Alternative bars. Tech talk and a test of a 279,- Euro bar

Does any bar fit on any kite? Of course it doesn’t, but there is more to it than the bar width, 4 or 5 lines or the length of the lines. While testing a bar from Kite Attitude we got deeper and deeper into the influence of the height of the split point of the front lines.

(See also an update on this)

Interesting stuff,  especially if you just want to get your hands on a new bar, but don’t want to pay -the ever growing prices of the A-brands- up to 500-plus Euro. We not only tested the Kite Attitude bar, but we also interviewed some manufacturers which gave some interesting technical insights.

Kite Attitude Universal bar, freestyle/wave version
Kite Attitude Universal bar, freestyle/wave version

Prices

Yes, it it is ridiculous amounts of money. A new 2016 North Quad bar; 479,- Euro, a V6 Best RP bar 459,- , an overdrive Cabrinha 1X 2016 bar; a staggering 549,- Euro’s! Is it worth to buy an alternative? We got in touch with the French company Kite Attitude who sales bars for 279,- Euro’s. They call the bar Universal, for obvious reasons. We had a go with the freestyle/wave version. Not only to check some important details, like its safety system and the quality and feel of the bar. But maybe even more important to check its ability to be used on any kite without changing they way the kite is intended to fly. And that is where we got focused on one particularly issue; the height of the split point of the front lines. It is something you rarely will read about, but there are huge differences between brands and even within a brand from year to year in the height of this split point.

split point

low split point on North stalls
the low split point makes the North kite stall
split point example
split point example

When we tested the Kite Attitude Universal bar on a North Dice the Dice wasn’t a Dice any more. The kite stalled a lot and was “searching” continuously for the right position. The only obvious difference between the North and Attitude bar is the height of the split point; North at 5.90m and for the Attitude bars it is 1.15m above the depower system.

 

When we interviewed North designers about the height of split point they answered that they test each year at what height the split point works best with their kites. North adds to the answer that they advice to add any line extensions (if you use them) below this split point. This means it is rather the split point distance to the kite which matters instead of the distance to the depower system. In any case it seems the place of the split point is a major thing to the way the (North) kite performs. We also noticed older North bars have even higher split points, which doesn’t

Attitude and North Bar
Kite Attitude Universal freestyle/wave version bar (left) and North Quad Bar (right)

make things as universal as we would think. Alex Pastor mentioned Airush had changed their split point down without much issues changing bars among different versions of the kites. Below this review the Donatien, designer of the Attitude bars, extensively reacted on our findings.

stalled F-one
stalled F-one

When we took the same Universal bar on a F-one Bandit (7th version), which has the split point at 3.60m, there was some improvement compared to the test with the North Dice. The tested Attitude bar needed some depowering on the Bandit to prevent stalling, but it was usable without any further issues. Let’s say sub-optimal, although the Universal bar has more functionalities, is definitely much safer and the lines probably last longer than those of F-one.

(See also an update on this)

Universal bar on F-one kite
Universal bar on F-one kite

It goes without saying that using the Universal bar on any other low split point kite (which are the majority of the brands like Best, Cabrinha, Ozone, or other low split point kites) the bar just needs the same amount of lines and the same line length to get the same performance as with its own original bar.

The Kite Attitude Universal bar freestyle/wave version

single line safety
single line safety

The man behind Kite Attitude, Donatien Roger, is an experienced producer in the kite industry. Kite Attitude also offers other bars, like a girly version, the (strange looking) Totem and race bars. The website is a bit of a mess and far from slick looking. Donatien clearly put more time in the development of the bars. (See also his reaction and explanations on the different versions of the bar below the review)

The Universal bar features almost all possibilities which we know: a height adjustable depower strap (especially handy for smaller people!), a twistable depower line (a must for all bars in our opinion, since no swiffel works perfectly) and a single line flag out safety system that completely releases all power when used. A must on a four line kite. 2-line safety, like that on a F-one are not safe enough and will keep pulling in high winds when released.

