F-ONE BANDIT S 6M

TESTED BY: Jim PUBLISHED: Issue #104 – April 2020

F-ONE BANDIT S 6M

TESTED BY: Jim PUBLISHED: Issue #104 – April 2020

TEST TEAM NOTES: The ‘S’ doesn’t stand for ‘Super’, but it could. The changes that F-One have made in splitting the Bandit into two different models this year – the ‘S’ (for surf) and the Twenty-Twenty have unleashed the pure surf elements in full in the S model. Where Raphael Salles and his team have had to balance some jumping / freeride performance with good turning for waves in the 8, 9 and 10 metre S models, in truth the seven metre sizes and below in all years of the Bandit have always had more of a wave focus. SUPER CHARGED FOR SURF The new six metre is absolutely sublime. A super charged stunt kite on the end of your lines; it’s quick, not just in its speed through the window, but also in its turn initiation. And it’s 100% accurate and never misses a beat. I’ve ridden it on various waves in Mauritius and in Cape Town since it launched last year. The Bandit S really allowed me to kite on impulse, which made me more fluid. I got onto this for the first time moments after a twin-tip session on an 8m Rebel – probably the most potent freeride jumping kite for its size and wind range, so this was a very different proposition. The conditions were a bit light, but the speed and responsiveness of the Bandit S mean you can literally wang it up and down so fast through the window, with little and progressive spikes that build and build in succession until you’re on the plane and cruising back upwind.

RECOVERY AND SPEED It’s the speed of response that very soon has you just kiting by feel. Sometimes kiting the smooth winds and cross / cross-offshore conditions in Mauritius can seem unreal when testing, but there was no doubting the stability and gust handling on the stronger days. In Cape Town the waves generally weren’t big for most sessions, but there were plenty of head high sets. Generally more difficult, real world conditions take some slick manoeuvring with the kite when you’re riding in and around the white water to successfully and fluidly lay down multiple turns on faces. The Bandit S made the conditions feel better than they were because I could always get in the right position, almost at will. Loop the kite in an instant for a swift but steady injection of drive for a bottom turn and then again as you come off the top and you never need to end up too far in front of the wave. Excellent drift means that when your lines go a bit slack the kite only takes a second to retension and be ready for your input again in a beautifully responsive part of the window. Although the Bandit S flies quickly through the window, it stops shy of going too far forward, so the feel at the bar is always smooth and consistent.

POWER MANAGEMENT There isn’t masses of sheeting throw on the bar so the vast majority of people should be able to sheet the bar out all the way without leaning forward and this is a big advantage – both for wave riding and foiling. There were only one or two times when I could have done with another inch of throw for instant shut-off, but instead I just pulled on some depower which cancelled the need for the throw, and the fact that the Bandit S never shuts off completely, means it never shunts forward or drops into a new part of the window suddenly. One of the best attributes for me as a lighter rider is that the Bandit never surges in power if you send it back quickly overhead. It loves to be moving and will still drive forward quickly while delivering very little power if that’s what you want. So if you keep your board speed up, flowing with the wave and travelling with the kite, it’s just awesome. As with all wave kites, they’re usually at their best in the low to mid ranges. As soon as any of these kites start to get into the top 20% of their range, they become heavier at the bar, a bit more menacing to whip across the window and when you’re edging a bit harder before sending the kite back across the window, your whole flow becomes a bit more disjointed. The Bandit is quick, but the secret to riding it well, especially at its top end, is be confidently assertive. Equally, I put several friends on it who haven’t been wave riding very much and they found it super clean in its power delivery and, although quick, very intuitive in feel to adapt to. Interestingly, it was when going on a foil that I really realised how quick, sharp and drivey this six metre is, especially compared to similarly sized single strut kite, but that’s another story. The Bandit S is a machine.

BAR The bar remains 99% the same as last year apart from colour changes and some minor tweaks to some of the smaller components. Those include the more rounded shape of the splice so it moves more freely and the V box on the line splitter has been locked in position better and the two holes are bigger for smoother running lines.

“Fast and direct with super forward flight characteristics, yet also playable, intuitive and capable of stable drift when your lines go slack.”
“Fast and direct with super forward flight characteristics, yet also playable, intuitive and capable of stable drift when your lines go slack.”

SUMMARY: Fast and direct with super forward flight characteristics, yet also playable, intuitive and capable of stable drift when your lines go slack. Some riders may find the six is a bit quick, but if you’re an experienced kite flier this is a total weapon and highly responsive in all areas of the wind window. KW LIKED: Flying the kite is as much fun as riding the waves! KW WOULD CHANGE: Nothing. For Jim’s 70 kilo weight, this was a very usable size from as little as 16 to 18 knots on a surfboard in clean waves and the top end is decent, too.

BANDIT S BALANCE POINTS: Build quality: 9 Full package: 9 Low end: 8 Top end: 8.5 Steering speed: 8 Turning circle: 3.5 Bar pressure: 5 Water relaunch: 9 Drift: 8 Boost: 5 Hang-time: 5 Unhooked: DT Crossover: 8.5 Ease of use: 8 SIZES: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4m

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