The wave-specific BANDIT S now enters its third version from the French watersports megabrand. We’re presented with a familiar three-strut platform from the previous generation crafted from long proven Teijin materials for both the D2 Ripstop and Dacron. Build-wise, this year’s main revisions are with leading edge segmentation, which now sits at the pleasantly round number of 24, providing a smoother more tailored profile. The leading edge diameter has also been fettled to further improve maneuverability. The trailing edge design has been developed further from the S2 with a second band of ripstop paneling oriented intelligently across the direction of load, to minimize deformation. Beautifully crafted new stainless pulleys have been implemented with a low friction slider, eliminating the moving parts and potential long-term wear on the bridle which can occur with a standard pulley in sandy environments, and as a further example of the level of detail applied to the kite, the splice of the pigtail integrates cleanly into the top. This is a far cry from a kite that’s been pumped out of CAD and manufactured; you can tell it’s been hand fettled with many prototypes and a keen eye has been in control of the build and detailing.
Crossing over into strapless freestyle, the S3 has a decent amount of lift on sheet and it’s a simple procedure to develop pop, particularly when the kite is pushed into its top end, which this year remains increasingly composed and usable, even when depowered. In lower winds, freeride hydrofoil use is another obvious application for a kite that’s this exceptionally mobile, and has a playful whip through the turn to pull you out of transitions beautifully. The decent bar presence and feedback in its low end is particularly noticeable when sheeted out resulting in the telepathic level handling that’s the hallmark of an exceptional wave kite.
The latest Linx bar has had quite a makeover at the business end, with a square polished aperture and PU coated depower line, which also now houses and protects the safety flag-out line from friction. It’s a cleanly designed tangle-free update which unspins itself easily, and importantly the bar aperture remains almost frictionless against the PU, where other systems of similar design can sometimes snag a little on aggressive turning.
Third time is definitely a charm for the BANDIT S3, and it’s great to see this dedicated wave product range mature after its segregation from the Bandit range a few years ago. It was a good move from F-ONE and has distilled its product development as a model. This is everything a front running wave kite should be – sprightly, highly mobile, smooth and versatile. It enables the user a huge level of control and confidence in all situations, and feels immediately natural to wave enthusiasts from a multitude of riding backgrounds.