REBEL SLS rider review with Liam Whaley

We are joined by LIAM WHALEY for his Rider Review on the new 2023 REBEL SLS

Hear the full review

Hear the full review

Welcome Liam, you've recently joined the Duotone International Team and you have had the opportunity to try out most of the kites in the range. Can you tell us why you chose to ride the Rebel SLS, what it is you enjoy about the kite and the disciplines you use it for?
When I joined the Duotone Team, I knew the kites were great because I had been analyzing the styles of the different riders. I had been watching which riders use which kite and I decided to go for the Rebel SLS because I saw Andrea and Lorenzo riding it, and the guys were progressing the fastest and going the biggest. 

I think my style doesn't necessarily match with the Rebel SLS, but it matches the format that is being pushed at the moment (in competitions) which is mainly height and technicality. Extremity is not rewarded so highly as it was in the past. So the Rebel was the perfect kite for me to get as much height and hang time as possible and learn my tricks the quickest. The loop isn't super aggressive. and that allows you to ride more technicality during the loop; add more rotations, take the board off, whatever. It gives you the confidence that the kite is going to catch you and you're going to land softly.

Okay, let's talk a little bit about that. Because the Dice SLS is billed more towards the extreme side of kite loops. If you are going to ride a competition where extremity was the key factor, would you switch up the model?
I could, it depends. For me, the main competition every year is the Red Bull king of the air, and they really reward height more than extremity. I feel like the Rebel SLS isn't the most extreme kite, but when you put any kite in 40 knots of wind, you're going to get a yank from it. So I'd rather be able to control that yank and make it more powerful if I want, rather than getting yanked out of control, unwillingly. 

For the Dice SLS, I think it's a great kite, especially in the smaller sizes for a competition such as the Mega Loop Challenge. I think a six or a seven-meter Dice SLS, where the kite is quicker, more responsive and you feel where the kite is more than the Rebel SLS. This is down to the shape being more C shape and higher aspect. It just feels more solid in the air and you have more feeling for the kite. It is definitely more aggressive and it's harder to be technical, you probably won't go as high, but in 40-knot conditions, you're going to go high regardless of which kite you're using. So for a competition like a Mega Loop Challenge, where they reward the extremity and the kite position in the yank, then maybe you'd see me riding the Dice SLS.

Okay, let's talk a little bit from the more consumer level. You talked about how it performed for your level and riding conditions, how does the ride quality of the Rebel SLS translate to a rider who is not pushing the level you are?
I think the Rebel SLS is literally the easiest kite for anybody to use, you can take it to whatever level you want. That's the good thing about the format that is being pushed at the moment, the kind of kites that are being developed are great for us and more novice riders too. To push the limits of how high and how technical we can go we also want a super user-friendly kite that also works for the average Kiter too. Someone who is just learning to jump and get a bit wants to get hang-time. The Rebel has this kind of heavy bar pressure that you can just load and go. So for someone who is not that technical with kite movements and is not that technical with their jumps, this kite really is a great tool to do those kinds of things very easily.

Compared to other kites, if you're just learning to jump, take the Rebel SLS and you'll be able to jump two or three meters higher than most of the other kites out there. You can also use it as a cruiser and just ride up and down. It's got a really big range so you're able to use it in different wind strengths rather than having to buy every different size. Probably with just two or three kites you are set. The only thing it's not great for is un-hooked, but that's a completely different discipline and not many people are unhooking. I still managed to unhook on the Rebel SLS. It's not ideal, but sometimes changing the kite during the heat just to perform an unhooked trick is more time wasted than just risking un-hooking on a kite that's a little bit harder. So I use it for pretty much everything.

"the Rebel was the perfect kite for me to get as much height and hang time as possible and learn my tricks the quickest."

Which control bar do you use?
I use the Trust Bar, I like the simplicity of being able to de-power exactly to the millimeter. The bar is a bit lighter and I feel like the size of the bar. It’s in-between the big Click Bar and the small Click Bar, which is the perfect size for me to do my kite loops and perform my tricks. The Click Bar is great as well, if I'm just going out for a free ride session, I love the Click Bar because it's so technical. You don't have moving pieces flying around, you can de-power and power up your kite with just the click of a finger. But for competing the Trust Bar is my choice.

Moving onto the boards, you've been riding the Jaime SLS. There are many changes this year with new channels and angled fins. Tell us how you've been enjoying these updates and how is the board when landing big kite loops and the grip for loading up for takeoffs?
Absolutely, the new Jaime SLS has undergone some massive changes. The previous one was already super high-performance, lightweight, and the pop was amazing. It just felt like a very nimble board. But there are some improvements with the new one, especially on the landings.

I feel immediately that I can land with a more balanced weight and the nose does not dive. So I can come in harder than before and have that confidence that my board is going to hold up with no negative flex and I'm going to be able to ride away from a heavy, heavy landing. As well, the grip with the new channels is amazing. The upwind ability is really nice. You can hold an edge for way longer, especially in those crazy strong conditions where I'm riding a kite that is way too big for my weight, just trying to hold an edge for as long as possible before shooting up into the air. If you have a board that's able to hold that edge it allows you to go much higher. Also the fins are angled now, which gives you even more grip. So yeah, I'm very happy with the new changes on the Jaime SLS.