RPM V12 in action


KW Test team Slingshot RPM V12


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“Consistent, reliable and easy freestyle performance across a range of difficult conditions”

TESTED BY: Bully and Jim


The RPM delivers a unique combination of attributes as a top level handle-pass kite that’s also safe in difficult conditions, forgiving and comfortable enough for first time users (or smaller riders in strong winds) and quick enough in small sizes to cross-over into waves. Anyone who has handle-passes on their mind; be it for the basics or high level moves, who also likes to mix up their riding style beyond that should be looking at the RPM.



When Slingshot first released the RPM in 2009 it was one of the first really good three strut kites on the market and launched as a cross-over between their super hardcore C kite, the Fuel, and their bow-style kite, the Rev2. At the time most people were still riding C kites, but looking back at the RPM then and now, it’s become a totally timeless shape.

In 2009 lots of manufacturers were experimenting with strange looking bow kites that had long bridles and felt very woolly in their handling, whereas the RPM made a big impact being still quite C shaped, really sporty and compact looking with square wing-tips for responsive steering.

The RPM has always been an agile and adaptable hybrid three strut kite that could even be used in waves, so from its launch it hit the right buttons for a lot of progressive riders.


We’ve talked at length over the years about all the freestyle world titles that the RPM has helped the likes of Youri Zoon, Carlos Mario, Sam Light and Karolina Winkowska win. We all know that the riders are amazing, but they have proved that the RPM is a very good kite for handle-passing even in difficult conditions and yet it’s still comfortable.

The RPM saw only minor changes year on year because it was so bang-on in terms of gust management and comfort in difficult conditions, but also blended the ability for good riders to land technical handle-passes in challenging conditions on tour. That combined performance dependability mixed with the safety and comfort levels that were always quite unique to the RPM, meant that this was a kite as popular with intermediates as it was the world’s best freestylers.


There was one gap in its performance highlights though: access to easy, big boosting for intermediates. 2018/19 saw the biggest change Slingshot had made to the RPM in memory, a tweak to the Flyline bridle suspension to produce more lifty performance. The last thing they wanted to do was affect the strong wind control and feeling of security that the RPM gave riders alongside the great unhooked performance, but they have improved the ease of boosting. 

RPM v12 in action


The over riding positives in the RPM are still the way that it flies around and steers. Jumping into gear quickly, the steering is quite direct but at the same time the RPM doesn’t feel twitchy. As usual the kite has a lot of range and delivers very smooth power. One of the RPM’s constantly outstanding qualities is that the kite’s character doesn’t change, whether you’re riding it hooked-in or unhooked. It may sound silly, but it’s like the kite is always flying equally on its four lines. You could argue that a pure unhooked kite would fly further forward, but the RPM flies forward adequately and drops enough power when you want to make your pass.

The fact that you can ride along hooked-in and then unhook and not have the kite suddenly power up means that it’s a fantastic kite for learning unhooked tricks. You don’t need to touch the trim and, because the kite continues driving forward like it was doing when you were hooked-in, means you can really focus on your edge control and take-off rather than having to think too much about the kite. There’s no re-set of your body position needed because the feel remains constant. The RPM is one of the best kites on the market for that.


To touch on that consistency a little more, we’ve found over the years that the RPM is generally also a brilliant kite for lighter riders. The depower throw isn’t too far away and that consistency in power control is really encouraging. Plus, lighter riders have the confidence to steer the kite more aggressively in stronger winds because, although they have plenty of lift for jumps, the RPM isn’t so overbearing that they constantly feel like they’re fighting to stay in touch with the water.

KW Test team Slingshot RPM V12


It takes quite a lot of wind for the RPM to switch into being a higher performing jumping kite, but because it’s so comfortable, you really can take it out in strong winds; at which point the sweet spot overhead for boosting gets bigger and bigger.

The kite loops can also feel good and quite powerful, as long as you’re not too forceful with the bar.  As with anything that the RPM does, it leaves you feeling in control of the kite, rather than the other way round. The improved lift of last year already had an increased effect on the power of the loop, and that has continued, though you can pull hard on the bar to get the kite to turn more pivotally if you want to.

To get the most out of the RPM for bigger jumps and loops then you really need to have your take-off technique dialled in. There’s not as much sheeting lift on tap as you’ll find in some other more focused big air kites. You can go high, but you have to access the lift with accurate kite movements and sheeting.

Perhaps one of the reasons that the RPM takes a bit more ‘send’ technique to access lots of lift is that Slingshot usually stock deliver their bars with 20 metre lines, which is a little shorter than the 22 or 24 metre line lengths on most freeride kites. There is however no doubting the good, direct handling and compact feeling traits of the RPM and it’s proved to be a winner in its field.


Whether they’re a world champion, or someone who doesn’t want to sacrifice freeride comfort and range in difficult conditions, but has decided that learning unhooked tricks is something they’re serious about.

Add into that the fact that the RPM is a very capable wave kite and has ample drift, depower and fast turning for foiling; then that’s quite a tasty combination for a lot of riders. Also worth noting when we talk about difficult conditions, the RPM is one of the best kites for storm force conditions, and being so safe-feeling you could give it to your partner or kids to learn on.




Finally, we can’t fail to pass comment on what Slingshot themselves hail as legendary build strength, because it’s true. This year’s addition of 4×4 strength canopy material, like all Slingshot kites the RPM is equipped with their original One Pump system and a valve that connects directly to the pump hose. Although the kites are never the lightest, there’s no doubting they’re long-lasting and practical. The same is true of their bars. Trustworthy and robust, we have a lot of confidence in their manufacturing prowess. What we’d like to see improved on the below-the-bar trimming system is a swivel below-the-bar, and the lack of it is often the reason that we usually choose the above-the-bar trimming system (which has a below-the-bar swivel).


Yet again the RPM delivers friendly freeride performance with brilliant gust management. Essentially, it’s the same kite as last year – a really good kite that’s extremely stable. An immense handle-passing kite with a direct and constant pull mixed with the ability to send and boost once the wind picks up. If you’re perhaps a bigger purely hooked-in rider and aren’t concerned with unhooking at all, you may mistake the RPM for being dull, but you’d be misunderstanding its handling, as that’s exactly where it’s so good as a freestyle kite for the masses and offers safety to smaller riders in challenging winds. There’s an undoubtedly clear place in the market for this kite.


Consistent, reliable and easy freestyle performance across a range of difficult conditions while at the other end of its performance spectrum it hangs with the best freestylers in the world.


Some intermediates (bigger riders mainly) purely focussed on improving their boosts and hangtime are going to want a wider sweet spot overhead and that’s more forgiving of less accurate flying technique to give easier lift for boosts. Where the RPM has improved its jumping performance is for riders who already know how to point and shoot accurately.


Build quality: 9
Full package: 9
Low end: 7
Top end: 9
Steering speed: 7
Turning circle: 6.5
Bar pressure: 6
Water relaunch: 9
Drift: 8
Boost: 7.5
Hang-time: 7.5
Unhooked: 9
Crossover: 9
Ease of use: 9

SIZES: 14, 11, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 4.5m



Find out more: www.slingshotsports.com


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