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Raising the (Spreader) Bar

From new harness models to a completely redesigned spreader bar system, this year, the Ride Engine lineup is getting a massive revamp that puts a ton of innovation on the table. We caught up with Ride Engine’s Brand Manager, Gary Siskar, just after their 2021 launch to get all the details.

2021 seems like a big year for the Ride Engine lineup. How has the culture at Ride Engine shifted over the last year or so, and how has the individual creativity of designers like Julien Fillion and founder, Coleman Buckley, worked together for this release? 

The big change is that we have the resources and team we need now to do the stuff we’ve dreamed about for a long time. The values and vibe of the brand are consistent and hopefully will always stay true to our roots. The internal processes are much more established now and the team is a lot larger so we can execute in a way that was impossible before. Coleman and Julien work really well together; Coleman is kind of always floating out in space way ahead of the curve and Julien is amazing at production, design, and making sure things actually happen. They balance each other out really well and are supported by a really solid team that carries the flame from concept to retail.

Since Ride Engine was the original hard shell harness released to the kiteboarding market, how does the new direct connection system relate to performance and user comfort? 

The idea of the hard shell was to create an exoskeleton to take the load of the kite. The spreader bars were always the weak link in that load frame and the Unity bar finally brings the system into a new world where it’s all fully mechanically integrated instead of just hanging off the front of the harness on straps. All the twisting is gone which really improves comfort plus the ease of use leaves everything else in the dust.The hard shell has morphed into a few different shapes and constructions. How should riders choose between these options and what type of riding might they best be designed for? 

Everyone is shaped and moves differently so there’s not one answer to that question. Ideally try everything on and see what fits your body best. In general, the stiffer harnesses like our Carbon Elite are more supportive and comfortable but some people don’t fit the shells well or just like that old school feel and prefer the softer ones like our Momentum model.

This is the first year that Ride Engine has produced a soft backed harness. What is the thought process behind this product? What kind of rider and style of riding is this design best fitted for and how is it different from existing soft harness options already on the market? 

There’s some user groups (in particular people with very flat lumbar spines and hardcore wakestyle riders) that seem to like softer harnesses. Everyone is different though, for example there’s a lot of world champ level wakestyle guys that like the hard shell harnesses. Anyhow, with the soft harnesses, what sets ours apart is our spreader bar system. Plain and simple its light years ahead of what anybody else has.

This year you’re releasing a seat harness which seems to be an overlooked segment of the harness market. Most people choose a seat harness to keep the harness bar away from their ribs and also to remove load on their back. What are the other advantages of your seat harness design? 

We like thinking of it as a ‘racing harness.’ Coleman is from the Bay Area which is the world mecca of performance foil racing and a lot of his friends have been asking for a seat harness for a long time. This one we based on DNA of what those riders were having the most success with and then added a subtle back plate for additional support and our Unity Spreader Bar System to really make it the best product in that class.