We review the Dice – Duotone’s freestyle / freeride hybrid with multidiscipline ability!
THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN ISSUE #95 IN SEPTEMBER, 2018
TEST TEAM NOTES:
Okay, so just to be clear, this is the Dice as it always has been when it was done by North. The old North team, including the entire design, marketing and riding crew (under the parent company Boards & More) are now Duotone.
Right, so the Dice has been around for many seasons as a freestyle / wave cross-over kite. In the early versions the aim of the game was all about range mixed with turning performance and depower. The Dice had a long throw and offered huge amounts of depower mixed with bags of power through sheeting. As a rider it was quite a ‘busy’ ride in terms of the amount of control you had to put in at the bar, sheeting in and out for optimum power. Over the years the handling has been radically refined and the Dice is of course one of the top players when it comes to being one-kite-for all. The modern three-strut hybrid shape returns with a hint of delta along with what is apparently a slightly thicker leading edge. Not once did we have any uncomfortable moments. The bar and kite simply work beautifully together.
The Dice has a certain taste in this all-round category and we think is more suited to light / averagely weighted riders, rather than heavier riders. If you’re at the lighter / average end of the weight scale and you’re a rider who loves waves but is also an unhooked shredder that likes to throw good kite loops; basically a new school ripper – then this is totally for you.
First and foremost the range on the Dice is absolutely massive, but what the Dice doesn’t have is oodles of low down grunt at the bar. We had the nine metre out in the low end of 20 knots and pushed it up and through 35 knot sessions and would say that if you’re a bigger rider looking for more obvious sheeting power to get up and riding, or for sending easy jumps, the Dice is probably a bit technical for you.
Lighter riders however who have good handling skills will find plenty of performance and also be able to hold the Dice down in really strong winds, which also then adds to the jumping potential for good riders.
Gijs Wassenar set a new World Height Record in December 2018 on a 10 metre Dice. It’s a potent machine in the right hands!
Where the kite is at its best though is in an unusual but exciting combination of wave riding and kite loops. Turning on demand, there’s no stalling and lots of forward drive. You can come into a bottom turn in gusty wind with speed and, as you initiate your turn and drive the kite with a downloop there’s so much range that you can attack any part of the wave with precision and control. If you mess your move up and lose line tension you can still follow the kite around and for twin-tip wave riding it’s very easy to smash out some big hits. Some kites chug a bit too much on the top turn and depower so much at the top that you lose a bit of steering input, so you’re left waiting for the kite to catch you up. As we mentioned, the trimming range and feel at the bar has been much improved over the years and now you’re in total unison with the kite; just the right balance between steering input, bar pressure and turning. Top marks for wave riding and when simply riding along and flying the kite through the window there is nice forward drive and no need to rely on your quads at all. (The difference between this and the Neo is that the Neo sits a little further back in the window more naturally and is generally softer in behaviour.)
As you can turn the Dice hard and it won’t pull you off a wave, we expected the Dice the kite loops to be quite pivotal and weak, but there’s enough progressive chug and no stalling so it feels like you’re getting a pretty good yank. The Dice isn’t as gnarly or loop-focused as say the Core GTS, but the Dice can offer pleasing loops for most riders for sure. Many weaker looping kites turn from 12 round to 3 o’clock and then spin quickly and quite inwardly around the remainder of the loop. The Dice turns confidently beyond 3 o’clock and dips nicely into that more meaty section of the loop between 3 and 9 o’clock. The really meaty kite loop kites come alive and charge widely around this bottom section. The Dice has a pleasing feel here without being over bearing and it always gets round without an issue.
For unhooked tricks and passes the Dice is brilliant. The forward flight really comes into its own once again and all your basic handle-passes, from dangle-passes to raleys-to-blind, blind judges and beyond are all progressively possible and fun for the aspiring rider with good pop and then not too much pressure at the bar.
We also tested the 12 which has great forward position, keen turning and slick power delivery through the turn. It must be one of the sweetest all-round 12 metre kites on the market. In general we’re seeing a trend for 12 metre kites turning more quickly with increased manoeuvrability and energy. The Dice is top of the tree so far for us in its balance, turning, sheeting range and agility. In terms of sizing the nine has huge range and we suspect that the smaller sizes will be even better for waves. So if you are mostly a hooked-in twin-tip rider, once going below a nine metre in size you might prefer the extra steadiness and lift in the Evo, or even the Rebel.
The Dice is super-tweaked now and sits at the top end of cross-over performance for wave riding, new school freestyle and advanced freeriding. Heavier or less experienced riders looking for more bassline drive and easy boost should look to the Evo.
Smooth forward flight makes the Dice an ideal wave and new school freestyle companion that delivers a feel of total unison between rider and kite.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Some heavier riders will want a more forceful lift and hang-time in regular winds.
DICE BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 9
Full package: 9.5
Low end: 7
Top end: 9
Steering speed: 7
Turning circle: 4 (wave riding), 6.4 (kite loops)
Bar pressure: 5
Water relaunch: 8
Boost: 7.5 (Higher when really powered)
SIZES: 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m