At A Glance
Ride Engine burst onto the commercial scene last year with their entirely different take on what a kitesurfing harness should be. After years of making custom harnesses for hundreds and, hundreds of riders Coleman Buckley and Slingshot joined forces to bring these new rigid harnesses to the market and the masses.
Last year was a big year fro Ride Engine, and despite a rather hefty price tag they enjoyed huge success. That’s mirrored by the fact that almost every harness manufacturer is now bringing out rigid harnesses themselves. We’ll leave it to the big boys to sort the legalities out on that, but Coleman was the pioneer with the idea all those years ago.
For 2017 the harnesses get some welcome upgrades, while last year's models were great, they lacked a little polish that some of the more established harness brands enjoy. We were eager to see the updates and to see if the harnesses had improved in ways we had ourselves requested.
Firstly I need to mention the spreader bar in the shots is the 2016 spreader bar as when my harness shipped the new spreader bars were not available. The spreader bars are perhaps one of the biggest changes, there is still the option of a fixed hook and a sliding rope affair, but the 2017 bars feature improved integrated padding to improve the comfort level.
Other upgrades are the improved waist belt with a reworked spreader bar integration system. Upgraded back plate stitching for enhanced durability, along with additional neoprene on the waist belt to improve the comfort when just riding in boardies or a bikini. There is also a knife pocket in the spreader bar pad, and additional sizes have been added to the range, an XS and XXL complete the lineup!
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The harness still features the same hard shell construction and the Lumbar Lock system to keep the harness in place. Fusion Foam is used for comfort and the same Speed Loop closure is back again, you need to make sure you use that correctly otherwise the webbing can slip, read on for details!
On The Water
At face value and without the new spreader bar you’d be forgiven for thinking not much has changed this year. With such a great product that’s a good thing, the improvements are tweaks, and there are no huge overhauls here. Good news if you liked last years harness! My harness from last year, which I ended up wearing pretty extensively due to my love of the rope slider for wave riding was starting to look a little tatty in places, mainly the waist belt.
This year that has been dramatically improved, which is great to see. The neoprene backing on the belt makes it a lot more comfortable on the water when riding in just a pair of shorts, or a bikini for the ladies. There is also extra stitching surrounding the Velcro so it shouldn’t start to catch and rough up in the wrong places as the season progresses.
While nothing has technically changed, that we have been made aware of, it’s the same foam and shape to the back plate I have found this years model to be even comfier than my first experiences of last years harness. It was comfy before, but this year the new harness didn’t take time to wear in; it felt like a glove the instant I put it on.
I’m a huge fan of this harness, although let it be said the best harness for anyone is the one that fits. Our bodies are different shapes, so be aware that what fits one person might not fit someone else. However I do find the Ride Engine, for me, has no pressure points when I am riding. It stays comfortable even on some of my marathon four-hour fifty-mile benders I am known to go on when the wind is good, and the waves are pumping.
I wear it with just boardshorts, wetsuits and also with an impact vest when I am foiling and in every instance, it is super comfortable and just locks into place, it never rides up, and it’s going to take something pretty impressive to make me want to change this harness.
It’s worth making mention of the Speed Loop closure system, this can be a little confusing at first, and it wasn’t till Sam Light enlightened me (pun very much intended) in Australia two years ago that I figured it out properly. The extra long webbing straps should be threaded back on themselves through the buckle, you then pull on the loop and then when tight you can then pull the webbing through which locks off the mechanism. If you don’t do this the webbing will slip. Check out the video we made to get a full understanding of it if that doesn’t make sense!
Still one of my favourite harnesses on the market, it’s super comfy, locks into place and the choice of spreader bars is excellent. The rope sliding spreader bar is perhaps my most favourite development of the kitesurfing industry. I appreciate sliding rope spreader bars have been around a while, but the simplicity of the Ride Engine design wins me over every time. Expensive, but then all the best things in life are these days!
For more information visit Ride Engine
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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!