Buying Guide: Kiteboarding Control Bars
By Ian Perkins
Once you’ve purchased your new kite, you’re going to need to purchase a corresponding control bar to navigate your kite. Each kite has a specific set of control bars that are designed to fit with specific kites. Generally speaking, we recommend using a bar that is manufactured by the same company that produces your kite, however, advanced riders can mix and match with other brands. NOTE: Be aware when using control bars from a manufacturer that differs from your kite the flying characteristics, as well as safety systems, may not perform properly.
Know Your Kite: When getting ready to buy your control bar, first you’ll need to do some research into the kite that you own. Just about every kite out there has a bar, or set of bars that is/are specifically built to be compatible with that kite. There may be more than one option of bar for your
kite, but you’re going to want to make sure that you stay within the confines of that kite.
Size to Length Ratio: You’re going to want to consider the size of your kite. In order to achieve optimal performance, your bar should be the appropriate length to handle the size of the kite you’re using. If your bar is too short, the mechanical advantage between the kite and the bar won’t be enough to provide adequate steering or control, making your riding experience lessened.
Once you’ve narrowed your selection down to a couple of bars, it’s time to start looking at the different features involved. As previously stated, you should only be choosing from 2-3 different bars, so your selection process should be pretty easy.
Safety System – Each manufacture has a unique safety/release system. These are designed to assist you in quickly disarming or detaching yourself from your kite in case of an emergency or in some cases for experienced kiters can be used for self landing. The release function and release speed are important features. The ease of resetting these components is another key feature.
Depower – You’re going to want to take a special look at how the kite depowers. Being able to quickly and easily depower your kite is an important feature. The location (above or below the bar), release function and release speed are all important features.
Bar Length Adjustment – Certain bars have the ability to expand or contract based on the kite you’re using or the style of riding that you want to achieve. Adjustments happen in the handle adding a bit of length to one or both ends allowing the user more or less control when needed.
Number of Lines – The number of lines used on a bar directly correlates to the number of connection points on a kite. If you have a 5 line kite you will need a 5 line bar. If you have a 4 line kite you will need a 4 line bar. Again we recommend using the same manufacture for bar as kite.
Materials Used – The materials used in the bar construction become important when considering where you’ll be riding. If you’re going to spend most of your time in the water, you’ll want to make sure you pick up a bar with considerable floatation quality. Certain bars are made with increased amounts of EVA material to keep the bar floating in the water after a crash. Having a floating bar in the water mainly helps preventing the mess of tangled lines in the water.