Consistent and smooth for steezy, stable performance. The Raptor will give you confidence when you need it the most
THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN KITEWORLD #104 IN MARCH 2020
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TESTED BY: CHRIS BULL AND JIM GAUNT. FIND THEIR DETAILS AND TEST SCORE BREAKDOWNS HERE.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
You can’t deny the prowess of products that come from Slingshot. They’re bold, beautiful, well manufactured, strong, good value for money and carry a history of industry-wide innovations. You’re getting high-end, high-strength build quality. Slingshot kites have been used in schools all over the world because they’re very easy to use, can take a beating and last a long time. In the sky, the Raptor has all the usual feel of a Slingshot. While testing as many kites as we do, there are brands that we could recognise the feel of with our eyes closed. Slingshot are one of those brands; the kites are generally set with a slightly deeper window position, never surging forward out of the power zone and always delivering super smooth drive.
PRIME REV RANGE
Although by name Raptor sounds like an aggressive dinosaur, it is actually happiest in its mid-range where it’s keen and eager to fly forward, maintaining its very steady driving position. The intuitive response from the bar is comfortably engaging without being too physical. People who switch from the Slingshot Rally will be surprised at how smooth the experience is as the Rally was far more on / off in terms of power delivery. Although it lacks the raw power of the Rally that you could tap into in an instant, the Raptor will really clean up your riding style.
COMPARISON WITH THE SLINGSHOT RALLY
Slingshot have taken the raw sheeting performance of the Rally and blended it into a more modern, comfortable riding experience. Parking or playing, the Raptor’s character and movement are constant. There’s no jumping up and down gears; just steady sheeting, very smooth movement and more than enough lift for most people, especially pleasing in everyday conditions. The Raptor is slightly more focused on hangtime and float than vertical boost. The steering is incredibly consistent and steady, so the Raptor isn’t as responsive to really technical kite fliers who are looking for the fastest kite to send aggressively back in the window for the ultimate rush to the clouds. However this is a kite that many people will immediately feel comfortable with and won’t feel intimidated to send the kite over head with confidence to help develop a smooth jumping style. Good riders with their timing and handling absolutely locked in can go really high on the Raptor in strong winds, for sure, but in regular conditions the added hangtime float rather than explosive lift make this a very progressive kite for a lot of people to get on with.
If you’re coming off a Rally or a real sheet-and-go entry level kite this is a very good next step. Everything is more consistent and smooth and the Raptor makes you feel in complete control.
Pleasing in the hangtime department, heli-loops will keep you in the air for extended periods as the kite is so nicely balanced – rooted and always flying smoothly overhead. The Raptor will never scare you (unless you try and loop it at its top end), whereas some of the faster big air kites are a bit menacing and snappier in their boosting delivery, which is the last thing you want if you’re looking to build confidence in your jumps and rotations. For rolls, grabs and expression riding the Raptor comes into its own. With the kite at 11 or 1 o’clock there’s lovely stalled lift alongside forward movement. Added to which the fact that the Raptor is steady overhead and doesn’t respond too quickly to small bar inputs, your grabs off wave kickers, or slow, steezy front roll rotations are all so easy to time. If you’re looking for that fluid riding style with loads of momentum control, the Raptor is awesome in most 18 – 25 knot conditions found commonly around the world.
The steadiness continues into the kite’s turns. It’s not lightning quick to react, but the steering response rate is really in tune with the rest of the Raptor’s performance feel. It’s measured, balanced and, once the Raptor starts turning, the way it tracks around the bottom of the window is very consistent. Plenty quick and forgiving enough for downloops and for kite loops out of back roll transitions.
Although you have to perhaps be more consistent with your bar input to complete a kite loop, the Raptor behaves the same each time, every time, so you can dial into exactly when to pull the bar and when to sheet out very quickly. It’s super smooth, especially when downlooping out of big transitions where you sweep the kite down and let it pull you into your new riding direction. Just chocolatey smooth at that.
Where we found that the Raptor was quite different to some of the lighter feeling, sportier big air kites, is at the top end. More board edging skill is required to get really big jumps because the Raptor needs sending back hard and fast. All that solid, stable, smooth power turns up quite a few notches when you’re really pushing the kite hard through movement. Where some kites can turn the power down for a moment when steered back in really strong wind, the Raptor maintains its buzzing hum, making it a bit more of a challenge to point and shoot while maintaining your rail bite.
Strong and experienced riders will enjoy the available power of course, but when it comes to changing down a gear to go out in demanding conditions you’ve really got to be honest with yourself. How often do you go out in conditions like that? And if you do, how aggressive are you brave enough to be? Are you really the kind of rider looking to tap into maximum boost possible, or do you want looking after to enjoy your session?
Most people want smooth, stable power and potential for progression in 18 – 25 knots. The Raptor delivers and has all the depower riders of all sizes will need for most situations.
INDESTRUCTIBLE AND FUNCTIONAL – THE BAR SET-UP
Slingshot bars haven’t changed much in recent years and they’re still amongst the most robust and completely functional on the market. Should any parts need replacing after several seasons, it’s an easy fix because nothing is covered. And these bars last! There’s the option of above or below-the-bar trim. The above-the-bar trimming set-up also has a swivel to untwist your lines above the chicken-loop, which the below-the-bar trim doesn’t offer. There is a swivel on that system, but it’s just out of reach above the stopper where the lines split, so you rely on it working itself when there’s enough tension.
The Raptor isn’t sedate, but it’s consistent and smooth for steezy, stable performance. The Raptor will give you confidence when you need it the most.
No flap and no stress. The Raptor is solid and helps develop a super smooth riding style.
KW WOULD CHANGE: If you’re truly a rider who is looking to test their mettle in howling conditions, unless you’re physically and technically top level, there are kites that will give you access to more top end whip.
RAPTOR BALANCE SCORES:
Build quality: 9
Full package: 9
Low end: 8
Top end: 7
Steering speed: 6
Turning circle: 6.5
Bar pressure: 6
Water relaunch: 8.5
Unhooked: 6.5 (The pros do a lot with it)
Ease of use: 8
SIZES: 12, 10, 9, 8 and 6m
Find out more: www.slingshotsports.com
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