Sizes Available: XS, S, M, L, XL
Sizes Tested: M
Ride Engine Says:
The world’s first and best hard-shell harness, the Elite Carbon is our stiffest, most-supportive model and is the closest fit to a custom-molded harness you can get. Now equipped with Unity Ladder-Lock Straps so it’s ready to integrate with our Unity Spreader Bar, a true “set it and forget it” system that eliminates spreader bar slip and twist. The Elite Carbon is still constructed using top-shelf 12k carbon fiber, which ensures a durable, strong Armor Shell frame in a lightweight, high-performance package. For 2021, we’ve also added 4mm more Fusion Memory Foam at essential spots. When combined with our proprietary Shell Skin technology with Lumbar Lock shaping, the Elite Carbon provides the ultimate in connection, feel and support.
Visit for more info: www.rideengine.com/collections/harnesses/products/2021-elite-carbon-black
The Elite is the harness that goes back to the original carbon harness first built by Coleman in his garage on the west side of Santa Cruz. The Elite Carbon series has some of the deepest shaping along the spine and the carbon back offers the most rigidity from hip to hip and also torsional rigidity from top to bottom of all the harnesses that we tested including the Ride Engine Saber V1. With a simple and minimal design, the Elite’s interior features a smooth fabric and the backside offers a PVC coated grab handle that is removable.
The Elite has some additional foam padding like previous models, but above all else, it features the Unity spreader bar connection system that uses a ratchet-style ladder-lock enclosure with hard tuck flaps that keep the spreader bar in place. It makes getting out of the harness easy by just pulling open a little gate/tab and sliding it. There are two levers on the actual spreader bar for getting in and out of the harness and there are two gates on either side that control the ladder-lock adjustment and sizing of the spreader bar. The levers have a little red visual button for indicating whether they are properly closed or not and the spreader bar has a tuck flap in addition to the ladder-lock straps, so you get an extra connection between the harness back and the bar. One of the key performance aspects of this new system is that it reduces upward torsion of the spreader bar from the kite’s lifting forces and transfers that force into the entire harness frame. The spreader bar comes in two different modes. You can have a sliding rope with a stainless ring or a fixed rope connection point in the center as well as both a windsurf and a harness hook. Swapping out the harness hooks requires removing four screws (3mm hex Allen) and there’s a pocket for a kite knife in the tuck flap.
Our first impression of the Unity spreader bar is that it seemed clean, everything fitted well and the parts were robust and perfectly machined. Standing on the beach the spreader bar feels really well integrated into the rest of the harness. If you get annoyed by adjusting webbing or the webbing tails that fly all over the place or require excessive attention to tuck away in pockets, you will find the Unity system refreshing. A feature we unintentionally discovered is that if you manage to forget to lock in place the ladder-lock strap adjustment levers on your hip, you might think this would lead to disaster. Luckily, Ride Engine anticipated forgetful kiters and designed the system to be kook proof. If you forget to close a lever, the spreader bar will not completely detach from the harness and you will not lose your kite. Additionally, the ladder-lock straps are numbered so you can set the harness to your size and remember your setting as well as ensures that the bar is adjusted symmetrically on each side, a feature which you don’t get with webbing-based harness tensioning systems. The Elite series is probably one of the stiffest hardshell harnesses on the market providing excellent stability for your back. The extra foam adds comfort and the feel is all-encompassing, with more of the load on your back rather than your sides. The sides of the harness seem a bit taller than years past, but the Elite did an excellent job of staying in place on one of the gustiest days of the test. Overall, the Elite rises once again to the head of the pack with its overall comfort, back support and feel, but the new Unity spreader bar system puts it over the top, bringing extra rigidity to the kite’s connection point.
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