Your kiteboard control bar and lines are more important than you think. Here is everything you need to know about appropriate kite line lengths.
To get optimal performance and the most range out of your kites, bar width and line length are two important factors to consider before hitting the water. It’s easy to overlook and often underestimated, but once you try different combinations of bars and lines for different conditions and kite sizes, it’s easy to see how much of an effect changes have on how your kite feels and flies.
It’s a huge advantage to understand the performance differences, get comfortable with different combinations in varying conditions and have a couple setups to choose from depending on the wind, your kite size and what type of riding you want to do that day.
Whether you’re an expert kiter seeking bigger airs, tighter loops, better wakestyle or a higher level of customized performance, or you’re a beginner who simply wants the most manageable setup for the conditions, having a deeper understanding of how your bar and lines affect the performance of your kite will make you a better kiter and help you make the most out of your time on the water.
Here are a few of the basics to get you thinking:
Let’s start with your bar:
For reference, Slingshot Compstick bars come in 17”, 20” and 23” lengths
- A shorter bar gives you less leverage over your kite and a longer bar more leverage, which can be good or bad depending on what size kite you attach it to, how strong the wind is and how fast/reactive you want your kite to be. The general rule is to use a short 17” bar for small kites (4 to 6/7m usually), the long 23” bar is for larger kites (about 12/13m and larger) and the 20” bar is the universal size that will work for all kites but is best for about 6/ 7 m to about 12m.
- Leverage from a longer bar is important for larger kites, which fly slower and take more muscle to steer and generate power. Small kites, especially in strong wind, are super fast and zippy and having a smaller bar helps slow the steering down to a comfortable speed. There’s no realistic situation in which you would want to use a large bar on a small kite, but using a small bar on a medium size kite or a medium bar on a large kite is often very helpful for beginners and for wakestyle riders who benefit from a less responsive, slower steering kite that takes more rider input to move.
- Used with small kites and strong wing
- Slows kite steering speed down
- Less leverage over kite makes it less responsive
- Helpful for beginners, not as “touchy” steering
- Good for learning new tricks and wakestyle
- More leverage, helps with larger kites
More responsive control over the kite
- Better for jumping (faster kite movement)
- Less work to move kite and generate speed
- Increase kite steering speed
Now to the lines:
For reference, Slingshot Compstick bars come with the following line lengths: 17” bar, 20m lines; 20” bar, 20m lines + 3m extensions; 23” bar, 27m lines
Line length has a direct correlation to the size of the wind window you have to play within. The shorter the lines, the smaller the window, which equates to less potential power generation, less jumping ability, faster steering, tighter kite loops and more responsive handling. Meanwhile, the longer your lines, the larger your wind window. This means more potential power generation, higher possible airs and slower, less responsive handling. Longer lines also put your kite farther off the water where the wind tends to be stronger.
These performance differences could be seen as good or bad- it all depends on what type of rider you are, what size kite you’re on and what the wind is doing. Our advice is simple- don’t get stuck on one setup for everything. Try different setups with different kites to see what you like best for what you want to do.
Don’t leave home without them! The 3-meter line extensions that come stock with the Slingshot 20” Compstick are an invaluable tool that gives you the ability to change the range and performance of every kite in your quiver. They can be added or removed to the end of your lines in about a minute and they make a huge difference in how your kite performs. If you want a little extra power, jumping ability or a little slower steering, add the extensions, or take them off if you want more responsive handling, tighter kite loops, faster steering, and better wave performance.
Shorter lines (20m)
- Faster turning speed
- Less power
- Faster/tighter kite loops
- Easier relaunch
- More responsive at the bar
- Better for super gusty wind
- Preferred for surfing
Longer lines (27m)
- Slower steering
- Less responsive at the bar
- Higher jumping potential
- Better low-end performance
- More power generation
- Better for light wind and in lulls