This is not just for foilers, but mostly for all foiling styles using straps (as kite, boost, surf, wing), but maybe also some riders with straps on kite waveboards may profit from the later shown “Loxx Fastener” setup. For everybody interested the next winter / covid weeks seems to be a good time for some tinker time optimizing your board straps. If not seen yet, there is a video of how a good foil straps and the LOXX Fastener on it perform:
1. Motivation: Development? of foil board straps
Straps on (wind)surfboards, which are now also used in a similar setup on foilboards, haven’t evolved a lot during the last 30 years, as I noticed. The usage of classic windsurf (WS) strap setups for kite foil boards, to me show in most parts a copy paste without reflecting the very different demands. It is just about 3 years ago Groove Kiteboards come up with the, as far I know, first commercial V-front-strap, that is mandatory for a good kite foil strap setup. To me, this underlines the low development effort by bigger foil board companies till today 2020. They still use more or less strap setups from 1990.
From another perspective I know many who wonder why their tacks or jibes doesn’t work sufficient. Most think it is just about skill and training. But in my experience, about half of the medal is about good setups and talking again about strap setups to me many I see on beaches are just useless, if not dangerous.
1.1. The differences that needs to be reflected in my eyes:
First the force transmission by the foot in the strap is completely different in the shown examples. For windsurfing key points are high shear forces, excentric load caused by the fin and high need for pad absorption when jumping, in the example the “pad” is 3 cm thick, it extends under the upper deck.
For the foilboard all is pretty much opposite. Nearly only normal forces occur, so no relevant shear forces when riding straight and absolutely no pad damping flexibility is allowed. On top comes that while there is some risk for windsurfers to hurt ankles in straps, the risk for foilers is a lot higher when being blocked in the straps during a wipe out. Looking at the lever length under the boards makes it easy to understand the difference.
First talking about this risk, to me the key factor to avoid this is to have no traditional strap screw spacing, which is as I know form my boards:
- Windsurf Waveboard and Manta Wingboard: 15-16 cm
- Kite wave and foil boards: around 18 cm
While I recommend for foil boards 20 – 22 cm (for big foots can be even up to 25 cm)
My idea is to enter the foot just as deep that it will always turn out in case of a wipe out, as the metatarsal bone is not locked in between the screws. The important feel for the foil is achieved by the ball of the foot that is positioned directly under the strap. Everybody who is worried, that my strap setup lacks in performance, if it comes to jumping, quick movements, etc. may have a look into the beginning of my last video about “LOXX Fastener for straps”. Also my other videos show the described wide but low setups, I use for 5 years on my foil boards, without any ancle sprain. Everybody may decide by himself, but don’t expect it is just about skill, take into account it could also be about just the right setup for the given demands.
1.2. To conclude: a kite- and wing foiler to me needs straps that have:
- a bottom that is absolute stiff, so no 3 cm WS damping foam under the heel but in the best case just 1 mm grip pad (as Groove)
- an absolute stiff strap (as Groove) without too much foam or weak adjustment parts
- an as centred stance as possible by using V-straps (as Groove)
- for maximum control, best tacks and jibes and best chance to escape: a wide but low installation of the straps with about 22 cm instead of the more common 18 cm spacing
- a possibility to keep the straps in straightened up shape, for perfect entrance when jibing and tacking, along boards live time …
The last point can be achieved by putting blocks of foam under the straps when packing as some do. A maybe better alternative with many further advantages, could be LOXX Fastener, which is all the rest of the following content about:
2. Detachable straps using “Loxx Fastener”
Since nearly 2 years I use “Loxx Fastener” as strap connectors instead of simple screws, today for all my boards as: Surfboard, Foil Wingboards, Kite Foilboards. Till now I had zero unwanted releases but release them on the end of every session for compact packing without damaging straps. Sometimes I also release and reattach them during a session or even during foil flight (see video), to make setup changes, even when wearing gloves. But first of all, I don’t want to keep back possible disadvantages.
