At A Glance
In the last seven years the Bandit has changed quite a bit. From that first offering we saw in Montpellier all those many moons ago, to the kite we were shown in Mauritius just recently you would hardly recognise the two were related! But the DNA is still there, the Bandit is a ‘one kite does it all’ machine equally at home in the waves as it is sat above some of the worlds best freestylers. The new Bandit 7 might look very similar to last years model, but it has in fact been completely redesigned by Robert Graham, the new designer on board, and the rest of the R&D team. The outline of the Bandit 6 remains, but there the similarities end. The biggest change is the new Technoforce material being used from Teijin. This is much stiffer and stronger than previous canopy materials and as such the kite had to be radically changed in order to get the most out of the new fabric. The profile of the kite has been tweaked to get the best low end. The Force Frame has had all the straight edges and corners turned into curves to increase strength. The bladder inflation points have been moved to reduce canopy wear. The strut tips and canopy in general has been streamlined to improve airflow and the team have worked hard to improve the “feel” of the kite and also to reduce its lateral pull.
A new bar with a new chicken loop release will be in the shops before Christmas, but for the moment it is still in the prototype stages of development. We did get to see the new bar and while we couldn’t test it in real world conditions it is looking very polished. As it stands this test was conducted on the current bar, which is still excellent!
In The Air
I’ll be honest, when I first saw the Bandit 7 I did wonder what had changed, after all at first glance it looks pretty similar. No doubt a few of you are thinking the same thing, however we were lucky enough to test the new kite back to back with the old one, and the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. The new kite is much stiffer in the air, when the gusts hit it reacts instantly, when you really stick the edge in to pop it feels solid and delivers a sharp snappy pop off the water that impresses. This is all down to the new canopy material, while the old kite in our eyes was excellent, this new rigid and stiffer feeling certainly makes sense on the water. The handling is lighting quick as ever, and the kite feels exceedingly responsive. It turns very aggressively through the window and generates lots of power as it moves. We were very impressed with the wind range on the new Bandit, the low end is very good, especially if you have decent flying skills, and you can really generate a lot of power when you need to. The top end is equally impressive, the new material and stiffer shape allow it to handle some pretty heavy conditions with ease. The stability has also been improved; this was very noticeable when you tested both kites back to back, the bar on the older kite felt twitchy, whereas on the new bandit it was solid as a rock.
Unhooked the Bandit performs well, although you need to trim the kite a little with the depower rope in order to get the most out of it before you unhook. The bar throw is very short so just sheeting in 6 inches has an effect on the kite. With the kite trimmed accordingly though the pop is great, the kite punches forwards and drifts back as you release allowing you to easily perform tricks unhooked.
Jumping is a lot of fun, the timing is a little different to the Bandit 6, so it might take a few runs to get used to it if you are changing from the previous model to this one. However, once dialled in there is plenty of lift there. The pull is very vertical and there isn’t as much float as in previous years, but you don’t lose as much ground downwind either.
We were perhaps most excited with the kite in the waves, we rode it extensively at One Eye and it took us a few days to actually realise we should have been thinking about the kite and how it behaved. It just did, perfectly. The drift capabilities are off the scale, with the lightweight kite just floating as you race down the line. It also turns very quickly so you want to use the kite on the wave, rather than park and ride, it will inspire you. It’s a very intuitive wave kite that is for sure.
Seven years of development culminate in a fantastic all round kite which is as home in the waves as it is hitting up the latest freestyle tricks. Fast, responsive and incredibly direct the new bandit offers improved stability and a huge top end.
The Bandit is a fast kite, some newcomers might find it a handful and may want to look at the Trust, which is slower, more predictable and forgiving.
Raphael, Graham and the team have made another excellent kite in the Bandit 7, if you like your kites fast, responsive and very capable then the Bandit 7 won’t disappoint, perhaps the ultimate do-it-all machine.
This review was in Issue 41 of IKSURFMAG.
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!