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What happens to a kite (performance wise) when it wears out?

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Topaz
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What happens to a kite (performance wise) when it wears out?

Postby Topaz » Tue Nov 17, 2020 2:54 am

I've heard many times 'the kite stretched already', or 'it worn out'. Through the years of kiting, I've had several new kites, some used kites that where 'like new', and I also bought some used ones that were supposed to be 'like new' but when arrived were really far from new. But never really felt the difference in performance. Maybe I'm not sensitive enough?
I'm not talking about kites that have been heavily repaired or don't hold air properly for a whole session. Only about stretching or degradation of fabric due to extended normal use.

So, what happens to the kite when it wears out? Does it turn slower? Jumps lower? Becomes less reactive? Or it's just paranoia and rationalization for consumerism?

And if there is actually a degradation in performance, how many sessions or hours do you guys keep your kites?
I know back in the days a two or three years old kite could be obsolete because of design improvement, but now a days, that should not be a reason to change, or it should?

What's your experience?

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Re: What happens to a kite (performance wise) when it wears out?

Postby thewindego » Tue Nov 17, 2020 4:45 am

https://www.realwatersports.com/collect ... r6-lw-kite

Some explanation might help. It all depends but sun and flapping kit on the beach are as bad or worse than actual riding.

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Re: What happens to a kite (performance wise) when it wears out?

Postby sarc » Tue Nov 17, 2020 4:54 am

Really good question
I was surprised what I learned over past 5-10 years.
My 2012 Rebels are still going strong they refuse to die, simply because:
1. I adjust the bridle (nose lines) as they stretch
2. I coat the canopy in diluted Shoe Goo every 100 sessions or so (search the forum for Shoe Goo)

Bridle stretch causes the kite to backstall and affects depower and turning capability
Canopy stretches when the original coating wears off due to UV light, reducing kite efficiency. I think canopy strength depends on coating not material. But most importantly when coating wears out, porosity increases meaning you get a lot less lift (and more drag due to stretching). I was amazed at the height, hangtime and upwind performance improvements I got from recoating.

p.s. I measure porosity by pouring a few drops of water on one side of the canopy. If after 30 sec the other side is juuust lightly damp it's OK. If it's clearly wet then need recoating. In my experience the part that benefits most from recoating is just after the leading edge.

p.s. No, no weight issue if you recoat. It's maybe 50 grams weight gain (solvent evaporates!).
These users thanked the author sarc for the post (total 2):
Mike101 (Tue Nov 17, 2020 8:54 am) • nothing2seehere (Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:19 am)
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nothing2seehere
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Re: What happens to a kite (performance wise) when it wears out?

Postby nothing2seehere » Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:33 am

My experience has been to see kites 'bag out' as they age. The canopy seems to stretch at the stitching points for the panels (as you might expect because this is the bit where you puncture the fabric) and the shape of the profile changes slightly. I remember some designers changing the canopy cut design to try and maintain the overall canopy shape as the seams stretched. Profile changes will affect the flying characteristics. How relevant this is depends on what you are doing. If you are boosting 15/20m jumps, chasing Woo scores or doing powered loops - anything that might affect safety is a critical issue to think about. If you are cruising around doing low unpowered rolls or riding the swell then its probably not so much of a problem and you will adapt to the micro changes as time goes by without noticing it.

Its worth noting that the industry seems to be moving to a materials race at the moment so whilst the shapes are changing, the innovation is in the materials and chasing light weights. This is a good thing for a smaller kite quiver and light kites do fly rather nicely. Whether you personally need that though is a different proposition.

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Re: What happens to a kite (performance wise) when it wears out?

Postby Herman » Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:43 am

I have had foils degenerate so much that they no longer fly properly. However, with LEI on TT generally I don't get a big difference in feel as the kite ages because line tension etc is so dependant on the wind. Usually I notice the loss of vmg and that is when I retire them to land use. (On wheels vmg is a much less critical parameter imho.)

If an LEI is semi reasonable I think you would have to fly it back to back in the same session with a new kite to actually feel the difference through responsiveness, jump height, line tension generated etc. Maybe if you were regularly testing kites it would be different but for your regular quiver it is hard to quantify performance loss imho.

PS similar to yachts, old sails feel fine for just sailing about but you don't get the original vmg and this is reasonably easy to quantify.

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Re: What happens to a kite (performance wise) when it wears out?

Postby sarc » Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:51 am

nothing2seehere wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:33 am
My experience has been to see kites 'bag out' as they age. The canopy seems to stretch at the stitching points for the panels (as you might expect because this is the bit where you puncture the fabric) and the shape of the profile changes slightly. I remember some designers changing the canopy cut design to try and maintain the overall canopy shape as the seams stretched. Profile changes will affect the flying characteristics. How relevant this is depends on what you are doing. If you are boosting 15/20m jumps, chasing Woo scores or doing powered loops - anything that might affect safety is a critical issue to think about. If you are cruising around doing low unpowered rolls or riding the swell then its probably not so much of a problem and you will adapt to the micro changes as time goes by without noticing it.

Its worth noting that the industry seems to be moving to a materials race at the moment so whilst the shapes are changing, the innovation is in the materials and chasing light weights. This is a good thing for a smaller kite quiver and light kites do fly rather nicely. Whether you personally need that though is a different proposition.
Industry is also moving to weaker materials that last less though. At least in my case, I got the last 5th line rebels out (9m bought end 2017) and it's falling apart, looks older than my 2012 rebels. Leading edge and canopy are ripped and scratched, Tear-Aid everywhere. Canopy coat wore off much faster than older kites. Same rider, same spots as my 2012 Rebels! Thinner materials with priority to weight and penalizing durability.

It is however a PHENOMENALLY great kite so I'll be riding until it's a mass of glue and Tear-Aid. Personal preference my next kite will be something robust.

p.s. it's true the flight characteristics change more or less no matter what you do, for me I just adapt... don't mind it.

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Re: What happens to a kite (performance wise) when it wears out?

Postby Topaz » Tue Nov 17, 2020 2:11 pm

Thanks for the comments folks.

For me, again, if there is a difference, it's minimal. One could say that we are like the boiling frog, that doesn't feel the heat because it raises slowly, but even when pulling out a new or almost new kite, I never felt a radical difference. I guess I don't kite often enough. :)

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Re: What happens to a kite (performance wise) when it wears out?

Postby edt » Tue Nov 17, 2020 2:38 pm

I've never had a kite that "stretched out". I have some 15 year old kites I still use a lot especially my 7m fuel. It seems possible but it's never happened to me. I will use my kites until the bridles wear out and snap repair them keep riding and only give up on a kite when I can put my hands thru the tissue paper like canopy.


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