Dice - The designer’s perspective
Ralf Grösel is the designer of, and mastermind behind the highly successful Dice. Since its launch last year it has proved to be a bestseller, and is still the reigning champ as the most sold Kite from the North Kiteboarding range, EVER!
Ralf, what's the secret!?
The Dice is amazingly versatile with a lot of playful character.
As you were designing the Kite, did you have a specific type of rider in mind?
We built the foundations of the Dice by taking influence from the Neo concept. From this, we were able to target a wide range of riders. The Dice is an all-round performer, similar to the Evo but lighter due to its 3 strut design which is orientated towards enhanced handling.
Throughout the development process, we realised that everyone within the R&D Team enjoyed the Dice. From Wave to Wake and Freestyle riders, no one was left disappointed.
Can you tell us a little more about the three strut concept teamed with a four line bar ? The three strut concept delivers a lighter and crisper feeling to the rider via the bar. Being light in the hands is an important aspect of Wave riding as the Kite has to travel with the rider in a smooth, consistent way. The disadvantages come within the stiffness the structure has in the canopy however, we were able to compensate against this with a new bridle geometry and attachment points on the front tube.
Why is it so important to use the right line length?
Line length is essential for handling and positioning of the Kite within the Wind Window. Short lines make the Kite more reactive and responsive. Longer lines can improve low end performance.
What is the best line length suited to each size of Kite?
It's quite simple really. I suggest using 24m lines for 12m and above, otherwise I would use 22m.
What are the benefits of using the Dice regarding the following:
The Kite has a very round canopy radius, similar to a C-Kite. This means the Kite can turn very tight and fast.
The Dice has very close looping abilities to that of the Vegas although the horizontal pull is not as extreme, which can help you to push your limits. The Dice is Tom Court's favorite Kite for extreme Kite Loops and is also my first choice when it comes to strong and gusty conditions.
The Dice has great jumping abilities. The Kite pulls you extremely high giving you the opportunity to perform new and old school tricks. I would recommend that riders use the hard steering setting on the back pigtails for high and aggressive jumps.
Alongside the NEO, the Dice has very good drift. This performance helps the rider to fully concentrate on the Wave and not on the Kite.
For unhooked maneuvers, the Vegas is The machine however, the Dice has no backstall tendencies at all and great unhooked pop. This characteristic makes it a very versatile Kite for Wakestyle moves.
Ralf, who should buy this kite?
Kitesurfers who want to combine best of both worlds (Freestyle unhooked and Wave riding) For those looking for specialist, specific styles of riding there might be some small disadvantages. Ultimately, the Dice will make any rider happy on any board in any conditions, every single day.
The Dream Team of the future. Aaron Hadlow joins North Kiteboarding!
He is one of Kiteboarding' s most prestigious riders, 5 x World Champion and an inspiration to kiteboarders across the globe with his sheer style, ruthless technicality and British persona. The name has been seen on kites since 2008, boards since 2004 and he was landing double handle passes over 10 years ago. Bringing years of experience in product development, we are proud to announce that Aaron Hadlow has joined the North Kiteboarding Team.
At just 25 years old, Hadlow's kiteboarding career has been exceptional throughout. Forever advancing at a pace that left the rest of the PKRA competition fleet behind, Aaron has carved a name for himself deep into the kiteboarding industry. Having managed his own brand within Flexifoil for years, he speaks about how he is excited to be part of a team after a longtime being responsible for everything from product development and marketing, all the while trying to find time to train and travel on the PKRA tour.
Hadlow joins North Kiteboarding not only as a rider and Team member, but will be involved heavily in R&D. Between his extensive knowledge and time on the water, teamed with North Kiteboarding's product development and setup, it's as if the 'Dream Team' has finally joined forces and it's more that he could have ever imagined.
I'm excited about joining North Kiteboarding and it's great to be supported by such a knowledgeable and experienced team. It's obviously a massive step for me, but I feel that this partnership has a lot of synergy and potential.”
So what's next? Hadlow joins a Team of life long friends such as Jaime Herraiz and Tom Court, so you can expect some great videos from Tom and Aaron as the work and travel together. North Kiteboarding also has PKRA riders Mario, Stefan and Reno to offer up some in-house healthy rivalry on the tour. And finally, next month Aaron will be headed to Hood River with the other Vegas riders for his first Team shoot, so stay tuned on how that goes.
