At A Glance
The fifth generation of Bandit sits atop a lineage that few kites can lay claim too, the original Bandit changed the face of kiteboarding introducing the Delta concept, since then the design has been tweaked and played with and radically changed. To put a Bandit next to a Bandit 5 would result in a stark contrast. The changes between the 4 and the 5 are however less contrasting, but still evident. The leading edge has been made thinner, and the profile is a little flatter to enable control and stability in high winds. The whole kite is also much lighter, which still allows it to perform in light winds. The other major difference is the outer wing tip struts are connected in a more “flexible” manner; this allows the whole kite to twist as you turn it.
The Airlite bar is shaped from a single piece of aluminium and then over-moulded with polymer before being wrapped in a soft EVA grip. When you pick it up simplicity is the first thing that strikes you, the whole set up is very clean and purely functional. F-One have stuck with the Velcro safety release and while it may seem a little dated compared to some of the more engineered designs Velcro is still very reliable and resistant to sand and saltwater. It’s a case of “if it aint broke don’t fix it” and why not? Depower is an above the bar affair and utilises a clam cleat and rope system that is both easy to reach and simple to use. Safety is taken care of with a front line release system and there is a “mouse ear” connection to allow the front lines to untwist.
In the Air
It’s always a pleasure to fly the Bandit 5 and that is one of the reasons it has become so popular. Each year the design is improved and it is often hard to see how it can be bettered. The main difference we found in the air was the speed at which the kite turned, aided by the more “flexible” frame the kite really twist and moves with purpose when you give it input from the bar. This means in the bigger sizes the kite actual feels smaller. We rode the 14m and the ability of it to move in the air was impressive. The 8m was the size we rode the most though and this test is for that kite. The added speed from the new more flexible frame really improved the jumping on the kite and the slightly wider chord added to the previously excellent hangtime. Freeriders will love boosting on the Bandit 5, they’ll also enjoy the way it penetrates the window and flies forward meaning it doesn’t pull from so far back in the window and makes for a comfier ride. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the kite was its ability to “hang” in the air when you ride fast down the line towards the kite. The Bandit 5 has shed some pounds and as such seems more willing to stay in the air when the lines are slack. A characteristic wave riders will love! Build quality is as usual excellent and we really liked the detailing on the canopy, looks aren’t everything but when a kite has neat little features it makes it even more appealing. Bar pressure is a little lighter than last year and still offers enough feedback to ensure you know where the kite is at all times.
Well built, beautifully finished and with looks to die for the Bandit 5 backs it up with a smooth easy ride that offers plenty of top end, hangtime, boost and float for waveriding. Turning is incredibly sharp and fast and will make kiteloops and waveriding simple.
We’re struggling to find anything to complain about, the pre production model we flew lacked a wear patch in a critical area for self launch, but the crew said they would be fixing this on the production models, if they do then it’s verging on perfect…
Buy F-ONE Kiteboarding Kites
Another great kite in the Bandit lineage, we’re running out of good things to say, but there is a reason this kite is developing such a devoted group of followers. Fly one; chances are you’ll like it!
This review was in Issue 29 of IKSURFMAG.
Buy F-ONE Kiteboarding Kites
By Rou ChaterRou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!