Rider review Aaron Hadlow - Juice D/LAB

We catch up with AARON HADLOW to get his rider review on the new 2022 JUICE D/LAB. Aaron was involved in the development of this groundbreaking new kite so there is no one better to get the low down on how this game-changing new kite performs.

Hear the Full Review

Hear the Full Review

Hi Aaron and welcome, Ralf Grösel has been working on the Juice D/LAB concept for over two and half years and has been taking experience gained from the Ultra Light-wind Kite concept that he began with, when did you first start to test and work with the Juice D/LAB with Aluula?

It was about a year ago that we were really going through the prototypes, we had a lot on at the time but we had some Juice 13 and 15 prototypes to see how we could make the material work with the kite. It was quite a challenge with changing the whole concept of the kite. There are a lot of things you need to build around the framework to make the kite perform. The Aluula was really interesting and provided some challenges to ensure we had a long-lasting kite with no issues of longevity. I think that was the main issue initially, but once that was solved, the performance of this thing was just insane from the start!

Let’s talk about that performance a little bit, how does it compare to the already impressive Juice from last season?

It’s another level! It’s incredible to think you could upgrade in performance from the original Juice! When we were developing the original Juice, this kite was already light with weight savings and working in some really light conditions with great handling, but as soon as we added the Alulla material the kite totally changed. The performance was really good and the kite just came alive! I’ve been loving it ever since. When you’re out there in light winds, walking out into the water at 4-5 knots, the most noticeable thing is the kite is so stable overhead, not falling out of the sky and it makes generating power so much easier!

Tell us about the sensation of riding in 4-5 knots, that must feel pretty incredible!

Yeah, it’s insane! It depends on your skill level, your weight and your set-up, but I’ve been out on a 900sqm wing on the foil board in 4-5 knots and when it reaches 6-7 you can get going so easily. It generates such a huge amount of apparent wind and you can gain so much speed on the water that it’s quite a surreal experience! To be able to do that when there is such little wind around you is amazing. It’s also opening up new spots to ride and unique locations, especially when riding with the foil.

Available in a 13 or 15 meter, how does the kite ride for its size and how does it feel at the bar?

The handling is really incredible, I think that was the first thing we were really impressed with. We had the early 13-meter prototype, when you fly it in the lighter winds and you are flying it, you begin to question if it’s really a 13 meter because it’s so much quicker through the turns and we describe it as being slippery through the air, meaning it travels so fast through the air so you are really able to crank a fast turn. The lightweight material and overall light kite really drives upwards through the wind window, so this power stroke is always delivering power. This is the reason you can keep constant power, even if it’s very light conditions there is enough power and it keeps delivering more and more to the point where you can get on foil in these really light winds. It’s a combination of the whole package that comes together in these super-light winds. Even in stronger winds or say, you want to take the 15 with a twin tip then the kite still handles really well. If you have a bit more power you can click the bar or depower, but the handling remains amazing. They are some incredible kites that work in a variety of conditions.

You mentioned a little bit on stronger winds, I have heard it almost becomes a glider in stronger winds? What sort of wind speeds are we looking at for that kind of level in twin tip riding?

Again it depends on your weight and style, I think for me I prefer the 13 square meters, I don’t need much more for foiling. I’ve tried the kite in stronger winds, it’s hard to say as its conditions and location are dependant, but around 20 knots it works really well and offers some pretty amazing hand time. The ease of use of the Juice D/LAB is really nice, the jumps are really floaty, especially in these warmer more thermal conditions, it really bites into the wind and you get these really floaty jumps. The Aluula frame makes the kite lightweight and the material stiffness is not too stiff, but unique and gives you a fast kite that you can put wherever you want in the wind window. I’ve had some really nice sessions in relatively light wind but am still able to do some nice jumps!

Speaking to designer Ralf Grosel, he mentioned that the 13 and 15 are built for different purposes, can you explain to us how each size differs?

Yeah, I think they are slightly different in the fact that if you are looking more towards a 15 meter, it's likely you might be a heavier rider and you are looking to get going in really light conditions. We gave the 15 meters a little bit more grunt and a little more low-end performance to get going. But again you can then take a little depower out of the kite and that handling comes back to you, even for a lighter rider. I would agree that the 15 is more pushed towards twin tip riding as you want a bit more power, it still jumps well and is still very fast for a 15 meter, it's not what you would expect. The 13 is a really high-performance kite in the light wind, especially for the foilers. I would say you don’t really need that extra 2 square meters, the 13 being that little bit more agile, you can generate the extra power through apparent wind and the speed of the kite. I would say the targets and goals for each kite were different but they both keep the feel and DNA of the Juice on both models. As I mentioned before, for myself I prefer the 13 square meters, I’m 75kg and don’t need the extra power, the 13 works great in super light winds for me for the foil and when it picks up for the twin tip so that’s my choice of the two, but definitely, the 15sqm is an awesome kite and will suit many riders.

What are the bar and line setups and are there any additional trimming tips you would recommend?

There are plenty of options available but it has been designed around the 24-meter line sets and the large click bar. We think that’s the best set-up for these kites. We test all kites in the range from sizes 10 and up on the large click bar with 24-meter lines and the sizes lower than 10 we take the 22-meter lines on the small click bar. The kite will work with either bar from Duotone but we recommend the best performance setting and we try to design the kite around the best possible option. The extra 2-meter line length gives you a bit more space in the wind window, especially helpful when generating that apparent wind and power needed to get up on the foil in super light conditions. Having the larger bar and longer lines gives you that extra space in the wind window and makes it easier to turn tighter.

What about the pressure of the kite and setting options?

Yeah, the pressure of the kite is really important across the whole range. You don’t want to overinflate a kite so it can burst, but you also don’t want the kite to be below the recommended pressure. You always want to aim to hit 7 psi. I personally pump my kites a bit more, especially smaller kites in stronger winds. Making sure the kites are at the correct pressure ensures you get the frame structural stiffness performing perfectly. In terms of the rear line settings there are a few options, we try to make the one we feel is the best of both worlds and that is the middle setting. If you’re into these types of things and you know for example you prefer a heavier bar pressure you can just move it to the hard setting one knot back and if you prefer a little less bar pressure you can set the kite up for that too. We try to deliver them as plug and play as possible but with some options for personal preference.

Thank you Aaron for taking the time to talk us through your thoughts on the new Juice D/LAB.

Thanks, it was good, get out there and give it a go, I think it’s going to change the world!