Welcome to North Kiteboarding Aaron Hadlow!
photo credit: Toby Bromwich
Ken Winner about the new "Juice"
What do you say when your mobile phone is out of battery? You say it's out of Juice. What do you say when your kite doesn't have enough power? Again, you're out of juice. We can't help you with the first problem, but for the second . . . we have Juice.
There are at least three main types of big kites:
-There are the big race kites, which are fast and have big wind range but aren't generally the best for handling or jumping. These kites need at least five struts and need to be light, so they have to be lightly built and are not the most bomb-proof kites around.
-Then there are the big airstyle kites, which have great wind range and jumping but are slow turning. These kites don't have to be particularly light because they are flown in plenty of wind, but this means they aren't the best at staying in the air in light wind.
- Finally, there are the big handling-oriented kites. These have to be light, durable and quick-turning. They're good for jumping and popping in light wind, but can also go big when powered. Unlike airstyle kites, they need to be nimble and quick. Unlike race kites, it's ok if they're not the last word in upwind performance.
This is where the Juice comes in. The Juice is based roughly on the Neo arc, strut count, profile and outline, but the aspect ratio has been stretched from 4.5 to 5.3, and the leading edge diameter has been shrunk a bit. The center strut is conventional -- so as to improve overall stability -- and the back pigtail is conventional because a relaunch bungee won't work well on such a thick LE tip.
Big kites have so much canopy area that they can really benefit from the stability provided by a lot of struts. Unfortunately, struts also add a lot of weight. We opted for three struts on the Juice because this number provides the best combination of low weight, high durability and good canopy stability.
You might wonder why not build a big kite with minimal weight by eliminating all struts, and this is certainly something we've considered. But our experience indicates that the lack of structure in strutless kites robs them not only of top end comfort and depower but also low end power. Add this to the tip flutter in turns and the strutless option seem limited.
The Neo has a floating strut in the center to give more complete luffing when sheeted out. We felt this was desirable on a smaller kite like the Neo. For the Juice, however, which is a much bigger kite, we felt a conventional strut in the center would give needed canopy stability.
The Juice shares the Neo arc. This arc gives a high segment count for good profile fidelity. It also provides smooth and quick steering while keeping good depower and sheet-go power delivery.
We know from testing a wide variety of kites that high aspect ratios can improve bar feel and depower in big kites by quite a bit. High AR can be overdone, as it can give an excessively long and heavy leading edge, but a moderate AR can be just right. With the Juice we found that an AR of 5.3 gave a nice short bar stroke without hurting other aspects of handling such as quick turning.
Given how well the Neo is working, we decided to stick with Neo profiles for the Juice.
We like to have several bridle anchor points on the leading edge so that bridle loads on the leading edge are well distributed. This led us to go with eight front bridle anchors.
We also like a bridle as short as possible, to reduce the chances of tangles and snags. The shortest bridles we tested did not give the best bar feel or turning ability so we lengthened the bridle to the point where steering and bar feel were good. This left the bridle still short enough that it can’t loop over the end of the leading edge.
Finally, we had to consider whether to go with a pseudo-pulley or fixed front pigtail. Since using a pulley would permit the Neo to work with a greater variety of safety systems, we decided to go with one pulley on each side of the front bridle. But we also knew that a pulley could make the kite feel a little less crisp and responsive. Fortunately, combining the pulley with a stopper – as we’ve done on the Neo and Dyno – allowed us to keep both the pulleys and the crisp bar feel that we were looking for.
Juice in summary
Steering / turning
Moderately narrow arc and wide tips give super-quick turning.
Drift / hover
The low weight, low strut count and low center of gravity of the Juice keep it very stable in the air. It flies well in the lightest of winds and resists stalling, both front and back, better than nearly any other kite.
Owing to the smooth, round turning and short bar stroke (for kites this big), the Juice has consistent, linear, sheet-go power delivery.
The high aspect ratio helps deliver quick, easy depower.
We’ve minimized materials where possible on the Juice, so keep the weight down, but have included all usual reinforcements.
Court's Council - Product Tips & Tricks
After getting a lot of questions from people on the beaches of the world, Tom Court decided to start a little series of videos on how to do those little things that nobody ever tells you how to do.
So, Courts Council will be an ongoing series explaining some of the things that help. It is a video blog for all the useful product tip & tricks that Tom Court learns along the ways.
