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The Evo is a long established kite, firmly placed in the competitive performance all-rounder category in the Duotone range. This year it has the application of new SLS materials giving an overall weight saving of 15% on the standard Evo, extending the raw low end and promoting early stable flying. Ralf Grösel has redesigned the kite from the ground up to take advantage of these new materials and make the Evo more performant.
He has not completely reinvented the wheel, and the base platform of the Evo is still the familiar three-strut kite with a relatively flat arc and sharply pointed swept wingtips. Familiar looks aside, there is a multitude of new build differences. The Penta TX material itself feels far more directionally stable than common or garden Dacron, with a super tight weave and a very shiny water repellent coating. Aside from that, the most dramatic change is perhaps in the struts which now have a narrower diameter and far more twist and flex ability to promote smoother and quicker turning. The Flite 99 bridle material is thin and strong, minimizing parasitic drag.
We had heard a lot of very positive feedback from team riders about the Evo SLS and were quite eager to give it a try, and the hype is definitely well founded. Perhaps the best term you could apply to the overall feeling of the new Evo is elegance. Immediately you feel even power delivery as the kite turns and can whip round a kiteloop with a delightfully smooth pull and progressive and smooth climb. Those redesigned struts allow the tip to twist, and solid wingtip battens are present to minimize any vibration during aggressive steering. The kite’s enhanced efficiency means you can jump much higher than anticipated in average winds, without the need to be completely overpowered to get decent airtime. When things do hot up a little wind-wise, we found the top end to be extremely composed, and it is easy to access some quite extreme lift, which is amplified by the long throw on the Click bar. If you are heli-looping on your descent, don’t be surprised if you get a decent second lift, much like last year’s Rebel.
With a foil the Evo can really push forward upwind and achieve some serious upwind angles and it is well behaved enough to throw around and provide some entertaining freeride foiling.
In a way, the overall weight difference compared to a standard Dacron kite isn’t the most interesting part of the SLS Evo. The controlled flex in the struts and the extra stiff air frame is what sets it apart. It is more lively, fun and agile than ever, with an extra sprightly performance and very accessible lift on sheet. The lightness on the bar reduces fatigue on the arms, and really lends itself to extended freeride sessions. The extended hang time for learning board offs and air tricks, and innate precision in the handling, make things as easy as it gets. It is a smooth luxury saloon that perhaps suits more of the market than any other in the Duotone range. The Evo has indeed evolved with the SLS material and its application reaches even further across disciplines.