Previous to flying the new Flites, I been out on many brands and many styles of 14-17.5m kites. All were large and gave you that “pulls like a truck” feeling. Technically I was out there kiting but in general I needed a very large board to push back against the power of the kite otherwise I would be going downwind. Big kites would get you out there but the fun factor was simply not always there. Eventually if it was not windy enough for the 12 or less I would question going out.
After you get a chance to fly the new Flites, I think that you will find that the fun of smaller kites can be found in these two sizes. They do not feel sluggish at all and are not a challenging kite to fly or keep in the sky during lulls. They will give you a ton of grunt in your initial power stroke but will then go up wind very well. In my experience they handle the gusts very well but I have not experienced the 17m when REALLY over powered, only the 14.5m. It was still fun and I felt like I could do some sweet Toby Airstyle.
Without a doubt, the 17m will have a better bottom end and will get you through the lulls better than the 14.5m. It sounds like you were leaning towards the 14.5m, and I would tend to agree with you as long as you are willing to give up a little of your bottom end. I would also consider adding an Origin or a true light wind board to your quiver to really help you on the lower end of the range.
Is there a dealer close to you that would be willing to bring in a demo of each size?