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.