Mono Rider Review: Sky Solbach


Today we chat with surfboard designer SKY SOLBACH about the Duotone MONO. In the light wind division, Duotone offers the Juice D/LAB, the Juice and the Mono. Sky has been an integral part of the design and test team behind the Mono for years now. Join us and find out a little bit more about where this kite sits in the range. 

Hear the Full review

Hear the Full review

Welcome Sky, the Mono is a great light wind option and seems to be popular with foil riders. Initially, it was also modeled after the Neo is that correct? Tell us a little bit about that and give us your impressions of the Mono.
Ken Winner designed the Mono and we worked on that together a couple of years ago. The starting point really was the Neo, so we used the Neo as a base, and then we removed the tip struts, we then set about tweaking it from there. What we ended up with, was basically a one strut, lower aspect Neo, with some other changes, flatter tip profiles and a deeper profile in the centre, where the centre strut is.

What's really cool about the Mono and what I really enjoy, is where it sits in the wind window, its low aspect, it's a short and fat kite. It sits a little bit deeper in the window than the Neo and always has this really constant pull from the kite, whether you're riding on a foil in light winds or even wave riding in light wind, it's this little grunt ball kite that sits a little bit deeper in the window. Also, it has really good de-power, you would think that a kite that sits deeper in the window would just be grunty and not be able to de-power, but it actually has a lot of de-power which is great for an entry level rider. It's a great light wind kite, I think people who want to have a kite to foil in light wind and ride waves in light wind the Mono is really good for that. 

It naturally doesn't perform as well on the top end like when you start getting really overpowered, because it doesn't have tip struts, it's not going to feel as clean and as smooth as a Neo which has tip struts. The Neo has been designed to have a lot of rigidity and feel really solid and strong when the Mono is definitely geared towards lighter wind riding. But for foiling and light wind cruising it's a really, really fun kite to ride. I think for the rider who's just looking for sort of a simplistic, powerful kite that you can ride in really small sizes, like a seven-meter Mono has a ton of power, it probably has as much power as maybe an eight-meter Neo. So there are definitely some benefits to that for light wind kiting, you can use a smaller kite for the same winds and it's just a really fun all around kite.

We also see this is a great option for lighter weight people and even children. Jeremie Tronet mentioned that he uses it quite a lot in his school for kids and lighter adults. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yes, because it doesn't have tip struts as I mentioned before, it doesn't quite have the same level of rigidity and smoothness on the high end when you start getting really overpowered. As a heavy rider, you can sort of manipulate the kite a little more than you can with a three strut kite.

But for lighter weight riders and kids or even heavier riders riding in lighter winds, removing those tip struts is removing weight out of the kite, so you have a lighter weight kite that'll fly in lighter wind than a three strut will. So that's the benefit to just having a single centre strut. Also if you look at the bridal of the Mono, it's a little bit different from that of a Neo. To be able to support the structure it has an extra bridal leg where the tip struts traditionally would be on a three strut kite. So with this, we have been able to support the leading edge as it doesn't have the support of the additional struts. It still does have quite good structure, but it just doesn't quite have that same level of rigidity when you get really overpowered as the Neo.

One of the difficulties with single strut kites is controlling flutter. What things did you guys do to the Mono design to keep flutter to a minimum?
I mentioned before we started with a Neo as a base model and if you remove the tip struts off the Neo, you're going to end up with tips that are really fluttery and flappy, so that was one reason to go to the lower aspect outline to address the tip flutter. Another thing we did is flatten the profiles a lot at the tips because they don't have the support of the struts to hold the profile shape.

We flattened out the tips a lot and then compensated for that loss of power by increasing the amount of profile in the centre of the kite. We had a lot of depth of profile and a lot of power in the centre of the kite, where the centre stretches, and then much flatter profiles out towards the tips. Another thing that we did to address the tip flutter is to give the tips a little bit of positive twist, so the trailing edge of the tips is a little bit twisted in tomaintain the optimum angle of attack, especially when you're de-powered, so there’s not too high of an angle of attack to cause that amount of flutter. With those three things, we were able to control the amount of flutter in the tips.

The other interesting aspect we see is that the Mono is available in sizes much smaller than we see in the Juice and Juice D/LAB. Could you tell us a little bit why that is?
You can definitely ride the Mono in quite small sizes because it is a low aspect grunty kite. It's really amazing in the five to nine-meter size range, that's really that optimal size for the Mono to operate in, just with that type of design that it is. With the Juice, it's a bit different, it's a totally different design than the Mono. The Juice is designed to be able to ride in light winds, but also has more top end than the Mono, because it has tip struts and other design tricks. It's a completely different kite, to the Juice D/LAB. But in that five to the nine-meter size range of the Mono, it's a really fun all-around light wind, foil, light wind wave kite.

What type of kiteboarder in your opinion, is the Mono best suited to?
I think for the rider who's just looking for a really simplistic one strut all-around light wind foil kite, the Mono is perfect for that. The guy who's looking to ride a twintip in really light winds, we’re talking up from 5-6 knots, and have the maximum level of performance, obviously the price point is a huge factor in that, but they will be looking at the Juice D/LAB. The Mono is more the fun all-around playful kite. The Juice D/LAB is the highest level of top-end performance for light wind.

Within the Duotone range, there is a kite for any type of person, and any type of riding style. 
Exactly. No matter what discipline, personal preferences, weight, level, etc, you will find the best kite for your needs.


Well, thanks again Sky for taking the time to chat to us today about the 2022 Duotone Mono, there are some really great insights there.
You’re welcome!