F-One Bandit 2019 9m Review
This test first appeared in KW #96 in November 2018
TEST TEAM NOTES:
Over the last 12 years we’ve been on some wild rides when testing the various incarnations of the F-One Bandit, the original do-it-all kite. The kite was so damn agile that we reckon they’ve spent the last four years taming the bugger!
The Bandit has always been one of our favourites when it comes to complete all-round performance for intermediate riders and above. If you like a kite to feel really alive so you can throw it around and make shapes, the Bandit XII is a dream and this year feels super refined. If you’re used to a five strut high-aspect kite, initially you’re going to be alarmed by the Bandit’s agility, but as this Bandit is the smoothest yet, you’ll dial into it quickly enough.
Over the years we’ve always appreciated that the Bandit is as much fun on a twin-tip as it is on a surfboard. A few years ago it was too sensitive to be ideal for lots of unhooked tricks as you had to be so precise with your hands on the bar, but that too has improved for this year, though that particular side of the Bandit’s performance isn’t very high up the scale of priorities for the team. It’s a nice benefit to have been improved (with a little bar trimming), though.
Now noticeably slower there’s a far more moderate feel for turning feedback at the bar. If you’re reading this and thinking, ‘Puh, I don’t want a slow kite’, then you don’t really understand just what a beast the Bandit has been in its lifetime. The increase in required steering input has added a level of stability, steadiness and a smoother overall feel.
The jumping isn’t as obviously lifty as something like a Core XR, but the jumping performance is seriously impressive and easy considering the precise and measured feel at the bar for added handling and kite manoeuvres.
If we were talking drum and bass music, there’s now less of a bass-line drop / surge in power as you sheet in. Per size the Bandit was always punching above its weight, but it has been quite wild and fast. Huge thumbs up from the team here for calming it down and creating such a smooth machine. The range is big, there’s little need for much trimming and the Bandit is forgiving in strong winds as it glides nicely forward in the window. Always maintaining shape in the sky, it treats your body nicely in the really big, survival strength gusts. There is lots of depower, but the Bandit doesn’t quickly shut off to absolute zero like some all-round kites. When a designer tries to create ultimate silence with ultimate noise (a quick power surge when sheeting), the journey between those points can be quite aggressive and that’s where the Bandit stands out. As a rider you feel safe and in complete control thanks to the fluid uptake of power.
To be really critical, there could be a bit more power and a naturally wider arc through a kite loop for the really hungry loopers out there, like the Core GTS, but you can look like a hero on the Bandit and loop all day long. The loop is steadier this year, but the Bandit still goes round quickly and always quite high in the window. You can influence the speed of the turn with experience to get a deeper loop, but the Bandit’s automatic turn setting and confident forward drive is why it’s simply so much fun. You can throw it around with confidence, put it where you want to, it drifts nicely but then you can slip it straight into first gear and it pulls away again beautifully. The Bandit really allows you to use all the water conditions to their fullest. You can do so much with the kite and never have to wait for it. Like a smart watch, it syncs with your activity and knows what you’ll be doing next before you do.
Fixtures and fittings wise, F-One use an inflation valve that’s standard on SUPs and dinghys. A little different to other kite systems, there’s a push / push button on the valve to allow air to be pumped in / let out (don’t be tempted to twist it). F-One provide a valve adaptor with the kite, so you can borrow another pump wherever you are and it locks on tightly with no loss of air.
Last year marked the first major upgrade on the F-One bar for many years with a new Lynx bar frame featuring softer, padded bar ends, rear line bar width adjustments and the addition of a line untwister above the chicken-loop. There are still perhaps some bits that aren’t quite as rounded off and sublimely polished as you’ll see from Germany. Although you don’t need to use it much as the Bandit’s range is so good, there is a bit of dangle from the trimming rope when fully depowered and the safety line still runs separately through the centre of the bar. Very safe for operation, but it is exposed to more wear than a plastic covered design. This year there’s a new metal line splitter and hub that are smoother aluminium for less wear where the Mickey Mouse ears used to be as well as new stiffer flying lines that stretch less. (These are apparently a big deal for continued performance). There are two adjustable bar sizes available and neither are massive; a 52/45cm option for 10m kites and above, and 45/38cm for the smaller kites. The Bandit XII has been tweaked to within an inch of its life, so there’s no need for extra leverage from a bigger bar on any kite size and you do always feel like you’re steering a two seater sports car with an F-One, which we love!
The Bandit XII is a very similar kite to last year, but steadier and smoother once again. For any rider of an intermediate level and above it’s a dream for destroying the ocean.
The Bandit has been refined and tuned to work brilliantly for the widest scope of riders, conditions and disciplines. And have you seen how many colours you can choose from?
KW WOULD CHANGE:
If we’re being picky, there are meatier kite loops out there and if you’re doing an above average amount of unhooking, you’ll progress those skills quicker on F-One’s WTF kite.
BANDIT BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 9
Full package: 8.5
Low end: 8
Top end: 8.5
Steering speed: 7
Turning circle: 4.5
Bar pressure: 5
Water relaunch: 8.5
Drift: 7.5 (Very balanced)
Ease-of-use: 8.5 (If you’re a good kiter, it’s extremely easy)
SIZES: 17, 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4m
Watch the product video:
More at www.f-one.world