Its the time of year again when all the large kiteboarding brands start flooding the internet with their new product clips and this week it’s the Dice that is being promoted as the “ultimate kite for unhooked performance, jumping and wave riding”. But is it really?
North has kites that seem to do it all and start to overlap in their abilities to such an extent that it can become a bit confusing, especially with such marketing blurb that just adds to the confusion. In recent years, they are trying to keep them a bit more apart but it is true that you can do a lot with most of their kites, even when they are not really designed for it. The Dice was originally born to be something of an in between kite – lined up between the Evo and the Vegas. The Vegas always was the exciting kite and the “king” of the line up but that did not translate into the biggest seller. Once Hadlow was added into the mix, the Vegas really went right to the Backmobe-slider crew, a small part of the overall kite buyer market. Of course there are many non-handlepassing riders on Vegas kites too – you have to be able to show off somehow at your local pub after all, but what this division created was space for riders who wanted a bit of the softer Vegas characteristics, combined with a bit of the Fone Bandit feel and hangtime. Also, added into that, a four line setup – something most riders prefer for its simplicity (That is not to say 5 lines are complicated – we always ride 5 lines if possible, especially in light and strong wind days for easy relaunch and safety – respectively).
The marketing video is underlining the changes for 2018 that include a bigger leading edge diameter an extra panel in the lift section of the kite and wider connection tubes for the strut bladders. So what does that all add up to? The leading edge diameter is going to give you more lift, a stiffer overall frame (good for 4 line control as it means less wobble and flex) and it will make the kite move slower through the window. This in turn means the kite is more of a drifter when riding waves and slacking the lines, a bit more grunt on the lower end and also the steering can come more through the wingtips, when using the “soft” pigtails.
The extra panel adds a bit more lift and stiffness in the center and gives the kite a rounder contour behind the fatter leading edge and obviously, the wider tubes help inflate and deflate the kite a bit quicker.
What I find interesting is how the Dice is going to get you to “megaloop heaven” and how many times kiteloops are being mentioned in the product video. From all my kiting friends, among them, the kiteloopers I can count on one hand and megaloopers – zero. Clearly we all aspire to one day loop it like Ruben but come on, that’s laying it a bit thick…
But what you can see in the video is how changing the pigtails on the rear will change the looping behavior. Since the whole frame is rather stiff in the center, using the “soft” settings will pretty much do a “stall” loop, i.e. the kite will use the bent wingtip as its pivot axis, rather than the center (where the center strut is). This will give you very fast, “pussy” loops, little horizontal pull and far less brown pants moments. The further forward you connect your backlines, the less steering will come from bending a wingtip and instead a bit more from twisting the whole frame, akin to what a real C-kite would do, resulting in more uumpf as you pull the loop.
Anyway, I do like to applaud North for showing their kites in “real world” kite spots – the spots most of us ride in. Not everybody lives in Maui and rides in sun-kissed, kite heaven *cough*Naish*cough*Cabrinha*.
So in conclusion what do we have here? Its no Vegas replacement – no matter how much they say that the slack has improved. To get slack you need a fast kite, something that moves through the window quickly, generating the sudden pop and then slacking at the edge of the window. But of course not everybody unhooks on every session so you do get all the bonus features that the Vegas does not offer – much better low end, better hangtime, drifting on wave rides and 4 lines. It’s a great allrounder that works just as well on a foil, skimfish, surfboard and twintip but has to give way to the Vegas when the conditions are begging for your boots. How much better it is than the 2017 Dice we have yet to see but if you have to make a decision now and are looking for something that will get you decent unhooked performance, good hangtime, good wave riding and an overall simpler kite, go with the Dice.