At A Glance
The flagship kite from F-ONE is now in it’s ninth year, which means I’m getting old as I was there when they launched the very first one! This year the Robert Graham and Raphael Salles wanted to work on the kites stability, especially when the kite is overhead. The goal was to make the kite more user-friendly for beginners while still maintaining it’s high-end capabilities for the advanced riders.
It has retained the same shape as last year with the same arc, but the team worked on the profile of the kite and also changed the way it depowers. The previous incarnations of the Bandit moved the trailing edge up and down as you sheeted in and out. This created some drag and flutter in the canopy. By shifting the axis point further forward to the leading edge, the kite now depowers with less drag and flutter.
As ever the Bandit is billed as an all round kite, aimed at the rider who wants to do everything. It can handle freestyle; Robinson Hilario is using them to devastating effect on the VKWC. In the waves Mitu and Raphael absolutely slay it and if you like jumping, well Alex Caizergues is second on the global height leader board for the Woo device with a mighty leap of over 20 meters!
Build quality is of a really high standard although one thing missing at the moment is a high-speed inflation valve. This may come next year; the F-ONE team are currently testing prototypes.
The 2016 Monolith bar has undergone some minor tweaks rather than a huge overhaul. It is still built from the one-piece CNC milled aluminium block that has proved exceedingly reliable over the last couple of years. The chicken loop has had the mast at the top of it shortened by 1cm; this allows a longer depower throw without the need for longer arms. Essentially you can dump more power from the kite with ease.
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The internal elastics that keep the chicken loop release in place have been beefed up. It still releases with the same load characteristics, but there should be no accidental releases now if you knock it when riding. The tried and tested clam cleat trim system remains and when the safety is activated the kite depowers onto the two front lines.
Overall the bar is exceedingly simple; there are no extra pieces or anything untoward or out of place. It works flawlessly, and we have used one of these bars on a long-term test for over two years, and it was still going strong and looking great when we sent it back to F-ONE!
In The Air
As ever with the new Bandit we test the kites back to back so we can get a good feel for the differences. When you look at the kite in the air, you would be forgiven for thinking it is identical. The changes to the profile are very slight, and it isn’t really visible to the naked eye. When you fly the kites though, you instantly get a feel for what Raph and the team have been working on.
The new Bandit is really stable in the air, at the zenith when you let go of the bar, or indeed at most points of the wind the kite will hang in place long enough for you to put on a board leash. It doesn’t drift down as quickly as the last year’s model did.
On the water, this translates to even more stability when you are flying the kite. We thought last years kite was stable at the bar with impeccable flying characteristics. The new kite is even better. Some of the less experienced riders we use for some tests have found previous incarnations a “bit of a handful” or “twitchy”. Those same riders really enjoyed the new kite, and this opens it up to a wider audience with beginners really benefiting from the stability.
Of course, they didn’t add stability at the expense of performance, and the 2016 Bandit delivers the latter in spades. It flies fast through the window, eagerly pulling you upwind with very little lateral pull at the bar making for a smooth, comfortable ride. The turning speed on the 9m is excellent and, in fact, feels very similar to last years kite, perhaps a touch faster.
On the waves, this fast handling performs really well, and the kite also drifts with aplomb. Relaunch is fast as usual; the delta shape helping to ensure the kite breaks the surface tension of the water quickly. Boosting has always been a favourite pastime of ours on the Bandit; it is fast through the window and delivers plenty of lifts as you redirect it. In the right hands, you can go crazy with this kite and get some serious height and hangtime
Although the changes look minor, they make a big difference to the overall stability of the kite. Well built, fast through the sky and in the turn with lightning quick handling the Bandit certainly put a smile on our face!
We’re getting a bit hooked on fast inflation at the moment, especially with the new pumps that are out. Hurry up and get it added to this kite and it’ll be perfect!
If you want a kite that can boost huge, handle unhooking and ride well in the waves the Bandit ticks a lot of boxes! The build quality is excellent, and we love the simplicity of the bar. This new model will appeal to all sorts of riders especially as it is now essentially easier for beginners to fly with the added stability.
This review was in Issue 53 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit F-ONE Kiteboarding
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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!