RIDER REVIEW - REBEL SLS 2024
with Aaron Hadlow
Welcome to the Rider Review of the new Rebel SLS. We've caught up with five-time world champion Aaron Hadlow to hear his insights.
WELCOME, AARON. WHAT CHANGES AND IMPROVEMENTS DO YOU SEE IN THE NEW REBEL SLS COMPARED TO THE PREVIOUS VERSION?
I've been collaborating with Ralf on this project, initiating the initial concepts two seasons ago. Our aim was to push the Rebel SLS towards a high-performance focus, especially as a big air specialist kite with five struts. We wanted to make it a commercially accessible kite for riders of all levels, ensuring even intermediate riders can push their limits and achieve high jumps. The main differences this year, compared to the previous version, are its improved handling abilities. It's now easier to de-power the kite quickly, and the turning is more snappy and responsive. These changes make the kite more controllable.
We were careful to preserve the DNA of the Rebel SLS, maintaining its excellent sheet-and-go and lift characteristics. Additionally, we positioned the kite a bit further forward in the window to enhance its drive and vertical lift during jumps. These are some of the key areas we worked on, and I believe we've achieved our goals. Many people take the Rebel SLS out in stronger winds, so we prioritized structural stability while enhancing handling for better control and higher jumps in such conditions. The kite's handling and turning abilities have seen significant improvements, providing extra de-power and control throughout the range, especially when fully powered and at arm's length.
THE REBEL SLS, PREVIOUSLY DESIGNED BY KEN WINNER, HAS BEEN A FAVORITE FOR MANY YEARS. FOR 2024, RALF GROSEL HAS TAKEN OVER THE DESIGN. WHAT CHANGES DID RALF INTRODUCE?
The Rebel SLS has been a favorite among many for years, and it's a crucial model in the Duotone range. In 2024, Ralf Grosel took over the design, and his unique design style is evident, as seen in his other kites like the Dice and the EVO. The noticeable differences are increased responsiveness and a better sense of the kite's position. We were careful to maintain the kite's exceptional jumping ability and its ability to provide extended hang time. Ralf added some of his design character to the kite without altering its core identity. This is why I mentioned earlier that the kite offers a more responsive feel through the bar and enhanced de-power stroke for better control, particularly in stronger winds, without sacrificing its low-end power delivery and drive.
YOU HAVE ALL THE KITES IN THE RANGE AT YOUR DISPOSAL. WHAT KIND OF RIDING, CONDITIONS, AND RIDING STYLES ARE BEST SUITED TO THE REBEL SLS, AND WHICH CONDITIONS DO YOU PREFER FOR RIDING IT?
For me personally, the Rebel SLS shines in the smallest sizes, especially when riding in very overpowered, strong winds. Thanks to its five struts, structural stability, and tip geometry, the kite remains super rigid and consistently performs well in strong or gusty winds. We've maintained this trait across the entire range, ensuring the kite's speed in larger sizes and its ability to provide high jumps and excellent hang time. So, the Rebel SLS is perfect for riders aiming for big jumps with ease and those seeking consistent performance across different wind conditions. The kite's flatter design in smaller sizes is ideal for heavier riders and provides more hang time and control for landings.
WHAT KITERS WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE TO TRY THE REBEL SLS?
I would encourage riders looking to maximize their jump height, set records, or achieve plenty of hang time while learning new tricks to give the Rebel SLS a try. It offers excellent sheet-and-go, minimal backstalling, good low-end power, and an impressive usable wind range. Whether you're an experienced rider or looking to improve your jumping skills, the Rebel SLS delivers steady and consistent takeoffs and jumps.
»WHETHER YOU'RE AN EXPERIENCED RIDER OR LOOKING TO IMPROVE YOUR JUMPING SKILLS, THE REBEL SLS DELIVERS STEADY AND CONSISTENT TAKEOFFS AND JUMPS.«
THE REBEL SLS AND EVO D/LAB ARE THE TOP CHOICES FOR BIG AIR TEAM RIDERS. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO KITES, AND WHY DO RIDERS CHOOSE ONE OVER THE OTHER IN CONTEST SITUATIONS, IN YOUR OPINION?
The two benchmark products in the range are the Evo D/LAB and the Rebel SLS for team riders in big air contest situations. They have significant differences. The Evo D/LAB features three struts and Aluula material, offering more responsiveness in turning and slightly less power for loops. It excels in handling and can be placed precisely, making it suitable for riders of all levels, especially professionals.
On the other hand, the Rebel SLS is structurally stiffer; you're able to get it in a lower kite position with more power through the loop. It delivers consistent power, lift, and extended hang time, making it a reliable choice. Team riders choose between the two kites based on specific scenarios. Recently, we've seen big air riders using the smaller Rebel SLS in gusty and unpredictable winds where confidence in the kite's structural stability is crucial; the Rebel SLS delivers a solid and consistent feeling throughout the jump.