For the untrained eye looking at boards, it can be difficult to determine which board performs best for each style of riding. Once you understand the design and construction features used within TwinTips, you will be able to notice the way in which a board is designed for a specific purpose and look for the features in a board that would best suit you.
Throughout this guide, we look at how twintip kiteboards are made with shaping features that, when combined in different ways, make each kiteboard perform differently. By the end, you’ll be able to pick out the design features you like and look for boards that use them so that you can know which kiteboard you should buy.
TWINTIP KITEBOARD STYLES
To understand the board features and variations better first let’s look at the 3 main types of twintip kiteboard; Freeride, Freestyle, and Wakestyle. We’ll deconstruct them to see the commonly chosen features within each type and how the combinations of features impact on characteristics of the ride and overall performance.
Beginner focussed twintip kiteboards tend to have a broad straight outline for easier upwind performance. They have a low rocker for greater efficiency and a soft to medium flex for easy handling though choppy water. Within this class of boards you’ll find large versions of a freeride twintip as well as especially large boards called ‘doors’ which are used for lightwind riding, but also provide an extremely large stable platform with lots of surface area to support beginners through their first rides.
Suitable to any level and a variety of conditions, freeride boards are quite often medium or soft in flex to better handle chop with a curved outline and tips to make them more manoeuvrable for carving and wave riding. Rocker will typically be low to medium 3 stage to keep upwind performance high while reducing the chance of burying the tips in large chop and waves. A single concave base is common in freeride boards to enhance planing speed and grip while keeping the soft to medium flex.
Due to the narrow tip shape and relatively soft flex, you’ll be best suited to riding powered by this kiteboard selection.
Freeride/Freestyle (crossover) kiteboard
In recent years there has been a growth in interest towards crossover twintip kiteboards designed with the focus for all-around intermediate to advanced freeride/freestyle riding. These boards combine the typical features of advanced freeride boards and freestyle boards for the most versatile board for anyone wanting to push their riding level without specialising in one particular riding style.
Expect a straight outline and square tips (typical of a freestyle board) combined with a medium flex (typical of freeride boards), medium to high continuous rocker and a single or dual concave as the shaper desires. This combination will create impressive pop, upwind performance, directional stability and smooth landings, ideal for the aspiring freestyler still wanting to have fun in a variety of conditions.
For the riders wanting to advance their unhooked riding, the freestyle kiteboard is the ideal tool. Freestyle boards are thicker than freeride boards. This makes the board stiffer and allows the rider to use either footstraps or boots.
Features typical of a Freestyle board are; a wide, straight outline combined with medium to high continuous rocker, stiff flex pattern and use of concave and tip channelling. This creates a kiteboard that is quick and explosive in its pop with smooth, stable landings due to the wide base and combo of rocker and concave which breaks water surface tension on impact.
Wakestyle boards feature the highest rocker line you will find in any kiteboard. Combined with a stiff flex pattern, this allows the rider to create a larger more progressive pop off the water. Due to this large rocker, wakestyle boards will struggle in light wind conditions and general upwind riding will require lots of power.
In addition to insane pop, this board style is designed to ride obstacles. To achieve this, the wakestyle kiteboard features a thick rail for stiffness, strength and the ability to ride boots, alongside a double concave and channelling for extra grip when riding without fins and to break water surface tension in landings.
Take a birds-eye view of your twintip kiteboard and notice the general shape of the board; this is the board’s outline. While it doesn’t define exactly how a kiteboard will perform, it will give you a basic idea of what you might expect from it in regards to upwind ability, carving ability and pop. It is worth noting that outline characteristics can be similar between both entry-level and advanced level kiteboards so you should look for other characteristics to confirm the board’s purpose.
Kiteboards with a curved outline are wide at the centre of the board then become noticeably narrower towards the tips. This rounded outline improves the boards carving ability as the transfer from rail to rail becomes easier.
Twintip kiteboards with a straight outline have a less noticeable difference between the width at the centre of the board and the tips. With a straight outline, the board will have more edge contact with the water. This provides better grip and edging for improved upwind and pop compared to the curved outline. It does, however, suffer in its carving ability when compared to a curved outline.twintip
Tip designs come in many forms across the market, but they can be categorised for simplicity into two types; square and rounded. Looking at the tips will begin to confirm some of the purposes you were able to understand from the general outline of the kiteboard.
As with the curved outline, the rounded tip improves carving ability but has reduced pop. This is due to less surface area in the tips causing less resistance as the rider transfers their weight from heels to toes throughout the turn. Expect to see this feature with most freeride kiteboards. An added benefit to rounded tips is that the rider receives less spray from the board when riding in choppy conditions.
