Ride Engine launched into the kiteboarding accessory market last year with great success. Now in its second year, the brand features a wider selection of production harness sizes, new spreader bar options and a full line of wetsuits. Founder Coleman Buckley, the inventor of the industry’s first custom fitted hard shell harness, fills us in on what’s coming.

This is the second year for the production version of the Ride Engine harness. Explain the breakout concept behind the hard shell design and the riding benefits.untitled-14-01

We have used the saying ‘problem solved’ in a lot of our marketing over the last year and for such a simple statement it does a great job of describing what Ride Engine’s hard shell harness is all about. The crux of the problem comes down to the simple fact that traditional kiteboard harnesses were never really designed for kiteboarding. They were modifications of windsurfing harnesses and most often the modifications weren’t that dramatic. Standard soft shell harnesses just weren’t designed to handle the unique and often extreme loads and angle of pull associated with kiteboarding.

It’s safe to say that almost every kiter in the world has dealt with a harness that rides up, pinches, squeezes and twists around their torso. These are the problems that Ride Engine’s hard shell concept solves exceptionally well. Built around an ergonomic shell, the harness is designed to lock in place low on your lumbar and spread the load evenly across your back and sides. If you squeeze a Ride Engine harness from the sides, it doesn’t bend or flatten. If you squeeze a soft shell harness the same way, it folds together like a pancake. Now imagine your waist inside a harness with a full load from a powered-up kite. The hard shell concept makes so much sense that it’s surprising it wasn’t created sooner.

I started Ride Engine out of my garage in Santa Cruz, California. After a few years of evolution, plenty of trial and error and the collaboration from friends and riders, word got out about my custom harnesses and I quickly found myself unable to keep up with demand. Full production harnesses were launched last year, and were met with overwhelmingly positive feedback from riders of all disciplines, all over the world. Again, we return to the ‘problem solved’ concept. It’s not just hype.

This year the harnesses got some functional tweaks and additional sizes to fit every rider, but most interestingly you are offering custom graphics for the back plate. How does that work?

Our 2017 harness got some minor tweaks, but functionally, the harness will feel and perform the same as last year’s version. In addition to some pretty rad production graphic updates from our in-house designers, we are launching a new custom graphic program that will allow riders to either create their own unique graphic or to choose from a larger gallery of images and designs.

Riders will be able to go online and design or select a custom graphic using special software we have in place. The graphic will be printed on a special material and shipped to the customer in the form of a sticker that they will apply directly to the back plate of the harness. The sticker is made from the same glossy, fade resistant and waterproof material used for vehicle wraps. It’s easy to apply and can be removed or replaced if desired. It’ll also work with 2016 harnesses. We’ve tested quite a few custom designs and they all look super pro. We’re excited to introduce a level of customization that is only possible with our hard shell design.untitled-14-02The spreader bars look a little different this year — what’s new for the hooked and traveling spreader bars?untitled-14-03

The concept and function will remain the same, but the finish will be improved for 2017. The new spreader bar pads will have a more polished look, following the progression we want to continue as we move forward. We will have larger and smaller size bars to account for the new xs and xxl sizes we’re including with the new line. We’re also adding a spreader bar pad to our carbon bar to bring it in line with the other options.

Get product info from all the top brands in one convenient place with Tkb’s 2017 Buyer’s Guide.