At A Glance
This year sees the most significant change to one of the most iconic kites in the history of kiteboarding! The Bandit now becomes the Bandit S and the Bandit 2020. In previous years the Bandit range was effectively three kites in one, the smaller sizes were aimed at the wave rider, the medium sizes were all about freeride and boosting, and the larger sizes had a light wind focus.
For 2020 the design brief has been split into two distinct models, the S is the Surf version, designed for strapless freestyle and wave riding. The 2020 is the big air and freeride weapon. Notably, the smaller sizes of the 2020 are aimed at the mega loop and KOTA crowd too. We'll bring you a test on that kite next issue. For now, let's concentrate on the Bandit S.
Available in all sizes from 4m to 10m, by shifting the focus the design team were able to make this a genuinely dedicated wave kite. It still uses all the excellent Bandit DNA, a delta C shape design, three struts, a short, simple bridle system and an easy to fly nature with impeccable handling.
As you would expect, the build quality is incredible with plenty of attention to detail. A new Teijin 130g Dacron is being used which makes the kite lighter by some margin without affecting the durability and the canopy is Teijin D2 as you would expect. Fast inflation comes thanks to the Reactor Valve and one pump system. Everything is colour matched and oozes quality.
Sizes: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10m
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On The Water
I was keen to see how the new Bandit handled. It's long been one of my favourite kites in the waves, so with the handbrake now firmly off and the team allowed to create something genuinely wave focused I was excited to get it into action. It differs from the 2020 in the sense that the bar pressure is lighter, the kite has a lot more depower on-demand at the bar when you sheet out, and it's designed to react instantly to your input.
On the water, it does all this and more. It was actually my first wave session since breaking my leg on the kite and what amazed me was just how easy it was to fly. I'd have thought I would have been a bit rusty after 11 months of not kiting waves, but the Bandit S made the transition smooth.
It's very light on the bar which some riders might not enjoy, the famed lateral pull is almost non-existent, which means you can kite for hours on end without ever feeling like you are being pulled about. I rode it in some pretty powered conditions as we were short on small sizes and is one of the bigger riders I was tasked with taking the bigger kites. It wasn't a problem, though as the depower range on the kite is immense.
It still flies incredibly well even when fully depowered and in all honesty, I almost forgot I was flying a kite, it just felt like part of me, reacting instantly to every input and this let me concentrate on wave riding. It is this quality that the team were going for, and they have nailed it right on the head.
Of course, being a Bandit it still jumps too, and you can, even though it is the S for surf, use it for freeriding too. However, there is a definite wave focus to this new kite from F-One, I enjoyed it immensely, and it's one of, if not my favourite wave kite for riding this year. If you like a kite with a light bar pressure, instant reaction and fast through the window, then the Bandit S may well be the perfect tool for you in the waves too.
One of the best qualities for the waves was how you could dump all the power whenever you need to and then instantly get it back again at the bar on demand. This allows you to power round sections, float off lips and means you can ride the wave without getting pulled by the kite at all.
I've been asked a lot, and I am sure this will continue, which Bandit is right for me before the decision was easy. So I'll say this; if you ride waves at all, and like a light, fast reactive kite, then get the Bandit S in the smaller sizes. If you love foiling the S is the kite to use too, the fast nature and on-off power delivery are great for having fun on the foil. As it only goes to 10m then if you want a bigger kite go for the 2020 in those sizes.
However, if you aren't really into the waves and want to boost huge jumps and loops, go for 2020. That isn't to say the S doesn't boost, it does, it's designed for strapless freestyle after all, and you only have to watch one of Camille Delannoy's videos to see how well the kite jumps and loops. The loop on the S doesn't create as much sideways pull as the 2020; it's a softer loop to allow the strapless riders to control it.
So there you have it; hopefully that helps you make a decision, if you like the waves and loved the old Bandit you will love this kite.
The decision to make two Bandits may confuse you at first, but if you ride waves, you won't be disappointed. It's one of the best wave kites on the market although the super light bar pressure may not be for everyone. I loved it and found the kite allowed me to ride the wave how I wanted, rather than how the wind dictated I could.
This review was in Issue 77 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!