Sometimes thereâ€™s a legacy kite in a brandâ€™s history that leaves a mark on the old institutional memory, and for that very reason, a long-forgotten, yet familiar model name sometimes makes a comeback. When the Slingshot team gathered around the table to pin down the name of its new performance big air powerhouse platform, the â€˜Machineâ€™ was the most obvious option.
Back in 2005, the original Machine kite platform was released as a high-tech light wind kite that featured never-before-seen quarter-length inflatable struts with rigid structures and a whole suite of innovative materials. Yet conceptually, that first light wind platform became the pre-cursor to the Octane, Slingshotâ€™s famed big air kite during the C-kite days. Interestingly enough, the development cycle of this yearâ€™s Machine V1 and Machine LW came from the inverse evolution, evolving from a dedicated big air sending tool in the smaller sizes to a light wind session saver in the bigger sizes.Â
The Machine V1 doesnâ€™t just represent the obvious advancements in weight-saving design, material usage and new bridle technology; this kite also shepherds in the arrival of a new design professional to the Slingshot family. Given the sheer number of SKUs in the Slingshot design portfolio, Brand Manager, Alex Fox, was charged with the responsibility of finding additional kite design talent to augment Tony Logoszâ€™s R&D team. The search began a few years back with a rudimentary excel spreadsheet; Fox made an exhaustive list of known designers, tracking down every possible lead, even following second-string designers and obscure development assistants buried in the industryâ€™s R&D trenches as far back as his days as a young pro rider. Because designers tend to be equity owners or oftentimes deeply ingrained in brand identity, finding a seasoned tradesman who was both available and came with years of hands-on kite design and production skills had its challenges.
The rabbit hole ended with an obscure but talented kite designer operating a one-man show out of Vietnam. Adi Conrad came to the table with prototypes that measured up and even surpassed industry standards and impressed Slingshotâ€™s key development staff. Starting on a project basis, Adi worked with Slingshotâ€™s design team to bring both the Machine V1 and then the Machine LW to perfection with unparalleled upwind efficiency and huge lifting power for professional-grade big air. According to Alex, â€œAdi is probably one of the most physically talented kite designers out there. There are few designers capable of landing slim chances and legitimate megaloops, so itâ€™s safe to say the Machine platforms have been thoroughly tested.â€
When it comes to the Machine V1, team riders like Sam Light, Jeremy Burlando and Brandon Scheid have also validated its five-strut airframe for top-end big air performance. On the light wind side, the Machine LW uses a three-strut platform and an assortment of design strategies to shave an impressive half kilogram off the weight of Slingshotâ€™s previous light wind platform, the legendary Turbine. Three years in the making and 70 prototypes later, the Machine V1 comes out of the bag perfectly tuned with an airframe that pushes the efficiency envelope while meeting the extreme load demands of big sends. Combining upwind efficiency, quick turning capabilities and effortless relaunch, the Machine V1 and Machine LW represent a new chapter in Slingshotâ€™s infamous R&D history.
This article was featured in our winter 2022 issue, Vol. 18, No. 4. To read more, click here.