Introducing the Bandit
It was with much anticipation when F-One, the only one ‘main’ kite brand released their latest incarnation of the Bandit. You know that R&D which other companies spread over 4 or 5 kites has been concentrated into one, so the Bandit 5 seems to be a safe bet. But still; the stakes are high. I was a big fan of the Bandit 4 so does the Bandit 5 deliver?
I have owned the Bandit 5 9m for a couple of months and have used the Bandit in your typical cross on-shore mushy UK conditions all the way to the sunny skies of South Africa, Cape Town and Barbados.
I have tested quite a few kites in my time (even being only 18 years old) and i haven’t used any other kite which has compared to the Bandit 5. It is a dream come true and it is made for every kitesufer out there.
Even if you’re a newbie, you can trust the Bandit 5 to perform and it will be with you step-by-step when becoming a kitesurfer. The kite relaunches every time in a matter of seconds and it will take a serious amount of crashes, it’s basically atomic bomb proof.
Build and Construction:
The first thing you notice when you take the new Bandit out the bag and begin to pump is the size of the leading edge, it’s smaller. Actually a lot smaller. For all you technical geeks out there, F-One have established that it now takes 25% less pumps to inflate the leading edge. This obviously has made the Bandit much lighter and due to the reduced weight and smaller leading edge, the Bandit 5 now feels much quicker through the air.
The second clear difference of the new Bandit is the profile of the kite. The Bandit 5 is now flatter than the Bandit 4. The hope was the kite would improve depower, the top-end and responsiveness without taking away the impressive low-end of previous Bandits and that hope has been fulfilled.
Set Up and Tuning
The bridle system has been slightly tweaked from last year and you’ve now got 2 attachment points on the back lines to adjust bar pressure and turning speed.
Bar and Safety System
Though there have been many moans and groans about the safety system on previous Bandits, this year there have been no problems with it at all. Aside from the slight change on the grip on the bar, the bar and safety system are relatively the same. There is an over the bar clamcleat depower with an impossible to miss big red handle on the end of it. It is a great system to those who enjoy tweaking their kites. The safety is a Velcro QR which drops the kite onto the front lines. From here the kite rolls onto its back and relaunches beautifully.
And yes, i have personally completed a deep water pack down with the Bandit 5 and i have had no problems whatsoever. The kite drops out the sky, onto its front lines and from there, it’s an easy pack down. If you were ever in trouble, i would definitely put my trust into the Bandit safety system!
Turning speed, handling and feel
The Bandit 4 was a great kite, and F-One had some real work to impress even more. They knew they had to improve the Bandit and not to completely re-work it. With big changes such as the leading edge and the profile, you would expect the Bandit to feel completely different. But it doesn’t.
The Bandit 5 turns incredibly quickly and has some powerful turns if you demand it but equally you never feel like it’s going to let you down even if you just want to take a back seat and chill whilst riding.
The new flatter profile and tighter shape also benefits when sailing upwind. You can really dig in and the Bandit 5 will nicely sit there in the window and power you back upwind with no effort at all. Even when the wind is just not enough, the kite is still super stable and you can get moving in no wind at all.
Lift, hang time and landing
For all the jump junkies out there, the new Bandit 5 is the kite for you. F-One dug out many of their previous C kites and F-One clearly wanted to strive towards the C kite path and have clearly made progress. You get plenty of C style pop when you send the kite and it flies perfectly once you’re up. If kite-looping’s your thing, then the Bandit 5 has made a real breakthrough, with the second half of the loop being markedly less aggressive than the Bandit 4.
If wave riding is your style, then again the Bandit 5 is for you. The kite never lets you down when riding towards the Bandit beast, it just sits there nicely. With the quick and powerful turns, it’s perfect when you want to make some rain on the waves.
Trim, depower and range
F-One hoped to improve the top end of the Bandit 5 and they have definitely succeeded. I have ridden the 9m from 10knots to 30knots and it was still very responsive in all wind strengths. A small amount of flutter in stronger winds as you’d expect but the overall feeling of the Bandit was solid.
Keeping just a hint of the tribal graphics which defined the Bandit 4, the Bandit 5 looks the business. It has a nice clean design and with a nice V to remind you which version it is you’re riding, the kite shows you can be down with the kids whilst keeping the old school look. The Package The Bandit 5 bags are quality – with a semi-pimp leathery feel and a nice design, the bandit bag is perfect… A main kite section, a bar in separate sealed bag and attachments on the side for a pump and an extra bag when leaving your struts inflated. In fact, the whole design from the bag to the kite, everything feels just right, well constructed and there wasn’t even that ‘one thing’ that normally winds you up about a kite.
There are very few other (any?) kite companies that have produced ‘that’ kite like the Bandit 5. The Bandit 5 is a huge improvement on the Bandit 4, it is lighter, it turns much quicker and as much as anything, it is a refinement of the B4. It is an incredibly crisp feeling kite and feels like Christmas every time you take it out the bag. It’s the kind of kite that leaves you wondering exactly what the next evolution of kite design could possibly be?
The F-One Bandit 5 definitely ticks all the boxes for me, from a freestyle rider all to the way wave riding scene, the Bandit 5 suits all.
Tested & Review by Joe Taylor
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