The improved direct connection you’ll feel with the new Bandit will help you ride more confidently. The whole kite profile is more stable and much cleaner, more clearly defining your sensations. Lateral traction has been reduced, giving you more control over your riding, however there has been no compromise in the available power for early planing, yet the kite is also less physical to ride. Fabric upgrades have been made to the new double rip-stop Technoforce by Teijin, with a superior wear strength and better in-flight profile control thanks to added stability. New designer Robert Graham left no stones unturned and was able to further refine the Bandit shape, while maintaining the Bandit’s signature power and improved depower, impressive hang-time and flight capacity for all your favourite disciplines.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We tested the 2014 nine metre late in 2013 but as the Bandit is such an all-encompassing range designed to cater for any sort of kitesurfer on the planet, we wanted to see how F-One’s biggest Bandit model faired in the lighter winds, too. For starters, of course the 14 is the usual Bandit quality and we love the solid colours that it’s offered in. Very bold and striking without being tutti-frutti and overly colourful. One pump, good manufacturing, it’s a safe purchase in terms of what you’re getting for your money.
For years we’ve associated light wind riding with having a javelin for a bar. Not so with the F-One, their new bar is so light, clean and simple and this 14 operates on something more like you’d expect to find on a nine metre, although this doesn’t mean that very heavy input is required. Quite the opposite, the Bandit is very well balanced, quick, light at the bar and certainly isn’t an arm worker like the 17 metre kites can be. Having said that we must also say early on that this is only really a light wind option for small/light weight riders. The Bandit doesn’t feel to fly like a big kite, but it also doesn’t have stacks of power. It’s more like a 12, but there are benefits to this if you’re looking to add to your existing Bandit quiver. For starters if you’re a big guy over 90 kilos you’ll be able to hold onto this when the wind passes way over 20mph and because it’s very smooth and well tuned, as a 14 it’s always going to be able to provide you a very stable boost and will keep you up there forever. Great lift and hang-time, the Bandits this year are a bit like 600cc motorbikes in that for the first 7,000 revs in the range not much happens, but once you get beyond that they really light up and the top end really is ridiculously good as that air frame stays the same whatever the wind, doesn’t distort and the kite seems to have lots of room to breathe. Compared to some other meaty 12 or 14 metre kites that have a lot more of their power at the bottom end of the rev range, by the time you get up to 22 knots you end up really fighting the kite as it tends to drop back. Not so at all with the Bandit. The windier it gets the further it flies forward and also doesn’t get any more physical in terms of wanting to grunt you downwind, which is superb.
The water relaunch is also very good this year and linked to that F-One have tackled any existing issues there were with reverse stalling, which seemed to be the achilles heel of making a kite that does everything. Not so now, and the Bandit has lost a bit of power because it likes to remain forward in the window and you now also spend much less time trimming. Unlike previous models there’s no need to yank on the trim at all before unhooking and this Bandit is a lot of fun for unhooked freestyle, sitting in a beautiful spot in the window. The only real downside for unhooked performance is that they seem to have made the chicken-loop even smaller and we thought it could be a bit bigger to make it more accessible for people who do a lot of unhooking.
The Bandit is one of the most complete kites on the market in terms of feel and it capability, but as a 14 and as a viable light wind kite for anyone other than those under 70 kilos, this could do with some more beans at its low end. But for a rider over 90 kilos it’s a very rewarding, agile and fun kite in normal force 4 to 5 kitesurfing conditions.
Like all Bandits this year, the 14 is nimble, turns fast, delivers smooth power and is very well tuned for all types of riding that you can think of.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
You know what we’re going to say: more power at the bottom end (somehow without sacrificing the glorious top end!)
BANDIT BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 8.5
Full package: 8
Low end: 7.5
Top end: 8.5
Steering speed: 7
Turning circle: 5
Bar pressure: 5
Water relaunch: 7.5
More at: www.f-onekites.com
Here’s the official product info video from F-One:
F-ONE BANDIT 2014 from F-ONE KITE on Vimeo.