F-One Bandit 5 (2012) Hot
Since the first generation Bandit we have been committed to offering one single kite in our range. Our goal is not to offer just a "versatile" kite but rather the best kite for each discipline and style of rider, from the beginner to the pro athlete. To be successful in all areas is a real challenge from an R&D perspective; this process is proving to be much more complex than developing several highly specialized kites. The most difficult challenge faced with the B5 was to improve from the B4 in all areas without losing any of its qualities - an extremely tough call that is ongoing. The whole structure of the kite, its profile and its bridles have been reworked in order to achieve these goals. Its construction has also been fundamentally updated both in the choice and the distribution of materials and in the manufacturing processes. Because the structure of a kite is soft, it can deform and twist allowing the kite to rotate. A fully rigid profile wing will not turn at all. Therefore, maneuverability and responsiveness of the kite depends directly on its ability to twist, one important point that we have greatly improved on thanks to a thinner leading edge, a new 3-point bridle system and a new shape for the struts. All this to "free" the kites profile. Reducing the diameter of the leading edge, with almost 25% less air volume, brings an important gain in terms of weight and aerodynamics. The result is better performance in the low end, but in the also at the top end thanks to an improved handling thinner profile. We have also gained in terms of set up comfort as the inflation time has been reduced. A new type of flatter profile was employed. By reducing the profile curve depth it is easier to depower and keep control at the top end. In the low end, a flatter profile is more efficient when powered-up and fully sheeted in providing constant power. The result is a better control of the kite aerodynamics, less lateral traction and less pressure and therefore effort through your legs and into the board when the wind picks up.
Average user rating from: 3 user(s)
7m Bandit 5
I just had the chance to demo a 7m Bandit 5 for a few hour session. Wind was mid to high teens at the start and low to mid 20s at the peak. I was riding a 6' surfboard and weigh 175.
First of all, when I went out I didn't think a 7m would be enough. I would have pumped my current 9m kite. The Bandit has a very small leading edge and is a light kite. I was surprised when I went out that I had plenty of power to go upwind and could ride waves in either direction. I have never ridden a F-One kite before so cannot compare to previous generations, but I can honestly say it is the nicest kite I have ever flown.
The kite is FAST, but predictable and precise. Good power was generated in the turns, but its a very smooth and linear power. Its hard to describe, but the best word I can think of is smooth. Depower was amazing. I am not a fan of complete depower because it is usually too on/off. The Bandit 5 has incredible depower in a very short amount of depower rope, but it's also somehow smooth and linear and just felt perfect. I could bottom turn with speed and depower enough to not be pulled off the board. The kite also goes upwind incredibly well. I was on a smaller kite than most guys out at the start but was able to go anywhere. When the wind picked up, there was no change in kite behavior except some added power.
And then I rode a left, which I was unable to do well on my previous kites at this particular location because they would pull me off the wave with the wind direction. With the Bandit I was able to get into the pocket of the wave like never before. I think it was the combination of the high upwind tack and then being able to easily control the kites power/depower while surfing the wave. I could not get the smile off of my face.
I have to say, although it was only a few hours, I loved the kite and placed an order immediately for a 7 and 9. I have flown most brands over the years and for my style, I believe I have found the perfect kite. I'll post a full review once I get the other kites and have more days on them.
For now, I'd strongly encourage people to demo one if you can. I'm still smiling from that session 2 days ago.
PS, I have no brand affiliation and pay for my gear. I've been riding 9 years and ride strapless surfboards most recently.
At A Glance
The fifth generation of Bandit sits atop a lineage that few kites can lay claim too, the original Bandit changed the face of kitoboarding introducing the Delta concept, since then the design has been tweaked and played with and radically changed. To put a Bandit next to a Bandit 5 would result in a stark contrast. The changes between the 4 and the 5 ore however less contrasting, but still evident. The leading edge has been made thinner, and the profile is a little flatter to enable control and stability in high winds. The whole kite is also much lighter, which still allows it to perform in light winds. The other major difference is the outer wing tip struts are connected in a more flexible manner; this allows the whole kite to twist as you turn it.
