F-ONE 2020 RANGE LAUNCH – BANDIT FOCUS
MAURITIUS, AUGUST 2019
INTRO: Kiteworld’s summary of F-One Founder Raphael Salles’ presentation – including thoughts after five days of riding them
Words: Jim Gaunt
‘Nice work, ya swine’, I hear you mutter and already in your mind you’re giving me two more sentences to justify your time before you close this page…
Yes, Mauritius is very nice, but Raph and the F-One team actually justified the location for a gear launch because for 2020 they have taken the big step of splitting the original ‘one kite that does it all’ and made two Bandits: the ‘2020’ and the ‘S’. In the kiting world – this is a big change of direction.
If you’ve never been, the spot of Le Morne in the southwest corner of Mauritius island offers a variety of incredible wave conditions of all shapes and sizes right outside a lagoon that’s ideal for boosting and twin-tip freestyle. Two years ago their launch location of choice was Dakhla in Morocco because they were doing a huge push on foiling and wanted a location where they could help their dealers progress in that discipline quickly.
2020 & S (For surf!)
ONE PASSION, ONE HISTORY, ONE TEAM, ONE FAMILY…
Those are the main marketing credentials that F-One are pushing in the noisy landscape that we’re seeing at the moment. Indeed their 20 year history is a deep and engaging one, filled with excellent innovations and toys.
F-One are also big into supporting both GKA world tour competition riders and events. Their team riders are doing really well. Mitu Monteiro won an epic event on home turf at GKA Cabo Verde earlier this year, even beating Airton Cozzolino in the final. Camille Delannoy won the single elimination at GKA Prea last year, while Aurelian Petreau put on outstanding performances at the Red Bull King of the Air. Obviously Liam Whaley is right at the sharp end of the GKA Freestyle World Tour as well as the King of the Air and the Red Bull Mega Loop Challenge.
Raph explained the difficulties with balancing performance development for all those disciplines and for the mass market freerider:
“We started testing for the Bandit back in September and we said it was going to be tough to cover everything. We started to realise that Camille and Mitu were wanting to use a different kite, (similarly to how F-One’s freestyle riders use the specialised WTF C kite). So would be a disaster to have none of our team riders using the Bandit because it’s 90% of our business.
“November was starting to get a bit late, but we decided to split the Bandit in two. So one name / two models was important. We said, ‘Okay, let’s do a Bandit for surf / strapless and one programmed more for freeride, hangtime / mega loop.”
THE BASIC DIFFERENCES
“Bandit ‘#12’ 2019 was already wave oriented in the smaller sizes, so we were looking for a continuation of the 4, 5, 6 and 7. The 8, 9 and 10 metre sizes were jumping / megaloop kites, while the 11 – 17 metres were freeride.
The new Bandit ‘#13’ 2020 has been extended as much as possible to deliver hangtime and megaloop performance in the smaller sizes. Size range for the 2020 is: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 17m.
The Bandit S is obviously more wave focused. It’s available in sizes: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9m.
The Bandit 2020 and Bandit S both have cross-over sizes in the middle of 7, 8 and 9m and this is where you need to make your choice, but if you read on you’ll see that the smaller Bandit S kites are still good at jumping, so the overlap is tight, but it’s all about the turn and the kite’s position in the window.
Raph ensured us that there’s still the heritage of the Bandit in the centre cross-over sizes – whichever Bandit you’re riding. “For example you can megaloop on the Bandit S 8m because you can dictate the size and arc of the megaloop.”
Raph said the overall aim is that: “The kites will be the best in big air and the best in surf, but there will be a big cross over in the middle.”
The overlap between the Bandit S and Bandit 2020 means that they are both actually really good freeride kites.
The biggest Bandit S is a 9m, so if you want a 10m you go Bandit 2020 (though be aware that the 10m is designed in the boost / mega loop category, while the 11m is more of a freeride design). But they are still Bandits, so still have a really wide range of discipline.
Raph recounted one of the reasons that he decided to go for a pure wave kite:
“I kitesurf a lot at busy spots and I realised that a lot of this sport is about image. A lot of riders want to be seen as wave rider, so I noticed that people were buying wave kites because it was a ‘wave kite’, not because it was better than a Bandit. So we were missing a part of the customer base because of that.”
