ION is a watersports and mountain bike accessory brand that has long been established in the European markets and is now gaining popularity with shops in North America. With windsport-specific wetsuits and one of the broadest lines of technical harnesses, ION has a product to fit everyone. Danny Schwarz takes us through the latest developments in the ION harness line of products.
Ion has a huge lineup of harnesses which are divided by both model and feature level. Help us understand how a rider should choose between the various models of harnesses.
Obviously personal fit is very important so the best thing you can do is get into a dealer and try them on. Historically, we have divided our harnesses up by stiffness and stickiness. Our most popular harness has been the Apex, which is our most stiff/supportive harness and also has a sticky lining to keep the harness from riding up. On the other end of the spectrum is the Madtrixx, which is low profile and extremely flexible with a slippery liner for maximum freedom. The Vertex is the brain child of Sky Solbach, who loved the higher profile and support of the Apex, but wanted a slippery liner to allow the harness to pivot with the kite. We also added a higher end model, the Select versions of both the Apex and Vertex, which features a free-floating bar anchored only by the Wire_Tec backing, which evenly distributes the load across your back. This year, Aaron Hadlow and Craig Cunningham have given their input into more specialized harnesses for freestyle/wakestyle in the TS Hadlow and Craig Cunningham Hummer. Finally, we created a carbon hardshell harness, the Team Wave, which ships with a rope spreader bar to give the ultimate in freedom and support for riders, particularly those looking to ride the waves. For women we have the Nova and Nova Select, similar to the Apex/Apex Select as the most supportive and sticky harnesses, and the more flexible, slippery Sol, which Colleen Carroll has been instrumental in tweaking.
The harness line comes in two trim levels, with the Basic line and then the Select line which incorporates the wire frame technology. How will this upgraded construction translate to feel and performance on the water?
There are two main aspects in which the Select line has been upgraded. First of all, as with every model since we introduced the Select line, the harness is padded with extremely comfortable and body-molding memory foam for the ultimate in comfort and conformance in a harness. Second of all, by removing the standard 2-point anchor system used by most harnesses since the beginning of harness history and going instead with the Wire_Tec construction, the load from the spreader bar is distributed evenly across your back, eliminating areas of potential fatigue. This also allows the spreader bar to move back and forth and up and down a small amount, giving a bit of freedom/moving spreader bar feel that wave riders like with all the advantages of a fixed hook that freeriders and unhooked wakestyle riders enjoy.
This year you introduced a composite surf harness with a traveling spreader bar. What is Ion’s design approach to the rigid harness sector and what differences will riders notice on the water?
First of all, our carbon hardshell extends only around the area of the lower back instead of extending all the way around the hips. This is a unique design decision done in an effort to allow for maximum support in the back where you want it without compromising lateral movement at the hips. The harness ships with a rope spreader bar, and the length of the rope can be easily adjusted to shorten the rope to keep the bar close or lengthen the rope for more lateral movement. The harness is also immediately compatible with all of our other spreader bar options and uses the same tried and true easy entry/exit/adjustment system we’ve had for years.
Tell us about the new helmet we tried at Surf Expo with the magic buckle and comfy inner lining?
Ion has expanded in recent years to the bike market, and I’m guessing this is where the magic magnetic buckle of the Hardcap 3.0 Select was first tried. The fact that it works for the much burlier impacts that mountain bike riders take gives me faith that it is secure in spite of how ridiculously easy it is to snap on (and how addictive it is to sit there and simply clip, unclip.) The comfy lining is the same memory foam we use in the Select harnesses. The Hardcap 3.0 is great for comfort, safety, and conforming to the shape of each individual noggin.
Get the lowdown in full on all 2017 products from the top brands in Tkb’s 2017 Buyer’s Guide.