This sport is so great. You can continually learn and progress every year. This summer, I'm riding a "freebar". Freebars are a kite bar that is not attached to the front lines in any way. Usually, the bar has a hole that your chicken loop runs through, or has a bracket attached at the center of the bar that holds the trim rope so the bar is always attached to the front lines.
I decided to remove this clamp from my 2001 Slingshot bar and create a "freebar". I've ridden it a few times now and have some comments that I will continue to add to.
It took a while to get used to. The bar being completely free, you don't really even have to turn it to turn the kite, you can just "move" it to the side to increase tension on one line and slacken the other. There's a lot more freedom in bar placement, as well. I'm 6'2" so when I'm hooked into the shackle, the freebar allows me to hold the bar more at shoulder level, which is a lot more comfortable, than being positioned at my waist.
Basically, there's a lot more freedom with this setup, and a lot more control, or possibility for lack thereof. It took a whole session to get used to the fact that you can't use the trim rope as a "cantilever" to turn the bar. So at first, it was not easy to turn the kite accurately. The bar also has a tendency to be held loose, so I had to get used to concentrating on where I was going on the board AND pay attention to the tension on BOTH rear lines of the kite. The setup was tricky to get used to. Also, if I let go of the bar, the bar will fly outta my hands and hang under the kite, completely out of reach, so I need to tie an attachment rope from the top of the trim rope to one end of one of the rear line leaders so if I do, it will be possible to grab it.
In jumps, its totally weird, but I'm getting used to it. Oversheeting and undersheeting is a definite problem, but now that I'm becoming more aware of the bar placement and rear tension, it will only make me a better kite-controller.
For toeside jibes, its great to be able to hold the bar over to the side of my body, as I'm twisted around on my toes, without having my side get in the way of the bar.
Now that I'm getting used to it, I'm liking it. But...I'm trying some board-offs now and its tough to hold the bar and grab the board off my feet. Will make another report sometime later...