Interview with Evo Kite Designer
WHETHER YOU’VE BEEN A LONG-TIME EVO LOVER OR ARE KEEN ON GETTING AN EVO FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME, CHOOSING BETWEEN THE THREE DIFFERENT OPTIONS — THE EVO, THE EVO SLS AND THE EVO D/LAB — CAN BE A LITTLE OVERWHELMING.
TO HELP YOU WITH THE DECISION AS TO WHICH EVO MODEL IS THE PERFECT ONE FOR YOU, WE CAUGHT UP WITH OUR DESIGNER RALF GRÖSEL TO TALK THROUGH THE DIFFERENT DESIGNS AND SPECIFIC TARGET GROUPS FOR EACH OF THE THREE CONSTRUCTIONS.
Hi Ralf, for those who are not familiar with the Evo in general can you please explain its place in the Duotone range?
The Evo is designed to be THE ultimate allround kite both within the Duotone portfolio and also generally within the entire kite industry. With ‘allround’ we mean that this kite is extremely accessible and user-friendly in many different regards for example its upwind and relaunch ability, general handling and how easy it is to jump with it. Plus, we designed the Evo in a way that every rider no matter their level, even total beginners, will have no trouble finding the kite’s sweet spot.
The Evo has been in the Duotone range for a fair while. What year was the inception of the Evo, please? And when did the Evo SLS follow?
We released the very first Evo already in 2008. Back then our intention for this model was an allround kite that was straightforward and super easy to use, suitable for kite schools and for everybody who wanted to access the sport in the easiest, fastest and safest way possible. For example, one really amazing feature of this kite was the auto water relaunch.
In 2023, Duotone released the first ever D/LAB version of the Evo, that’s very exciting! Could you please tell us about the main differences in design goals between the 2023 Evo, Evo SLS and the very first edition of the Evo D/LAB.
The design goals are related to the specific material combinations used in each model. Or in other words: The design goals are defined by the materials as it’s the materials that make the difference. The Evo features a normal Dacron whereas the Evo SLS is built on the Penta TX and the Evo D/LAB on the brand-new Aluula material. With these different material combinations, you automatically generate different flight properties.
Let’s take the Evo SLS for example, this material is stiffer in general compared to normal Dacron, which translates into a more dynamic and sportier kite. I always like to use the metaphor of the Volkswagen Golf, which is the Evo and then the much sportier version, the Golf GTI, which is the Evo SLS. And now by introducing the Evo D/LAB we were able to create a new, third category of kite that is no more sporty than the Evo SLS, but overall significantly more performance orientated. So, it’s like a car with a lot of power, but which is hyper smooth in the way you’re able to access and use this power. So you could be driving very fast in this car, but it wouldn’t feel that fast at all as everything is super smooth and effortless. It’s the same with the Evo D/LAB, the way it responds and flies is a good step above everything else.
Obviously, Duotone realised there was a niche to fill and thus started developing the Evo D/LAB on top of the Evo and the SLS models. How did everything come about and when did you first start thinking about the D/LAB upgrade for the Evo?
The Evo D/LAB is based on the developmental work and findings from the Juice D/LAB. Pushing the limits of the sport in the low end like no other commercial kite, the Juice D/LAB is the premier and most successful light wind kite in the industry. As it’s designed for super light winds, we only produce it in 13m2, 15m2 and 17m2.
For a fair while we’ve been extremely interested to find out what we can achieve with this very light, extremely reactive Aluula material when using it in smaller kites and we’re really excited about the results. The Evo D/LAB is available in sizes 6m2 to 13m2 and given it has very similar overall design parameters to the Juice D/LAB, we’re now covering the range from 6m2 all the way up to 17m2 with these two models that totally complement each other.
Very interesting! Let's delve a little more into the technical side and the resulting flying characteristics for each of the three models. Can you please tell us a bit more regarding this?
As mentioned before, the materials have the biggest influence on the flight characteristics. The Evo has the standard Dacron, which is naturally a bit softer. It’s important to understand that does not mean the Evo is a worse kite than the Evo SLS, it’s just different. It is not a matter of good - better - best, it’s a question of what material has been used and the kite’s handling and performance as a result of that.
I personally, for example, really like the Evo due to its incredibly easy handling and super intuitive nature. No kite is more perfect for the typical weekend warrior who simply isn’t in the position to spend as much time on the water as say a pro or a really committed active rider. The Evo absorbs gusts and handles any other outside factors amazingly well and ensures that you have a super smooth riding experience. It’s the kite that makes sure you have a super enjoyable time on the water with minimal effort.
The Evo D/LAB is not the more aggressive version of the Evo SLS, it actually has a kind of smoother character, it feels softer in nature overall, yet, it’s loaded with power and performance. Plus, it has the absolute biggest wind range in the entire Duotone range thanks to the reduced weight and structural stiffness achieved through the Aluula construction.
However, just like with the Evo SLS, if you want to push your limits and you’re experienced enough to understand the clues of the kite and how to extract the best out of it, it will accelerate into the next level of kite performance, which is a good step above the Evo SLS. That’s exactly why the Evo D/LAB is the choice of our team riders for the Red Bull King of the Air. Its ability to handle extremely strong wind and at the same time remain so smooth and ‘soft’ inspires a huge amount of confidence putting it in a class of its own. It’s super important to understand as well that the Evo D/LAB is not an extreme kite! It’s the perfect synergy between extreme and ultimate smoothness.
»NO KITE IS MORE PERFECT FOR THE TYPICAL WEEKEND WARRIOR WHO SIMPLY ISN’T IN THE POSITION TO SPEND AS MUCH TIME ON THE WATER AS SAY A PRO OR A REALLY COMMITTED ACTIVE RIDER«
What about kite sizes, what sizes do the three different models come in?
The Evo: 5m2 all the way up to 15m2 in every single size.
The Evo SLS: 7m2 all the way up to 13m2 in every single size.
The Evo D/LAB comes in every single square metre size from 6m2 to 12m2. And if you wanted to add an additional kite into your quiver for ultra-light winds, the Juice D/LAB flies very similarly and is available in 13m2, 15m2 and 17m2.
And the ultimate question: which construction model of the Evo is the most suitable for what type and level of rider? Or in other words: who do you see as the perfect target group for the Evo, the Evo SLS and the Evo D/LAB?
In a nutshell, it's quite easy:
The Evo is the ultimate kite for the weekend warrior or rider who only gets to kite a few weeks per year. It’s also extremely suitable for beginners in general.
The Evo SLS is designed to be flown by experienced riders who want to push their personal limits
The Evo D/LAB is for the rider who wants it all: the unparalleled combination of ease of handling and steering as well as power and smoothness. The material of this kite is ultra-expensive, which is the reason why the D/LAB models are considerably expensive, but if you want the absolute best allround kite in the world, it’s worth every penny. You realise that as soon as you hit the water on a D/LAB.