Bandit 8 Review | F-One America Team Rider Brian Friedmann
Local Spots: Waddell Creek & Scotts Creek, California
This year’s Bandit provides even more performance that prior years B7. The eighth edition Bandit has taken everything that was learned since the Bandit’s inception and created even a better kite which was no small feat. I’ve had the chance to get out on both the 7M and 9M in the last couple weeks. The first was the 7M in conditions at Waddell creek that were less than optimal with a bit more side off than usual making things challenging in the surf zone but it was enough to get a really good feel for the kite. The wind was a bit light for that small a kite but I still gave it a go. Immediately you could feel that the Bandit 8 had a lot of power as I left the beach. In fact I was tempted to take a second look at the size to make certain it was indeed a 7M and not an 8M. The kite turned very quickly, with minimal input and was really responsive, characteristics I would attribute to the additional bridle attachment point on the leading edge and smaller leading edge. After catching a couple waves and flying the kite in the usual angles I decided to put it through some more tests. Looping the kite came effortlessly but was still controlled with a reasonable amount of input on the bar. The kite will circle in a very tight diameter when you add more bar input. It has a ton of control and you can over sheet the kite in the middle of the loop to slow it down or stall the loop a bit or just keep it at a normal angle throughout the loop. Of course, it wasn’t nuking wind so playing around with looping the kite had less punishment if something went wrong.
The next thing tested was simply stalling the kite from its normal flying spot of around the 10 o’clock position. Recovering from a stall tells you a lot about a kite. Many kites will just continue to fall to the water once a heavy stall is initiated. This was not the case with the Bandit 8. In fact I found that the recovery was instantaneous and with a lot of power. The kite wants to rocket forward and you would have to pull the bar in completely and keep it there for a long time in order to get this kite to do a full stall and hit the water. The next thing I noted was that it likes to fly a bit further forward in the wind window that last year’s model. This made going upwind more efficient. After spending a solid hour on the kite running through different tests and just seeing how it reacts in the surf I decided to break out my Bandit 7, 7M for a side by side comparison. This is the acid test. A new kite is always exciting and it’s easy to make psychological errors regarding the kites performance as you can get all caught up in the fact that it’s a new kite and should perform better. But trying it back to back with last year’s model really tells the story and I found that the Bandit 8 really shined in turning speed and power over last year’s model. It was very noticeable once I put my old kite through the same scenarios that I’d been doing with the Bandit 8. The bar pressure on this year’s Bandit seems slightly less, but enough that you can still tell where the kite is in the air. The kite build quality hasn’t changed and you still get fantastic craftsmanship with every aspect of its construction. The reinforcements are bomber and the major changes that were noticeable are the release valve is now positioned on the left side next to the inflation valve, the struts are definitely smaller in diameter and the rear steering lines now have a third attachment point allowing more flexibility and fine tuning of steering vs. bar pressure. Given that my riding all happens in the surf in side onshore conditions I found the third attachment point to be helpful as it appears to be slightly further back towards the trailing edge which translates to faster turning. But it’s nice to have yet another option for people that want to change the turning speed or bar pressure amounts.
I had a chance to take the new Bandit 8, 9M for a go yesterday in some large surf and no surprise, it did fantastic and all of the characteristics of the 7M were found in the 9M. Most people were flying 10M or 12M kites on this day and I opted for 18 meter lines on the 9M and had no problems matching or outperforming other riders going upwind. The 9M turned very quickly, was really stable and had no problems with stalling on the inside section where the current is rushing in the same direction as the wind reducing your apparent wind speed to nothing. Others didn’t fare so well and several kitemares in big surf and light inside wind took place. It was comforting knowing the Bandit 8 was going to perform so well in these challenging conditions. Often times Bandit owners are skeptical on the latest edition and wonder if they should wait another year or get the latest model now. I highly recommend this year’s Bandit 8. It’s a significant improvement and for those that wonder, yes, it’s definitely worth the upgrade if you currently have an earlier Bandit.
– Le Krill