The basic design of the Slingshot fuels has remained the same for the most part, but there's been some nifty improvements to the 2005 range of fuels.
Most notable are better low end and slightly faster turning, along with some minor refinements to the bar which includes a steel post around the depower rope (which prevents chafing on your knuckles), and a very neat kite briefcase. Other improvements include enforced strut closures, reinforced struts, and easy-off pigtails which makes removing your kite lines easier. All these improvements together with the one pump system (a single inflation system) makes the kite a good package.
Last year I was able to test the 11 Fuel, and this year I tested the 9 and 13. Both kites are very similar in all aspects except for the turning speed. The turning speed on the 13 felt a bit slow compared to turning speeds on some of the newer 14's available today, but it never presented itself as a problem. The 9 and 11 is plenty fast in turning speed. The first thing you notice is the smooth but strong delivery in power - the fuels are renowned for their grunt and they have no shortage in power.
I was concerned about the range that one would be able to get out of the 13 since it is quite a powerful kite for a light rider such as myself, but I was able to hold it in 20 - 24 knots on flat water - the same conditions that I could comfortably start using the 9. Although the fuels have plenty of power on tap, it's never overwhelming and once can easily cut the power off if need be. The high end of the kite is more than acceptable - in fact I was very pleased with it. This kite delivers smooth, predictable power in an easy to handle package.
During jumps and transitions one feels a lot of hang time - the kite really just keeps you in the air and it boosts you up quickly too. This makes the kite great for heavier riders - it's got the power to let you hang in the air.
Slingshot gained a huge following in 2004 with the Fuels, and I suspect the same and even better for 2005 - the kite seems to appeal to anyone from beginners to pro riders - some of the worlds best wave riders use these kites - and it is easy to see why. The feedback of the kite is excellent and it's got very consistent power delivery. These characteristics confirm why this is the choice of kite for wave riders and heavier riders.
Gavin Spowart, South African Slingshot importer and team rider, throwing a sick kiteloop (see picture below)
The only thing that we felt lacking was a decent relaunch system like the Recon or a 5th line system. However, there are talks that slingshot will offer a recon-like system at a very affordable price that will allow you to relaunch the kite by collapsing the trailing edge as an update soon. This new system will hit the market soon and can be used to upgrade 2005 Slingshots.
To draw to a conclusion : The 2005 Fuels offer some good improvements and are more refined. They will definitely appeal to wave riders, wake style riders and heavier riders. Lighter riders looking for a powerful kite will also enjoy this kite. Beginners and those looking for a weekend cruising kite will be able to manage just fine, but might find the power overwhelming. If the latter is your style you might want to have a look at the Slingshot Diesels.