F10 6.6 meter.
This is the largest traction kite I own and is my low wind buggy engine. My first reaction to this kite was that it was difficult to fly, tended to colapse easily, and was very hard to turn. After using it awhile it became apparent that the large diameter bridle lines were causing a poor lift to drag ratio. I replaced the stock bridle lines with 125 lb zip line that had a diameter several times smaller than the bridle lines delivered with the kite. The original ones appeared to be kevlar with a braided dacron sheath similar to the old "Skybond" line. After replacing the bridle lines, (275 feet of them) I also added flaps to the trailing edge similar to the ones on the Skytiger. The kite now performs dramatically better. It turns better, stays inflated better and the better lift to drag ratio gives the kite a better traction angle. The flaps on the trailing edge act in a similar manner as flaps on an airplane wing where one is trying to get more lift at low speed and high angles of attack. The low wind speed end for buggy traction dropped about 1 mph, while this doesn't seem like much, 7.5 mph to 6.5 mph is a 15% change. At a wind speed of about 12 mph it is time to put this kite away and get out a smaller one, at least for beach use where frequent turns are required, on one of the large dry lakes you could extend the upper wind speed and let the turn be a great struggle since you wouldn't be making many. I now am happy with the kite as it is modified. However, in the year since I have owned the kite new and improved designs have made it obsolete. The large Quad Trac and F10 eliptical are much easier fly and provide better performance. Click here to see a picture of the modified F10. Note the grey flaps on the trailing edge.
Although I do not own any of the F10 elipticals, I tried several sizes during the Washington State International Kite Festival. They had similar characteristics to comparable sized Quad Trac kites. Subjectively they seemed a bit faster than the Quad Tracs. I thought the construction was superior to the Quad Tracs, the F10s all had cross cell venting with reinforcing around the cross vent holes. I also liked the gauze covered leading edge vents and the inflated winglets. It is my opinion that the gauze covered leading edge vents provide more durability to the leading edge shape and inflated winglets eliminate the flapping one usually gets with the standard wing tip skirts. My main complaint with the elipticals is that the bridle lines are way too large and provide significant drag. As good as these kites are they would be better with smaller bridle lines.
SkyTiger Hi-60 Icarex.
The SkyTiger Hi-60 Icarex version is my current favorite buggy engine. It gets up wind better than any other quad lined kite I have ever used. Down wind it seems to keep on accelerating forever, it is really fast. I was totally surprised to find that I can buggy at 5.5 mph, that is a full 1 mph lower than my larger kites. At 5.5 mph I still had some performance left, the absolute bottom for me (215 lbs) may be 5 mph or slightly below. I predict that within a year or so the low aspect designs will be a small niche market in terms of buggy engines. As more people try the high aspect quads they will have to have one. The lower aspect kites will still be good for confined areas and short race courses where the emphasis is on making good turns. If tough upwind legs are required or long straights the hi aspect kites will be superior. Click here to see a picture of the Sky Tiger Hi-60.
Quad Trac 3.
The Quad Trac 3 is the next smaller engine I own. It just starts to provide adequate traction at around 10 mph. The "3" has an area of about 35 square feet, it is a low aspect ratio design with no gauze over the inflation openings. It is very easy to fly and turns on a dime making it one of the easiest kites to use for beach buggying. From my point of view the open inflation vents are less desireable than gauze covered ones. The leading edge shape suffers and the durability also. I have an old Quadrifoil 25 that has gotten very soft and sometimes if you apply too much forward drive to the kite the top of the center cells tend to fold down and close the vent opening. A slight braking force will open them back up, but by then you have lost momentum. I have never seen a gauze covered vent exhibit this problem. All that said it is still a very good kite and the favorite of many. It is perhaps the most fun to use of my kites because it takes so little effort to control it.
My next smaller engine is the Skytiger 26. As the name implies it has an area of 26 square feet. This is a very easy kite to fly, it is well made and turns easy, making it a good beach kite. The vents are gauze covered and it should be a very durable kite. I like the trailing edge flaps used for turning. At around 14 mph it produces adequate traction at the beach and can be used on up to about 25 mph where it starts to become a real load. I liked this kite well enough to go out and buy the Skytiger 18 to replace my Quadrifoil 25, which in reality is only around 18 square feet. The entire Skytiger line seem to be very good kites.
The Skytiger 18 is my smallest serious traction kite. I do have a Quadrifoil Jr. but it is more of a toy than a traction kite. The 18 is a low aspect design easy to fly and turn. It starts to provide adequate traction around 15 mph and can be used up to something in excess of 30 mph. My only reservation about this kite is, I wish it had a little higher aspect ratio. It shouldn't cost much more to increase the aspect ratio which should decrease the overall drag some and make the kite/buggy combination faster. At the wind speeds you use this kite high terminal velocity is desireable.
The Quadrifoil 25 was my first traction kite. I bought it long before I even thought of buggying. It is a great kite to learn buggying on. You can start when the wind reaches 14 mph or so and it will pull the buggy with out intimidating the flier. A few hours spent with this kite at 14 to 16 mph will give one a reasonable grounding in the proper techniques for buggying. As I said previously this kite is old and soft and the open vents, as opposed to gauze covered ones, are subject to a folding down of the top of the center cells. A slight breaking action will open them back up but you have lost some momentum. But I did get a lot of hours of hard use out of the kite.
Other Traction Kites CLICK HEREfor more on Buggy Engines.
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