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Kitesurfing control bars – Low V vs High Y: What is the difference?

The control bar is a crucial piece of kitesurfing equipment, enabling the rider to steer the kite, control its power, and execute various maneuvers. One of the design aspects of a control bar is the “V” split point of the front lines. This point refers to where the single front line splits into two lines. There are typically two setups: Low V and High Y. The difference between the two can affect the kite’s performance and feel.

Choosing the correct bar for your kite doesn’t need to be confusing…

Extensive testing has been conducted by the Kitesurfing Magazine test team on this matter. The high-Y kites originally evolved in the past from kites designed around the 5th line safety system. A high Y, if paired with a well-designed bridle, can produce a more pivoty turn. However, with a low V, there’s a more direct turn and less lag in steering. Many also preferred it for teaching, as it allowed the bar to be passed through the lines if the kite summersaulted. A low V tends to gives the kite a more direct feeling. Each system has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. But it’s crucial for designers to fine tune the bridle to align with either the low V or high Y.

Using a kite designed for a low V with a high Y bar will result in the tips being pulled in. While this makes it faster, it can cause erratic behavior, leading to a loss of power and giving it an odd behavior. 

Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Low V Bar:
    • Description: The front lines split closer to the bar.
    • Pros:
      • Safety System: Low V bars usually allow for a single front line safety system, meaning when you activate the safety, the kite will flag out on one front line, causing it to lose power quickly and safely.
      • Light Wind Relaunch: Having the front lines within easy reach, makes ultra light wind relaunches more accessible for advanced level riders.
      • Bar Pressure: Typically, Low V bars can give a kite a more direct feel, with great positional feedback.
      • Compatibility: Low V bars are generally more compatible with a wider variety of kites across different brands.
    • Cons:
      • Turning: The kite might have a slightly slower turning speed compared to a high V setup.

  1. High Y Bar:
    • Description: The front lines split further away from the bar, closer to the kite.
    • Pros:
      • Turning Speed: High V bars often result in a quick more pivotal turn.
      • Bar Feel: The kite can feel more lively and responsive.
      • Bar Pressure: Some riders feel that high V setups provide lighter bar pressure.
    • Cons: Less direct feedback. Bar can’t be passed through lines if kite summersaults during a crash.
      • Safety System: Many of the older high Y systems used a dual front-line safety system, making self-landing more difficult. Modern high Y bars, since 2018, have switched to a single flagging line. Recent high Y bars that we have recently tested include the Core Sensor 3 & 3S, the Duotone Click Bar, and F-One Linx.
      • Compatibility: High V bars might not be as universally compatible across different kite brands as low V bars, as the height of the Y varies between brands.

When choosing between a Low V and a High V bar, it’s essential to match the V or Y with your kite model. It’s also crucial to ensure that the bar setup is compatible with the kite you’re using, as mismatches can lead to safety and performance issues. Be sure the larks heads on the centre lines and back flying lines are compatible with your kite, most bars ship with extra larks head connectors so they can be more easily compatible with other kites .

The Duotone V-Distributor III can be adjusted easily, allowing you to set the front line to split quickly. It can also be removed entirely, very easily, so you can have a very low V. This makes the Click Bar compatible with most kites on the market.

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