One of the most overlooked — yet extremely important — parts of a kite is the bridle system. The bridle is composed of the lines supporting the kite’s shape as well as the pulleys that slide along these lines to change the angle of attack. On most systems, when a bridle line breaks during flight, it can completely disable the safety system, resulting in a total loss of control. Because of this risk, you should routinely check the bridle for wear and tear before each session.
The most common forms of bridle wear:
— Jammed, rusted or worn pulleys caused by sand and/or normal use
— Broken or popped stitches on the loops at the ends of each line
— Frayed lines caused by the lines rubbing against one another or by contact with rocks, shells or old pulleys
Locations and components that should be inspected regularly:
— Check pulleys for proper use and smooth rolling.
— Check sheaths — the braided coating on all lines that protect the internal Spectra lines — for wear.
— Check connection points along the kite’s leading edge, which often touches the ground when not flying.
— Check main flying-line connections that get connected and disconnected with every use.
Replacing and fixing bridle components:
— Most repair centers can build replacement lines for any kitesurfing kite, so don’t buy a completely new bridle.
— The easiest way to replace a line is to remove and measure the corresponding line on the opposite side of the kite. It’s best to replace both the broken line and the good line to assure they are even in length and strength.
— Lay the line out and measure from one end to the other end, including the loops at the ends.
— Never tie a broken line back together with a knot! This shortens the bridle and can create a dangerous imbalance in the system.
Repair costs (estimates based on local Tarifa prices):
— A replacement sewn bridle line ranges from 10 € to 20 € per line.
— Replacement pulleys are 4 € to 7 € each.
— Pigtails are (roughly) 5 € each, or you can get a complete eight-piece set for 25 €.
If you’re looking to prolong the life of your kite and bridle, remember to inspect and replace worn lines immediately, while replacing pulleys at least once a year. Regular maintenance combined with a little cleaning will not only ensure your entire system lasts much longer, but it will also provide you with a better return when it comes time to upgrade or change kites.