The Airlite bar is shaped from a single piece of aluminium and then over-moulded with polymer before being wrapped in a soft EVA grip. When you pick it up simplicity is the first thing that strikes you, the whole sot up is very clean and purely functional. F-One have stuck with the Velcro safety release and while it may seem a little dated compared to some of the more engineered designs Velcro is still very reliable and resistant to sand and saltwater. It’s a case of “if it aint broke don’t fix it” and why not? Depowor is an above the bar affair and utilises a clam cleat and rope system that is both easy to reach and simple to use. Safety is taken care of with a front line release system and there is a “mouse ear” connection to allow the front lines to untwist.
In the Air
It’s always a pleasure to fly the Bandit 5 and that is one of the reasons it has become so popular. Each year the design is improved and it is often hard to see how it can be bettered. The main difference we found in the air was the speed at which the kite turned, aided by the more flexible frame the kite really twist and moves with purpose when you give it input from the bar. This means in the bigger sizes the kite actual feels smaller. We rode the 14m and the ability of it to move in the air was impressive. The 8m was the size we rode the most though and this test is for that kite. The added speed from the new more flexible frame really improved the jumping on the kite and the slightly wider chord added to the previously excellent hangtime. Freeriders will love boosting on the Bandit 5, theyll also enjoy the way it penetrates the window and flies forward meaning it doesn’t pull from so far back in the window and makes for a comfier ride. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the kite was its ability to hang in the air when you ride fast down the line towards the kite. The Bandit 5 has shed some pounds and as such seems more willing to stay in the air when the lines are slack. A characteristic wave riders will love! Build quality is as usual excellent and we really liked the detailing on the canopy, looks aren’t everything but when a kite has neat little features it makes it even more appealing. Bar pressure is a little lighter than last year and still offers enough feedback to ensure you know where the kite is at all times.
Well built, beautifully finished and with looks to die for the Bandit 5 backs it up with a smooth easy ride that offers plenty of top end, hangtime, boost and float for waveriding. Turning is incredibly sharp and fast and will make kiteloops and waveriding simple.
We’re struggling to find anything to complain about, the pre production model we flew lacked a wear patch in a critical area for self launch, but the crew said they would be fixing this on the production models, if they do then it’s verging on perfect...
Another great kite in the Bandit lineage, we’re running out of good things to say, but there is a reason this kite is developing such a devoted group of followers. Fly one; chances are you’ll like it!
F-one dday 2012
Its always a big buzz heading off to the new seasons product launches. At the F-one Dealer day theres always the huge anticipation of all the fine new gear to get on, amazing locations, and incredible kiting setups. Also over the years I make a lot of friends at the meetings, and its great to catch up with them to share the good times and good waves. Its pretty mad how good we get it most of the time too, dropping into world class reefbreaks right next to the pros, riding in boardies in the Aussie winter, often staying in 5 star deluxe accommodation on the beach. And of course having a few hundred of the brand spanking new model kites & boards of every size and description pumped up, ready to roll right on the waters edge is pretty damn wicked. But I am here to work, and give you guys the lowdown on the latest and greatest from F-one kitesurf dealer day 2012.
Arriving in the night time I went straight to the bar to renew acquaintances and talk shop, the crew had all been kiting all day and were very relaxed and happy with some extremely good complements about the new gear. Of course I went in the dark to at least touch and feel the new kites and boards. Little hard to sleep as I was so excited to ride the new Bandit5 kites and bamboo boards, so a few hrs later I awoke at 4am hearing the wind cranking and just busting to get out there. Before the sun was up I had the lines on, boards all lined up, the straps adjusted, ready to roll. Music running through my head, and at first light with anticipation coursing through every vein the 9m rose gracefully skyward… crisp….light…. sharp… I loved it instantly. In the distance Manawas rollers called. I grabbed the trax 136 and stepped on as the Bandit pulled me smoothly onto the plane and out over the azure warm Indian sea. The 1st thing I noticed was the super smooth speed and upwind, certainly the thinner sharper profile made short work of the quick tack to the inside break. Lining up the first kicker I cautiously threw the kite back and was hooting as hangtime just kept going and going then a perfect butter smooth landing hardly downwind at all ! Immediately a big difference to last years, in the solid 25 knots this kite boosted so big I could hardly believe it, plus way less drift downwind than I have ever experienced. Keeping the speed and lift for so long, landing so easily, then railing into the next and bigger kicker, this time really hucking and hooting my head off as the Bandit5 reefed me away to the stratosphere. Pulling the bar in was like hitting the rocket launch button, Holy s*** I was getting some of the best feeling boosts ever, so much fun and so controllable so soon after getting on a new kite it was just mad.