“Our designer Robert Graham asked me a key question one day: ‘Raphael, what snowboard do you have?’ I have a snowboard for the powder. He asked how many days I go snowboarding? I said one or two weeks a year. ‘And how many days do you ride in powder?’ ‘Maybe one day’ I replied! I realised that I’m like a normal customer, but I want the image and in my head I’m a powder rider.”
“So it was time to change because I’m tired of seeing people using wave riding kites that aren’t better than the Bandit.”
Regarding the design of the two Bandits, they’re 95% different. The only thing that is common is the C shape. The outline, profile, leading edge diameter and bridle are all different. “So same name,” says Raph, “but inside the design and feelings are important.”
BANDIT S AND 2020 DESIGN
Here’s how Raph described the Bandit S design process, once they’d decided to split the range in two:
“We already had a 4, 5, 6 and 7m kite so we thought it would be no problem to continue that development, but when you really drill down the target becomes a bit more difficult for wave and pure strapless. It was intense. We started with the 5m because it’s the kite we use the most in our French storms. We decided to go to Cape Town to keep our testing going and ended up having produced 28 prototypes for just the 5m kite!
“On the Bandit 2020, after a few 9m prototypes it was already pretty nice. But we also did 28 prototypes for that, having started that earlier in August. We gave Liam and Aurelian a few to test after KOTA and they were already impressed.
SPOTTING THE DIFFERENCE
Firstly, check the leading edge diameter. The tip on the 2020 is thicker and stiffer. “We’re used to just millimetres of difference between kites,” explained Raph, “but if you compare the tip of the S you can really see there are centimetres of difference, it’s huge.”
On the 2020 the tip is more of a 90 degree angle, while the S is more open.
The aspect ratio is also different (the 2020 is higher aspect) and the thickness of the profile is different (the Bandit S has the thicker profile).
Finally, the bridle is different, too: On the 2020 the bridle attachment points start closer to the centre and then there are more leading edge connection points in total, giving better control of the shape of the kite when you’re riding.
Click the image above to enlarge and see the bridle attachment points.
The 2020 is locked in three positions on the leading edge; locked, but super comfortable. On the S it’s only locked on two. Two pulleys on each though.
Fewer attachment points on the Bandit S provide more freedom / accessibility and handling for wave riding.
“So we end up with one name but two totally different kites providing very different feelings.” Raph concluded (and after a week on the water – he’s not wrong. Full reviews coming in Kiteworld issue #101).
DO YOU FOIL?
If you’re foiling you go for the S. The stability, the smooth way it turns and the fact you won’t slack the lines in light wind when you’re gybing are huge assets.
“WE SPEND SO MUCH TIME ON THE POSITION OF THE KITE IN THE WIND WINDOW”
For the last two years, Raph and his team have really found a difference to comfort and performance being how a kite auto stabilises itself in the window. Here’s more from him:
“The first thing we design is where the kite should be in the window. It’s the same for the WTF freestyle kite – the position is really important so that the kite can be somewhere else from where it is when you pop to where it is when you pass the bar.
“It’s the same for wave riding and big air. To really understand S and 2020 think about that position in the wind window while you’re kiting.
“If the kite goes too far forward in the window you will accelerate too much. Also, if you hit a gust you will lose the kite if it’s too far forward. Equally, if your kite is too far back you’ll have a lot of pull in your harness and in your legs, so you’ll have to push hard on the board’s rail, creating a lot of spray.
“It’s hard to explain to customers what lateral pull is, but you don’t always know why. Go one kilometre in strong wind and you’ll notice how little you’re using your harness and legs on the new models. Then go on the 2019 model and you’ll notice much more comfort now.
“When you depower a kite, the C shape arc changes and becomes compromised, meaning you get more drag. When you depower you need less power, but actually most of the time the kite moves back in the window which means more drag and eventually more power.
“Now the 2020 actually goes forward rather than back when you depower. That position of the kite is most important in the 2020 and doesn’t increase the pressure on your back.
“How do we improve the Bandit after 12 years, when our control in high wind was already so good? For me it’s that new feeling of having such a perfect position in the window; no matter the strength of the wind. It’s a big step forward.
“The difference is really big when you look at going upwind on the 2020 versus 2019 model. Even if riders don’t do big air or mega loop, that freeride feel is really nice in gusty conditions.
“So that was important, but then we work on the mega loop.”
BANDIT 2020 MEGALOOP MACHINE
“The main difference is how low we can put the kite and how fast it’s going to come back up. You’ll feel more safe, but more radical.
