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Having to replace my windsurfing harness, Dakine T8, I took the opportunity to try a Ride Engine model. The choice fell on the Ride Engine Lyte V1, in the Direct Connection version. Here is the test result.


Ride Engine Lyte V1 Harness: Test


Important premise


Ride Engine is a brand that produces harnesses, and which is very popular lately. But the models produced are really very different from each other. They are almost all designed to adapt very well to the rider's abdomen, but some are designed to distribute the load more on the hips and throughout the waist, others to concentrate it on the back, on the lumbar part, or even on the upper part, and, in general, considering the stiffness of the whole, they do it very well indeed. Therefore, we strongly advise you not to buy without infos, but to inform yourself very well before, and if possible to try them in the water too. And that is why this review can be very useful to you. Don't rely on general advice and opinions.


Impressions on the construction


Ride Engine is a brand of water sports equipment founded by Coleman Buckley, based in Hood River, Oregon (USA), which has been on the market for a few years (2014).

The Ride Engine Lyte V1 harness is a very compact windsurfing/kitesurfing harness. The dimensions are small: the shell in the central part has a height of 26 cm, compared to 33 of my previous Dakine T8. It is relatively light: dry, the measured weight is 1516 grams (bar included). But this is not the real strong point, given that the Dakine T8 weighs even less (1435 grams, hook included). As described below, the material with which it is made (Cell-Lock foam) practically does not absorb water keeps it light during use, and this is one of the peculiarities of this product.

When handling it, the other significant aspect that immediately strikes you is the stiffness both of the shell and the hook bar/adjustment straps system, particularly in the version we tested, with Direct Connection unit. Once adjusted and closed, there is no possibility of stretching or twisting of the whole parts.



Ride engine harness 5

Ride engine harness 6





The levers connecting the adjustment straps to the hook bar, and those that allow the adjustment of these straps, to adapt the harness to the size of the user's abdomen and the wetsuit used, are rather difficult to open (less so, to close), and even more with cold hands. We can't say whether, over time, they will become a little easier to opne. At the moment, we must say that this is an aspect (essentially the only one) that leaves us a little perplexed. Opening them is a bit laborious at the end of the session, when you are tired, and makes us fear a possible breakage. Or at least, if not a breakage of these levers, it makes us fear a possible breakage of the laces fixed to them, to facilitate their opening (see photo). We found it useful, to release the lever more easily, to rotate the harness shell on our abdomen, and bring the bar release lever to the center of the belly (the hand works more easily and effectively).

The harness, like other Ride Engine models, exists in two possible variants: direct connection or webbing connection. The latter is the version in which the connection of the shell to the hook bar and the adjustment takes place using the classic fabric straps, as in the classic models of many other brands. The model with direct connection, however, is equipped with two straps in rigid plastic material, adjustable, without the possibility of stretching, once the size has been set. See photo below.



Ride engine harness 2

Ride engine harness 1



The adjustment of the straps, in the direct connection model, is really very gradual and precise. And even in this case, failures or involuntary variations are not possible. The closed levers fit into a series of teeth (custom-molded ladder-lock straps), which guarantee precision and the impossibility of movement. The adjustment straps have a pre-printed numbers in slight relief (see photo), which allows for symmetrical adjustment on two sizes, so as to have the hook centred. The numbers are quite visible when the straps are dry, while they are indistinguishable when they are wet. So, adjustment during the session is difficult. 

Regarding these adjustment straps, it is important to highlight that some riders have happened to damage the hull of the board, inadvertently scratching it against these rigid bands, during transport, leaning on their side. So, if you have a Ride Engine model with Direct Connection, pay close attention to this possible inconvenience.



Ride engine harness 3


 Ride engine lytewebbing 1

Ride engine lytewebbing 2


On the Ride Engine website, this harness, in size L, with a 10" bar, costs about $254. The version with webbing connection is a little cheaper ($99, without hook bar; the cost of the bar is approximately 129 dollars). In other countries, the harness is, however, sold at higher prices, generally.


As regards construction, we also report, for completeness, what was declared by the American brand:

Any company can make a lightweight harness. At Ride Engine we aren't just any company—we are the originator of the hard-shell harness and we are proud to introduce the Lyte Curv® harness that provides the very best in no-compromise, lightweight performance while keeping the weight under 1kg. The ingenious Curv® composite material we utilize is not merely lightweight—its high tensile strength allows the shell to retain Ride Engine's scientifically designed Lumbar Lock shape, which has become renowned for eliminating harness rise and twisting on the body. Equipped with Direct Connection or Webbing Connection, the Lyte Curv integrates directly with our Unity Spreader Bar, which completely eliminates spreader bar slip and twist. Additionally making Lyte Curv the ultimate lightweight travel harness is our Cell-Lock Foam: thermoformed closed-cell foam that's Lycra laminated to virtually eliminate all water absorption and keep the harness light no matter how long your session.

*Spreader bar sold separately.




Impressions of use 


My experience of use can only confirm that what the brand declares is true. The harness does not rise or move on the abdomen and remains really light. Clearly, this locked-in fit of this Ride Engine model on the body must be liked. Some freestylers who want to twist their torso while riding to set up certain maneuvers (for example, when moving to a switch stance) may not appreciate this feature. But if you hate harnesses that twist or slip, no matter how tight you tighten them, this harness is undoubtedly for you. In case you like a harness that is less locked-in on the body, we advise you to consider the version with webbing connection. Or, you have to opt for less rigid Ride Engine models like the Momemtum. 

It's also pretty amazing how quickly this harness dries. At the end of the session, you just have to expose it a little to the air and the sun, and you can put it back in the car almost dry. And even in the garage, where I store my equipment, I couldn't help but notice how, after a few days, the Dakine T8 (which I still consider a good product) was still damp, and the Ride Engine Lyte completely dry.


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The harness, in the version with direct connection, transmits the power of the sail to the rider's body in a truly effective manner and without any waste, so that the riders can transfer it to the board. This model, more precisely, transfers all the load on the back, especially on the lumbar part, and not on the hips and waist, as the Momentum does. It is to be evaluated over time whether the stresses concentrated on this part of the back can cause any discomfort in some riders. It may also be useful, in order to avoid back problems, to adjust the harness so that it is not excessively tight on the abdomen. 

However, if you fear back problems, we recommend the version with the webbing connection, or a less stiff model, such as the aforementioned Momentum.

If you are using this model, or another Ride Engine harness, and want to share your impressions, you can write them below in the comments.

Aloha. Fabio Muriano


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