TEST TEAM NOTES
We always look forward to testing the original one-kite does-it-all all-rounder, though the Bandit has varied whereabouts on that all-round spectrum it has focused its performance in each of the nine incarnations.
The Monolith is one of the shortest and most compact control systems on the market. We used the new 45cm bars with these kites and the design team must do such a great job with the bridle on the Bandit because it allows you to use such neat, small bars and still have all the steering input you need. The bar’s minimalist design and the 6061 aluminium block keep the weight incredibly light, while the double EVA grip is durable and yet comfortable. The plastic chicken-loop remains from last year – it’s neat, tidy and very acceptable, though some committed unhooked freestylers might like the option of a slightly bigger loop. The above-the-bar cleat provides a lot of trimming. There’s no Velcro to retain the rope when you have a lot of depower pulled on, but we rarely had to pull on any depower, such is the quality of the top end performance. The V where the front lines split is quite high, so although there’s no below-the-bar swivel, that high V means that the lines don’t noticeably twist up. You should note that when the quick-release is triggered, the kite ﬂags out onto two lines rather than one, but with that high V, it ditches all the power very well. The Technoforce Teijin canopy material is quality and the overall weight has been reduced by using a double layer of canopy fabric instead of heavier-weight Dacron in places. The Bandit is a high quality kite with no gimmicks, though one change that we would like to see is the implementation of a wide inﬂation system.
This year the Bandit has been designed so that sizes 11 and upwards are optimised for jumping and light wind riding; the mid sizes of eight to ten metres are designed for cross-over riding; while the smaller four to seven metre sizes are even faster and tuned for wave riding.
8 & 9M
We rode the nine in everything from 17 knots to way over 30. Although he’s 92 kilos, Matt was holding an upwind line on a twin-tip in 17 knots. The lighter riders in the team were also very comfortable in 30+ knots, so the range is considerable. The bar pressure is on the lighter side, adding to the comfort of the kite for wave riding, though Matt did suggest as a bigger rider he enjoys a bit more bar pressure for aggressive jumping. Prior to last year, there had been questions about whether the boosting potential had been dropped back in favour of a more turny, wave-style kite prior to 2014. Last year’s Bandit had very apparently been really revved back up again. This year, the nine is exceptionally well polished in terms of its huge wind range, handling and jumping ability. Very nippy, responsive and controllable, the nine strikes an ideal balance. Also generating a lot of lift, it doesn’t let go until you hit that apex of your jump, and as riders who want to jump big, we want to feel that. The nine pulls hard and doesn’t ease off on the lift stroke. Combine that with good board speed and it’s lovely. It’s relevant to mention that Matt, the heaviest rider in the team, had to work the nine quite hard to get decent air time because of the lighter grunt at the bar, though moving the back line attachment to the inner-most setting helped beef up the feedback for him a bit. He also had fewer sessions than Bully, especially, who absolutely fell in love with the kite. (It’s coming to Cape Town, so keep an eye on his stats.)
On the way down from boosting it’s very controllable, whether doing a helicopter loop, or bringing it down steadily. The Bandit always creates nice lift while its moving, which gives you the control, hang-time and predictable results.
The loops are very enjoyable because the kite is very comfortable and responsive. Sometimes it can go round quicker than you expect, but in general the Bandit really bites and accelerates as it travels round 4 or 5’clock in the window, getting round to catch you each time. It’s not pivotal, and there’s also no ﬂapping around that section of the window. The eight is much more inline with the smaller sizes in the range; more freeride / wave than big air boost, but it’s right at that cross-over point between the two classes. That said, the top end just keeps going and going, so any kite that can handle that amount of wind is going to be fun to ride however you’re sending it. The nine is the more focused big air model and, arguably, has a similar wind range to the eight. So if you’re an experienced rider looking for that big booster, opt for the nine.
When unhooked the nine sits pretty far forward and doesn’t shift back too quickly when you come out of the loop. It feels controllable, you can edge hard against it and generate pleasing pop.
Last year’s seven metre felt quite snatchy in its power as it was so quick and explosive. This year the seven is a tremendous wave and freeride kite – the connection you feel is fantastic. For boosting, the seven can handle incredible amounts of wind, which it needs to get you up high, but there’s still lots of capability when you get it right. The difference with this and the nine is the quicker speed that the seven brings you back down because it drops much more power in the turn compared to the way the nine maintains drive. However, with good handling in the gusts you can still get a good vertical rush on the seven. The seven is more focused for waves or for lighter riders wanting to feel secure in strong winds. The bar pressure is just right for athletic steering and smooth power, but you can sheet it out, park it and it will drift nicely down the line.
The overall improvement this year is undoubtedly the smoother power delivery. No matter what you ask the Bandit to do, the chassis stays true and in tact. The nine metre is all about going boom-boom way up high and far – it never disappoints and doesn’t drop you. The eight is a noticeable step towards the wave focused kites, but has a top end that goes on forever. The seven is more ﬁrmly camped in wave riding territory.
The smooth power delivery and yet it’s still a ﬁ red up all-rounder with pleasing bite.
KW WOULD CHANGE
The introduction of a wide inﬂation system and some freestylers would like a bigger chicken-loop (though it’s ﬁne for most people).
BANDIT BALANCE POINTS
BUILD QUALITY: 8.5
FULL PACKAGE: 8
LOW END: 8
TOP END: 9
STEERING SPEED: 8
TURNING CIRCLE: 4.5
POWER THROUGH THE TURN: 5
BAR PRESSURE: 4
WATER RELAUNCH: 9
BOOST: 8.5 (FOR THE 9M)
HANG-TIME: 8 (FOR THE 9M)
CROSS-OVER: 9 (but you need to choose your size carefully according to high performance freeride, freestyle or waves) EASE-OF-USE: 8.5
17, 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 AND 4M
Here’s the official Bandit 2016 product video from F-One
More information at www.f-onekites.com
Thanks to Watersports Warehouse in Sunset Beach for the Bandit 7m loan in Cape Town.