by Shane Thompson / SBC Kiteboard Test Team
The F-One Bandit is a real standout in the unhooked, and powered freestyle category. SBC Kiteboard head-to-head surf tests (Issue 12.1).
• Stylish design with wave-built construction
• C-kite style handling with direct steering and control
• Higher levels of all-terrain performance than ever before
F-One has totally redesigned and revamped their legendary Bandit IV for 2011 with new canopy shape profile, leading edge arc, a reduction in struts to three and widened wing tips. Still with Delta shaping the new Bandit promises better C-like quality performance, improved handling, low-end power and faster turning.
Control Bar and Safety Systems
The new Airlite Aluminum Monobloc bar is free of any clutter and streamlined. It features an aggressively narrow, smooth and comfortable EVA grip that feels light but solid in your hands. The one-piece aluminum construction gives it a solid feel and polished finish. The above-the-bar trim cleat system is reliable and easy to adjust on the fly. Underneath the bar floats there are adjustable length leader lines so you can efficiently tune any back stall from the kite. The Velcro quick-release system is an effective, if not underrated quick- release safety system. It avoids the downfall of most systems which if underused, unkempt or grunge filled, might be prone to seize, corrode or fail. The safety handle can be set on either side of the chicken loop depending on your preference. It would be important to keep the safety knob on the same side for consistency of engagement. The mini fifth-line engages full flagging of both the front lines of the kite. Good polish and functional safety systems get the Airlite Aluminum Monobloc bar top marks.
The new Bandit IV had the most distinctive and different feel than any kite of the test. It has a solid shape and is supported by a quality Force Frame build with one pump. Classic and stylish graphics, Fone has done well with this kite’s appearance as it occupies the heart of the brand. The Bandit seems much less Delta this year but with a more C-kite look to it with wider wing tips and three struts. It maintains its simple bridle system and the welcome addition of settings on the wing tips allows for adjustments to the IV’s turning speed and bar pressure. Its light weight brings some better low-end power from the IV also has some more dynamic turning speed and reaction to bar input that the III lacked at times. The lightweight feel to the three-strut design makes it more nimble and reactive in the waves. Depower is solid but with more available power, there still some pull and reactivity to kite input. The overall control is good, jumping is C-like with good lift, and more manageable drift than earlier Delta shapes. The wider wing tips give the kite smoother power through the arced turns. It is important to tune out the bandits back lack lines for optimum stability and depower.
The new Bandit has impressive speed, even in lighter winds and its solid upwind capability give it good race capability. Water relaunch is still Delta-like and the kite’s lighter weight ensures the Bandit IV is quick to flight in lighter winds. The all-terrain capability of the kite and enhancements in direct feel impressively suit the Bandit IV to the intermediate to advanced rider that wants a do-it-all design without limitations.
The increased C-kite shape of the Bandit is a trade off for some of the instant depower of the more Delta-shaped kites of the test.
The aggressive overhaul of the Bandit IV has delivered some positive improvements for this Delta-evolved design. The Bandit will be sure to excite current compadres and inspire intermediate to advanced riders to push the limits in new conditions and disciplines.