Kiteboarding Gear Maintenance from KTB

Kiteboarding-gear-maintenance-KTBKites, boards, and other gear is expensive! Here are a few tips to get more life out of your investment.

Kite Care

  • Sand kills kites! The friction of sand on a kite will wear out the material, making it much more susceptible to rips, tears, punctures, and “blowouts”. Take the time to shake off your kite and (if possible) roll it up on grass. Make sure that you check the area where the canopy attaches to the leading edge because it forms a pocket to trap sand.
  • Self-launching/ landing can also cause wear on the kite. Try to have an assistant launch your kite.
  • If your kite is totally soaked when you roll it up on sand, you will take half the beach home with you. You are better off rolling it up IN the water and drying it at home. Make sure to close valves before taking it in the water or you will get water in the bladder. If your kite is slightly wet and you have to roll it up before drying, make sure to pull it back out to let it dry. Once its dry you can shake off the excess sand. Washing the kite is not recommended, but sometimes necessary. Tap water contains chlorine (and who knows what else) that will deteriorate the fibers and cause mildew. 
  • You can add new life to an older kite with 303 Aerospace Protectant (West Marine has it), its like sunscreen for your kite. Apply a small amount in a test area first. It can be applied with a damp sponge
  • Sun and wind kills kites too! (Use your kite bag!) Do not leave your kite to bake in the sun all day on the beach. The sun will cause fading and premature wear of the material. Flapping in the wind will also cause premature wear, especially on the trailing edge.
  • Don’t leave your kites in a hot car! Heat can melt the glue on the valves and cause leaks.

Kite Bladders

Take care of your bladders! A popped leading edge bladder will end your session instantly, and replacement kite bladders are in excess of  $150.00.
  • Make sure to lay your kite out flat before inflating because letting the pump unroll your kite can cause twists in your bladder. Also use care when packing it up.
  • When using an air compressor or tank, be careful not to over inflate the kite.
  • The air in the bladders can expand on hot days and explode your LE.
  • Check EVERY valve including inflate, deflate, and strut valves to make sure they are seated properly BEFORE FULLY INFLATING! Make sure to not put the pump nozzle too far down your kite valves as this stretches the valves, making them leak or easily pop out when the kite crashes.
  • An under inflated kite flies poorly and relaunches very poorly. It can also fold and pinch your leading edge bladder, causing a leak. Make sure check manufacturer’s recommendations for that kite (usually 8-10 psi), but thumping the LE should give you a slight “ping” sound, similar to a snare drum.
  • To get water out of a bladder- partially inflate kite and get all water near deflate valve, get it as low as possible and pop the plug. Leave valves open to help it dry out.

Kite Bladder Replacement Tips

  • It is a good idea to attach a string or kite line to the end of the bladder before removing the bladder from the kite. It will help you pull the new bladder back into place. Note: This is usually a 2-man operation, but with a little creativity, one person can manage just fine. Using a flat piece of cardboard can help reduce twists when feeding it through the leading edge of the kite.
  • When installing a new bladder, use baby powder or talc to make it slide through easier.
  • Make sure to avoid twists as you pull it through, then, partially inflate kite and “massage” the bladder into place. If there are twists, you will need to pull out that side and try again.
  •  If your new bladder is not fully seated before inflating- you will pop it or stretch the bladder material, creating a weak point. Take your time, or have a shop or instructor install it for you. 

Kite Boards

  • Rinse your board with fresh water after use, salts will corrode metal hardware. Sand and salt will also deteriorate the finish and cause scratches in the surface.
  • Use Teflon thread tape or Loc-Tite on all screws (handle, foot-straps, fins). It will keep it snugged down and prevent corrosion of screw and thread.
  • Make sure foot-straps and fins are tight. They frequently loosen up and should be checked every few sessions to assure they will not pop out and cause thread damage.
  • If you feel something really weird while you are riding, you may have lost a screw from a fin and it is wobbling or turning on you. It’s a good idea to stop right then and try to unscrew the fin so you don’t lose it.
  • Nicked or chipped fins can be smoothed out with a fine grit sandpaper.

Bar and Lines

Check your safety systems BEFORE every kitesurfing session to ensure they are working properly.  An improperly rigged safety can KILL YOU!
  • Make sure there are no knots in your kiteboarding line, it greatly reduces line strength and can cause a dangerous line break. You can soak the knot in water to help loosen it up.
  • Lubricate metal parts with a suitable grease or lubricant.
  • Inspect Chicken Loop and Quick Release System for signs of wear.
  • Don’t forget the pulleys on bar ends or on the bridles of the kite. A “frozen” pulley will wear bridles or leader lines very quickly to do friction and heat.
  • Rinsing your bar is OK, but too much tap water will deteriorate lines.
  • Check all leaders, main line, and depower straps for excessive wear and replace it before it breaks while you are out kite surfing.
  • Keep an eye on the hole in your bar because a rough edge will wear you CL rope very quickly. Use some fine grit sandpaper to smooth it out. You can also rub candle wax into the rope to reduce wear, or use a suitable marine grade, environmentally friendly lubricant.

CHECKING LINE LENGTHS-

checking-line-lengths-kiteboarding-kitesurfing-barLine checks should be done unhooked from the harness and "fully powered" on your depower strap. Make sure to attach them to something sturdy (a car, a tree, etc.), so you can really pull hard on the lines.

  1. Remove pigtails from the kite and attach all 4 lines to a fixed object, removing all pigtails.
  2. Ensure that trim strap on the control bar is fully powered, and you're fully sheeted in on the bar.
  3. Check the back lines for an uneven bar. Ensure that the par is perpendicular, or "squared up" to the object you attached the lines to.
  4. Check the front lines for stretch in relation to the back lines, as well as in relation to each other.
  • Front lines will usually stretch faster than back lines, you can add extra pigtails to make them even again, or adjust on kite bridles or leader line adjustment points.
  • You can also shorten a line by putting a single overhand knot in the LINE SLEEVE (not in the line itself!)
  • Check lines every few sessions, especially when they are new, uneven lines can seriously affect kite's performance. Replace worn lines before they break, a broken line or bridle is very dangerous and can cause the kite to "death loop", which requires immediate deployment of safety system.

Harness, Wetsuits, and Booties

Generally, they don’t need much rinsing off, but make sure to let them dry properly.

Do NOT leave wet gear in a hot car, the smell alone will ruin the resale value!

Do NOT put your wetsuit in the dryer! (It will melt!) Hang it up inside out and let it dry

Do not leave these items in direct sunlight all the time. It will fade colors, deteriorate thread material, and dry out the rubber.


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