Few fits in the kiteboarding industry could be more appropriate and well-suited than Jesse Richman joining the ranks of Ride Engine. As an innovative new brand, Ride Engine is focused on challenging the status quo and setting themselves apart from the standards set by the industry. Jesse has been doing the same thing over his decade-long career as a professional athlete, so there couldn’t be a better fit.
Few have dominated the sport of kiteboarding like Jesse. In a world where specializing has become the norm, he has made an exceptional career out of doing the contrary. From winning King of the Air and multiple KPWT world titles to death-defying stunts, globetrotting expeditions and big-wave pioneering at Jaws, Jesse is a true legend who simply cannot be confined, categorized or labeled.
Ride Engine is ecstatic to have Jesse aboard their team of elite pro riders. His experience, expertise and passion for our great sport will be truly invaluable as Ride Engine forges ahead in developing their game-changing hard-shell harnesses, limestone-based wetsuits, travel bags and other watersports accessories.
Jesse sat down with Ride Engine to answer a few questions about the brand, their innovative products and what he hopes to contribute to the team:
“Problem Solved” is a running theme at Ride Engine. From your perspective, what problems did you have with other harnesses and how does the Armor harness solve them?
Jesse: There are two specific problems that my Ride Engine harness has totally solved.
First: My kite setup for Jaws. It’s extremely difficult to be comfortable with a kite harness and flotation vest (which I find really nice to have when riding big waves). The Ride Engine harness fits really well with my setup because of how low-profile it is. It also gives me more freedom, with the sliding rope. So now I can lean into my turns way more because I have more freedom to move around.
Second: Holding my kite down in super strong wind. When I want to do a big air session, I aim to find the line between too much power (where I get ripped off my edge) and not enough power (when I want more power to jump higher). If I find that perfect place in the middle, then I get close to my maximum jump height for the day. My Ride Engine harness gives me so much support that I can actually pull back on my kite with more leverage then before. So now I can actually hold down more power with my Ride Engine harness and, in turn, have more power to jump higher.
Ride Engine is a grassroots brand started in a garage by a surf/kite bum and his friends (Read the story here). What is it about the brand story and what it has become today that appeals to you?
Jesse: From the beginning, Ride Engine has been driven by innovation and performance. The kite harness has been well-established for a long time now and there are many companies out there making good products. To make something the same as everyone else is doing doesn’t really do anything for a brand or the sport. However, if you make something that is so much better, different, path-changing and radical, it will get noticed by the world. Just as it has for Ride Engine– started in a garage and onto the big stage now, with more fuel in the tank and more resources at its disposal. It’s the open-minded thinking and need to make something better than anyone else in the world that I really connect with– never settle, and enough is never enough!
You’ve really stepped up your big-wave game over the last few years. How does the Armor Harness and the sliding rope spreader bar effect your performance in the surf?
Jesse: It’s pretty wild how different the armor harnesses are. There is a lot that I notice in feel and performance. The low-profile is key– more freedom to move as I please with a more dispersed support load. It’s cool. The harness is smaller but it feels like it covers more area on my back.
The sliding rope was interesting at first. I took a few sessions to adapt, but after I got it dialed in, it has been crazy. Now I have so much more flexibility and maneuverability. All of this gives me more to work with on a wave. How the bow kite massively effected kite wave riding, the Ride Engine harnesses are doing similar. Now, in all wave conditions, I use this harness and it helps with each scenario, from Jaws to double over head side shore waves to onshore chop, I feel more confident riding in waves then I ever have because I’m so much less restricted.
With the fixed hook spreader bar, how does the Armor Harness effect your freestyle game? What features of the harness benefit a rider of your amplitude and intensity?
Jesse: When I started kiting, I used a seat harness. It was easier on my back and worked well, but when I started getting into more advanced freestyle I had to switch. We need to be able to move into a wide variety of positions and anything we wear can get in the way. So a seat harness doesn’t work for that.
This is where the low-profile Ride Engine harness comes into play for freestyle. They don’t get in the way at all; low profile means it feels like it’s almost not there when your upside down unhooked passing the bar. Nothing to snag on and nothing to slow your rotation down. Support is also massively improved. In strong winds, I have sessions where I can hardly hold an edge. I need to be able to pull back away from the kite to hold my kite down. The solid frame support gives me more leverage on my kite so I can actually hold down more power and send it even higher.
With a small brand like Ride Engine, you’ll have the opportunity for a lot of direct input on the innovation of their harnesses, wetsuits, bags and other products. Is that something you’re looking forward to? And why?
Jesse: Kiteboarding is my passion. It’s where I feel at home. It’s what comes natural to me and it’s what I’m driven to do and to push my limits with. One thing that gives me a lot of satisfaction in kiting is sharing it with friends and awesome people. Seeing the stoke that everyone gets from this sport is amazing. So, being a part of the innovative Ride Engine team and giving input into design is so cool for me.
I ride a lot and I ride hard; there are a lot of things that I notice with the gear that I ride. Nothing is perfect, everything can be improved and with an open mind everything will be. I’m totally looking forward to working with the radical team at Ride Engine to make awesome products that stoke riders out, keep them safe, help them improve and enjoy their sport with more comfort than ever before. Together we’re going to push ourselves, and our great sport, to the next level of fun.