At A Glance
Ride Engine changed the game years ago with their Carbon Moulded custom harness designs. Order one and they would send you a mould kit, which you would then return to get a perfect fit. Needless to say, it was a long winded process, and limited man hours meant only a handful of people got to feel the benefits.
Fast forward a few years and Ride Engine now produce a whole range of production harnesses for the masses. The only decision you need to make is how stiff you want to go. The more rigid the harness, the more your back needs to suit the standard shape. The Elite Carbon is the stiffest of the lot, and the closest to the dream Coleman Buckley had all those years ago!
For 2018 Ride Engine made a lot of changes to the design, the double loop closure system has gone, and a more traditional set up is in play, although it is still unique to the brand. This means new spreader bars as well, and again, these have been polished and refined to include more padding and comfort.
The harness design itself retains the classic rock hard shell that made it so famous with the lumbar lock on the inside and soft foam padding with a neoprene backing for comfort.
On The Water
With the Ride Engine, it either fits or it doesn't, if it doesn't suit your spinal shape then you will hate it. If it does fit you, though, then you are in for a treat. The harness has to be worn low on the hips too, which is where a harness should be worn, if it's in the wrong place, it won't be comfortable either.
With those two caveats out the way lets get to the harness, the Ride Engine, I find, fits me really well. When I'm wearing it, I have no discomfort or pressure points and it also, more importantly, doesn't move on my body. Coupled with the Rope Slider bar in the waves, it is an insanely good set up.
The new spreader bar connection works really well, and the Dual Zone Closure makes getting a tight fit a breeze. The new webbing holds well, no need for the double back trick that you needed to do on the older closure systems, just pull this tight, and it stays in place. I can spend hours upon hours in the water with this harness and not have any problems.
Expensive, but then all hardshell harnesses are these days, and with a definite "fits or doesn't" feel, if the Ride Engine fits, you are in for a treat. You'll discover endless comfort and a well put together product that feels distinctly more "polished" over previous years. Make sure you try it on before you buy though as the fit is critical here. Personally, I love the Elite Carbon, and it's my daily driver harness for regular use.
By Rou ChaterRou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!