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.
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.
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
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.
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)
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
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 manufacturer 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.
Kite Attitude Universal bar (47 or 52cm) with lines 279,-
Reaction from Kite attitude on the review: