To The Point:
There are many different types of kites out there and they are constantly changing from year to year. Try as many as you can and buy the ones you like the best.
The Detailed Explanation:
Standard Open Cell
Trainer kites and power kites fit into this catagory. Mainly used for flying on land, landboarding, kite buggies, kite snowboarding, and kite skiing. These kites are almost impossible to re-launch out of the water.
These are foil kites which can be re-launched from the water fairly easy with the proper technique. Flysurfer and Peter Lynn make twin skin water kites. Which over the years have proved less popular than inflatable kites, yet definitely still have a loyal following. These kites can have 3, 4, or 5 lines, depending on brand and model. They may offer good, little or no de-power ability.
Leading Edge Inflatable (LEI)
Bow kite generally refers to the new super flat kites which first came out in later 2005 although often the term is used to refer to SLE's and Hybrids as well. Bow kites often have pulleys on the bars as well as the kite and offer great depowerablility and wind range. Bow kites have 4 lines which conect to a bridle system on the kite. Bow kites have moderate to heavy bar pressure and re-launch off the water easy.
Supported Leading Edge (SLE)
SLE kites are very similar to Bow kites and have leading edge bridles, some have trailing edge bridlessome and some do not. SLE kites tend to be more C shaped than bow kites and usually have similar depowerability. The bars used with SLE kites tend to not use pulleys yet many of the kites have one or more pulleys on them.
Hybrid kites are the most C shaped out of the three new generation inflatable kites discussed so far. They tend to have similar or slightly less de-power than bow and SLE designs yet still more range than traditional c kites. Hybrid kites can often come with 4 or five line options.
These were the first inflatable kites on the market which initially came with only 2 line bars. A few years later, 4 line c kites became popular as the 4 line kite offered some depower (still much less than SLE, hybrid or bow kites) and therefore a wider wind range. A couple years later, the five line systems started to appear which offered easier water relaunching, and a great self landing option on the fifth line. The fifth line did present new problems as the fifth line can become wrapped around the back side and leading edge of the kite, which sometimes damages the kite, not to mention they won't relaunch or fly like this.
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