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“Got kitesurfing on the mind, mixed with some search & classification tech, and a dab of political ranting”

Bularoo Update…

Posted by direwolff on May 1, 2008

As you may recall from my previous post on this matter, “Best Bularoo Quiver; the Good, the Bad and the Ugly“, I mentioned the mishap that happened with my 10m Bularoo that was suffering from two slow leaks. The good news is that my dealer, Live2kite.com, replaced it without incident and told me that he would take care of this with Best. The bad news is that today is day number 4 of riding the new kite, and again a slow leak seems to have manifested itself. This time I was in very intense waters just outside of the Golden Gate Bridge, with big swells and somewhat gusty winds averaging 21kts (16-26kt range). After falling off a swell, while holding my kite up above me and reaching for my board I noticed the kite nearly fold up then straighten out again. This sometimes happens if a big gust hits it followed by a big lull. But something about the way it folded didn’t feel right.

I immediately signaled to my buddy Bill that I was going to head back to shore, and we both motored down wind. It took about 15 minutes to get back to Crissy Field and sure enough upon landing the kite and checking the main bladder it had lost tons of air. The leading edge was very soft and I was very lucky to have made it back to shore when I did or I would have surely experienced another kitemare. This is nuts!!! As I let it sit for a bit longer, more air escaped so that it was nearly all flat within another hour. This is the second brand new Bularoo 10m kite I’ve gotten in a month that’s had this happen to it. I’m pumping it up to the recommended 10psi and making sure every valve is properly closed (especially these days since my last incidents).

Well, I need to get to the bottom of this and find out what’s going on here. I’d hate to believe that Best is selling defective kites. I’m a big fan and have lots of other friends riding their other kites. One of my buddies is riding the Bullies too and two days ago he felt one of his end rib bladders was low. Not good. I’ll update this post with what I learn, but suffice it to say, I “ain’t” happy. Given the conditions and situations we get into up here in Nor Cal, having unreliable kites is not only disconcerting but downright dangerous and the last thing you want on your mind as you get out to sea.

*** UPDATE 5/2/08: After the Cabrinha Thursday Night Race Series at Crissy Field last night, the racers are invited to unwind at St. Francis Yacht Club adjacent to the park. While there, I met a young guy whose name escapes me, but he flies a Best Nemesis XP quiver. We got to talking about the slow leak issue I’ve been facing and he explained that it’s a known problem. What’s happening is that the small plugs for the valves on the struts are actually a tiny bit too small. Under air pressure from being pumped up, they tend to release air. This was also happening to his kites. He explained what he learned from another friend.

Pull the plugs off the velcro and the plastic ring that keeps them attached to the valve. Find a pencil or something that can be inserted into the hollow end of the plug that will stretch this. Next, boil some water, then drop the plugs in (I’d recommend one at a time since it doesn’t take long to soften a plug) for a minute. While soft from having been in the hot water, insert the pencil or other device into the hollow end of the plug so that it’s forced to stretch just a tiny bit (the pencil seemed to work best as it barely fit and provided just enough stretch for the plug). Stretching the plug too much will mean that it won’t be able to fit in the valve when you put it all back together, so err on the side of less stretching, not more. After putting the pencil into the plug, then dip the two into cold water to harden the plastic. Consider twisting the pencil while inside the plug before dipping in the cold water just to make sure that the plug is legitimately stretched. That’s it. Then put the plugs back in the velcro and in the plastic holder that’s attached to the valve, and you should be good to go.

Yesterday I pumped my kite up to check on it before fixing it, and it deflated sufficiently to notice within 10 mins. and by 30 mins. it had lost a lot of air. After fixing it today, I left it out for 3 hours and no air had escaped. This afternoon, with a bit of confidence under my belt, I went out to Crissy Field again in 25 kt winds and it held up perfectly. Checked all the ribs and the leading edge, and everything appeared to hold up fine. While I’m no fan of buying a new kite that I then have to work on, I’m just happy to gain some peace of mind from having this issue resolved. I wish Best Kiteboarding would take the time to make this information available as it’s my understanding that this problem is not occurring with Bularoos only, but with all of their kites. Nothing on their web site or their forums explicitly addresses this issue, and from what I understand from the guy who shared this, he has discussed it with Shannon Best to no avail. Sad but true.

*** UPDATE 5/17/08: So the saga continues. Well, I had a re-occurrence of the slow leak issue on 5/15 after 45 mins of riding. Just had a sneaking suspicion I should come in just to check things out despite not having had recent problems since applying “the fix”. Well, sure enough it was slow leaking again. Anyway, on the second page of the thread where we have been discussing this issue on the Best Kiteboarding forums, you should be able to find a link to the instructions from Best on fixing this problem w/zipties, and another forum participant actually put up some pics of where the zipties should be applied. Check out: http://forum.bestkiteboarding.com/viewtopic.php?t=4621&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15 for more info.

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10 Responses to “Bularoo Update…”

  1. Nellie said

    Kitemare seems to describe this experience quite accurately.
    It is to bad when manufactures don’t take responsibility immediately for this kind default.
    It to sad that it took you several weeks and posts to get a solution from them. I will pass on this information as it seems to be quite critical.