Any questions that you have about you northkiteboarding equipment, bars, boots, boards or kites... then hopefully he can help you with this series of short clips listing some of the lesser know tricks that will help you trim your kite to your style!
Follow Court's Council ... http://goo.gl/hglXy2
Tom Court talks testing the Gambler!
Tom Court is NKB’s wakestyle guru with a passion for freeriding. He may still be young but he is long in the tooth when it comes to riding boots and hitting rails. At just 14 he was shaping some of his own kiteboards on the Isle of Wight which attracted the attention of Channel 4 who made a documentary series on it. Now, with years of experience under his belt and a longterm sponsorship with North Kiteboarding, he has pushed the development of the Gambler and has become the go-too guy for NKB. We caught up with him to find out what he looks for in a board, where he draws his inspiration and how he goes about testing the product.
When did you first notice there was a gap in the North Range for the Gambler?
7 Years ago I started riding boots and i’ve never looked back. Soon after I was hitting rails and features and spending time at the cable park which has been a big influence in my style of riding. This basically opened up what I saw as a gap in the North Kiteboarding range to design a board to be ridden specifically with boots.
Before the Gambler, the existing boards in the range such as the Team Series, the Jaime and other ‘rider’ models were just too flat and very similar. The only real changing factor was the flex pattern. This was all great when riding straps but for my style of riding there needed to be alterations in the rocker and materials used. It was inevitable that progression of wakestyle would grow, which it did and immediately I saw a need for something stronger and more durable.
Once North Kiteboarding hopped on the idea to create the Gambler what was the process and where was inspiration drawn from.
Inspiration was drawn from the existing wakestyle kite scene. There was a desire for a something that you could use as a crossover. Basically, I wanted one board that I could take on a trip, ride cable and kite without too much of a compromise and I knew there were many kiteboarders out there looking for the same thing. We looked at taking the durability from a wakeboard in order to hit rails constantly without damaging the board, and the efficient design and high tech materials from a kiteboard. At the end of the day we still have to go upwind! It has taken about 3 years to get enough rocker on the board, but we are getting there. (laughs)
As a rider, it has been a really interesting process to be involved in developing something specific to my style of riding. Now that Craig Cunningham has joined the NKB Team, it helps in focusing the Gambler down the specific rail riding route. It’s huge in the US so it’s great that he can bring a lot of his knowledge to the table.
Constant development is needed. How do you test the prototypes and what are you looking for?
Testing a board like the Gambler requires a lot of different elements. Riding intensively behind a kite is crucial but also using it at the cable and behind a boat helps to add perspective to the overall functionality. I’m always searching for the ideal flex pattern in order for the board to press correctly under the transfer of weight. This pattern needs to eliminate torsional flex (twisting motion) which you can get a lot of when riding boots as there is a lot more leverage then with footstraps. I evaluate the base material for wear and damage as this happens quicker than you think when hitting the obstacles. How the board is tracking in the water with and without fins. The rocker pattern is key as too much rocker means you can’t go upwind on a kite efficiently, and too little will have you sticking to the features and unable to ride away on the landings. The track system has to be compatible and work with all types of boots and be able to endure hard landings and crashes. The list is endless for testing and then of course there is the graphic design side. It’s amazing to see how much hard work and development goes into just one board!
What’s the best thing about the current Gambler?
It’s weight and efficiency. If you combine the Gambler with Ronix boots it is easily the lightest wakestyle board on the market with little or no compromise to durability. Even though it has a fairly high rocker aspect it still retains maximum efficiency when going upwind.
You’re testing at the moment for next year. Where is the Gambler headed in your opinion?
The next step with the Gambler is to start really experimenting with different materials all over. The materials are the things that have huge influence over the characteristics of the board. The future of the Gambler is to drive it down a more specified route angled towards getting maximum time on the water. Wind, or no wind this board will cater for kiting and riding cable regardless of the conditions or aspect of riding you are trying to refine. It will be the ultimate crossover board that you can have confidence in no matter the task in hand.
The Gambler sounds like a pretty specific and high tech board? Is it a board that can be ridden by anyone or any level?
Fundamentally the Gambler is nothing more than a comfortable board to ride when in boots. If you want to use it with straps, it may have just a bit too much rocker but, if you’re good enough to ride boots confidently behind a kite and you like the cable then the Gambler is the board for you.