Martin on his harnesses
I have close to a 1000 hours hanging in a Matrix. I think its the
most comfortable harness I have ever owned.
Not all roses though (and for what it might matter, just my opinion), I have
never found the pitch system on the Matrix Race to be consistent for getting
upright, sometimes easy, sometimes it wants to put up a fight. The back-plate on
the Matrix is hinged and in two pieces, has a very short rail/slider and a pitch
system that is controlled by a simple friction system that can be a bit futzy to
tune. Zipping the harness up is never never a smooth one shot process. I've even
had a couple of occasions where it would not zip down without a real effort
since it's sewn in you get really inspired! (of course, my local flying site is
"zipper hell" with fine dust that is real hard on zippers). The deployment
container system is not that great either, real inconsistent in getting the
chute out in one easy pull (yah, I know Moyes has a video where it just flops
out when the handle is pulled. Not what I found).
The one I purchased was a perfect fit, The one my wife purchased
something not all manufactures can manage. That said, I know of at least one
pilot that got Matrix with a real poor fit for what ever reason.
The Matrix is clean looking. I think the boot shape is a good aerodynamic
compromise, supper comfortable but IMO, not the best zip and not the best pitch
system to get upright with (like I said, IMO. Some days it works great, other
days it get grumpy). Also, having had to replace the zipper a few times, it's a
real PITA (it's sewn in).
Then it was time to retire my old Matrix. Moyes indicated there was a "Matrix 2"
in the works
I waited and waited. Don't know if they ever gave the harness any
sort of a makeover or not, so I shopped around for options and thought I would
give the Rotor Havana a try.
Yes, on the Rotor Havana, with its rail system will "unlock" so pilots that have
a tendency or preference to thermal heads up will find it constantly unlocking
from the aft position. As such, you tend to spend a lot of time pushing on the
boot, hence I can see why some pilots might complain about the small boot area
as it does have allot of taper on the foot angle.
When I got my Havana, I found the same problem. Plus, I did find the harness fit
was a lot tighter then I was used to and the tight race fit took some getting
used to. I put 20 hours on the harness and decided to go back to my old Matrix.
Thing is the Havana had some features that I really liked. The zipper was
excellent (even though, it's sewn in like the Matrix)
What ever it is and how
they do it, it is a smooth no stress zipper that is excellent. The harness is
very well made and for a tight fit, easy to put on. Parachute container works
well. Storage and pockets are good though I do find the long bullet tail a bit
over kill. I did find various minor comfort points that over time I would get
used to. (If I were to order another I would not bother with the "Bat wings",
they get in the way more than any benefit they might offer.).
The back plate is well made though a bit heavy with the long aluminum rail and
"truck" assembly for the hang strap. (I have heard they have put the plate and
rail on a bit of diet and have shaved some weight off of it.) It's a long one
piece assembly so the pack is a bit longer than a Matrix. They also have a piece
of Lexan that needs to be inserted in the very aft section of the plate (special
pocket in the harness) to finish the transition to the heal?), not sure if this
Lexan addition is really needed.
So, after going back to the Matrix, I kept the Havana (couldn't sell it anyway)
I decided to tackle the Havana's flaw of the unlocking of the rear rail point.
In the end, I came up with a machined fitting that would allow me to have much
more "sticky" rear lock that stayed in place with a substantial amount of head
up, yet fully release when I wanted it to. There was another benefit to this
modification, I always felt the Havana, put too much weight forward of the main
hang point (aft position), when thermaling, and just wanting to to pitch up a
bit for a "look around" you had to lift allot of weight (and risked having the
rail "unlock"). So another benefit of my aft lock "gizmo" was I could be move
the rear hang point to tune the amount of weight forward of the main hang point.
BTW, my gizmo is "my" fix, I don't think the Rotor guys did anything about the
problem/challenge, though they are free to copy my solution if they want.
BTW, of the "liked" Havana features, going upright is one that I really liked,
when you go "upright" there is a solid reassuring clunk! (Something to keep in
mind, almost all back plate, single hang point harness have roughly the same
amount of "upright" position, not always enough for some. It takes a little
getting used to) . My mods worked well enough I have shifted back to the Havana
for this season and then came Covid and the season has been a bust.
Kind of wish Moyes had cured a few of what I felt to be "negs" on the original
harness with an update but as far as I know never did. Many pilots that I have
talked to mention the pitch thing but just put up with it.
I think the Matrix Race harness is better than the Havana for comfort but could
still use some work, leaving room for harnesses like the Rotor Havana to
One other comment about modern race harnesses. What ever you buy, make sure the
manufacture is going to make good on the fit! Frankly, none of them really are
capable of going that extra mile of fixing a bad fit. As you can imagine, you
have two sides to the story here: whinny customers that don't really know what
they want (and or picky about everything) and harness maker that could be on the
other side of the planet! I have had plenty of harness show up on my sewing
table that were absolute crap for customer fit. Once a harness is made, there
really is no "nice way" to modify it. My best recommendation is to try some used
harnesses for fit from the manufacture you like. Find one that gives you a
perfect fit or at least gets you close enough that you can tell the manufacture,
"build it the same as this with a little blah blah blah".