A ½ km further and I was staring into the butter smooth bowl of Manawa surf break, double overhead but friendly and beckoning and only myself on the water. The sun crested le morne as I dropped into my first wave of the trip, adrenalin pumping, smile so big it hurt as the dawn patrol rewarded me. Feeling the Bandit5 respond to bar input like it was part of me, direct and reassuring. Fast as f*** and massively capable. Forgiving my shabby mistakes, rewarding my better moments with the crispest waveriding experience ever. Drawing speedy arcs on the big open face, man this was living, alone on the break I carved and jumped all my cares away. Exploring the kites capabilities, stretching my somewhat shaky surflegs, getting real comfy real quick man I love this kite. So how did I find the F-one Bandit5 kite compared to B4 is the common question coming my way. Its got a less aggressive feel but more direct and even more acceleration on tap when you need it, cutting like a knife through gusts and lulls alike. So much depower its crazy, so tight and responsive, just brilliant. And the new airlite bar set it off perfectly, super simple clean and strong, exactly the right cross section and compact in your hands.
The trax board too was impressive, stiffer and with a new surf shape rail this board felt immediately awesome. The pop was insane, I could charge over chop, and even take a few waves ! after a few crackers I shot back to the beach and grabbed the TX, and repeated the run out to manawas for another round, The TX being same as last years was like an old friend, beautiful board for all rounding, after a few waves I grabbed the new Acid 132 to do it all again, surprising myself on a freestyle board in the surf having so much fun, of course busting out a few big boosts and low altitude glides as well. And then the Sk8s turn… whats this an X torsion deck, and seemingly more rocker, the Sk8 just got even more fun, wow this thing flies, bummer they don't make it in my size. After a few more waves and mach10 speed runs through the lagoon I had my fill of twintipping and was ready for the surfboard. Big changes in the signature range, subtle refinements on the SL and fish models which we think are perfect already. More on those later, by mid morning I had ridden the 9 and 8m with a whole bunch of boards and quick squirt on the 10m all absolutely brilliant. So back to the Bandit5…
The official F-one 2012 Dealer Day presentation lists 3 key points that were prioritized to improve for the Bandit5 development. Range. Lightness & Handling. Firstly the top end is better again, hard to believe but true. The thinner sharper profile and LE achieve a better result in terms of getting the kite closer to the edge when you need it most, cutting through everything making it even more controllable, quick and precise, plus I believe it absorbs and translates more smoothly than last years frame again improving range. I cannot really say about the bottom end yet as its been so windy so far but I can say that the range in terms of disciplines is definitely greater. Watching the team snap off some crazy freestyle next to the beach then swap boards and head into barreling one eye with the same kite amply demonstrated how versatile the Bandit5 is. And regarding lightness even though more reinforcements and extra Kevlar patches are all over the 20% less volume of air inflation overall reduces weight through less Dacron in the strut and LE. Apparently it also allows more twist for less effort so giving a quicker and easier handling with more precision which is the last point. Getting used to this kite was unbelievably quick and fun for me. Actually apart from the graphics at first glance it's a very familiar shape to last year. So the devil is in the detail which is very reassuring as we all know and love the B4 so much. And how about the graphics, they are a pretty radical departure from the royal theme of previous years, they grew on me real quick. Super classy and standout in the air as we expect from F-one. Picking up the new and very bling bag with a matching graphic you notice the lighter weight per size. And pumping 20% less air will be good, not that I did any pumping so far, I did however note the new pump colours are white blue, looks good next to the all blue kite which is my fave colour at the moment.
The arvo F-one Dday session was all about the surf, One eye was massive, triple overhead and bigger on the sets, perfect wind and direction, and the F-one team just tore it apart. Skipping along in front of Mitu as he fluidly carved top to bottom on what seemed like the endless perfect wave with the new 6'0 bamboo and 6m Bandit5 is something else to witness. Super stoke pulsing around my whole body for this rare gold opportunity. Seeing all the Bandit5 kites flying down the line at incredible speed, whipping through loops, gouges and insane floaters then ripping back upwind at impossible angles was just jaw dropping. Being out there was simply a dream come true. So stoked. I will follow this up tomorrow with more, and a bunch of pics and short video. But right now gotta go get wet. We are also posting on the F-one Australia fb page. Stay tuned.