2.1. Disadvantages of Loxx Fastener on foil board straps:
- costs about 100 € (see shopping cart list) for a first user setup with tools, one full strap setup and connectors for 3 boards. The costs starting to charge off from 3th board, if just using one strap setup for all boards. Alternative it is possible to install just 1-2 fastener to receive at least a part of the advantages by spending just a part of the costs)
- first installation effort actually is high. This document tries to help, maybe it is getting better in future when fasteners and or straps become more compatible.
- spikey metal dot (5 mm diameter ball) connectors remain on boards surface (8 mm above laminat surface) when riding strapless. This is solvable by many different ways, if building a board with lowered strap bases, as the small red board in the pictures has. It is not necessarily a problem on a normal board but I want to have warned of this risk to hurt here, when I use the board with surf boots, I did not really feel the connectors. There are minimum three further methods to solve this problem, I just not have tried to tell them in detail: For example if you laminate the connectors in the board, they just need to size above surface by 6 mm and so they start to be much less spikey or even disappear, when the foam around has also 6 mm, as most normally used pad foam has.
2.2. Advantages of Loxx Fastener on foil board straps:
- stop crashing your plastic insert by screwing and unscrewing, e.g. when traveling
- stop deforming your straps when daily packing board
- reducing board size for every day packing, with strap detached on one side lain flat
- change strap size and position during session in the water or turn to strapless anytime
- use one pair of straps for as many boards as you want
- use personal straps if using one or more boards with a partner
-> Detaching all straps and reattaching other straps or those to another board can be done in less than 30 sec.
3. Coming from the joy of usage to the hard work of installation:
First of all you have to buy a set. This is what I would recommend for a first order with spare parts and where to buy it: (delete the link)
There are Loxx shops which are just dealer e.g. for the US, and that don’t have all parts and the available ones are extremely expensive so better let it ship from Europe by yourself if you are not located in the EU. Buy it directly from the original manufacturer, which was also the original inventor of the system in 1928:
Before buying and installing I recommend to read all the text here to understand how everything works and to avoid damaging parts before you don’t have seen all possible challenges.
Pdf gives an additionally good overview of most existing parts, also some not in the shop, but haven’t seen it in English, sorry.
And this is also to surf industry, have a look on the last page of the pdf, if ordering a relevant number Schaeffertec GmbH / LOXX will be able to make fasteners specific for our surf industry demands. So for the rest of us: Just ask your manufacturer why they don’t use this system if you like it, as I do.
Why I recommend the V-strap from Groove but a thin foam strap of any other manufacturer will be explained in the following “how to install” text.
3.1. Starting with the easy installation of the Loxx screw bases:
- Easiest Loxx screws to install are the M6 if those are your boards metal inserts and their threads are deep enough (8mm). I just recommend to file/sand the sharp edges of the lower part of the hexagon round with the help of a drilling machine, as shown in the following.
Instead, you could also use a washer. Here I would recommend to use one with just 0,2 or 0,5 mm. Both methods to avoid the hexagon corners to cut into your boards laminate. If your hole is not deep enough you will have to cut the screws thread ends which I would recommend in front of using higher washers. Just try to keep the bases as low as possible, to have them less sticking out of your board.
2. For normal plastic bases I would recommend to not use the also ordered black wood screws (in fact till now never used them so not 100% sure if size fits well) but to use the Loxx M5 screws. Also here the diameter of the plastic holes may differ so you have to check if yours fit. The requirement is to have the possibility to cut a M5 thread into it, so the hole should be around 4,2 mm. Don’t use a final M5 cutter but just a pre thread cutter (first stage of 3), so the M5 screw will find the right amount of guidance but also fixation to stay in as long you want. Have very good experience with that. About washers or sanding the hexagon edges: see 1).
3.2. Hard work installing the Loxx upper part on surf straps:
The basic problem is, that the strongest Loxx upper parts “heavy duty stainless” are just available in the normal short thread length and can just be elongated a bit by using the slightly longer washers. By the way, it is not a case that I ordered 50% more of the washers in the shopping cart as those are not all perfect shaped and so you can put 50% aside and just take those with the best shape, without cracks caused by the cupping form.
