Buying Second Hand Kitesurfing Gear
Second Hand Kitesurfing Buyers Guide
Buying a second hand kite can be a great way to get into kitesurfing and save yourself more than a few dollars! But beware, there are plenty of pitfalls that come with buying a second hand kite, so here’s what to do and what to look out for when shopping for used kite gear.
How Old is the Second Hand Kitesurfing Equipment?
The first thing you want to look at it is how old the kite is. The older a kite, the more issues you are likely to encounter. Additionally, the older the gear is the more difficult it will be to learn with, to buy spare parts for, and to find information about.
As a rule of thumb, never buy a used kite more than 5 years old if you can avoid it. There are exceptions to every rule of course, but this a good guideline to work with.
The main issue that comes with age is Valve Delamination. This is the failure of the glue that attaches your valves to your kite's bladders (bladders are what contains the air inside the leading edge & struts, valves are the points where you pump them up or they connect to each other). Fortunately, this is something that can be repaired, but it’s a fiddly job and will cost you a bit in spare parts (and many hours of your life) if you do it yourself, and can be a bit expensive in labour if you pay an expert to do it.
Valves will delaminate from the bladders regardless of whether or not the kite has been used. What is far more important is how it has been stored, and in what climate/conditions. Don’t be led astray by a kite that’s “new condition” or “never been used”, there’s a good chance old valves will fail regardless.
Some kites are more prone to this than others. This issue is much more prevalent in hot & humid climates. Bottom line is, if you’re buying a used kite more than 4 or 5 years old, expect to need to replace valves within the first 6-12 months of using it and factor this into the cost.
What Condition is the Used Kiting Gear in?
Next up and closely related to the first is the condition of the equipment. This may or may not be related to the age of the gear, sometimes a kite was a 2 year old model when someone bought it and it hasn’t been used a whole lot. Sometimes it’s only a year old but the rider kites 5 days a week and crashes hard all day.
Key indicators of condition are the “crispiness” of the material, how crunchy or crinkly it sounds when you move it, as well as looking at common wear points for the kite. These include the trailing edge, where it flaps in the wind you will often see hairline creases and some softening of the material, and the scuff pads along the Leading Edge, where you will often see some fraying and loose threads appearing due to wear/friction over time.
The bar is also a good indicator of condition, how frayed, faded or “fluffy” the lines are, however keep in mind that the bar and the kite may not always be the same age, or there may not be a bar at all! Which brings us to:
What is Included with the Used Kite Gear?
You’re going to want to check what’s included with this used kite. Does it have a bar? How about a pump? Safety leash? Bag? Most of these things can be bought separately, but they’re all an additional cost. Always account for this when looking at a used kite.
It’s quite common for kites to be sold with no bar these days, many people run only 1 or 2 bars across their quiver of kites. If you’re looking at relatively new equipment, many kites and bars are cross compatible with only some minor adaptations needed. Still, safety systems and other performance differences can vary so it’s nearly always a good idea to fly a kite on it’s original bar, especially as a beginner where issues may not be obvious.
You’ll need a bar to suit the kite and a pump with the appropriate fitting to suit the kite you’re getting. You’ll also need a safety leash (though these can be bought separately quite easily) as this is integral to a functioning safety/flagging system. Kites normally come in a bag, it’s not really necessary, but does offer a lot of protection and simplicity to using your kite.
Does it Matter if a Second Hand Kite has Repairs?
It's pretty common for kites to get damaged during use, after all they're only light weight canopy material and it's not all that difficult to rip or tear at the end of the day.
People tend to worry about repairs a lot when buying a used kite, but often it's not that big of a deal. Canopy repairs, if they're professionally done, are largely a cosmetic issue and it's very unlikely that your kite will fail in a place where it's already been sewn up, it's probably the strongest part of the kite!
Repairs can have some effect on performance, they add weight and impact how the kite stretches and moves in the air, however it's pretty rare for this to have a noticeable impact. That being said they're not completely without risk, and a dodgy repair can cause issues, so it's always worth taking a careful look and seeing if you can get the history behind a repair on a used kite.
Repairs are often better used as an indicator of how well the kite has been treated, and the thing to look for here is frequency rather than size. One big repair might just be the result of an otherwise careful rider having a big stack and ditching it, or a stray tree branch floating in the water. Half a dozen small repairs is a good indication the previous owner is maybe a little less cautious with their equipment than others, or that the kite material is deteriorating and more prone to tearing.
Bladder repairs are also pretty common. Unfortunately there's not really any way to know if a bladder has been repaired, not without taking the kite apart to find out. This is a time consuming and risky process, especially for the inexperienced.
Generally, if it pumps up and holds air for a decent amount of time you're going to be good. Bladder repairs either work or they don't. If someone has done a dodgy home-made repair it can potentially fail down the line, but there isn't a lot you can do about it unfortunately.
Bladder repairs do often coincide with a sewn repair on the LE or struts though, so if you can see a professional repair in these areas there's a good chance the bladder has been repaired too. Best way to go here is just ask the seller if the bladder has been repaired professionally, replaced, or patched by themselves.
What is this Kite Designed to do?
Not all kites are created equal. These days, the vast majority of kites from major manufacturers are quite easy to use and will suit a beginner fine. However, they nearly all still make at least 1 high performance C kite for dedicated freestyle riding that isn’t going to be suitable for a beginner at all. If a kite is significantly cheaper than other comparable year models, there’s a good chance it’s because it’s a much less popular model. This can be because it’s made for a very niche use (high end freestyle/wakestyle, racing etc.) or simply because it was a bit of a dud model that year and nobody really liked it. This does happen from time to time.
We’ll do a more in-depth article on different types/styles of kites and features in the future, but in this article we’re just focusing on the basics of second hand kites in general, so we’ll leave it up to you to further research the specific kites you’re looking at. Just be aware that two kites that appear similar but are being sold at significantly different prices are probably more different that you realise.
Who Manufactures this Kite?
There are a lot of kite manufacturers, many have come and gone over the years but there are a few that have stuck it out for a long time, and there’s generally a reason for that. Always look for a used kite by a well known brand if you can. You’ll nearly always be able to find much more information on the performance and features of a kite from a well known manufacturer, so you’ll be able to make a much more educated decision as to how suitable it is. You’ll also find it a lot easier to get spare parts, suitable accessories (such as a bar), and even find videos/articles on how to service, repair and modify your gear.
Many major companies still have the specs, details and product information available on their websites (archived under year model) for older equipment. Online content creators and forums also will often have reviews, discussion and write ups on these kites too.
Buying an unknown is comparatively risky, you’ll often save a little due to lower demand for less known used gear, but the risk is often not worth it, as you may end up with something either expensive to repair or modify to make it suitable, or in some cases it might just be totally useless for you.
So What Should I Look for in a Second Hand Kite?
So to wrap that all up for you, when you’re buying a used kite you want to purchase something that’s not too old (regardless of condition) and not too worn out. Ideally a kite less than 5 years old that’s been used irregularly or is part of someone's large quiver. You’re going to want to make sure it has everything you need included (bar, pump, leash) and if not, allow some budget to buy these separately. You also want to do a little research (probably why you’re here!) and figure out the specifics of the model and manufacturer to ensure you’re getting something suitable and serviceable.
Hopefully this helps, we’ve got a huge range of second hand kitesurfing equipment here on the site and are more than happy to help you find something to suit your needs. If you’ve got any questions feel free to contact us for more information on our used kiting gear.