The F-One Bandit is now in its 11th year of production and is still taking names and kicking ass when it comes to three strut all-round kites. It’s been the benchmark for some time now and with many brands trying to emulate the success of the kite. At one stage it was F-One’s only kite, and arguably some of its success can be attributed to that. However, you can’t understate just how good the kite has been over the years.
If you want a fast, dynamic all-rounder the Bandit is it, these days F-One have the Furtive, WTF, Diablo, Breeze and Trust on the market, yet the Bandit remains true to its roots, a core do it all kite that can perform in just about any discipline. It’s a great kite in the waves, for freeriding and freestyle too, all while still being able to boost huge airs. In the past few years the changes to the kite have been small, tweaks here and adjustments there, but this year F-One wanted to push some major upgrades, and so the kite has been reworked.
Using all the knowledge they have gathered over the last 11 years they put everything into this new kite. The goal was for increased wind range, faster more responsive steering, unrivalled control and a smooth power delivery. All wrapped up in the classic Bandit design package of a Delta C shape with three struts.
The other design goal was to reduce the lateral pull of the kite. When we ride we are always being pulled in the direction of the kite, F-One have been striving to reduce this for years and this year think it’s the kite with the least lateral pull they ever have made. Less lateral pull means more forward momentum and less force on your body. This reduces fatigue, makes the flying experience more pleasant and allows you to kite for longer.
The build quality is always really high with F-One and this year there are some added details that really finish the product off. Colour coded parts are a new feature alongside colour coded Kevlar wear patches. This improves the overall aesthetic of the kite. However, the kite is also built even tougher. Years of development have led them to understand the load points and be able to reinforce the right areas. For 2018 the Bandit is the toughest it has ever been, without overusing Dacron and heavy materials. Technoforce D2 ripstop is used extensively to keep the kite light and strong!
The last few years have seen minimal changes to the Monolith Bar, an updated chicken loop arrived on the scene a couple of years ago, but that was about it. This year the bar is totally reworked, the new Linx bar takes all the best bits of the Monolith and adds some much-needed updates.
There is a single line flag out safety system as standard, a manual swivel has been added to the top of the chicken loop to untwist the lines, and integrated floats bring the bar right up to date. There is more, however, hiding under the hood as it were.
The new integrated floats house a bar length adjustment system. Just pull the inserts out of the bottom of the bar, flip them around, and you can go from a 45-38cm bar in an instant. There is also a longer bar which goes from 52cm to 45cm for the larger kites in your quiver and a new Freestyle Lynx Bar which is 5 lines and 42cm-35cm, it is worth noting the Freestyle Lynx bar is only compatible with the new WTF freestyle kite.
All in all, it’s a massive upgrade, and it addresses all the requests we have had for the bar in the past. Better safety, the ability to untwist the lines and integrated floats. All the great features such as the Chicken Loop release and the depower clam cleat remain, and this makes it a formidable offering.
F-One’s slogan for this year is “Starting from a blank sheet of paper is what you do when you have nothing worth keeping”. It’s a nod to the redesign of the kite, while still keeping all the positive attributes they have achieved with the kite over the years. I’ve long been a fan of the Bandit, but last year was a little disappointed not to see the upgrades Bandit fans had been talking about.
This year, the disappointment can be reserved for the bill at the bar after you spend all night celebrating what an awesome session you had. First up is fast inflation, it’s a small thing, but a large inflation valve makes a hell of a difference when it comes to setting up your kite. F-One have adopted the tried and tested SUP valve which works incredibly well and allows super fast inflation but also deflation from the same point.
Next, comes the upgrades to the bar which tick all the boxes for me, the ability to spin the lines, the front line flag out safety and adjust the length, it all adds up to a great package. Next though is where the real magic starts.
The first time I rode this kite I was blown away. While this is a review for the 7m, which we have ridden extensively, my first session was on the 9m. I’m a big fan of fast dynamic kites, and in the cross-shore waves that I was riding the Bandit excelled, in fact, it did more than that. It’s the fastest 9m kite I’ve ever flown, and I’ve been flying what are billed some of the best wave kites on the market in recent years.
I thought I had a 7m in the air and had to keep looking up to check. When you really engage the bar, this thing whips around faster than a dog that’s been stung on the balls by a wasp. I’ve always found wave riding with a 9m a bit of a compromise, the kites never quite as fast as you want it to be and the 7m is usually the dream kite in any wave riders quiver. The new Bandits are quick, noticeably, so it’s an exhilarating ride even on the 9m.
Back to the 7m in question, the range is also really eye-opening, the top end is immense, it’s almost endless, the same goes for the 9m too. You can be out on a 6m day with either of these kites and not feel too phased. The lack of lateral pull is the real key here, when powered up The Bandit keeps flying forwards rather than pulling on the rider.
I was kiting for hours on end and not feeling tired, or bored for that matter; it’s an engaging experience to fly. The lack of lateral pull also helps with the upwind drive of the kite, which is very impressive. After a few tricks or a long wave, you can be back in the take-off zone or the line up in no time. Also when overpowered, there is plenty of control, with a really short depower throw you can dump all the power in an instant with total control at your fingertips.
The jumps are massive, just set the edge and use the speed to whip the kite back and spring-load the lines for an explosive take off. In the air the kite is fast, so you need to have good kite skills to ensure you get a smooth landing, it’s easy to oversteer and lose float, but the good news is you can quickly redirect if you notice this in time. Once you have the timing dialled though you’ll be flying around like Aladdin.
Relaunch is, as ever, easy and well mannered, we rolled the kite in the waves a few times, and it always seemed to come back up smelling of roses. Talking of waves, the drift is impressive too; it’s perfectly balanced and happy to hang on slack lines as you fly down the line.
For us this kite is every bit a Bandit, just with a load of steroids and protein shakes pumped in to make the performance mind-bogglingly good. If you are a Bandit fan you will love this new version, if you like fast dynamic kites, then this is for you. If you prefer a tamer affair on the water then look elsewhere.
Well built with an excellent bar package the Bandit 11 is the phenomenal kite for riders who want a kite that is quick. Very well built and with delightful attention to detail it ticks all the boxes for us, fast inflation is a welcome addition.
We’ve mentioned fast inflation here and an updated bar in the last couple of tests, so this time, for us, as a fast dynamic kite the Bandit 11 hits the spot, no complaints.
In the past, the small upgrades and slight performance updates have often caused frustration among the Bandit fans. Well, you asked for it, and F-One delivered, here comes the new Bandit 11, spitting fire, tearing through the sky, and causing a commotion wherever it goes. Whether you like to ride waves, boost massive airs, cruise around or throw the odd bit of freestyle this kite won’t disappoint, it’s the all-rounder's all-rounder, the benchmarks benchmark and a paradigm shift in the history of the Bandit.
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This review was in Issue 65 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit F-ONE Kiteboarding
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Rou 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!
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