At A Glance
Could the Fuel be the longest running kite in the history of the sport? I think, although I am bound to now be corrected that it is. It’s been around since 2001 and unless I am very much mistaken no other kite can lay claim to having a lineage that long. Especially when you consider the original C kite was a thoroughbred C kite machine, and today, even through the rise of bridled style kites the Fuel holds true to that. So, reminiscing over with lets look at the kite. Probably the biggest change for 2012 is the reintroduction of the Split Strut Technology, which places the struts inside the canopy, making them a ‘part’ of the kite. There are 5 struts this year and all of them are integrated into the canopy. The trailing edge construction has also been beefed up to reduce wear. The kite can be tuned for wakestyle or freestyle depending on how you want the kite to behave. Construction is as ever bombproof, the build quality on these kites continues to surpass others and with the reintroduction of Split Strut the kite looks as solid as ever.
Unlike just about every other C style kite on the market the Fuel doesn’t use a 5th line set up. Instead it relies on a front line flag out release system. It works really well and unlike the systems of old the CLSS as they call it (Centre Line Safety System) doesn’t spiral out of control leaving you with a tangled mess. Once deployed it is surprisingly easy to reengage the system and relaunch the kite. There is a below the bar cleat trim system for the depower, and of course there is a stopper ball on the centre lines should you wish to lock yourself into the power for some old school moves. The chicken loop uses a push away release which works well and is a huge improvement over their old design from a few years ago. O’Shit Handles and 800lb breaking strain front lines complete the set up.
In The Air
With a lineage going back so far, there are a lot of devoted Fuel riders who’ve ridden nothing else for years. Since 2004 the kite started setting a benchmark in terms of quality and performance and the 2012 model doesn’t disappoint. The 4 line set up is about as old school as you can get and it’s simplicity is refreshing, With no 5th line dangling about you feel totally connected to the important parts of the kite and that is reflected in the kites handling. I don’t think you’ll find a more direct and responsive kite. In the freestyle mode the kite reacts to rider input at a lightening pace. The bar pressure is medium, just enough to give you plenty of input without being overbearing. Unhook and the kite is very stable and really well behaved, leaving you to worry about loading up your edge, and not what the kite is doing. It’s great to be able to just trust in your equipment like this and if you are into freestyle then the Fuel is certainly a kite you should consider. Boosting big airs is a breeze; the kite is aggressive when you send it back though the window and it rips you off the water with a definite tug. Lastly kite loops, you can’t ride a Fuel without chucking it round the window and scaring yourself silly. This kite owes me a few ribs from years ago and 2012 is no different, it really does generate a lot of pull when you send it round. But it is much faster than previous years, allowing you to get the kite back up above your head faster and ensure you don’t end up crashing with the kite still pulling. And that’s a feature we’ll end with, for all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Fuel and it’s pedigree of hardcore lineage, the 2012 isn’t a beast to fly, it’s actually very easy to tame and if you have reasonable flying skills you’ll get a lot out of it. Especially if you want to progress to the style of riding that the kite excels at.
Amazing construction, direct, powerful, fast and precise. 4 line simplicity backed up by a well engineered safety system. Excels unhooked and delivers a fun ride, especially when jumping and looping.
It’s going to be a tough call between the Fuel and the RPM for us, the RPM is very similar in flying characteristics, but has a better wind range, so less kites in a quiver. The Fuel though does offer the ultimate in simplicity, 4 lines, no bridle and lots of fun…
11 years in the making and the kite is really at the pinnacle of achievement in terms of development. Despite the market moving away from C kites Slingshot stayed true to the cause and the 2012 Fuel is a reflection of that. Split Strut, 4 lines, no bridles, no compromise…
This review was in Issue 30 of IKSURFMAG.
By Rou ChaterRou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!