North Dice 2016

North Dice 9m 2016

North Dice 2016 test review Kiteworld Magazine

TEST TEAM NOTES

We won’t gush too much over the build quality that we enjoy in North’s products, suffice to say that the Dice is right on par as usual – not overly heavy, but reassuringly well made. The North valve has had some subtle internal tweaks to make it easier to twist, it’s more robust and has generally seen some tweaks to tidy up a few imperfections on the first version last year. There are no external pins to catch on anything, it works with any pump hose, allows efficient pumping with no loss of air and then the twist cap is now even easier with a slight change to the thread. North have introduced some small changes to the canopy with increased dacron on the trailing edge and on the struts to further protect them from the one pump system.

 

North Dice 2016 test review Kiteworld Magazine

 

On the rear corner of the kite there are three options to attach your back lines to the kite, affecting the bar pressure. Unlike several other kites in the North range, there are no front line bridle options to further alter the ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ feel in the kite. The Dice from that perspective is simple.

 

North Trust bar 2016 Kiteworld Magazine

 

The Quad control Trust bar system is exemplary. Always comfortable, easy to set-up, nice and thin in the hands, conveniently short in length according to the kite’s size and it never seems to get eroded by sand, suffering very little from wear and tear. The cleat trimming depower has been a benchmark for trimming systems for several seasons and North’s Iron Heart chicken-loop quick-release is also a masterpiece in functionality, simplicity and ease of use and has only seen minor improvements in the last few seasons. Very regular unhookers may prefer the increased size of the loop on the ‘Wakestyle’ bar, but that’s an option. This standard chicken-loop was a very acceptable size for most use. The only slightly unusual element is that the front line split is quite high on this Quad set up, and as well as meaning that your GoPro has to sit quite high up in your lines (though there is a tweak you can make to set it lower), if the kite ever rolls through itself in the waves for example, a high split can occasionally be a bit more problematic, but it’s a rarity.

 

In the air the Dice is taut but getting on it straight after the FX it’s noticeable that the struts and leading edge are a little thicker. In the air the bar pressure is also a little lighter, and straight away the Dice feels softer and with lots of depower on tap. It’s very apparent that it’s a more hybrid feeling design.

 

A size smaller than the FX there was no shortage of power and the Dice also has a lovely power band with lots of juice at the bar, but the power progression is more accentuated. The Dice has a longer bridle than the FX and you find yourself being more active in terms of sheeting in and out. The power is more off-on than the FX and there’s more throw. It’s very rapid and responsive, but there’s also a lovely forgiving feel to the kite. That mixed with its power injection, precise steering and feedback have made this a weapon for many performance freeriders riders as well as intermediates and upwards.

 

This is the third incarnation of the Dice. The first year was a bit dull in terms of electric feel as there was a bit too much sponginess in the kite, last year’s was a very intuitive and easy freeride / freestyle machine – it had certainly been tightened up – and now for 2016 this model is a very exciting tool.

 

Although many of the improvements are subtle, the biggest improvement for us is the increased boost. Last year’s model had a rapid boost climb and then a quick descent – now the Dice is right up there with the best in this three strut hybrid performance class in the air. There’s way more lift as you take the kite through the window, it’s taken pretty big steps forward in performance, it’s quicker, more agile, has more lift and hangtime and is generally more ‘keen’ everywhere around the window. Compared to the FX you can be less precise and get away with sloppier handling without getting punished. The Dice needs more thought in terms of your input to get a dirty kite loop like the FX, but it’s very playful, can be less intimidating and can offer something for any level of kite looper. The power curves are very different, and although there’s more ‘tromboning’ on the Dice, it’s very friendly.

 

There is also a considerable difference to be felt on the different pressure settings on the kite. On the medium setting the power is pretty constant but not overly aggressive. For pivotal turning the soft setting works really but for looping the kite in the waves, whereas the medium and hard settings make a big difference for freestyle. While the loops aren’t ‘nuts’ like you might expect on the Vegas, they can be powerful and are always consistent throughout.

 

The Dice sits very nicely bang in the performance freeride category, with equal doses of freestyle and wave riding application. The responsiveness and speed in the turns mixed with the good depower feel great. When powering into a bottom turn and hitting the lip, you can sheet out for huge depower when you need to and then crank the bar in for extra power and turning without getting yanked off the board. When fully lit the Dice feels very highly charged, but the doses of power are very manageable at the bar.

 

Compared to the Neo wave kite, the Dice sits a little further forward with a touch less drift, which is where it’s high performance freestyle and jumping attributes come in, but it also helps the Dice fly upwind. Unhooked the Dice is really dependable, doesn’t over load with power, but feels very consistent.

 

 

SUMMARY

If you’re very much at the freestyle end of the spectrum, look to the Vegas in the North range which, as well as being a beast, also has a nice soft setting for intermediate progression. However, if you’re in anyway wanting to ride waves as well as have a kite that can light your brain up for jumping in strong winds, then the Dice is great. We’re very much looking forward to trying the smaller sizes in Cape Town and the bigger guys should find more power in the Dice than last year.

 

KW LIKED

Delicious mix of ingredients for performance wave, freestyle and freeride.

 

KW WOULD CHANGE

Wakestylers may like something a bit more parked and more deeply powered.

 

DICE BALANCE POINTS

Build quality: 9
Full package: 9
Low end: 8
Top end: 8.5
Steering speed: 8
Turning circle: 5.5
Power through the turn: 5.5
Bar pressure: 5 (Middle setting)
Water relaunch: 8
Drift: 7.5
Boost: 8.5
Hang-time: 7.5
Unhooked: 7.5
Cross-over: 8.5
Ease-of-use: 8.5

SIZES

13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4m

 

Here’s the official Dice 2016 product video from North

More information at www.northkiteboarding.com

 

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