Let me try and break it down for you by telling you why I ride foils. Also, please disregard anything said by PMU. He only posts ani-foil lies and nothing else on this forum so he does not carrry any weight.
I started on inflatable "C" kites back in the day. When the "bow" kites first came out I was thinking about getting one but my "C" kites had a 5th line and I really liked it for safety and relaunch. My friend who is an FS dealer told me about the FS Pulse which was getting ready to hit the market. It had the same type of depower as the bow kites, could be self launched and landed, and had a 5th line safety. After some research and contemplation I order a 13m. Up to this point I had 0 foil experience. The first day I got the kite I was completely blown away by how fast I could set the kite up. I have timed myself and I can get an FS kite from the bag and into the air in 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
Over the years I went from the original Pulse to Psycho 3 and a Speed 2 19m to the Pulse 2. In all I have owned 11 FS kites or different flavors.
Here are what I like about FS kites:
1. Easy set up and break down. I have yet to meet a LEI that can beat me onto the water. As I mentioned before I can get the kite in the air in 3:30.
2. The kites fly great. I have never had any issues and I ride in all sorts of wind conidtiond, light wind, sub 10 knots, high wind, over 35 knots, gusty wind, on-shore, side-shore, off-shore. The kites work for me in all conditions.
3. The kites take a beating and keep on ticking. I have not had a single LE defaltion or strut go out since I swtiched to foils
I have crahsed my kites on the beach, in the water, on rocks, in bushed, and once in a tree. I have only had one kite get a tear and that was from a piece of wood with a nail in it on the beach. I was able to fix the kite, on the beach, with a needle and thread in under 5 mins and still launched and had a great session.
4. FS kites hold their vaule. I have sold 7 FS kites in order to buy new models. In each case I was very happy with the money I was able to get back.
5. FS kite pack down very small. I am able to fit 4 kites, 14m, 12m, 8m, and 6m, in a standard duffel bag and fits very nicely in my car.
6. FS kite relaunch so easy. FS kites to do not sink in impact with the water, as some had tried to say.
7. FS kites fly in much lighter wind than LEI kites due to the lack of extra weight from bladders etc. I have been on the water many times when the wind dies and all of the LEI kites fall out of the sky while I am able to keep my kite in the air without any problems.
8. FS does not release a new version of their kites every year. They work on one model at a time and do not release the kite until it is ready. Some may see this as a downside but I see it as an upside. The kites are always great, right out of the bag, and it helps keep the resale value up evern after 2 years or more.
Here is what I do not like about FS kites.
1. The kites are more expensive but not really that much more unless you are going for the top end Deluxe editions.
2. FS kites have to be tuned often. The kites can get out of tune, especially the larger sizes in higher winds after only a couple of sessions. A tuneup only takes about 10 minutes but is well worth the effort.
3. I do not like the FS bags, especially for the larger sizes.
4. FS will not make me a team rider and give me all of the free kites I want
5. ... I can not think of anything else.
FS kites are like the Mac to a Windows machine. Some people get it and some people do not. I have friends that have tried foils and switched back to LEI because they just do not understand the difference. Foil kites are not the same as LEI kites and will feel different. This is not bad, just the way it is. I am now so used to FS foils that I do not like the feal of LEI kites, and I have tried a lot.
In the end only you can make the choice. All of the posts, pro or con, do not mean a thing if you are not happy with what you have as your kit. I highly suggest that you get a test ride and learn how to maintain the kites from someone who knows how. FS kites are can be tuned to fly the way you want. If you fly a kite that is tuned for one type of rider and it does not match you riding style you might get turned off to the kite. Also the type of kite you try will have an impact. I fly the Pulse 2 as these kites work better in the waves which is what I like. I have tried the Psycho 4 but I do not like the feel of the kite as I am not a freestyle rider. I have not tried the Speed 3 yet, hopefully this week I will be able to get a ride.
As to why more people do not ride foils, that is a mystery to me. I had several friends that marvel at how quickly I can get on the water. They always make comments about how I can hit the water while they are still pumping and be 15 minutes into my session before they get their kite in the air. Or they mention about how quickly the kite relaunches or how fun it looks in the waves, but they are soo stuck in their mind set that foil kites do not work that they refuse to believe what they see with their own eyes and stick with LEI kites and that is okay. To each their own.
FS is not hurting for business. Each kite they release sells well, is usually sold out before it is even released via pre-orders, and keep putting out great kites. I do not think FS feels the need to be in the comps. as much as other kite coompanies due. Most FS kiters are die hard and will buy FS kites no matter what.
I hope you get a chance to give one a try.
BTW I would recommend the Pulse 2 for a biginner with foils not a Speed.