Review: Slingshot RPM 8m 2015

While the newest 2016 models of Slingshot are just released, we noticed a shift in models. It seems that the new wave kite Wave SST pushes the Rally 2016 more to the position the RPM used to have. Will this fifth version of 2015 RPM be the last version of the famous RPM? We tested it while admitting the RPM appeals to us much more than the Rally, mainly since the Rally seems much slower.

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the RPM 2015 is the fifth version of a kite which became famous when Youri Zoon won the 2011 PKRA freestyle competition with the RPM. But Slingshot is also a brand with a big name. It is generally known for its bomb proof quality, but for the RPM we have heard too many rumours that it has a weak point which makes the kite snap after a couple of years of usage, or even sooner. However the 2015 version -as mentioned in the Slingshot product video– should be reinforced on this point.

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Slingshot was one of the first brands to introduce a one-pump system to its kites, so no need to worry about that. What is kind of late is the introduction of a large inflate, but it works very well. It needs a pump that has a hose with an opening like North has. The wide hose exit, like a lot of brands have (like Ozone, Best etc), won’t work. No wonder Slingshot provides standard a hose on each RPM.

The major changes that should affect the way the kite handles, are on the (complicated) bridles, called IRS; Intuitive Response System. They are now without pulleys.

bridles rpm 2015
Complicated bridles (no pulleys)

A remarkable detail is that it is close to impossible to find any recommendations from Slingshot on their website on details that matter, like the settings of the bridle or the pressure that the kite needs to perform best. In the RPM 2015 video a lot of promises on improved design, durability and performance, but no explanations how to rig the kite for different purposes. Something that we think is the major pro for the RPM; its versatility due to the multiple settings that are possible. Looking at the product video from Slingshot, it is almost only unhooked tricks that are shown. Is Slingshot showing in this way the RPM is intended for the hardcore unhooked freestyle rider?

So when reading any RPM review you need to know on what settings the kite is used. The RPM 8m has three important options. The first is on what settings the bridles are set. Either on wake style settings (inner) or on freeride (outer settings). The second is on the line lengths; either with 23m lines or with 20m lines. There are also 3 settings for the back lines.

Slingshot 17 inch Compstick Bar and lines

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3 settings steering lines

For kites from 4 until 8m a 17inch or a 20inch bar can be used. This 17 inch bar has 20m, lines the 20inch 23m. Those 3 meter differences give quite a large different feeling. 20 meter lines a way more direct, but also lose some of its low end reach. Kite loops on 20m lines or 23m gives a whole different feeling. With 23m the kite needs a lot of input and is slower in the turn, the 20m lines will give the real yank a mega loop needs. But at 20m lines you need a knot or 4 more to really get high enough to do such a mega kite loop.
The front lines are, as they have been for years, bigger (in diameter) and stronger than the back lines. The bar is a bit rough (especially for the ladies)and we don’t like the huge swiffel (which is there for years). It doesn’t do its job (rotate) on its own and it is unnecessary heavy. Another issue is the under the bar depower system. When this is on full power, it is too hard to get it depowered again. Apparently Slingshot finally realised it and now from 2016 models on offer a bar with both under and above the bar depower systems.

The test

We tested the RPM 8m with a 17inch bar both on 20 and 23m (3m extensions) lines. We set the bridles on both positions and tried it while adjusting the back lines.

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RPM bridle setting on wake style

The wakestyle setting (see photo) gives a lot of pressure on the bar, even when the back lines are at the lightest setting. Too our opinion this is too much for the average rider. A freestyle oriented and stronger rider will like the stability and will like the feedback you get from this setting. We needed the stopper ball a lot in this setting…

When the bridles are set on the outer positions the kites changes a lot. It becomes lighter and softer. It is better to set the back lines one or even two steps back for a kite with a bit more bar feel. We did most of our testing with the 23m lines on this settings.

The kite, all though only having 3 struts and no battens feels very firm. The RPM is quite fast and responsive, even with the 23m lines. The pop is quite short and aggressive, although (on 23m lines and on free ride mode) not as aggressive as the Best TS or the GP. The RPM is not a magic low end kite and neither keeps you air born like a North Rebel or a Ozone Edge, but it can handle a lot of wind. Depowering is quick and easy. It also has some raw edges which has to do with its freestyle capabilities.

For example looping the kite gives a certain moment in the loop a typical delay. It is also felt when steering quickly; it reacts immediately but it feels like the kite come to a stand still a little while later. We found the RPM (on 23m lines on free ride bridle mode) to have some similarities with the Ocean Rodeo Razor and a bit of the North Dice although the RPM can be set much more aggressive by resetting the bridles.

List prices

Slingshot RPM 8m 2015 (kite only) 1139,- Euro

Slingshot Compstick bar 17 inch 399,- Euro

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13 thoughts on “Review: Slingshot RPM 8m 2015”

  1. Hi Oliver,
    Glad we could be of help! If you have any additional findings please share them!

    And many, many thanks for your donation!
    We are on our way to Tarifa (Spain). We will come up with a proper way of thanking you when we are back from that trip.
    Dave
    We Test Kites

  2. Tried the Wakemodus yesterday. The kite is indeed more stable, sits deeper in the window and the pull during loops is significantly higher. Boost and hang time is significantly less.
    Thanks for your support!