As with the straight outline, the squared tip improves edging ability for upwind and pop but suffers in carving ability due to the increased surface area and resistance. Expect to see this feature most typically on freestyle and wake style boards. It is not unique to these board styles; light wind kiteboards requiring earlier planing abilities also rely on the extra surface area in square tips.
Look out for square tips with slightly rounded corners. This feature is becoming more common as it reduces the spray which typically comes from square tipped boards.
When choosing a twintip kiteboard for its size, the width of the board is not a feature to overlook. Width significantly affects the surface area of the board and so can affect the ability to get planing early. For each centimetre of width, you add to a board; you add much more surface area than you would by adding to length.
Board widths in average around 38-42cm though specific light wind boards and school boards can be around 50cm in width. A wider kiteboard will allow for greater stability, earlier planing in light winds and better pop (so long as it isn’t too wide for you to control in stronger winds). A narrower board will struggle to plane in light winds but will be faster through the water when riding powered.
Board length for the average size rider will be around 135-140cm though riders may choose a larger or smaller board according to preference, ability and weight. A longer board offers more lateral stability which is useful for beginner riders first rides and any rider landing tricks.
Take a look at this very useful twintip kiteboard size chart from Alex Pastor Kite Club which advises board size based on rider height then uses weight as a secondary factor.
When doing rotations, a board that is longer will slow the rotation whereas a shorter board will aid a faster spin.
Concave is the curvature of the base of the board towards the core of the board which starts and ends at the rails. It is used by kiteboard shapers to channel water under the board for improved upwind ability, grip, and speed.
You can look down your kiteboard from tip to tip to see the style of concave your board has. This may come in the form of a Single or Double concave.
There a few boards on the market that don’t have any concave in their base. This is for the simple reason that zero concave boards lack the benefits that a concave can provide.
Nearly all twintip kiteboards on the market have a concave as it helps to channel the water down the board to improve speed and early planing. Single concave is the most common type and is seen typically in freeride and entry level boards.
Single concave enhances performance in the following aspects of riding:
- Improved directional stability (important when edging less)
- Improved grip (water forced down the channels ‘sucks’ the board into the water surface)
- Early planing ( channels speed water flow along the base of the board allowing the board to accelerate to planing speed sooner)
- Improved Upwind Ability (increased grip allows for easier edging and upwind ability)
Less common than single concave; double concave is used more in higher performance freestyle and wakestyle kiteboards. This is because it allows the board to retain more stiffness than a single concave can achieve due to the increased centreline thickness.
The ridge between each concave adds the following benefits:
- Softens heavy landings (The surface tension of the water is broken more easily with the centreline ridge)
- Improved pop (double concave channels water through the tips allowing the rider to generate more pop)
Turn your kiteboard on its side so that you’re looking at your board through its heel side rail. In this position, you’ll be able to observe the amount of rocker in the board.
Rocker is the amount of curvature in the twintip kiteboard from tip to tip. This can be classified as low/flat, medium, and high rocker and sub-classified into continuous rocker; where the board curve is the same throughout the board or 3 stage rocker; where the board uses rocker at the tips but has a flatter midsection. We’ll take you through the pros and cons of each type below.
A kiteboard with a minimal amount of rocker will excel at planing early in light wind. It will also be more efficient in upwind riding than a more rockered board as it holds more contact with the water.
Where it excels in light wind, it can cause the rider to struggle in strong winds as a low/flat rockered board can become overpowered sooner. As chop develops it can become a bit of a bumpy ride, more likely to catch a tip in moving water than more rockered alternatives.
The most common amount of rocker found on kiteboards across the market. This rocker level is a more forgiving shape in the chop than low/flat rocker boards as it cuts through chop more smoothly and is less likely to bury a tip.
Compared to a high rocker board, medium rocker kiteboards are more efficient at upwind riding but will not perform as well in Freestyle and Wakestyle riding.
Medium rocker boards are great allrounders offering versatility and a great level of performance for the needs of most riders in many riding conditions.
High rockers are great for explosive pop and smoothing out heavy landings which is why you tend to see this level of rocker in Wakestyle and Freestyle kiteboards. The banana shape curve in these boards makes them feel more free moving and loose underfoot. This means more manoeuvrability than offered by lesser rockered alternatives but this comes at a cost; high rockered kiteboards are less efficient in light winds and require more skill and power for upwind riding making them an unsuitable option for beginner riders.
Continuous vs 3 Stage Rocker
A kiteboard with a continuous rocker will allow for the same surface contact along the board no matter what the board angle is. This is great for riders wanting to generate a smooth and predictable pop and have smooth, softened landings. The downside to a continuous rocker is the drag that occurs as water has to be channelled through the length of the curve which is less direct making the board slower through the water.
Kiteboards with a 3 stage rocker will have less drag through the midsection of the board allowing for less drag, easier upwind riding and a sharper more aggressive pop. The flat midsection can, however, result in some pretty heavy landings as it does not break the water surface tension as well.