The Universal bar most obvious detail is it quite a large (red) release system. We tested the safety a couple of times. The safety needs some more effort to release it than most other systems and re-assembling the system really needs 2 hands.

The size of the bar is not adjustable (2 sizes are available, 47 and 52cm), but this is not a major missing (and the Totem version does have this option, see the reaction below the review). For example we never change the size of our North Quad bar, although we use a 5m and a 11m on the same bar, but that is something personal.

The lines on the Freestyle/wave version have no specification on the manrelease systemufacturer or test results, but look tough and strong enough.  The feel of the bar itself is a tiny bit bigger than average, which gives a bit of a heavy feeling, while the actual weight isn’t more compared to other brands. There is no stopper ball on the bar (but is optional).

Advice on alternative bars

There are more bars on the market that are also remarkably less expensive than the bigger brands (for example a new Zian bar is around 250,- Euro’s). They can be used on other kites, but to keep your kite flying like it is made for, we give the three most important checks for an alternative bar.

1: Make sure the amount of lines (4 or 5) are equivalent to that of the kite. Some kites can be used with both options, and yes this makes a difference. For example a Dice with 5 lines gets a bit slower but holds it shape better in heigh end winds and there for jumps a bit better overpowered with 5 lines.

2: The line length is very critical. A few meters more or less and any kite functions completely different. Longer lines makes a kite slower but more power full, shorter lines makes the kite feel more alive. Take the length exactly as described by the manufacturer.  Is there more options? Our experiences are mostly at its best with lines around 22 meter.

3: And, yes often forgotten but important, the split point height of the front lines. -> Read on in our update!

Although up to a few meter differences might not be much of a problem, we do advice to take the exact height as the kite is designed for. For example F-one kites at 3.60, North at 5.90m. Most other brands like Best, Ozone, Cabrinha and Slingshot are completely down (so at 0 cm). From our experiences up to a few meters differences between the original split point and that of an alternative bar is the limit between okay and clearly abnormal behaviour of a kite.

List Price

Kite Attitude Universal bar (47 or 52cm) with lines 279,-

Reaction from Kite attitude on the review:

Thanks Dave for testing the Universal FreeStyle Wave bar.
 
We also have the Totem universal bar, which is currently our best seller in France, with thousands of users. We also have great riders using it, such as Laurent Heiligenstein, who is currently the fastest rider in the world (maximum official speed of 61.9 knots with the universal bar).
 Laurent Heiligenstein #651
The Universal Bar is now available with the same design/grip as the FreeStyle Wave bars.
It comes with what you call the “strange looking” bar ends: all users love them, because you can use the same bar with any kite size : from 4 m2 to 15 m2 (for a 55 cm bar), or from 4m2 to 18 m2 with the 60 cm bar. One bar for all your kites, pretty cool if you travel by plane. Less weight. And the bar (including kite lines) weighs less than 1.1 kg. Very light.
We provide neoprene covers for those who might need them (more comfortable for kite loops).
Universal freestyle/wave, Girly version
Universal freestyle/wave, Girly version


So the FreeStyle Wave universal bar is more intended at riders doing tricks like Handle Pass or Kite Loops, or wave riding and willing to preserve their surf board as much as possible with the soft bar ends.
 
We do have stopper balls as an option, but we don’t recommend the stopper ball for the average kiter, because the purpose of the stopper ball … is to not depower the kite completely. 
 
One major aspect that need to be mentionned : Kite Attitude is the manufacturer on the market providing the biggest depower with the bar (which makes it really universal…) and well suited for everyone:
 
1) you can adjust the height of the Clamcleat Racing (the best cleat on the market) : so if you are short or young, you can move the cleat closer to you.
2) If you like the waves, you can move the cleat up, so you get a much bigger depower throw.
When I was riding in Martinique in the waves in mild winds, I was using a 16m2 kite with a huge depower. This was a long time ago, but then I felt really comfortable with a big kite even when it was windy.
Actually we have many riders who have both the original bar “suited” the for kite and our bar, and they prefer our bar in the waves.
 
