Kitesurfing Magazine: Ride Engine introduced the world to the concept of the hardshell harness and they are now dominating. What changes are in store for 2018?
2018 is going to be a big year for Ride Engine. We knew a long time ago, when we first started making custom shells in a garage in Santa Cruz, that the concept of the hardshell was going to reinvent the harness market. It took a couple years to really catch on, but now we’re seeing pretty much every harness brand in the industry coming up with their own versions.
We don’t fault the other brands for following suit; that’s how innovation works and we’re happy to have been the leaders.
In terms of specific changes for our 2018 harness, the most significant is a completely redesigned closure system. Of all the feedback we received from our 2016 and 2017 versions, the only change riders consistently asked for was a different closure. We listened to that feedback, tested several versions to find the right design, and are very pleased with what we came up with.
We’ve also made additional adjustments to the fit and finish of the harness to make it more comfortable, more durable and sexier than ever.
We quickly became huge fans of the rope spreader bar. What percentage of sales has this made up, compared to traditional harness hooks? Who’s using them the most?
The sliding rope spreader bar is just plain awesome. We hear from people all the time about how much the harness and sliding rope combination has changed their entire kiteboarding experience. We love to see such a simple concept make such a big impact on people’s enjoyment of the sport.
With that said, sales of rope versus fixed hook spreader bars are pretty close to 50/50. For every rider who likes the freedom of motion the sliding rope provides, we’re seeing just as many riders who like the locked-in feeling and unhooked ability of the fixed hook.
A trend we’re seeing more and more is people getting both types of spreader bars and changing them depending on the conditions of the day. The performance between the two bars is significantly different, and the ability to choose from one or the other is essentially like having two very different harnesses.
What features make the Ride Engine wetsuits ideal for kiting? Any changes for 2018?
Comfort and freedom of movement, no doubt about it. Ask pretty much anyone who has a Ride Engine wetsuit what they like about it, and the first thing they’ll tell you is how comfortable it is. That’s not really a kiteboarding-specific feature, but being comfortable and having a suit that doesn’t inhibit your range of motion is probably the most important feature you could have. Of course, warmth is super important as well, but if you have a suit that fits like a hungry python, it doesn’t really matter how warm it is.
The limestone neoprene we use is the best we can get our hands on, and it’s the reason we’re able to balance comfort and flexibility with warmth and protection from the elements.
Kiteboarders will love one of our major updates for 2018. We’ve added wind skin to the core of every suit in our line. This means warmer suits with almost no wind penetration where the skin is located.
Why limestone-based neoprene instead of petroleum?
This goes back to our brand story and the core environmental values we want to stick to. When we were researching different materials for our wetsuits, we found that manufacturing limestone-based neoprene had less of an environmental impact than traditional petroleum-based neoprene. This was an important factory in why we chose the material.
We also discovered the high-end limestone neoprene we chose is more flexible, more durable and warmer than comparable petroleum-based materials. It’s more expensive of a material, which translates to a more expensive suit, but the extra cost means an overall better product and a story we, and our customers, can stand by.
Any future secret developments that might interest consumers?
Two exciting developments we can reveal have to do with foiling. Ride Engine will soon have a foil of its own. We’ve worked with our partners at Slingshot Sports and have licensed their foil technology to create a dedicated surf foil that will be released shortly after Surf Expo. We have also developed a custom track insert block that shapers can use to create custom foil surf and SUP boards with a solid mounting system.