HB SurfKite Legacy Harness
Hervé Bouré was amongst the early pack of French kitesurfing pioneers who then took kitesurfing legitimately into the waves. He was also twice a wave World Champion and now continues to push forward with his brand HB Surfkite, which is dedicated to strapless riding.
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Hervé Bouré in action / PHOTOS: HB SurfKite
In a time when harnesses are seemingly becoming more paired down and minimal, the Legacy harness is one of the most cushy harnesses we’ve ridden recently. While it’s still quite compact, it’s a little deeper than the really low profile harnesses on the market right now, and where those can feel rigid, the Legacy is like wrapping a fluffy cloud around your waist. Remember the HB products are built with strapless riding in mind, so there’s no need for the super locked and tight support of a harness built for when you want to boost huge all the time. However, this soft comfort isn’t the main calling card of the Legacy…
IT HAS A BENDY HOOK!
The ‘3D’ hook system features a moulded rubber coating over an inner rope to provide a hook that is tensioned to always return to its regular central position when not under pressure. Moving with the pull from your chicken-loop, it smoothly rotates around a full 360 degrees, giving your torso good freedom of movement.
The feel of the pull is very similar to Cabrinha’s Fireball – a design which uses a ball and socket to attach the harness to the chicken-loop, not only bringing the centre of effort closer to your body to help with balance, but you also get that 360 degree of smooth rotation wherever the pull is coming from. Essentially you don’t feel like the kite is just shackled to one rigid point in front of your body.
The benefit of the HB Legacy is that the hook works with every chicken-loop, unlike the Cabrinha Fireball system for which you need to upgrade to an NP harness hook. The Cabrinha Fireball is incredibly smooth – but obviously requires a full conversion to Cabrinha.
There are also benefits for the HB when compared to a rope harness. The first is that you can unhook if you want to. The second is that you don’t need to trigger your chicken-loop’s quick release and re-set it around the rope on your spreader bar every time you go out riding. The third is that the hook doesn’t create a wear point on your chicken-loop from the rope on a sliding spreader bar if you’re not using a metal ring to stop that happening. The fourth is the way the spreader bar cushions the load across the front of the harness and allows the hook to simply do the rotating, making a really comfortable experience and there’s no riding up of the spreader bar at all.
One thing to note is that there is rope inside the moulded rubber outer layer. We know that the rope on rope slider spreader bars does wear and need replacing from time to time, and as this HB harness is still new, there may come some wear on that rope too – but the rubber on the one that we used every day in Cape Town still looks great.
The 3D HB hook doesn’t match up to the total range of smooth free movement you feel from a sliding rope spreader, but it’s definitely an improvement on using a fixed hook in waves when it comes to how much easy and fluid torso movement you can enjoy. We had this harness for two months in Cape Town and one of us was always choosing to ride it. It mixes the good convenience of not having to re-set a chicken-loop (so for our testing that’s great, when we’re regularly swapping one kite for another), but the fit is really comfortable, we had no rubbing at all (and we’re all quite differently sized – including Matt’s girlfriend Kate who was also riding kites with us) and although it doesn’t give your chicken-loop as much wide ranging movement across your body, there is enough to make a positive difference and we never resented wearing this and not having a sliding rope set-up.
If you’re already using a sliding rope spreader bar and have got use to the vast movement you get from that and are fully focused on hooked-in wave riding, it’s unlikely you’re going to prefer this HB Legacy. Although the hook is great for crossing over into unhooked wave riding or unhooked freestyle, we wouldn’t advise constant big boosty jumps as essentially this is still a rope based harness hook.
So really, the HB for us is about great practicality, more than enough movement for most people and a generic fit that felt good for all our body shapes, including Kate’s lady hips. It’s relatively thick, so isn’t the fastest drying harness, but who really cares about that? It’s very comfortable and supportive with a soft neoprene layer around the edge, so if you want to wear it against your skin, there will be no problem. There’s a decent four point tightening system to get a snug fit while the handy push button release means it’s super quick to get on and off. Finally, of course, it looks awesome in red and black with the little French flag as a finishing touch.
Nice to see something that’s genuinely different, well thought out and makes a positive difference to your riding.
Here’s the official Legacy Harness product video from HB SurfKite
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