Attached are pictures of the Totem bar with new 2016-2017 design.
 DSC_0072

 

Universal Totem version
Universal Totem version
Concerning the split point :
 
1) Most (or maybe all) kites on the market are designed with the same software package: Surf Plan.
The software does not know whether you will be using a split point or not. It suggests a simple (SLE) briddle.
 
Some manufacturers change the standard briddle, but not much. What happens is that manufacturers ask the factory to put many connection points on the leading edge while beta testing the kites, and then they decide which connections work best. It is actually very empirical.
 
2) The manufacturers I have been working with in the past have different view points :
guys like Dimitri Maramenides like direct lines/C Shape kites. Others want a split point, but the reason has nothing to do with the behavior of the kite (!), and has to do with how to deal with the safety when you trigger the quick releaser, and how the kite flags out. So they calculate enough length to make sure the kite will depower enough.
 
3) regarding the North Dice: I have not used it, but I talked to the folks of the Hanglos forum (talented freestylers) : they told me this kite is special. We have some customers riding with the Rebel, and some even removed the split point and ride it with 5 direct lines in the waves! Videos if you want!!!
 
4) concerning F-one Bandit, etc :
as you know, it is a very popular kite in France. We have hundreds of people using Bandits and our bars, and are very happy. Hanglos forum made extensive testing of the universal bars, especially with the Bandit. You can view the video test. The bar was tested in very very cold conditions last winter :
 
I have been designing the bars for the Storm brand, which is owned by the former F-One designer, and he liked the “low” split point for his kites (that look very much like the Bandit). I have not experienced stalling, and have no feedback from customers mentionning stalling.
 
 
 
Kite line length:
 
Currently we offer 20 meter kite lines, and 4 meter kite line extensions (this is an option). As of June 20 (or so), we will also provide 24 meter lines.
If you like waves, choose the 20 meters. If you are heavy or kite in mild winds, the 24 meter setup is better for you.
 
 
The new Race bar:
 
We just launched the Race bar, which is an optimized version of the Totem bar for foil kites/racing. It was successfully tested during the world cup IFKO event at Montpellier in May. Our riders finished second and third, in very strong winds. The Race Bar features a huge depower (over one meter!!!), ideal for foil kites such as Ozone, Flysurfer, F-One,  and also “usual” inflatable kites.
 
 
Our bars come with a one month “satisfied or your money back” warranty (only for online orders) and a one year warranty.
 
Last, we think the best is to try the bars yourself!!!!
 
We would appreciate to have ambassadors outside France. Feel free to get in touch with me:
 
Donatien
Whatsapp / tel +33 6 49 15 07 37

 

Total Views: 6578 ,
Facebooktwittermail
Facebooktwitter

2 thoughts on “Alternative bars. Tech talk and a test of a 279,- Euro bar”

  1. Hi Jan,
    good point! To add an another strange (to say the least) color mistake is the North 2017 bar. On the 2017 bar the blue part has been switched from right to left for 2016…imagine you are used to grab blue with your right hand, now you need to adjust is from one day to the other.
    The importance of a maximum safety is still something which a lot manufacturers could work on. Think below the bar swivel, single line flagout and indeed colors on the bar!
    Thanks for the contribution.
    Dave
    We Test Kites

  2. Good and thorough review! I never heard about these bars before.
    What kills them for me is the choice of colors however. Not regarding aesthetics, but regarding safety. Normally in marine traffic, green means right (starboard) side while red means left (port) side (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navigation_light).
    Not many bar-manufacturers adhere exactly to this scheme, but most put red or at least the brighter color on the left. I have however never seen another manufacturer use exactly these colors and then mess it up.
    This bar completely breaks with the scheme. The universal bar has green on the left, while the girly version has pink (red) on the right. Only the 2016/2017 Totem version seems to have green on the right.
    For me this is an absolute No-Go. I can already see myself messing up the orientation after barspins. And after finally getting used to this bar, every other bar would require getting used to again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *