For 2012, the Fuel reintroduces Splitstrut technology, one of Slingshot's most important design features. The 2012 model is built on a five strut platform, making the kite incredibly rigid and stable in even the toughest conditions. This year Slingshot have also incorporated new trailing edge construction for extra protection to decrease wear. Other innovations such as One-Pump (original Slingshot patented single-point inflation system), Custom Fuel Injection (fine tune for wake or freestyle) and Progressive Power Steering (optimum tracking, precision feedback, custom range) continue to push forward in the industry. The combination of this dedication, design and technology create a kite with unmatched deliberate power, fearless looping and unwavering recovery; making the Fuel the expert C kite rider's weapon of choice.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The Slingshot Fuel has long been regarded as one of the more hardcore examples of
engineering in the kingdom of C kites. Still raw, it's also simple, set-up on four lines but also relaunches nicely without the aid of a fifth line. The bar is seriously heavy-duty and well made, with a very robust grip and with lots of attention to detail. Slingshot really do produce bulletproof equipment, from the chicken-loop right up to the kite canopy. Most brands have reverted back to above-the-bar trimming systems but Slingshot have stuck with the below the bar setup, allowing for a very clean area above the bar and there's a good stopper up there too. Under-the-bar systems can be awkward to get a lot of leverage to depower the kite in strong winds because of their position close to your body, but there's a nice smooth cleat on the Slingshot system that's easy enough to use. Above the chunky floats on the back lines are 'oh shit' handles on each side for extra safety while the chicken-loop safety works very cleanly, running up through the chicken loop trimming system, up through Slingshot's excellent line swivel and up to a one line release. The chicken-finger is attached using velcro so can be easily removed,
leaving a suicide ring where it was attached.
What the Fuel has always had, and still does, is attitude and performance, with strong wing tips and a boxy profile. Remember this is Ruben Lenten's weapon of choice for the dirty, mind blowing mega loops he introduced to the world. Of course a lot of that is purely down to Ruben's attitude and riding skills, but that's also
complemented by the kite. You're immediately aware of the power on tap. The Fuel doesn't depower to 100%, retaining an element of power at all times, which is reassuring for advanced riders. Of course there's no bridle, so you always have a very direct connection to the kite. The Fuel has a very strong feel at the bar, not in a hybrid way where you pull in and it goes boom, more how the angle-of-attack changes and you get a lovely linear increase in power. The Fuel has a few more CCs under the bonnet than other kites; it's heavier and a bit more physical. Quick and agile the Fuel turns really nicely, always flying forward and always with power. The result is a very precise feeling of control at the bar and as well as being great unhooked, the Fuel is incredible fun for sent jumps with loads of performance, taking you really high and with good hang-time. It's technical to access that performance though and you have to be comfortable and at a good enough level to fly the kite in strong winds and with a powered up kite, and then it's a boomer. But you do need some boards skills to accompany it; to use your edge to help depower the kite when necessary. It's the feeling of power that never leaves you that Fuel riders love. Even just popping over a wave or piece of chop there's always this element of pull. You can shut it down a bit, but not totally. You have to be committed during your tricks, and on kites that have complete power shut off, it's often worse, leaving you falling like a stone and coming down harder. It's quite intimidating at first though.
The Fuel loops exactly as a C kite should do. A very wide arc, it flies really well through the bottom of the window, driving forwards, up and never stalling in the last section of the loop. Providing you commit it will always get you out of the kite loop. The upstroke is fantastic.
As there's no fifth line, the Fuel doesn't seem to fly as far into the wind as some of the other C kites in this review, sitting back a little more. It's also therefore very manly unhooked with an extremely solid pull. It's great and just what an experienced rider should be looking for, but if you're new to unhooking it's probably too strong. If you're learning to handle-pass, look at the RPM which is a bit more watered down, mellow at the bar and requires smaller muscles to ride on all day.
In terms of an all-round, brutish and engaging feel, the Fuel is probably the most genuine C kite out there. It doesn't mess about, nothing is diluted, it's a strong freestyle kite with a superb connection with the rider and bags of power. This kite is a gangster and whenever we see anyone out on a Fuel we have to give them some respect, because it's not for the faint of heart. Everyone should try one once because it's such an exciting and unique kite to fly.
Playing with what is probably the most explosively powerful C kite on the market.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
We are fans of above-the-bar trimming systems, so from a personal point-of-view, we'd move the current below-the-bar system up.
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Slingshot Fuel 7m (2012)
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