Now in its fifth year, the proven 'open-C' canopy design and Slingshot's patented Split Strut technology in the RPM continue to push kite design to a new level. Slingshot claim the RPM created (and still dominates) the three strut open-C category. Through years of testing and rider feedback steady improvements and subtle refinements have been made and the 2013 RPM is a powerful combination of aggressive freestyle characteristics and progressive crossover performance. Low profile wingtips increase turning speed and reduce drag, while the custom attachment points optimise kite performance and deliver complete tuning from freestyle to wakestyle in seconds. Inspired by Slingshot's world class team, the RPM delivers unmatched out-of-the-box performance with many options for personal customisation.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The RPM has a great pedigree and was the first bridled kite to be used by a World Champion when Youri Zoon claimed back-to-back titles on it for the last two years. The Slingshot bar is one of the best on the market for its extremely solid build, comfort, excellent safety that doesn't clog up with sand, good options for leash provision and easily removable chicken-finger. The chicken-loop is pretty much the perfect size and always faces the rider for hooking back in and the range on the bar is absolutely huge. This is helped with the trimming system being under the bar just above the chicken-loop. There are as many fans of having the system in this position as there are those who'd rather have it above the bar. What we can say to those that usually prefer above-the-bar systems is that this system works very smoothly indeed as the trimming rope is fairly thick, so doesn't stick and you don't come unhooked every time you try and trim the kite if you don't have your chicken-finger in. Perhaps it would be nice to at least have the option of an above-the-bar system as it is such a different taste, though. But this is one of those kites where you could overlook your ideal preference. There's also a really good swivel above the bar that works well and another particular point of note is that Slingshot's lines must be the thickest in the business, particularly the front lines which are over-sized and perhaps a legacy of having worked with Ruben Lenten for so many years; probably demanding lines that don't stretch and won't break during the biggest of kite loops. Basically, this bar is heavy duty, well made, excellently engineered and is definitely up to the job. It's not the lightest bar out there, but you can totally trust it not to let you down. The kite is Slingshot's usual bomb proof construction and adorned with their excellent one pump systems and functional attention to the details.
If something isn't broken, why try too hard to fix it, seems to have been the approach with this year's RPM. The standout feature of the RPM has always been its ease-of-use and comfort combined with exceptional freestyle/freeride performance. It's very rare that we find a kite that we could confidently give to absolutely anyone, from the power hungry freestyle monkey, to your other half who has just finished learning, but you could with the RPM. Make no mistake though, we're not saying this is a girl's kite; it's just so simple and easy-to-use in a large range of conditions and handles crappy, gusty conditions into great sessions. Turning the kite is very easy as it's quite quick and agile. If you're aggressive with the bar it will turn really quickly and quite pivotally and during and after a turn the kite then continues with its excellent forward drive and no hint of stalling. The RPM has some very credible boost under the bonnet too. It's not a high aspect paragliding type kite, but it's got lots of big air potential, backed up by the fact that it can handle stacks of wind. The comfort levels on this kite are such that you feel very comfortable in a surprising amount of wind because the kite is so stable and has such huge depower, so it goes high in the jumps, has moderate hang-time but then brings you down so very smoothly. The kite loops are good, holding enough power through the turn to keep them fun without being too scary. It's nothing like the Fuel, but the loops are still positive and fun. It's just a joy to use.
The relaunch is also fantastic, which is so nice to see in a kite capable of such general high-performance. You just don't need to worry about whether it will go back up or not, and in the testing conditions of Cape Town, that's such a good quality to help you continue going for things. Unhooked it's interesting because you can be steaming into the beach, thinking you've got loads of power, try and unhook thinking you'll get your arms pulled off, and you find it's just very manageable. There isn't as much of a slack moment as you get with C kites for sure, but riding in all sorts of situations and conditions around the world and needing a kite that doesn't need much adjustment and just makes things easy ? you can see how it certainly didn't hinder Youri on his quest for world titles. There's not a lot this kite won't do.
The RPM has such an impressive range and level of performance that it just makes your session easy, whether you're cruising or handle-passing. Incredibly stable and steady, it's also very comfortable but still has enough performance to keep the expert happy, whatever they're into. It's almost like cheating, doesn't require much adjustment at all, is very refined and also very safe. In terms of where it sits in the freeride spectrum, it leans more towards freestyle than waves, but given that it is so easy to use, turns well and has no hint of stalling, it's also very handy in a wave environment. It's a very impressive kite indeed.
This is probably one of the best kites for riders who enjoy really high performance in all disciplines, but whose partner might also pinch their gear from time to time for a cruise.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Big guys, or riders who want to pull in on the bar and feel lots and lots of power might crave a bit more juice.
SIZES:14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 4.5m
KITE BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality ? 9.5
Full package - 8
Low end ? 8
Top end ? 9
Steering speed ? 7.5
Turning circle ? 5
Bar pressure - 5
Water relaunch ? 8.5
Jumping / hang-time - 8
Unhooked - 9
Easy of use ? 9