Ride Engine Elite Harness 2019 Review
This test first appeared in KW #96 in November 2018
TEST TEAM NOTES:
By Matt Peace
Ever since Ride Engine released their original custom-made harness models (prior to being brought under the wing of 7 Nation / Slingshot for increased production power a few years ago), these harnesses have been turning heads on the beach. I’ve had three successive generations of Ride Engine now and people always seem to ask me about them, such is their popularity.
The Ride Engine fit is ever evolving and although my waistline has stayed more or less the same in recent years (I’m hopefully not being too kind to myself in saying that), I’ve worn everything from a large down to a small, such was their changing size scales. The current generation have gone up a bit in size and Jim and Chris (two of my fellow testers) have both graduated from smalls to mediums this year. I’m a 34 inch waist, Chris is a 32, while Jim is a 30 and we’re all now wearing mediums and enjoying a precise fit.
The Carbon Elite model has a firm fit around your lumbar section and is noticeably more solid than the Prime Series (which used to be called the Hex Core). The Elite provides a seriously sturdy bridge between you and the kite, while spreading the pull of the kite around your mid section. This is due in part to the hardshell back panel, which is the stiffest one Ride Engine have built to date.
The profile of the harness is relatively small and solidly formed, meaning it locks into your lower back. I can sit it on my hips and walk around without fastening it, which isn’t something I was able to do with previous Ride Engines. According to a friend who is a Ride Engine dealer and still has his first-generation custom harness, it was only the original models that were formed to an actual mould of your lower back that had this level of fit, before now.
Providing you have the right size I seriously doubt this harness is going to move around much on your hips (if at all) and it feels as though the power of the kite is equally distributed across the harness. That might be why a lot of people who’ve experienced back pain in the past have gotten along with Ride Engines so well.
Another substantial change is the fastening system, which was my biggest gripe with previous models. They used to be secured with just one small buckle which would often loosen a little numerous times during a session. The harnesses always looked super pimp, but I had some reservations about my entire link with a kite being dependent on a single plastic buckle and thin webbing strap, especially when out kiting in high winds. That’s no longer an issue though thanks to the dual fastening system, which is made up of two thicker webbing straps that you can really cinch down for a much more secure, customisable fit. There’s also now a better pouch to stash away the excess straps.
The new closure system also keeps the spreader bar locked more firmly in place and stops it riding up. The Fusion Foam cushioning has been beefed up for 2019 for added comfort. Wrapping around the edges of the harness it helps avoid any pinching on your ribs (or love handles).
Choose either a fixed or sliding spreader option. I’ve always had sliding ones in the past, but now I’m riding a fixed hook for the first time. It’s certainly the right choice for freeriding, but when wave riding in onshore conditions I now realise how good the sliding spreader really is, allowing me to twist away from the pull of the kite when straining to hit the next section on a wave.
This year’s Ride Engine has the most secure fit of any I’ve had so far with some well designed new features. The RE harnesses have always been ruggedly built and robust, but now it’s more tailored and refined. Given that all of my old Ride Engine’s are still operational, it’s safe to assume that this one will will last a long while, too! It’s worth trying one on before you buy though and don’t just assume your size based on what you’ve been riding in the past.
KW LIKED: Great looks, unshakable support and a much-improved fastening system.
KW WOULD CHANGE: Not everyone will appreciate the Carbon Elite’s firm fit, but many will. For those that want a slightly softer harness, the Prime Series is well worth a look.
SIZES: XL, L, M, S and XS
Watch the product video:
More at www.rideengine.com