The Bandit 3's huge wind range lets you ride a whole session without being troubled by even the biggest changes in wind. Traction found right at the edge of the window makes the board feel lighter and eases tacking upwind on choppy water. The shortened power-depower bar travel and the reduced bar feeling on the rider's arms make for an optimal, upright riding position. With easy power control, the over-powered riding experience has been improved and with good gust control, you are all set to go big! Even when jumping at the kite's top-end, the Bandit 3 is easy-to-fly to the zenith thanks to the depower and optimised performance at the window's edge. These aerodynamic improvements will launch you higher and glide for longer than other kites. The precise and intuitive control bar and feedback means that your attention will be free to focus on your tricks and riding.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
As well as riding this for a week in Mauritius in July we tested this nine metre in quite choppy bangonshore 15 knot conditions, so we've had a bit of everything. On last year's Dos model there was a bit of looseness around the bar and the chicken-loop line but this year the bar is tight, small and very neat indeed. The long bridles from last year have also been trimmed and simplified. The feel of the bar, the bar set-up and simple and easy-to-use depower cleat are all improved. There aren't many holes to pick in this system. The chicken-loop release is still the Velcro system from last year, but there are no moving parts to break and it's reliable. One pump has been added to this third generation Bandit and some general tidying up and attention to detail has been afforded in the twelve months between this Bandit and the release of the Dos.
The power delivery was rather abrupt on the Dos; you'd sheet in the bar and have loads of power, then sheet out but would still have a fair bit of power at almost full arm's reach, making a very comfortable riding position tricky at the top end. The key to the Bandit 3 has been to have a much more progressive feeling of power and depower. Much less sheeting out is required now, and you can control the whole ride with just arm movements rather than having to feel like you're stretching your back forwards and being pulled over on your toes. The whole package feels more evolved; locked and stable. The bottom and top ends have also been stretched. At just 15 knots (even Bully with his 85 kilo winter warming layers on) could easily cruise about – there's oodles of power, and at the top end, the kite really does seem to be able to cope with a surprising amount, so smaller quivers are needed.
Stability is another big factor in this kite's performance. This year's model has much more of a Cshape influence on the Delta design and is very compact, making the Dos rather big, flat and bulky. It's a nippy little machine and it's been interesting to watch the Bandit develop from a wild animal originally to something that's really controlled. There's still a little weight to the bar feel, but it's a reassuring level. Sheeted all the way out, there's still enough power to keep the kite flying and in the sky, which feels nice and poised. It needs to be told to turn with definite input on the bar, so there's no accidental steering by inexperienced riders and advanced riders can do all their unhooked tricks with a solid, stable kite that doesn't zip around the window as they move around the bar. Having said that, when you do give it the green light to turn you can kite loop it with confidence. The upstroke is good, there's no stalling and it flies all the way round in a very balanced manner.
Unhooked it's fun, with only a little sheeting required, but there's really very little change in handling and balance in or out of the loop. Bar pressure is good out of the loop and there's certainly no moments where the kite only wants to pull your arms out of their sockets, so you don't need to be some sort of muscled-up hero to try things on it. For wave riding, hooked or unhooked, with convincing inputs into the bar it's quick enough for really attacking waves and good amounts of depower make slashy turns easy hooked-in. Impressively for a delta shape it's very happy unhooked for you to follow it down-the-line, linking turns, but does need a bit of trimming down first, but the easy trimming system makes that simple.
F-One really only focus on one kite for the mass market, and quite a job they've done, too. Not only have they produced a kite that you could wave ride hooked or unhooked, do healthy kite loops, unhooked freestyle and boost huge, but it's also easy enough to use as a first kite. There's also no let down as a delta shape on the rapid roll over relaunch front, either. The addition of one pump has finished the job off nicely for Raphael's team this year.
KW LIKED: Positive handling, adaptability and impressive range.
KW WOULD CHANGE: Smaller riders might find it a bit beefy.
SIZES: 15, 13, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
This test is in issue #44