  3. Hi Oliver,
    I think the RPM problems is a common thing. We hear it a bit too much. Warranty (or the lack of it) has been reasons for some shops to stop with Slingshot.
    The valve problem is something Slingshot always had. We had it after one year on Fuel’s back in 2007.
    The Dice ’17 is your kite, I am pretty sure (and maybe the Ozone Enduro on 23m lines). For North take the click bar, you don’t need to choose length (22+2m extensions), mainly for less wear out reasons (so not because of the click system).

    For the RPM, it changes its behaviour very much when resetting the bridle, for sure test it! Nothing to loose?!
    Dave
    We Test Kites

  4. I own 2016 RPMs (3 month old) and have them all set at the freeride and light bar pressure setting. Do you think it is worth testing the other settings?
    The jelly fish problem seems bigger with 23m lines. On the 7m I prefer 20m, on the 9m I prefer the 23m lines.
    The RPM has a modern (Cabrinha style) “inflate” and an old school “deflate” valve. The deflate valve is the one that pops open on impacts.
    The Dice I have tested has been a 2015. If the ’17 is even stiffer, it could be great for me.
    Must no be public/ up to you:
    I have had bad luck with the RPMs so far, as well. Open seam on the 12m after 5 times in use. Ripped Steering line on the 2017 bar after 20 days of use. Complete canopy rip along the strut on the 9m from tube to trailing edge after 10 days of use (hopefully will hear about warranty on monday). 7m has a triangle in canopy for no obvious reason, but could be bad luck.

  5. Hi Oliver,
    many thanks for your feed back.
    We won’t be bought, trust me. But we do struggle. We can’t get enough testing material and if we did get them we have had so many discussions with the designers. A bad functional part is very often “bad luck” that we got that one, or the aim of a kite is totally different by wording than on a website. But things go much, much further. We even have had a situation where one brand (which we had mentioned as being comparable) had called the other brand to get the review changed. As most people must realize by now (close to) all other reviews are payed for, so they expect the tested brand can get our review changed or even get it offline. So pretty much all reviews will be biased. Even the kitefinder.com is biased as most team riders (or even designers themselves) post the “review”.

    Back to the RPM; for other readers 220lbs is 100kg.
    When you mentioned the valve I would have suspect you own the kites for more than a couple of years, but you mention “recently bought”?! So I know about the valve, but the jelly fishing is new to me. Probably because we didn’t use it overpowered (we do have a test member your weight). We have had this issue with other kites, mainly ones with 2 struts only. Can you mention the model year of the RPM’s and at which bridle setting it is used?
    By the way we get some complaints about RPM’s -under stress- which breaking of the canopy from LE to trailing edge.

    The Dice has only 3 struts, the Evo 5. Which means it probably has to do with the bridles, and of course the aspect ratio’s…
    Ps If I guess correctly you will love the Dice ’17 which is a lot stiffer compared to the ’16/’15 model. Which one did you test?
    ps 2 there is a donate button to the Paypal account at the bottom-left side of the site. or use https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=KKdIBUzUcV7s9SOhON8_0p5RLDbUbfQUceYKeIomfjGOdVZUQcJ1gr8uOkC&dispatch=5885d80a13c0db1f8e263663d3faee8d333dc9aadeed3fe0b5b299d55fd35542

    Thanks!

    Dave
    We test Kites

  6. Thanks Dave for your great reviews and independent testing. Please make sure you never get “bought” by manufacturer advertising. I would be happy to donate to your page, if you send me a paypal link.

    Because of its great reputation and promised durability. I recently bought a quiver of RPMs (12,9,7). I am a athletic heavy wrestler style rider at 220lbs and would like to give some feedback from a heavy rider.

    With my weight, the RPM (the very open-C) has not enough stability, when ridden aggressively in its high end. The 7m jellies out even at high pressures (note that you have to seal/tape secure the small valve in order not to pop open at kite crashes) already when edging really hard in gusts. Its very unsatisfying because when heavily loaded the kite is unable to turn/ loop either. The 9 and the 12 seem better (thicker tube?), but show the same symptoms.
    I had the same problems with the 2016 Evos. I just tried a 7m Dice (less aspect ratio, different bridle? ) and it worked for me with no problems.

  7. Hi Tiga,
    The test is almost finished. We just need to get hold of a 20m bar (we used it with 25m so far). This is quite important since 5m line differences may influence a lot in the test.
    Dave
    We Test Kites

  8. Hi Francis,
    thanks for your compliment and your comments.
    My opinion is not far off yours, but compared to some other kites the RPM feel a bit rougher than some other can-do-it-all kites. Like the FX and the Dice for example. I think you may also like the new Ozone Enduro, which we are testing now.
    Dave
    We Test Kites

  9. Hi, always good to read what you have to say. I still think that the RPM is the only kite that will give you PKRA freestyle performance in a package anyone can use and take it to the waves, freeride with it and be used by pure beginners for their first tacks. I now use evos 2016, no one on the tour uses them, Vegas are pretty bad for the 40something average joe. It seems like the RPM is a Vegas, an evo and a neo…with limitations but for the average guy like me, it woks fine. I kept 2 RPMs for unhooking.

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