The Rebel SLS is the ultimate freeride and big air kite in Duotone’s range. Now loaded with SLS technology, the guys at Duotone caught up with designer Ken Winner to get all the insights on the latest additions to the SLS range.
Tell us about the design brief and goals set for the new Rebel SLS?
We wanted to migrate the Rebel from our 140-gram Dacron to the lighter, stiffer Penta TX. The goal was to get lower weight and more lively performance. What are the main technical/geometrical changes compared to the previous model? Penta TX is not just a light material but it’s also stiffer. Because of this stiffness, we changed the construction of centre and quarter struts in all sizes of Rebel to involve more panels of cloth. This causes the cloth, which must be viewed for our purposes as essentially two-dimensional, to do a better job of creating the three-dimensional shapes of the struts.
As with the Neo, there are three cohorts of Rebels: sizes 11 and smaller, sizes 12 & 13 and sizes 14 & 15. We have used different aspect ratios for those three cohorts in the past, with small sizes having the lowest aspect ratio (for easy handling) and the largest sizes having the highest aspect ratio (for power and solid bar feel). In the 2022 Rebel, we have somewhat expanded this pattern to other characteristics as well. In the smaller sizes we made changes in these areas: The leading edge below the tip strut has a slight rounder shape Profile station #4 was flattened a bit to smooth canopy entry at this point. The new cloth and construction that we use on our Flex Struts tends to make the strut overly straight in the back, so we tweaked the cloth tension settings on these struts to move the draft back. In the larger two cohorts, sizes 12, 13, 14 & 15, we made changes in these areas: In 2021 we had already given the leading edge below the tip strut a rounder shape and we found no additional benefit from increasing this for 2022. As with the smaller cohort we tweaked the cloth tension settings on the Flex Struts struts to move the draft back. How have these changes influenced the performance, handling and feel of the Rebel SLS? Quicker and more complete depower. Quicker, smoother turning with more vertical lift in jumps.
Already having worked with Penta Tx on the Neo, how was the development phase with implementing it into the Rebel SLS. What were the challenges to overcome?
The 2021 Rebel with our light 140-gram Dacron was already a significant step forward with Rebel design, so we weren’t totally confident in our ability to make yet another step forward with the 130-gram Penta TX. And, indeed, the first few prototypes were not encouraging, as we overdid some changes and they didn’t work out. However, when we went with the more subtle changes mentioned above we found clear benefits from the Penta TX construction.
Who was on the test team in the development phase?
Sky, Patri and I were our primary testers. We also relied on feedback from other team riders and some highly experienced instructors like Charles Edwards from Second Wind on Maui.
For people familiar with the previous model, how do the known characteristics of the kite change?
As with the Neo SLS, going to SLS construction on the Rebel has given us a more lively feel, quicker and more complete depower. The lower weight gives better drift and quicker turning. The slight change in LE shape below the tip struts gives the smaller sizes improved turning.
What are the flight characteristics and what rider is the Rebel SLS best suited too?
The Rebel is our cruising and airtime kite. It has a huge range and stability owing to its five struts, and it’s particularly well suited to riders who want to load it to the max and send it to the max.
What are the setting options and air pressures?
We pump Rebels to 7 psi. Sky, Patri and I use the “hard” setting on the backline bridle. Lighter riders and hydrofoilers will likely prefer the “soft” setting. We mostly recommend 22-meter lines, longer lines for the bigger sizes up from 10.