Know Your Kite - Adjusting Your Bridle

One of the most important parts of your kite is the bridle – you know, the string thingy in the front that you attach your line to. While some kites don’t use bridles, such as deltas and some cellular kites, most kites use some type of line to balance the kite in flight. Simple bridles attach to the kite at two points. There are also three point, four point and higher, such in the case of parafoils and Edo kites which can have between 10 and 100! Sport kites can have one or two adjustment points on each side of the kite.

Almost all bridles are adjustable and should be tuned before each flight to suit the wind conditions present at the time. The movement of the line attachment (tow) point alters the angle of attack, or the way the kite presents itself in the wind. When you move the tow point towards the top of the kite, it presents less of the face of the kite to the wind, allowing the kite to “float” on light winds. You’ll find that this adjustment lets the kite fly high overhead and, should the wind pick up a little, overfly (fly over your head into the wind!)

Moving the tow point lower, toward the bottom of the kite, will make the kite present more sail area to the wind. This will make the kite fly lower unless the wind is stronger to apply more energy to “push” the kite up. Of course this will also make the kite pull much more strongly, so watch out! Moving the point too far towards the bottom of the kite will stop the kite from leaving the ground all together.

Most modern kites have bridles made to be adjusted. Usually this is a simple ring which can be slid up and down the line and often the manufacturer marks a spot where the tow point should be in average wind conditions. But be aware that many store bought kites can have a mark on the bridle which is obviously ment to make the kite fly like a two ton dump truck and to frustrate potential kite enthusiasts. This is most often true with the less expensive sport kites – the kind found at Walmart.

Kites with many bridles may look complicated, but most of the time they are made so that many lines come together to meet and form one line which can then be adjusted. Flat kites with three point bridles and Rokkakus with four point bridles are good examples. A three point bridle will have the top two lines come together and meet the bottom line. The adjustment will then be on the single bottom line. Rokkakus can have the top two lines come together to a point, the bottom two lines come to a point, and have a line run between those two points. That line is where the adjustment would be. Another example of a multiple bridle adjustment is a “cascade” bridle, where moving the tow point automatically adjusts other bridle lines all the way up and down the kite. This is especially handy for the aforementioned parafoils and Edos.

Having your bridle adjusted right allows your kite to fly and perform better in a variety of wind conditions. It is a simple thing you can do to make your kiting experience more enjoyable.

Todd Little
AKA Region 2 Director
AKA Club Board Liaison