You may try longer upper parts, called XXL, but those are not heavy duty and not stainless which means they may rust and or break but for sure, the thread will slide against the upper parts housing when tightening hard, that’s why I don’t recommend them. I just put one in the shopping card as it may help you installing, using it as a tool.
To have success with the short “heavy duties” you have to prepare the strap holes the following way: Don’t just punch out a 10 mm hole as this could cut out too many fibres of the straps dacron band. Try to widen the existing hole and better not take the last hole.
When using Grooves V-Strap with laminated neopren cover try to not hurt the cover but to cut away just all foam under the dacron band. As a first tool you may try to install the one only elongated Loxx upper part XXL which I put into the shopping card as a tool. Tighten it and as said you will see its thread will start to slip against its head but it can help to widen the hole and to see if you are close to get the low “heavy duty” installed. If you feel ready for that this will need all your force and a good working place which could be a chair without backrest.
Put all upside down and try to push the Loxx long washer with the help of the tool holding it ca. 45° onto the strap/upper part. Then start to walk around the chair while constantly pushing down the nut and hope that it starts to catch the thread of the upper part.
Done, and if not yet, don’t give up 😉 it works, but not so easy to do it well. But if done well this can last for all the straps live -> many board -> many years.
My both pair with nearly two years and close to 100 sessions still look and work like new.
And with foam straps installation is easier, as there is not the neoprene cover of the Groove V strap that needs to be saved. For the foam you normally just need to widen the hole, if the foam is much to thick and can’t be pressed together enough, better don’t cut it, but sand it done with a very rough sand paper, as any cutting here will cause the foam to rip at the connector.
3.3. How to first klick the fastener on the board and further small hints
First another small hint and reason why I prefer the foam straps especially for backstrap:
While you enter the front strap always from the same side the back strap is entered from both sides, which gives two possibilities: 1. The strap is a bit weak and turns a bit aside to come into a position where its band comes under tension and connects plane with the back of your foot. But in this case the strap is bend aside so it is no more perfect stiff when it comes to up lifting forces. The 2. better way to me is to have a pretty low and so rigid strap that don’t need to tilt in the boards roll axis as it has already a tilt form itself for both of the foot entering sides. With foam straps it is pretty easy to cut away such a tilt at around 20° symmetrically on the port and starboard side and then to sand it, again to avoid the foam to rip during usage and for an even better smooth fitting with the foot.
Final assembling and fine tuning:
When you have been successful with installing the Loxx Upper Part, then it is time for a first connection with your board. For that the Loxx Long Washer needs to be properly screwed up against the Loxx Upper Part. It is not necessary that the washer is completely even with the upper part but with about 0,5 mm step close to that. You may test this by connecting your strap to a not yet to board installed Loxx Screw, which should have a bit of play when properly clipped in, you will see that it becomes a bit tighter in the moment you open it again that is why it needs a bit play otherwise it could become difficult to open it.
By the way, with my last I think order Nr. 4 from Loxx I decided to also buy the tool “Loxx Large Key – Pull and Close” which looks similar as the “Loxx Large Key – wooden handle” but is used as here discussed for the first assembling which can be a bit hard when everything like the foam is still a bit tight. But for your first order it is not really necessary, just if you want to have this extra luxus or think about installing a lot of loxx fastener in the future.
Important to know is: To close the fastener, DON’t PUSH the bottom, but push down the wider disk below against the lower part. And for opening you may also have to push down the lower disk to open the mechanism with lower load.
Anyway, I recommend to fine tune the fitting of both parts and its surroundings that way that before first usage everything sits tight and maybe also too tight for easy reopening. This means that you let the board pads foam around the Loxx lower part have that high that it pushs against the strap, when installed. If it feels too tight you may use again your rough sand paper to lower the pad or also the strap if using foam strap.
That’s it, if not seen yet there is a video of how the Fastener perform on top of this blog.
Happy Foiling 😊
defect link to wrong shop