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What are the parts of a stunt kite?

What are Stunt Kites Made From?

What's the difference between types of stunt kite line?

How can I tell what the wind speed is?


Stunt Kite Anatomy


SAILCLOTH The material that the kite's sail is made from directly affects how the kite will fly. All sail materials are distinctly different. There are three different types of stunt kite sail material:

  • 3 Ply Polyethylene - This material is a layered plastic. It is extremely durable. TRLBY kites, which use this material, have a lifetime guarantee on all of their sails.
  • Ripstop Nylon - Nylon fabric is created by weaving tiny threads of nylon together. Threads of monofilament are woven in at specific intervals, which accounts for the grid pattern you see in the fabric. When a rip starts, the more durable monofilament slows it down. Ripstop nylons are available in a wide range of quality, weights, and coatings.
  • Icarex Ripstop Polyester - This material has the lowest porosity, best stretch characteristics, is the most colorfast, and is the lightest weight. This means the kite will be lighter, quicker, and an all-around better flyer.

The rods, like the sail materials, have different characteristics which directly affect the performance of the kite. There are five different basic types of stunt kite rods:

  • Solid Fiberglass - This is the most durable because of its high flexibility. This allows the kite to crash and bend, but not break. Beginner kites such as the TRLBY, Beetle, and Stingray use solid fiberglass rods.
  • Hollow Fiberglass - This has the advantage of being stiffer and lighter, but may break on hard crashes. It has become a very popular rod because it provides good performance very inexpensively. Kites such as the Delta Dancer use this rod.
  • Hollow Epoxy Fiberglass - This is the next step up in stunt kite rod. It is an epoxy resin and fiberglass wrapped together. It is economical, durable, and relatively stiff and light. Many beginner stunt kites use them as the spine of the kites.
  • Pultruded Graphite - This is the most popular type of graphite rod. It is both light and stiff, which is the best combination. This rod is created by sucking liquid graphite through a mold. Almost any kite over $75.00 will be sparred with pultruded graphite.
  • Wrapped Graphite - This is made from separate graphite strands wrapped around a mold. It is the most expensive, but also the best for its weight to stiffness ratio. The hottest new rod is a wrapped graphite with tapered ends.

Line is an important component in a kite's performance. Most introductory kites come with dacron line. Middle to upper end kite packages usually come with Zip line. Line is not included with most of the high performance kites because of the wide range of performance characteristics and price ranges.

When comparing stunt kite line, we look at four characteristics: strength, stretch, thickness, and texture (smooth vs. rough). It is important that the strength be greater than the pull that the kite generates so that the line doesn't snap. The less stretch there is,the better and quicker the kite will respond to its pilot. The less thick the line is, the less it will drag and slow the kite down. Smoother line causes less friction between lines when they are crossed, allowing tighter and faster turns.


  • Speed Line - Speed is made from Spectra fibres and is the best type of line for high performance kites. It is extremely thin, very smooth, and has very little stretch; about 4%. However, sleeving must be used at all knotted points since the friction of a knot can actually melt the line.
  • Zip Line - Zip is one step down in performance from Speed. It has about 8% stretch, is a little thicker, and not as smooth. However, it is less expensive and does not need to be sleeved, and so is a little easier to work with.
  • Dacron Line - Dacron is the most economical line, but has over 10% stretch and is quite thick. Dacron line wound on handles is included with many beginner stunt kites.

This handy chart should give you an idea of how hard the wind is blowing.

<1     <1   Smooth as glass              Smoke rises vertically

1-3   1-3   Ripples, no foam crests      Smoke indicates wind direction,
                                         but not wind vanes

4-7   4-6   Small waves, glassy crests   Wind felt on face, leaves rustle,
                                         wind vanes begin to move

8-12  7-10  Large wavelets, breaking     Leaves and small twigs in
            crests, some whitecaps       motion, wind extends light flag

13-18 11-16 1-4 ft waves, many whitecaps Raises dust and loose paper,
                                         flags flap, small branches move

19-24 17-21 4-8 ft waves, some spray     Small trees sway, flags ripple

25-31 22-27 8-13 ft waves, foaming caps  Large branches move,
                                         wires whistle

32-38 28-33 13-20 ft waves, white foam   Whole trees in motion, resistance
            blows in streaks             felt when walking against wind

39-46 34-40  13-20 ft waves, crests break Whole trees in motion

47-54 41-47  20 ft waves, rolling sea     Shingles blow off roofs

55-63 48-55  20-30 ft waves, churning     Trees fall, much damage to
             water, reduced visibility    buildings

Windspeed Conversion Calculator
A complete chart and calculator to convert windspeeds between the Beaufort scale, knots, miles/hr, km/hr, and m/s.

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