High V, Low V, Long Throw, Short Throw, Long Depower, Short Depower, Line Length, 4/5 Lines, and Single or Dual Line Flag are all characteristics of our kite bars. The various kite manufacturers have yet to come up with a standard bar configuration so there are differences that affect kite performance especially when you mix kites and bars, or start to build your own bars.
Line to Bar Interface
Starting off with the basics, most bars today are Low V, Single Line Flag, and equal lines with the bar fully sheeted in. I have validated this for Cabrinha, Flysurfer, Slingshot, and Ozone bars.
Attached pictures show my own Ozone bar pulled back to the chicken loop with lines equal length at the V… For the Ozone Bar, the knot on the trim (depower) line needs to be tied so that the stopper ball stays at the V cleat.
Attached are two videos which detail kite bar tuning:
TRIM VS DEPOWER
Unfortunately what many manufacturers refer to as depower should correctly be referred to as a trim as you are trimming the kite to control both power and back stall in strong and light winds. Not well understood as a novice kiter is that kites generate much of their power through movement through the wind window (kite wing is generating lift) and most of that power is transferred to the rider through the front lines and harness.
In lighter winds, you may need to trim in a little to minimize backstall to allow the kite to move and thus generate power… This may seem counter intuitive. If you are pulling on the bar until the kite slows to a stop and starts flying backwards, you have over powered the kite and trimming it will help to mitigate that as will not pulling so hard on the bar.
As I am riding over long distances, I am adjusting my trim strap for a comfortable riding position.
SINGLE Line FLAG, DUAL LINE FLAG, 5th Line FLAG
When pushing ( or rotating for Core Bars) the Chicken Loop release, the kite with flag out to a single or two lines. Two line flag systems have almost disappeared being replaced with either single line flag or flagging to a 5th line or mini 5th line.
For Cabrinha, it was around 2012 when they changed from two line flag to single line flag. Newer single line flag bars could be used with older two line flag kites, but older two line flag bars could not be used with single line flag kites for safety reasons… The kite would not flag correctly.
Two Line Flag – When flagged, the kite will be connected to you via the two front lines.
Single Line Flag – When flagged, the kite will be connected to you via a single front line.
5th Line or Mini 5th Line – When flagged, the kite will flag out to a 5th line attached to the front leading edge of the kite. In the case of Flysurfer, there is a 5th line for flagging that runs parallel with one of the front lines and attaches to the front line close to the kite.
High V or Low V
There are kites and bars that have a high V – For high V kites and lines, the two middle lines run parallel some distance maybe up to half way to the kite before splitting to each front side of the kite. Kite handling behavior can change when a high V kite is flown with a low V bar and vis versa. Check with the manufacturer before mixing a High/Low V bar with a Low/High V Kite.
Some of the newer bars on the market allow for adjustment of the V position. The following video from Duotone details the V adjustment on the Click Bar…
MANUFACTURERS DYNAMIC RANGE OF KITE CONTROL
With the bar tuned to common tuning so that line lengths are equal with the trim off and the bar fully sheeted in, the bars dynamic range of kite control is the change between front and rear line length when you sheet the bar out (rear lines longest to chicken loop) and add full trim (front lines shortest to chicken loop). When switching bars between kites, or building your own kite bars, these measurements can change significantly imparting undesirable kite flying characteristics.
Standard bar tuning…
The change in line length when fully trimming in and sheeting out on the bar…
When you start to mix different manufacturer bars with kites, its important to understand the trim system and throw (distance bar can travel between chicken loop and trim stop) can increase or decrease the dynamic range of kite control.
Some third party/universal bars significally increase the dynamic range and can introduce poor kite flying behaviors. It may be up to you to remember never to fully sheet in the trim as it will depower the kite too much.
Long Throw / Short Throw
Most bars have around 24″ of throw, but there is variation with the most extreme being the Board Riding Maui bar which does away with trim (depower) and incorporates a very large throw. For persons with shorter arms, a shorter throw bar can make kiting more comfortable. The throw can be adjusted on some bars, and “womens” versions of bars likely incorporate a shorter throw to assist with petite riders. To compensate for a bar with a short throw, the trim system may be longer to give the kite the same range of dynamic control.
Long TRIM / Short TRIM
The trim (depower) range of some kites can be from a 4″-6″ to more than 12″. Irrespective of how trim is provided (rope cleats or ratchet straps), too little trim or too much trim can have a dangerous impact to your kite. If mixing bars with different kites, be familiar with the amount of trim the manufacturer designed for the kite. As an example, over trimming a specific model of foil kite can cause violent leading edge collapse in gusty conditions… Better to be flying a smaller kite than over trimming a large kite.
Attached video below details the Board Riding Maui bar with Long Throw and No Trim. If you get go of the bar, it travels so far you cannot immediately reach it. Videos of this bar in use will show the rider pulling the main throw line in to reach the bar…
Note that the BRM Bar is designed for Low V, Single Line Flag, and equal lines with the bar fully sheeted in.
FOUR / FIVE LINE KITES
It seems that North/Duotone specifically have an interest in 5 line kites and bars. I personally have not owned any five line kites but there are plenty of kiters who prefer the five lines over four lines. I believe one of the reasons is kite durability and relaunch in surf. If you purchase a 5 line kite you will also need the matching same manufacturer bar.
BAR SIze (WIDTH)
Bars come in different sizes. Short bars for small kites and large bars for big kites. The width of the bar helps to turn the kite. Small bars with big kites and the kite will turn slowly. Big bars with small kites and the kite will turn into a buzzy bee.
Many bars can be adjusted at the bar ends to make them wider or shorter.
When thinking about customizing my bars, I start with first knowing how the manufacturer designed the kite and bar for throw and trim. There is a maximum dynamic range the kite was designed to fly between full trim and bar at chicken loop and no trim with the bar full out at the trim stop. Adding an extra inch or so to throw and/or trim is probably fine but adding 6 inches or more could be dangerous.
When playing around with either throw or trim, I consider what I add for throw, I remove from trim to maintain the same kite flying characteristics.
Validating changes to bar configurations requires experience in all conditions. As an example, many race bar configurations have migrated to using snapshackles…
This snap shackle is fine on light wind days but dangerous as the wind picks up as it will not release under load –
This snap shackle is designed to release under load –
When sharing a single bar across multiple kites, you may find that there is a need to lengthen or shorten front or rear lines for a specific kite. It is easy to change the kites pigtails to match the kite to the bar… Keep the bar standard and tweak the kites leader lines to adjust as needed.
So, to be safe, stick with manufacturers bars, and if you decide to start mixing or customizing bars, first understand how the manufacturer designed it to work.