With this in mind, kiteboard shapers use base contours (channels and double concaves) to displace water. A great example of this is the Double Diffusor Base used in the Duotone Jaime.
What happens when you combine kiteboard rocker with other features?
Take a read of this article by 24/7 Boardsports as they explain how Rocker and Concave can be combined to maintain efficiency in higher rockered boards.
How does a kiteboards stiffness affect the rocker?
We’ll explain this through an example: Take 2 riders, each rider is 1.75m tall. One weighs 90kg, and one weighs 70kg, but both are riding an identical kiteboard which is medium/soft in flex.
For the 70kg rider, this board is fine, and he can ride upwind and ride at a comfortable speed; for the 90kg rider, this board is too soft, and he struggles to ride upwind or at a comfortable speed.
This is because of Dynamic Rocker. The weight of the rider is causing additional rocker in the board making the board ride inefficiently. We’ll get into this a bit more when we talk about flex.
Channels are ridges/grooves that are shaped into the base of the kiteboard and can be found at the tips or along the rails of the board. Channelling provides extra grip by manipulating the flow of water under the board and can allow the rider to use the kiteboard without fins or reduce fin size. This is especially useful for Wakestyle riding as the rider can still edge and control the board as they need but have the option to hit sliders and kickers. This cannot be done when using fins.
In addition to improved grip, much like concave, channelling helps break the surface tension of the water on landings allowing for softer landings. Channelling in the tips and rails can allow the shaper to adjust the rocker to different levels throughout the board. Using this feature, they can boost upwind performance in high rockered boards by shaping flatter channelled rails and simultaneously retain high-performance pop by keeping a rockered centreline and tips.
Last but not least, the flex of a kiteboard impacts significantly on the feel of how your board rides. Flex is how stiff or soft the board feels underfoot, and this happens in two ways; longitudinal flex and torsional flex.
Longitudinal flex is the amount the board can bend lengthways from tip to tip.
Torsional flex is the amount the board can twist and bend between the toe and heel side rail.
How a twintip kiteboard flexes is determined by a combination of the materials used and the shaping methods. Pauwlonia wood, fibreglass, carbon, and kevlar are commonly used materials in kiteboard design. Brands have started to implement their own flex ratings for boards to indicate whether a board is stiff or soft but this can vary from brand to brand. If you were to pick two boards up in a shop and wanted to know the flex of the board, you could test this the hands-on way by flexing the board by pushing on the centre of the board while supporting the tips of the kiteboard between the floor and your spare hand. This would give you a reasonable base of comparison for longitudinal flex between the two boards.
The torsional flex of the kiteboard can be tested with the board on the ground and feet in the straps. Keeping your toes pressed on one foot, lift your toes with the other foot (as if to edge the board). You should be able to notice how easy or hard it is to flex the board torsionally.
Soft/High Longitudinal Flex
A kiteboard that is soft in its flex through the length of the board will absorb chop, and so it will have a smoother ride which is less stressful on the knees. Due to the loss of energy as the board absorbs power through the flex, the board will ride a bit slower through the water than a stiffer board and pop will be less as the board does not spring back as much against the load pressed into it. For beginners or anyone with knee problems, a soft flex kiteboard is ideal. For heavier riders, a soft flex board will flex too much and become inefficient in upwind riding, speed and pop.
Medium Longitudinal Flex
Hitting the middle ground, the majority of Freeride and Freestyle kiteboards aimed at riders of an intermediate level and above tend to have medium flex through the length of the board. For riders of average weight and ability, this level of flex offers the best pop for them while still being smooth through the chop.
Stiff/Low Longitudinal Flex
Twintip kiteboards that have less flex give a higher return on any energy you put into them. This means that it will pop better than a board with a softer flex as minimal energy is wasted. This is a desirable quality in a kiteboard for freestyle riders. It does, however, make the board less forgiving on the knees in choppy conditions.
If you’re after high-performance pop or speed from a board that will give back as much as you put into it, this option is the one you should consider.
A kiteboard that has torsional flex will keep more heel side edge contact with the water allowing for easier upwind performance. In addition, it will provide easier landings due to it being easier to get the base of the board flat with the water ensuring you use the surface area of the board for a stable landing.
A board that has too much torsional flex will feel dull and unresponsive.
Extremely informative and well thought of article. I´m ready to go and have an educated conversation with the people at the shop instead of buying the first twintip they give me
That’s amazing! Thank you for your support, and happy kiting!
Wakestyle riders do not like heavily channeled boards as this is bad for rails
Without a doubt, the best explanation for all the important facets of a twintip kiteboard! This is a must-read for anyone buying their first twintip or looking to upgrade or change riding style.