2021 Ride Engine Harnesses Featuring
the Unity Connection System
A exclusive look into Ride Engine’s Unity Connection System featured in their 2021 harness lineup. Bye bye spreader bar webbing straps. Hello to a perfect fit, with a direct connection that’s unlike anything the kiteboarding, windsurfing, winging world has seen. T.J. gets the inside scoop from Ride Engine’s Gary Siskar.
TJ Gulizia hails from Omaha, Nebraska and is gifted on the water, whether running rapids, kite looping, or foiling while holding a paddle, control bar, or wing. When he’s not on the river, he’s cheering for the Kansas City Chiefs, or enjoying his Cube Stereo Hybrid electric mountain bike.
TJ: I’m super excited to have Gary Siskar from Ride Engine here at Big Winds to give us a rundown on the new 2021 Ride Engine harness lineup. Before we get into the harnesses, Gary, I gotta say I saw you out there this summer trying to hide something from me. But I kept peeking at your waist belt. You guys were working on this Unity Spreader bar for quite some time. You’ve got it to production now. Give me the rundown on this. I mean, this is like nothing I’ve ever seen before on the harness market.
Gary Siskar: Yeah T.J., thanks. We couldn’t be more stoked. I couldn’t be more stoked showing this whole system to you. We have two big stories that we’re talking about right now, which is a complete harness line and then this Unity Spreader Bar System, which I think it’s like 2016 again when the hard shell first entered the mass production market. It lit the whole industry on fire, taught everyone or showed everyone a new way to look at harnesses and so forth. It came out of the blue and now look at it. It’s like one of the main components and keys of a harness is that hard shell. And now with this Ride Engine Unity Connection System, and especially in the Unity Direct Connection System it feels like that again. That we’re basically redefining the way we’re going to be utilizing harnesses and what performance we’re going to expect out of a harness. The best way I can explain it … laces. Lace ski boots – you know everyone was going to lace ski boots way way way back in the day. Way before my time wearing ski boots, but everyone was wearing laces. Then it went away from laces. Now you don’t see any laces out there on the hill whatsoever. So if you think about it we went from soft lace boots to a hard shell type ski boot with bales and buckles and so forth. That’s exactly where the inspiration came with the Unity Direct Connection System.
T.J.: So speaking of buckles, I see four of them on here. That’s some moving parts. I’m so used to webbing – just crank and go. Give me the rundown on this design.
Gary: We developed a webbing free system in our Unity Direct Connection which is available in our two hard shell harnesses – the 2021 Ride Engine Elite Carbon and the 2021 Ride Engine Saber. You know when we looked at the harness system almost two years ago on what we wanted to bring to market we looked at what we thought was the weakest link in the harnesses. We already had the hard shell. There’s great spreader bars out there. But the webbing just seemed very archaic and old school to us in a high performance harness. So we decided to get rid of that. Wo when we started to design the system overall it really revolves around the connection system which is around these ladder straps. So the ladder straps is what’s replacing your webbing. What does that do for you? We all know that webbing over time will shrink. It gets wet and it’ll shrink then it dries and it’ll shrink. You have to adjust it on the water then you get it back on the water it stretches out, gets clogged with you know salt and dirt and debris so then it doesn’t lock properly in the buckles. The Unity Spread Bar system eliminates that whole thing. So it’s a real true one time set it and forget it system by simply opening the side bracket, sliding it in and out to your desired distance, and then closing it up and you’re ready to go. Then it’s easy entry and exit we made it ambidextrous on both sides. Most of the bars out there if not all of them are all right-hand orientated right now. Whether you’re putting a D ring over a spreader bar clasp or whether you’re putting a lever on it’s all right hand orientated. If you’re left-handed – not a great solution for you So definitely the ambidextrous use is good. The other benefit of this is you can actually switch your harness bars out extremely easily. So if you’re using a fixed hook one day you also find yourself in the surf or you like to hydrofoil with a sliding rope – it’s really quick and easy just to slam another spreader bar in there and be able to toggle back and forth. So we’re really excited about this thing. It is definitely the next level of connection to your kite by having this holistic ring around your body. You get better suspension. It even negates more of the pull the center lines giving you. Better control, overall longer time on the water because it’s less fatiguing and again you don’t have to keep adjusting it or come in. You know from the beach when have your spreader bar up around your chest. It’s all going to be locked in nice and in place nice.
T.J. – So the Unity Spreader bar – it’s sold separate from the harness and offered in sizes, right? Probably the same as last year?
Gary: Absolutely! So we have an 8, 10 and a 12 inch spreader bar. A lot of people ask why we have three different size spreader bars? That’s so you can customize your fit. I kind of use the extreme as an example: You might be a small in a harness but you might wear a 12-inch spreader bar. The reason for that is you want to try to achieve the least amount – it doesn’t matter if it’s webbing or if it’s a ladder locks – the least amount of distance between your actual spreader bar and where your connection is on your harness back piece in general so that’ll give the most stabilization of the of the spreader bar. And the best fit and feel of the kite.
T.J. OK now, what if i’m a kiter but I wanna windsurf or wing surf or want to go rope. You’d mention that there’s a rope kit. But you’re offering different hooks as well.
Gary: Absolutely, so we have a fixed kite hook. We love the geometry on this. We use this little triangle geometry so when you put the safety pin in there it doesn’t false hook all that easily. So we eliminate the false hooking. We also have a windsurf hook on it which is a little more open to getting your harness line out and in extremely easy. Or if you’re wing surfing – you know everyone’s starting to use harnesses now. I think harnesses and wing surfing absolutely make sense if you’re not using one now you probably will in the future. But this allows you to get your harness line in and out extremely easy. And then we also have a rope conversion kit so we do sell this. It comes with a new stainless steel back plate with the mini loop installed. A nice long sliding Dynema rope piece, a stainless ring, and it takes about seven to ten minutes to flip this over. It’s really easy.
T.J.: What if i’ve got a 2018 ’19 or ’20 Ride Engine harness, can I use the same system?
Gary: Absolutely. So we have what we call the Unity Webbing Conversion Kit. So there’s these two little buckles that you actually connect to the webbing of your harness. This will work with a Ride Engine – like you said 2018 19 or 2020 harness that has the dual webbing on the side. It will also work with any other brand harness out there. We would hope you’d get a Ride Engine harness for the fit and function, but it’ll work with any other harness out there that actually has what’s called the internal waist belt. So if you have a closure system with this internal waist belt that holds it on your body when you’re just getting all set to go kite boarding or windsurfing or wing surfing, and it has this side pocket then you can use the Unity System on that harness.
T.J.: Well there you go. This is a very unique spreader bar here, something that’s a complete redesign from what we’ve seen in the harness market. I applaud you guys for putting the time and effort into something like this. I can’t wait to get one around my waist and start hucking with the new Ride Engine Unity Spreader Bar. It’s awesome. Unbelievable. Thank you so much for the rundown on that.