Behind the Design Dice SLS

Joining the NEO and EVO SLS kites, the DICE is the latest kite in the Duotone lineup to receive the SLS treatment. We speak to designer Ralf Grösel and go behind the design on the all-new 2022 DICE SLS.

Hear the full interview

Hear the full interview

Hi Ralf, what were the design brief and goals for the new Dice SLS?

The brief was quite similar to Evo SLS, and Neo SLS kites, with the introduction of the SLS last year we have a sporty version of the already implemented range of kites. The Dice SLS will appeal to the same rider base. The Dice is very sporty and is used by most of our team riders competing at the Red Bull King of the Air because of its high jumping and looping abilities. With the new material combination on the Dice SLS, it has made it even more sporty and responsive.

What were the main geometry and profile changes you needed to make to the kite to integrate the stiffer Penta TX material?

To adapt the flying characteristics we were looking for to the Penta TX material we had to change all the main design aspects of the kite. For example, the radius is a bit more open when compared with the original Dice. I have changed the profiles slightly, introduced new bridal geometry, especially in the tip area to add support differently as was needed to work with the Stiffer Penta Tx material. To gain the feedback and information I wanted I had to change some variables, mainly in the Arc. On the Evo SLS we have Flex Struts but this is not a part of the Dice SLS as it would have made it too flexible and responsive. 

How has the introduction of Penta TX changed the performance of the Dice SLS compared to the Dice?

We always try to keep the model familiar in terms of handling and feedback from the bar. The Dice SLS is sharper, the feedback you get from it is more precise. Similar to comparing a standard car to the sport version. I would say the Dice is already a sportive kite like a Porsche 911 and the Dice SLS is like a 911 GT3 which is like a dedicated track tool. It allows you to take more performance in any situation, for example in Cape Town, if you want to boost high above 20 meters you have to have the wind and wave timed perfectly to get maximum vertical acceleration to then get horizontal as possible with your loops. It’s all about precision and timing, to see the kicker and know when to swing the kite up, the speed you need, you need to really nail all the variables together. With the Dice SLS, it’s just a bit easier and the characteristics are that little more extreme allowing you to jump higher. The weight advantage and added stiffness is especially noticeable in performance gains on the larger sizes too.

When we chatted last season about the first Evo SLS, you mentioned improvements to the usable wind range, more vertical lift when jumping and the upwind angle, do we see these same improvements in the Dice SLS when compared to the Dice?

Yes absolutely, the Penta TX material shows a similarity across the line of SLS models. You always gain upwind performance as the material causes the kite to position itself differently in the wind window. You can feel similarities between the Evo SLS and Dice SLS. This time we have ensured you can feel the improved low-end performance by increased sheeting force, a feature that is not available on the Evo SLS. The Evo SLS is a very slippery kite, it's very high performance, you have to speed up to really gain that performance from it. On the Dice SLS, due to these changes to the radius which make it a bit flatter, we really ensured we gained performance in the low end and especially the feeling of how you can access the last bit of juice in the kite to keep you going. I think this is a pretty huge aspect of the entire SLS development, the power feels extremely accessible and you feel super connected to the kite.

Riders of a higher level can extract another level out of the SLS kites, but with things like increased wind range, improved upwind performance and more connected feedback, these aspects are appealing to all kiteboarders, do you see the SLS is appealing to all levels of riders?

It depends on what you are looking for. I think the target group of the Dice is the sportive rider, the kiters who are looking for progression, jumping high, making rotations and pushing their level. It’s similar to choosing a car, what do you want? If you want to be at the limit of what is possible and you are pushing yourself then the Dice SLS offers sharp precise feedback, which means the kite is always talking to you. I could imagine in certain wind conditions where people might find it too aggressive, as you might find with a car with stiffer suspension. The original Dice is a little more dampened by comparison which is great for many people too. I’m a racing car driver and if you want to go fast you need a race car to do that. If you are looking to get the maximum performance and responsiveness you need to go for a Dice SLS.

What are the setting options and recommended air pressures?

We have three different settings, the medium setting which is the factory setting and then a harder or softer setting. There are no adjustments needed at the front so there we just have one connection point on either side. So you can choose what kind of steering feedback you like and the speed you want to go into the turn. I have to say I really recommend the medium setting. Minimum 7 psi and I would go to 8 psi to get the ultimate performance out of the kite.

Where did you go to test and who was on the test team with you when developing the Dice SLS?

We have been testing in South Africa and Namibia, it was difficult with the pandemic with restrictions being put in place in South Africa, but the conditions fully delivered, it was great. As with the Evo SLS, Aaron Hadlow and Marian Hund were on the test team, the testing and development actually went very smoothly.

This is not the first SLS kite in the Duotone range; how has the feedback from the already released first edition Neo SLS and Evo SLS helped in the development of the Dice SLS?

All the feedback has been quite amazing on both those kites. We have been able to extract that extra bit of performance that is really leading to new understandings of how the kites in the future will perform. Every single piece of feedback helps, I have been taking feedback from the Evo SLS when designing this kite and all the upcoming models from the team riders and the market. It’s always valuable to have feedback from all areas and it’s a learning process. We are on quite a high standard of performance right now but I still see room for improvements which is quite an exciting thing.

Thanks again Ralf for taking the time to talk to us about the Dice SLS today.

Thanks a lot, thanks for having me.