites from Ocean Rodeo. I've decided to do a couple videos on this to share my experience and that of friends who tried it. I was able to get some time on the Neo SLS, and now I've got a Roam Aluula and a Flite Aluula.
So far I've tried the Flite and the Neo SLS. Two very different kites, so I'll compare how the lighter materials used impacted the kites in their own respective ways. I do have a Roam that I'll test and compare to the Neo as well. Rather than making you wait a few months for me to try all of these kites, I'll do a couple videos after each test and share the experience!
Packing and Storage
This might not matter for everyone, but it was big to me. I'm living in an RV and I have to store a lot of gear. Both kites packed down small and were super light to carry onto the beach. When traveling, I've stopped packing a 17 meter kite on a flight because it just adds too much weight and bulk to the bag. These new kites really do solve that problem.
Looking at the Materials
On the beach, the SLS Neo looks like a normal kite. The Aluula, on the other hand, really pops. The gold Aluula fabric is really stiff and has an odd texture to it, giving a powerful first impression.
The SLS, on closer inspection, is streamlined. The bridles are very thin and the kite is obviously less robust than a standard kite. Granted, the material is supposed to be significantly stronger.
I did do a review on the Neo SLS a while back and, after further testing, I kind of feel like this should be the new norm. It's just too nice.
In the Air
Starting with the Flite, we tested the 17m in about 10 knots with some small to medium waves ranging from waist to chest high in Cocoa Beach. Now, obviously, on a light wind kite the benefits of a lighter kite are going to shine. When we first put the kite up, the wind was about 8 and we were kind of shocked. Compared to a Contra that struggles as any heavier kite would in such light wind, the Flite flew perfectly even though there wasn't enough power to ride. We waited to ride because 8 was simply not enough to get out on a surfboard, but it occurred to me that if I was out there and the wind tanked, it would be easy to body drag or loop myself back in without worrying about the kite dropping or being difficult to relaunch. It would also be a machine for extremely light wind foiling.
I did drop it in the waves later and, in spite of the heavy currents and waves pushing me toward the kite which was getting dumped in the waves, it relaunched super easily. The Neo has an equally good relaunch in the waves. For comparison, I do have the SST as my personal wave kite and, while this is just my impression, it seemed like both these kites relaunched a bit easier and faster. I do not know if it's the shape, the material or the conditions I was in.
What's most unique about these kites is that they feel crazy light in the hand, with light bar pressure and instant response at the flick of the wrist. On the Neo this was exciting but not too unexpected. That kite is made for the waves and needs to have these traits. I was also flying a 9! The Flite was a bit of a shock. Normally 17s are grunty and slow with powerful bar pressure. The Flite was light and fast, comparable to a 12. I know this is a bold claim, but other testers that day said it turned like a 9 so I feel confident saying it doesn't turn like an average 17.
So the benefits here are numerous. A faster kite means you can flick it for bigger jumps. You can redirect it faster for landings as well. One the best and worst things about big kites is getting used to the slow, bogged-down feeling. This was actually fun to fly!
In the waves, I was able to move the Flite and loop it when necessary to line things up. We were all laughing about this because we never thought we would have a good session riding waves in 10 knots. The kite actually had a bit of drift to it because it was so light and the extra response was nice. Unlike the Neo, once you slack the lines too far, the kite is going down unless you can get an edge and recover line tension. I did drop the kite on some medium-sized waves that the Neo would have drifted or looped out of. Remember, the Flite is a lightwind kite so that's not a fair comparison. The point I'm making is that it's incredible how well it performed for a 17 in such light winds. That's actually outstanding.
In comparison, and it's not a fair one, the 9 Neo SLS was a wave slayer, obviously, because it's a powerful wave kite. I had the 9 out in around 10 knots to 24 on various days. At 10 knots, like any 9m, it didn't do any good on the surfboard but it was incredible on the foil.
As a bonus comparison, we did pop up a Contra back-to-back. The Contra was slower, had tons of grunt, and took a bit more work to fly. Both kites rode upwind equally well; the KEY difference was that the Flite flew like a much smaller kite with light bar pressure.
For foiling, the 14.5 or 17m for a heavy rider would actually work better than most big kites. I'm pretty sure this would work well on those 7 to 9 knot days because you could actually turn the kite to create apparent wind. The light feel would be beneficial for not getting overpowered. Granted, I would not want to foil with these in 10 to 14 knots. You could, but you would get overpowered fast. For that I would much prefer the 9m Neo SLS with its slackline drift and steering paired with the on-and-off depower. I know, not a fair comparison; I'm simply using the Neo to give perspective on how much the 17m Flite Aluula stood out to us.
These new lighter kites have a huge appeal to riders who hate slow kites with heavy bar pressure. The performance benefits really shine in the larger sizes for obvious reasons, most notably, making big kites fun to to fly. So if you are that rider who loves your 9, you might start to love your 12, 14, or even 17 with either the SLS or the Aluula.
So that's it for my first test on the Flite. I'll be doing a few more of these. I do have a Roam 10 that will be a better comparison to the Neo. Stand by and I'll put out more reviews as I learn about these kites. Tell me what you want to know and I'll keep these things in mind while testing.
Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic
Many people dream of quitting their job, traveling the world and pursuing their passions. Rygo is one of those people who pulled the trigger. A few years into his career, he decided to change everything and travel as a kiteboarder, freelance videographer & writer. His mission is to share the stoke & help people put the boarding into their kiteboarding. Get outside and kite!
Producer of: Ride with Blake I Sessions I Versus I Destinations I Foil Fridays