At A Glance
A few years after the divergence of the Bandit and the Bandit S, the S is now in its fourth iteration. Having ridden the latest versions of both, it is clear that despite the two kites originating from the same Delta-C shaped DNA, they are as different now as they've ever been. I've been able to get the S4 out in both on-shore wave riding conditions and kitefoiling in flat water and small swells. As you'd hope, it felt at home in all of these scenarios.
F-ONE has always been one for details, and the 3-strut delta C Bandit S4 is no exception. Having already developed bespoke Dacron and canopy cloth densities with Teijin for their kites, there are now also variances in cloth weight between the bigger and smaller sizes of the S4 to ensure that performance, durability, and rider comfort are optimised for the conditions that each kite will see. So, whether hanging onto a smaller size in stormy conditions or relying on the driftability of a larger size in light cross-off conditions, know that they've done the research to ensure that the Bandit S4 will perform at its best for a long lifetime.
New to the S4 this year is the introduction of 'staggered seams' This is immediately noticeable out of the bag along the trailing edge of the kite, where the two canopy colours meet. This innovation aims to orient fabric fibres optimally in line with maximum canopy tensions and ensure that the canopy profile remains consistent even when fully powered. This, combined with the new bridle pulleys, should improve the kite's stability in flight and its durability.
Sizes: 4m, 5m, 6m, 7m, 8m, 9m, 10m, 11m
You'd be forgiven for thinking that the new Linx bar doesn't look that different from previous versions, but you'd be wrong to think that the new orange and blue colourway is all that has changed. It still comes nicely packaged in its own bag with a small-medium safety leash, ideal for wave riding and foiling.
The biggest change is a welcome one, which is the all-in-one shaped depower line. The flagging/safety line now runs internally within the PU centre line, preventing wear over time, tidying up the bar setup, and improving the feeling during sheeting in and out. This feeling is something that F-ONE should be praised for. PU centre lines can often generate friction between them and the depower hole of the bar, especially when lateral forces are applied whilst sheeting in and out (which is common whilst wave riding). This one, however, is super smooth. Especially impressive given the rectangular shape of the depower line, which is designed to interact with the corresponding depower hole in the bar to act as an auto front line untwister. The swivel is very low friction, and this function worked well throughout my session.
The bar itself has a familiar feel in the hands to previous versions, which is no bad thing. It is nicely textured with a relatively small diameter. The Linx bar includes the 52/45 or 45/38 bar width adjustment but with even tidier pigtails integrated into the moulded bar ends, seamlessly connecting to the eva floaters. The chicken loop is very easy to use, and resetting is simple. The simple cleat depower system remains above the depower line and works precisely as it should.
In The Air
The 8m was a joy to use in the waves in terms of turning speed and speed through the air. It was fast through the sky and very responsive to rider turning inputs, making it ideal for wave riding in on-shore conditions.
The medium bar pressure suited my personal preference. It wasn't super light, but it wasn't fatiguing, and you could feel exactly what was going on in the sky without looking. The reaction to steering input was instantaneous, and the feedback to the rider through the bar was intuitive. What was impressive about both the bar pressure and the depower of the kite as you let the bar out was how progressive they both were. There is an enormous amount of depower available just by letting the bar out, and the rate of depower is nice and linear with the bar position. This makes it an easy kite to get accustomed to flying. The bar throw depower is equally functional irrespective of whether the kite is stationary at the edge of the wind window or flying from one side to the other through the power zone.
As we've come to expect from the Bandit S series, the kite still reacts to steering input well, even with the bar in a depowered position. It's just as well, too, because you get accustomed to being able to dump power so quickly that you find yourself flying the kite quite aggressively in on-shore conditions to generate speed which inevitably results in you having to push the bar out at moments. However, it doesn't matter, as you can still make steering corrections when you do.
On-shore conditions are some of the most testing of a wave kite as you have to drive the kite through the middle of the power zone regularly if you want to make full use of the wave, and the Bandit S4's depowerability here inspired confidence to ride hard. When I did find a peeling section and rode at the kite with speed, its drift was dependable, especially with the kite kept a little higher, close to 12. It just kept falling back on me.
The build quality looks as good as it always has from F-ONE, and I have no doubt that it'll perform session after session at its best, especially thanks to the new staggered seams.
The Bandit S4 is definitely a kite to consider if you're a keen surfboard rider. It won't take you long to get dialled in with this kite, and it has all the speed, drift and depowerability you could want. If tuned with a narrower bar setting or adjusted backline pigtail, the kite's manoeuvrability can be dialled back a little, and it would also make for an enjoyable beginner/intermediate free-ride kite too.
This review was in Issue 99 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit F-ONE Kiteboarding