Source: The Kiteboarder Magazine
Sizes Available: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11m
Sizes Tested: 7, 9m
The true partner to the surfboard rider, the BANDIT S3 follows your every move in all control. You can manage the power at any time. The kite never surges in power if you throw the kite in the window, it simply allows you to kite smoothly in the right position and ride by feel. It provides a subtle ride as well as a constant connection with your board. Turning response when sheeted out has been increased, giving you more control over the kite’s position almost at will. The kite’s handling is precise and provides a constant connection with your board. You are not being pulled away, nor are your trajectories being disturbed. The leading edge has a new diameter, offering more control. The new double vertical panel around the trailing edge offers a sleek profile for the most stable flight.
When it comes to picking out a surf kite there are quite a few flavors to choose from, but F-One’s Bandit S is certainly one of our cult favorites for riding waves with a surfboard and a kite. In its third year as a standalone surf design, the Bandit S3 has some subtle design changes and the quiver gets the introduction of an 11m size to compliment bigger riders and lighter wind wave riding. With a pedigree stemming from the longstanding Bandit model (15 years running), the Bandit S branch of surf kites employs a 3-strut delta C-shape design that offers a carefully sculpted mix of high quality materials to achieve one of the most responsive and precise deliveries of power for riding waves. Along with the addition of an 11m size to the range, there have been subtle tweaks to the leading edge diameter and a new panel layout featuring an additional row of panels and seams parallel to the trailing edge.
Inflation Valve: Push button valve / Reactor nozzle required
Attachments: Center bridle: Knot / Wingtip bridle: Knot
Centerline Split: High-V
Front Bridle Options: Single setting with two stainless sliders
Design and Features
The Bandit S3 comes with the Reactor inflation valve which offers a high flow connection that twist locks the pump hose to the kite for an easy and super-fast inflation and deflation at the push of a button. There are a number of brands that are now using this system as it has proven itself very reliable; just be sure to remember to tap the push button into the closed position (with the button sticking out) before you start pumping. The Bandit S3 features a single setting front bridle that utilizes two pulleys that, this year, have been upgraded to simple stainless sliders. F-One is one of the few brands to use pigtails that end in knots on both the front bridle and outside wingtips. The wingtip utilizes a bridle that has two knots for adjusting the effective connection point forward or aft on the wingtip. The top knot moves the connection back, lowers bar pressure and increases maneuverability. The bottom knot moves the connection point forward, increases bar pressure and reduces maneuverability. The stock steering setting comes with the bridle connection point set to be farther back.
“One of the Bandit S3’s super powers is its super crisp steering response that delivers immediate reaction from inputs on the bar; this helps riders keep the Bandit ahead of every move and ready for the next input.”
The Bandit S3 features multiple grades of Dacron; it’s used sparingly on the wingtips with a lighter grade Dacron across the trailing edge, accomplishing the dual goal of keeping the build weight really light while also ensuring that the trailing edge is stable during flight and durable for longevity. F-One has long been successful at achieving impressive performance with careful material usage while keeping the weight down. When you first pump up the leading edge, you will notice that it’s a fairly thin diameter, yet the Bandit still has a sufficiently rigid airframe that does a great job of handling excess power and high-end gusts.
One of our first impressions is that this year’s Bandit S has a hair-bit more bar pressure than the previous version, while overall ringing in at light to medium feel at the bar. It seemed like the kite was giving us just a bit more feel in the bar when fully powered up and we liked how that added to our awareness of where the Bandit S3 was in the window. With its pivot style turn and incredible steering response and speed, riding the Bandit can sometimes require some adaption, but with a bit more bar feel it tended to create more awareness for where the kite was in a loop or in big airs.
The Bandit S3 continues to shine with its super progressive power delivery across the bar’s throw, giving you access to complete depower at the end of the bar stroke which ensures that the Bandit S3’s power doesn’t interfere with riding a wave (particularly in offshore conditions), or in the case of hydrofoiling, the power release is really forgiving. One of the Bandit S3’s super powers is its super crisp steering response that delivers immediate reaction from inputs on the bar; this helps advanced riders keep the Bandit ahead of every move and ready for the next input. With a tight pivotal turn and its intuitive power delivery, the Bandit S3 flies impeccably in the middle of the window which makes onshore wave riding much easier when you can easily put the kite where it needs to be at all times. As a dedicated wave platform, the Bandit S3 also scores really high in the drift category, swiftly backing up and absorbing slack in your lines when you drive towards the kite. Some wave kites tend to fall on the heavy-pulling grunty side of pulling power, but the Bandit offers a more surgical approach to power delivery with on-demand power that is both sheet and go but also amplified by the kite’s maneuverability. With both a light airframe and deeper window position, the Bandit S3 not only drifts well, but does a good job of responding to steering inputs while sheeted out. Both surf and kitefoiling often require you to move the kite’s position without adding pulling power and the Bandit scores high marks for depowered steering response.
“With its pivot style turn and incredible steering response and speed, riding the Bandit can sometimes require some adaption, but with a bit more bar feel, it tended to create more awareness for where the kite was in loops and big airs.”
Ultimately, the Bandit S3 adds some minor tweaks to the F-One surf formula with some of the most apparent changes being the addition of new panel seams in the back section of the canopy for added stability and the addition of the new 11m size. Best recommended for discerning surfers who prize maneuverability over hard pulling grunt power, the Bandit S3 is a super user-friendly platform that offers nimble flight controls that’ll suit surfers and kitefoilers as well as the all-around casual freeride kiteboarder.