At A Glance
The RPM almost defines the three strut Open-C kite market, for 2018 it is back, quite literally, stronger than ever. The RPM is designed to be a jack-of-all-trades, with an emphasis on freestyle. Its unhooked performance has been proven time and time again with numerous World Champions hanging beneath it, and the freeride capabilities are seen on beaches worldwide. Most recently Carlos Mario has clocked up two world titles with this kite, impressive when you think a lot of riders get one as soon as they finish their lessons too!
The RPM is a three strut kite with a compact bridle to support the Leading Edge. The bridle, known as the IRS bridle, is now in its 4th year and is somewhat unique in design. No pulleys are present. However, sections of the bridle are made with bungee lines which flex and retract to allow constant tension through the lines when you are steering the kite.
Slingshots legendary build quality has been even more refined to cement their bombproof reputation. There are bumper pads in key areas, and new for 2018 is the addition of the super strong D2 material strategically placed on the kite.
Slingshots SplitStrut technology integrates the struts into the canopy to provide a stronger frame which can withstand the heaviest of loads.
The RPM uses a one pump system, with a larger sized inflate/deflate valve.
Sizes: 4.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14meters
Slingshot gave their bars a big makeover in 2017 and have stuck with the design to create an outstanding bar which can be used with all their kites. There are two different bars on offer; the Slingshot Compstick Sentinel provides above-the-bar depower, with the Compstick Guardian providing the below bar option. Whether you prefer above or below the bar depower is a matter of preference - each perform amazingly well. Slightly smaller riders may find the Guardian could well be a more comfortable depower choice being closer to the body. It is also worth mentioning that the depower cleat on the Sentinel is movable. Thus you can set this slightly closer or further away to suit your needs.
The depower range both with the cleat and on the centre line is vast, giving ample amounts of trim to the rider. The magnet for holding the centre line up is a nifty little addition too.
We found the bar itself can be a little rough on soft hands, with a slightly tougher grip and harder materials. However, for some the small diameter will be a definite bonus, as well as it being super hard wearing. The bar floats are chunky and give the bar a robust look.
Sticking with the hardwearing robust theme, the chicken loop and release are again made to survive many sessions. The release is clean and simple to use and resets easily. The above the release swivel is a nice addition too. The attention to detail is obvious with both bar options and build quality is second to none.
The best freestyle kitesurfer on the planet uses this kite to win competitions!
In The Air
The 2018 RPM from Slingshot has been refined for this year. Everything feels tighter, more precise and it is even more fun to fly. The feedback through the bar is of medium to high pressure. However, this can be tuned on the back lines to match your preference. We enjoyed the kite most on the central factory setting, but do play around with the settings as they do make a considerable difference to the feel of the kite. On this note, you are also able to customize the style of the kite with the range of tuning options on the bridle too; a great way of getting even more out of this kite.
The kite when riding is actually relatively heavy, and there is certainly a lot of pull! However, it is all completely controllable, and the kite will behave exactly as it is meant to. Riding upwind is easy, and the faster you ride, the greater the angle achieved.
Throwing the kite around, whether just turning around or hitting a bit of chop for an air, is really enjoyable. The response is excellent and direct; the kite turns quickly and with forward motion. The RPM is not one of the fastest kites through the sky, and actually, that is quite refreshing. It allows you time to make little mistakes and tweaks, and results in a more playful experience.
The open design of the kite means the depower is very efficient on the RPM. The throw on the bar is great enough to depower the kite for many situations, however, should the wind increase substantially the trim is incredibly effective, and even better is the maintained feel through the bar even when depowered.
For boosting the RPM performs well. It does not house the biggest jumps, and actually, we were a little surprised by this, but it will keep you hanging in the sky for a long while and bring you down softly with forward motion when you land. Decent airtime is easy to achieve and stable throughout. Looping is great fun, again you won't go super high, but it produces a sizeable loop with that all important ‘wang’ to impress your friends on the beach.
For unhooked freestyle, the RPM excels. Interestingly, you will feel more powered hooked in than you may, in fact, be so do bear this in mind when choosing a kite size. The unhooked capabilities are incredible; the kite remains steady with a constant pull and produces impressive slack at the key moment, reengaging ready for your forward speed on landing.
After those inevitable crashes, the RPM relaunches well. A little tug on one of the back lines is all that is needed to get the kite to turn over should it have not already.
The RPM is built to last, and has the performance to go with it. Unhooked it is incredibly impressive.
The RPM is fantastic for those unhooked freestyle moves. However, it does lack a bit in boosting potential which other kites in its class also house.
Carlos Mario is the best freestyle kitesurfer on the planet and uses this kite. Many people come straight out of lessons and use this kite. The huge usability and range of this kite is something really impressive and is truly a kite which will continue to push you whatever level of freestyle or freeride you are at. Couple that with Slingshots incredible build and you have a kite that will last you a very long time.
This review was in Issue 67 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit Slingshot