At A Glance
Last year F-ONE split their mainstay, the Bandit, into two versions: the 2020 and the S. This year, we see the same, with the more freestyle/big air inspired 2021 and the Surf inspired S2 series. Both similar at their core; we had the S2 on test this issue in some wintery swell and winds.
The Bandit S2 is a 3 strut delta C kite with a compact pulled bridle system, direct back line connections and benefits from Teijin's Techno Force D2 ripstop canopy material for a strong and lightweight kite. The Force Frame is a lighter weight Dacron frame within the kite, consisting of the leading edge, trailing edge and struts. This rigid frame ensures maximum strength within the kite without any additional weight, essential for a wave specific kite that could be held down amongst some bombs.
F-ONE have focussed on the feeling and feedback through the bar for this S2, and the main changes are seen in the trailing edge of the kite, a slightly squarer wingtip, and also the profile tension. You would be forgiven for not immediately noticing these changes when you look at the kite; however, in flight, you can notice a marked improvement in terms of feeling and feedback through the bar, precise handling and flowing nature. F-ONE have also added an extra segment at the centre of the leading edge, which has produced a cleaner 'C' shape in the sky.
Sizes: 4,5,6,7,8,9,10 meters
The Linx bar comes in its own carry bag, which has a manual and medium-sized kite leash. The vibrant mango and slate colourway make it stand out from the crowd. However, the technical features and simple design of this bar make it a great bit of gear.
The bar itself is small in diameter with a comfortable grip making it forgiving on the hands yet easy to grasp for smaller riders when unhooking. The moulded bar ends have a variable bar size adjuster hidden inside them, allowing you to adjust from a 52 to 45cm bar or a 45 to 38cm bar with ease. Simply pull down the tag under the bar, rotate the insert, and your bar size is changed. Great if you plan to swap the same bar between different kite sizes.
The chicken loop is very easy to use, and resetting is simple. The bar comes with a regular chicken loop; however, a wakestyle loop can be purchased separately and is a simple upgrade for those who like to unhook a lot. The single line re-ride safety system gives you confidence out on the water, knowing you've got the most effective safety at hand.
The depower range on the centerline is large and gives the ability to really dump power when on the water, with a simple cleat depower above to provide extra trim options from the rider end. The range of movement is excellent; however, it might leave the bar a slight stretch away for smaller kiters.
In The Air
Precise handling from the Bandit S2 is obvious from the get-go, and certainly, on a small six-meter kite, you would expect it to be fast. However, it is completely in control and did not feel like the angry bumblebee we all used to experience on kites sub 7 meters.
Compared with the Bandit21, the S2 provides a more subtle ride with decreased lateral pull, which ensures a constant connection with your board without feeling like you are being pulled away.
The light handling from the bar allows fingertip control at all states of trim. We personally found adding about an inch of trim on the bar was best for a combination of pressure, feel and forward flight; however, this is a personal preference.
The Bandit S2 has a lovely playful feel; it really encourages you to throw yourself into some freestyle tricks with its dependable stability, nimble handling and surprising 'pop' and vertical pull for those air tricks. The loop out of bigger tricks is smooth for soft landings, though in enough wind, you can certainly huck it for more of a 'kiteloop' feeling.
Into the waves after an effortless ride out, and we loved the super-smooth handling even when screaming down the face of some Atlantic bombs. There is a unique flowing feel to the BanditS2, allowing you to draw some exceptional lines in the waves and the handling of the kite maintains the same feel and control no matter where you are holding your bar.
We especially enjoyed the forgiving nature of the BanditS2 in terms of no huge surges of power when throwing the kite about, nor any unexpected lulls if catching up too quickly; it simply sits waiting for your next input and reacts with your command.
These qualities, of course, make the Bandit S2 fantastic for dedicated foilers also who need a dependable kite with manoeuvrability, minimum lateral pull and a huge range.
Relaunch can be a big issue in waves, and we found it nothing short of excellent; a fast roll over and pop up, even after being tumbled. The Dacron Force Frame really does its job here of keeping the kite solid in lightweight, stopping it from twisting when getting washed and making every relaunch an easy one.
The build quality is incredible, as we have come to expect from a premium brand like F-ONE. The reliability and outstanding performance of this kite will appeal to a lot of riders, whether you spend most of your time in the waves or riding flat water freestyle. The wind range on the Bandit S2 is impressive, especially at the top end; with a really short depower throw, it is easy to maintain control at all times, which is handy for those gusty sessions.
The Bandit S2 is another win for the F-ONE crew. Playful, poppy and precise, it is a true partner to the surfboard rider. Hugely dependable for practising that trick over and over again or for relying on it to pull you out the way of a monster closeout, it does it all without fuss. Incredibly intuitive in the waves, you can throw it around without fear of being pulled over the front, and it will sit with you while you scream down the line in the bigger stuff.
This review was in Issue 86 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit F-ONE Kiteboarding
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!