We’ve reviewed it once already – this time through we took it to the waves!
This test first appeared in Issue #98 – March 2019
Test Team Notes:
We tested the Bandit already on a twin-tip, and published that in issue 96, but the original all-round kite has long been equally designed with waves in mind for the smaller sizes, so here are tester Matt’s words on it after chasing swells on a surfboard for a few weeks and assembling the notes with the team:
On my first session on the six metre, I’d just come off the seven metre Reo and hadn’t been spectacularly powered, but the Bandit has this readily apparent surge of power and positive feel at the bar that I locked into straight away. There’s an overriding feeling of just being nice and straight forward. I know it’s athletic and responsive, but the Bandit has a very consistent connection between rider and kite and there are no quirks that are hard to tune into. I felt like I had the measure of it immediately.
Start chucking it around and it’s fast, although not as fast as the Reo, but I think for about 80-90% of riders this is as fast as most people need a kite to be and it carries momentum through the turn beautifully. Loop it in the corner of the window and it goes round consistently before punching forward. The bottom turn feel is exciting enough, but without that edgy, tyres-just-hanging-on through the corners feel that some wave / wave-freeride kites have (and which I personally really like), but there’s more than enough of a shunt to feel very engaging.
The flying position is quite forward, but the Bandit’s not constantly searching and jerking forward. The gust management is sensational this year, just rocking itself back and forth as and when it needs to without transmitting any lumps and bumps to the rider. You just don’t get that shifty, stop / start feel that some wave kites have. I was on a six while a lot of lighter riders were on bigger kites, but the Bandit carried my 90+ kilo frame upwind nicely. Without being overbearing, you always know where it is.
Through just a little up and down movement the Bandit generates good power and you don’t feel like you’re getting rattled around in shifter conditions because it automatically seems to sit in the right place; something everyone’s going to appreciate. Also, because it does sit back a bit when it needs to and is so stable in the sky, the Bandit is equally happy when sitting and drifting down the line.
For me, the reason this kite is so good is because it combines much of the solidness and dependability of the Neo with the excitement of the Reo and it’s as good as you’d expect it to be after 12 versions!
Fixtures and fittings wise, F-One use an inflation valve that’s standard on SUPs and dinghies. A little different to other kite systems, there’s a push / push button on the valve to allow air to be pumped in / let out. F-One provide a valve adapter with the kite, so you can borrow another pump wherever you are and it locks on tightly with no loss of air.
Last year marked the first major upgrade on the F-One bar for many years with a new Lynx bar frame featuring softer, padded bar ends, rear line bar width adjustments and the addition of a line untwister above the chicken-loop. Although you don’t need to use it much as the Bandit’s range is so good, there is a bit of dangle from the trimming rope when fully depowered and the safety line still runs separately through the centre of the bar.
Very safe for operation, but it is exposed to more eventual wear than a plastic covered design (but at least you can see it). This year there’s a new metal line splitter and hub that are smoother aluminium for less wear where the Mickey Mouse ears used to be. There are also new, stiffer flying lines that stretch less (a big deal for continued performance). There are two adjustable bar sizes available and neither are massive; a 52/45cm option for 10m kites and above, and 45/38cm for the smaller kites. The Bandit XII has been tweaked to within an inch of its life, so there’s no need for extra leverage from a bigger bar on any kite size and you do always feel like you’re steering a two seater sports car with an F-One, which we love!
The smaller Bandit sizes are very tuned for adept wave handling, but also have an easy and smooth side to them that riders of all abilities can tune into. Whatever you’re using the Bandit for, and whatever size you’re using, the essence of the kite is that it’s always very easy to use, so your performance improves as a result. The automatic tracking and gust handling mixed with fingertip control also makes the Bandit a good foil kite. The smaller sizes don’t have the same lift characteristics of the bigger sizes, but do have a very big workable range. They make a great quiver.
Kite World Liked:
Strong, easy, fast and yet controlled. As good as any pure line of wave kites.
KW Would Change:
There may be one other manufacturer that uses the same inflation valve (found more commonly on rubber dinghies), so it can sometimes be difficult to borrow one. Just remember to take your own valve with you (you get one with the kite) because it’s very easy to pump the kite up hard and then secure the air. It’s a good system, just not very popular elsewhere.
Bandit Balance Points:
Build quality: 9
Full package: 8.5
Low end: 8.5
Top end: 8.5
Steering speed: 8
Turning circle: 4
Bar pressure: 5
Water relaunch: 8.5
Boost: DT (See 9m review online or in issue 96)
Sizes: 17, 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4m