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Ultralight vs standard foil kite degradation

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dave1986
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Ultralight vs standard foil kite degradation

Postby dave1986 » Wed Jan 08, 2020 1:30 pm

Lots of kite manufacturers have now started making "Ultralight" versions of their foil kites with lighter fabric.

I'm interested to know how will an Ultralight kite wear or degrade over time compared with a standard fabric kite?

I'm assuming that Ultralight fabric will become less airtight more quickly compared with standard fabric which eventually after many many hours of flying might mean slightly compromised water-relaunch?

But assuming that you dont ever crash your kite, are there any long-term disadvantages to Ultralight fabric? For example is canopy stretch worse? Or something else?

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Re: Ultralight vs standard foil kite degradation

Postby foilholio » Wed Jan 08, 2020 2:12 pm

There is quite a difference in life span, maybe 2/3 to 1/2. Most people won't use a foil kite's full life span. You can get 10+years out of them. Saying that though it is predominantly how much sun light they are exposed to. If you can somehow avoid most sun light, they can last for almost ever!

Air porosity does effect water relaunch but it is more worse for flight. You can recoat/seal a kite for a small weight gain.

As fabric becomes older and more degraded it becomes weaker. Eventually your kite will start ripping easier and easier. It becomes pointless to repair it at some point.
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Re: Ultralight vs standard foil kite degradation

Postby dave1986 » Wed Jan 08, 2020 2:38 pm

Thanks. I wasn't expecting that more porous fabric would effect the flight characterisitcs since I would think the air would enter the kite through the leading edge inlets faster than it can leak from the microscopic holes in the fabric?

I would imagine minimal UV degradation in cloudy conditions which we most get here in the UK. I suppose bridle stretch (which applies equally to any weight of kite fabric) would become a bigger issue if you mostly fly in cloudy conditions.

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Re: Ultralight vs standard foil kite degradation

Postby Foil » Wed Jan 08, 2020 5:26 pm

steve on here has a large Chrono ultralight V3, 2 years old now, and used more than your average foiler would use their most used kite,
many holidays in the sun as well where it was used a lot, and loaned to me whilst I was learning how to use a foil kite, so I crashed it nearly every time I took it out, only for water start practice you understand :oops: :lol: however one day I did crash it 3 times and drowned it on the last crash :oops: :roll:
the kite has not needed any adjustments to the bridal, looks and flies like new.
used by steve for this video a few weeks back.
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Re: Ultralight vs standard foil kite degradation

Postby kitexpert » Wed Jan 08, 2020 5:54 pm

dave1986 wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 2:38 pm
Thanks. I wasn't expecting that more porous fabric would effect the flight characterisitcs since I would think the air would enter the kite through the leading edge inlets faster than it can leak from the microscopic holes in the fabric?

I would imagine minimal UV degradation in cloudy conditions which we most get here in the UK. I suppose bridle stretch (which applies equally to any weight of kite fabric) would become a bigger issue if you mostly fly in cloudy conditions.
When fabric is worn out it is full of tiny holes. I've sometimes checked pieces of old kite fabrics under microscope and it looks bad. Damaged areas can have perhaps 5-20% of the surface missing from the air tightness perspective. It is almost same if kite has big holes in it.

Mechanical wear is enough to damage fabric, coating just peels off. Kites flutter and stretch all the time when they are used. Also seams start to leak, for example some Speed4 kites have suffered this.

Out of tune bridle is much easier to correct than fabric which is worn, which can be even impossible. When buying a used foil kite always check how kite fabric feels, if seams are tight and how does kite looks when it flies and how long it keeps inflated on the ground. If there is fabric problems just don't buy it, it is almost worthless kite.

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Re: Ultralight vs standard foil kite degradation

Postby dave1986 » Wed Jan 08, 2020 6:27 pm

Ultralight fabric has clear performance benefits over standard fabric, but I expect the benefits are less noticeable in stronger winds.

It would be interesting to hear opinions on what size foil kites they would choose ultralight fabric over standard fabric considering the faster wear expected for ultralight fabric (of course if money is no object then ultralight is always the clear choice).

Ideally I would like to hear from someone who has flown the same model of foil kite back-to-back in both ultralight and standard fabric in medium or strong wind strength to get their opinion on whether the fabric makes a significant performance difference even when the wind picks up.

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Re: Ultralight vs standard foil kite degradation

Postby foilholio » Thu Jan 09, 2020 1:31 am

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Re: Ultralight vs standard foil kite degradation

Postby Hardwater Kiter » Thu Jan 09, 2020 6:17 pm

FWIW all my kiting is in winter. So solar degradation is minimal. In my world, UL fabric tends to hold up very similarly to standard unless you snag it on an ice shard or some similar mishap. I will be more gentle with UL but it is surprisingly durable. As stated above, a foil well cared for will last a solid 10 years depending on use of course. I have some UL kites that have been in use for 5+ and show no issues. I have die hard guys that ride enough that standard material becomes porous in 4 years. And it's wild. 11m foils pull like 5m in stout winds.

We sell both UL and standard versions of several kites. The general benefits of UL vs. standard are obviously light wind performance but also packability (for us touring we often carry multiple wings) and the reduced weight but also faster turn rate. I personally don't bother with UL in smaller sizes as the wind doesn't warrant it and in high winds, if I accidentally whip the kite in, there is less likelihood of damaging the standard material.

Cost is obviously a consideration as well. If I don't need the extra cost of UL, I'd like to avoid it.

Bridles and lines burn out generally before the fabrics do IMO.

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Re: Ultralight vs standard foil kite degradation

Postby dave1986 » Thu Jan 09, 2020 6:50 pm

Hardwater Kiter wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 6:17 pm
Cost is obviously a consideration as well. If I don't need the extra cost of UL, I'd like to avoid it.
I find it interesting that Ozone charges disproportionately more for their Ultralight kites in the larger sizes.

I can't understand why an 18m is almost 35% more expensive in Ultralight fabric?! But a 9m is only an extra 4.6%

Are Ultralight kite more expensive to manufacture?
And are they disproportionately more expensive to manufacture in larger sizes? and if so why?

Ozone Chrono V3 prices (£GBP)
Size/Ultralight/Standard/%difference
7m/£1719/£1579/8.8%
9m/£1809/£1729/4.6%
11m/£1969/£1799/9.4%
13m/£2249/£1889/19.1%
15m/£2669/£2029/31.5%
18m/£2800/£2079/34.7%

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Re: Ultralight vs standard foil kite degradation

Postby foilholio » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:02 am

It is weird because Pansh changes a flat fee $149 and less for some other models. Lighter material likely could be cheaper the main expense is switching materials in production.


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