  2. p-air said

    OK, I’m happy to report that after having now ridden the kite twice since applying the zipties, everything seems to be working fine and the slow leak seems to have disappeared. Having said that, I remain nervous and today came in after 30 minutes of riding just to check. Of course, it was holding the air great, but it’s on my mind. I may need to sell the kite as it’s gotten into my head which isn’t a good thing when riding where I ride. |A real bummer as I really like how this kite handles, its wind range, and the easy self-launch capability. Here’s hoping my next kite lives up to these standards. I still believe that Best offers the best all around value proposition for kites in the industry.

  3. Busted said

    That sounds like quite a problem. I think the solution of heating the plastic to form it again is not a good idea, there are a lot of aspects to this. There is also no need for you to do that, the best thing about Best is their Warranty, and if there is one reason one would buy a Best kite IMO is the Warranty.

    Best kites are not built to the standard of the top end brands, no matter what they say. Including their top of the line models like the Nemesis.

    IMO the kites are average performers comparing to the rest of the kites in the same model years, and the construction is sub par. Bularoo is supposed to be the “All Terrain” durable kite in the line, it is basically same construction of the Waroo with some patches on the leading edge and some other unimportant differences.

    In a place like crissy it just sounds like asking for trouble. This year I decided to go for a last year kite instead of a 2008 waroo for a similar price. I really hate gear failures and the best solution in my book for this problem is not to have it in the first place. To be honest, I will take a used slingshot kite over a new Best kite if it is not too beat up.

    My advice to you is to keep getting it fixed under warranty or just get something else. And for every new kite, give it some “cool down” period in a safer place than crissy where the cost of error is not an oil tanker in your face.

    As a side note, other cheap brands had their issues and also expensive brands. Last year Eclipse kites, generation 2 Cabrinha bows and so on.

  4. Busted said

    Actually, get a new one under warranty and sell it as new, which it will be, better resale value than a slow leaking kite :)

  5. jeff gorton said

    I’ve got a 16 Bularoo that had a slow leak that’s not attributable to a leaking strut or leading edge. I checked them in a pool. After talking to Niko at Best I was convinced to buy a new set of bladders to solve the problem. I was super careful when installing the bladders and everything looked fine and held air. Went out today with the new bladders installed and had the same problem. Luckily I headed to shore after about 30 minutes because I don’t trust the kite. I got a few hundred yards from shore when the kite started to act up. Otherwise it would have been a long swim in. So now I guess I’ll pull the whole works apart again and check for leaks. I told the people at Best that I think there’s a problem with the design and that they should back up there product. Their reply was that they can’t warranty a second had kite. My conclusion is that if you want good customer service and company that stands behind their product, buy a Slingshot.

  6. p-air said

    Jeff, the zipties should fix your prob. I’ve now successfully dealt w/this w/two Bullies. See the link at the end of my post above for the instructions for dealing with this.

  7. bigeugene said

    You guys are much more loyal than me…a new kite costs a lot of money and the consumer should not be expected to fix that kind of problem…that is ridiculous!

    I fly 07 Waroos, but just bought a SS Rev b/c of concerns w/ Best quality (07 bars blowing up, 08 bladder valves going to crap).

  8. p-air said

    I hear you. I recently switched to Eclipse Thrusters. Still have a hard time letting go of my 7m Bullie, but the last two times I’ve ridden it, it’s begun to show signs of the same leak prob. While I’ve zip-tied the 3 valves I thought were most likely at fault, it appears like they’re all problematic :( Arrrrgggggghhhhhh!

  9. jon sidell said

    Just bought a bularoo 16m from kitegearexchange on ebay
    Thought i was getting a great deal, but of course after one session the dreaded leak and swim back, this kite never touched water!!!
    The one aspect being ingnored is cost of shipping, which from what i can tell will be 100 dollars back and forth(total) although they will exchanged kite, they will not pay for shipping, plus the time involved, and days missed bcoz of no kite
    My advise–do not buy a bularoo, no matter how good of deal
    if you must but a Best kite stick with a Walroo
    there is a reason theses kites sell so cheap
    jon sidell

  10. vlinder said

    P-AIR,
    wow! great to find all this info about the bullies!
    I’ve just started…but already in 2000,
    after following a kiteboarder with binoculars a whole afternoon in Corsica,
    it was love a first sight! (with the sport, not the kiter).
    I kwew it was my new kick extention to windsurfing
    having bought a moneypit of an old house in Amsterdam,
    it’s taken ten long years of patience(sailing a nacra on the northern sea though)
    …but this year is my year! l’ve finally gotten the it together!
    l bought everything second hand ( but two kites (the 7 and 13m bullies) are actually totally new; flown twice, never hit sand or water, the girl who owned them had a radical snowboard accident);
    then I have a 9m cult which has kissed the beach only a few times and a 5m waroo, which I bought for the bar for the 7m bully.
    but that one has a few slight scratchtes but the leading edge is A-ok ( I’m having it repaired profesinally so as to use as a practice kite for “ambitious” friends…and for me(55 kilos) when the wind really blows)
    I’ve gotten my feet into a nice long Naish thorn of 132 for a grand total of 1400E
    which isn’t bad for four kites and a board.
    I do have a question about the bully bars;
    are the new ones of this year, with that swivel, really worth the investment?
    Anyhow I also wanted let you know that your comments, tricks and information hit the spot here in Holland!
    and I hope you don’t mind me contacting you with a future problem…though hopefully not!

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