If there is a kite that requires no introduction at all, then it is the Bandit. If you want to chart the progression of kitesurfing over the last 11 years (when the magical formula which offered both depower and performance was chanced upon) then just check out the last 11 versions of the Bandit. It’s an iconic kite which gets a whole lot of love from the dedicated R&D folk at F-ONE.
For 2018, the WTF?! kite has also arrived in the F-ONE paddock and with its focus on 100% freestyle so the Bandit has perhaps got less of an expectation to perform in the no-compromise world of the WKL. Other news for 2018 is the arrival of the Linx bar, this takes the core of the previous Monolith bar and then gives everything else a serious upgrade and brings F-ONE very much up to the front of the ‘bar tech’ arms race. It looks great and – with the new bar ends and the quality EVA grip – it feels great in your hands. There’s an all new single line flag out safety for 100% depower (with one eye on the schools market here) and a manual swivel above the chicken loop (with the other eye on the freestyle market!). There is also a new high volume SUP style ‘Reactor Valve’ inflation system which is very satisfying to use and we think is probably the direction in which inflation systems are heading…
On the water and the power delivery on the Bandit is smooth and progressive. The bar stroke is relatively short compared to some other kites, but once you have tuned in to the fact that ‘less is more’, you have a whole lot of performance at your fingertips and the Bandit is now a very smooth kite to fly. We felt that it was slightly mellower and more forgiving this year and it really does seem to work with you and make life incredibly easy. That said, when it comes to turning things on and for boosting, the Bandit has plenty of performance and that great ‘secondary boost’ that we have found in previous years. And it will certainly be interesting to see how it fares at this year’s KOTA. Upwind performance is excellent and you can really lock in and fly upwind and then off the wind – when foiling or when riding down the line on a surfboard – it is happy to sit high in the window and cruise along with you. One thing that really struck us was the performance of the larger sizes. The 11+ meter sizes were very responsive and do genuinely fly like kites a size or two smaller. They feel very light in the air and remain very responsive even when underpowered.
In a sentence: The Bandit continues to be a case study in ‘refinement’ and we felt that for V11 it was easier to fly and generally a smoother ride in all departments.