“For big air tricks,you need a kind of stability. This is another feature. When you jump, you sheet in and the bar is more fixed. You can own the bar and do tricks without the kite going left or right. You’ll feel more safe going for a grab straight away.
“Control of the shape, depower and drag during long hangtimes is better than before. You can control your edge so your take-off will let you go higher. Every small aspect has improved.
“Concentrate on the bar, the sheeting power is so smooth, meaning you won’t be disturbed by the pull of the kite. The kite is a lot cleaner than last year.”
Raph further explains the handling and feel differences between the two kites:
“One key feature is what size to use when strapless. In 25 knots you’d choose a 6 or 7. But if you want to go for really big air you’d use a 10.
“The big question for everyone is if you have one model and you want to do wave, strapless freestyle and twin-tip boosty hangtime, then we’d say go for the S in the smaller sizes. Once you hit the 10 metre size, you have to go 2020 anyway as the biggest S is a 9m – so if you’re an S user, go 9 and then 11m. In terms of the way the 7, 8, 9 and 10m 2020 kites are designed – they are more big air / kite loop kites, whereas the 11m sizes and bigger are softer / more Bandit style freeride kites.
“You obviously have more control with a twin-tip than strapless. A big part of the S design is to give you the pop but then the ability to release the power during your strapless jump. You also need to shut off all that power when wave riding for doing a nice cutback when coming off the lip. So the key is on / off control and how the power is coming back.
“When you depower the 2020 it still pulls you forward through the gust. The S will depower and stay in position and not pull you forward. You release more power with the S than the 2020. You have a different way of releasing the power depending on which board you will use.
“When you have a storm with shitty waves and onshore wind, power and control is a big thing because you’re always needing to turn the kite all the way across the wind window. Onshore surfing is the most difficult part for a kite, whereas side-shore is easier because you can park and drift.
“You need the perfect kite to be able to do as many turns as possible in onshore conditions. The Bandit S will do a U-turn when you need it, with short radius. It’s not even an arc, it’s a U-turn. The 2020 always has a nice round loop, whereas the S will pivot and turn when you want it to, so it’s even more suited to onshore surfing than before. So turn, release the power and you’ll be amazed how much your surfing has improved.
Even on a single gybe you can feel the feature of a Bandit S.
The S is also a super good kite for foiling and beginners will like the S for shut off.
The S is like a joy stick, and can be controlled with just two fingers.
The 2020 is more engaging.
HOW MUCH POWER DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AND 9M S AND 2020?
The S will be easier for the customer in general. The low end is the same per size in the S and 2020, but the high end is different.
If you want to learn kite loops, you will do it a lot safer on the S – because the strapless guys helped drive that development. It loops nice and high and you don’t lose your board when strapless. However it’s not always gutless. As the kite is so well poised you can still get a good hoik out of a Bandit S loop if you want one. But it’s just not an automatic highly charged machine like the 2020.
Raph says, “Surfing is what we love and separating the Bandit really gave us the chance to push that. Mitu thought we had changed the board as well when he tried the new kite, but it wasn’t – it’s because there’s less pressure through your feet, so you can ride differently.”
The S family turn radius and feeling is the same throughout each size.
In sizes you need to understand that as a wave rider you go 7, 9 and then 11 (because the 10 2020 is more for powerful kite loops than the 11, which is more freeride).
The biggest challenge this year for F-One is how to introduce these two models. We hope this feature helps!
The question is what to go for in the cross-over sizes that are the same – 7, 8 and 9m (and then whether to choose 10 or 11m). Basically, if you know you’re into riding fast on a twin-tip, boosting high and you like an engaging kite loop, go for the 2020. If you’re more of a wave rider and foiler, go for the S. And if you don’t know – go for the S because it still jumps incredibly well, can be geared to do a pretty good kite loop and is in the original theme of the Bandit – one kite that can still do it all.
THE LINX BAR
Some small changes, aside from the colour:
The splice has become more round in change near the beginning of the flying lines, causing less scratch and more fluid movement into the ceramic piece. The two holes have also been reduced a bit so the non-safety line can’t pass through the block. Last year the V box was sliding up a bit too high, so now the shape has changed to be more locked in position.
Finally, although the colours of the bar are now ‘mango and slate’, to keep compatibility with the older kites and a more general colour coding, the flying line pig tails are still colours with red tabs on the left.
More at: www.f-one.world