The Bandit 4 has a brand new shape with a modified span, increased C-shape, revised tip shape, profile and leading edge
diameter. The number of struts has been reduced to three but the Delta C-shape (original and patented by F-One) on the Bandit 4 is identical to the Bandit 3, giving the kite stability, power / depower and auto-relaunch. Three struts mean a lighter, smoother and more dynamic kite. Set on the front settings you get a lighter pressure and slower turning kite; switch to the back for more bar pressure and higher turning speed. The squared tips allow two different back line settings and a more aerodynamic effect during turns. The bigger sizes in the range are orientated towards power and smaller ones towards control and the overall structure of all models is that they are more stable for better control in high wind conditions. At the low end of the wind range, the kite is more efficient and pleasant due to its lightness and reactivity and instantaneous depower. Unhooked, the Bandit 4 isn't overpowering, remaining light and the feeling has never been so precise and direct during kite loops. Looping speed has been improved with a lighter boost at the end of the loop when the kite F-One Bandit 7m goes back to the zenith. Suiting all disciplines, the Bandit 4 requires no adaptation time from the rider.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
For the last three seasons, F-One have gone into battle against the multiple models from other brands with their Bandits – a one-kite does all range. The Bandit 3 was lovely; very close to C kite handling with rapid speed and lots of depower. This year they've answered Bandit fans' requests to include a one pump system and the long, ungainly bridles of the early Bandit models have been cut right back; a modest front line V bridle has a pulley helping the kite tilt backwards and forwards nice and smoothly. The supers lim one-piece control bar is one of the lightest we've ever used and with it being light, you have a lot of feel for the kite through the sky. Getting washed by a wave it's quite remarkable how much awareness you still have as to where the kite is. Very easy-touse, you could ride this all day being this easy on your forearms.
We tested the nine metre in the UK in issue #49, but we also wanted to test a kite from the smaller category, which we did in the demanding winds of Cape Town. The wind is so dense there that riding in 30 knots can feel like riding in 40 knots elsewhere. You can comfortably ride a seven metre in 18 knots in Cape Town and therefore frequently need a five. What is immediately obvious with the Bandit 4 is how much of a range it has. It soaks up gusts beautifully and has loads of depower at the bar. Depowering it on the trimming system you do lose a bit of steering, but it takes quite a bit of wind before you even need to touch the trimming controls. For directional wave riding it's incredibly smooth, doesn't have surges in power and is definitely the ally an experienced rider wants when ridden on its optimum setting. Light steering, good depower releasing power when you want it to and nice forward drive make it an intuitive kite for the waves. This seven metre does seem a little slower than that of last year. When kite looping it hooked-in, it will go, but you have to give it all the input you can to get it round, making it a serious freestyle kite in that respect. The steadier turning speed makes it good for riders at the early end of the learning spectrum, though.
The relaunch of the kite is amazing, even in lighter winds. In terms of delta kite pioneers, the Bandit relaunch is still unsurpassed. You can also really sheet in on the bar and it won't haul you and doesn't flair. The power delivery is smooth, which as well as being great in waves, also means that the unrefined handling skills of beginner riders won't be as punished as much as they might be. The riding position of the bar is actually quite close to the chicken-loop, as it is on more freestyle oriented shapes, which explains why it doesn't flair and why it has such a good top end. For unhooked riding, the kite therefore also remains very stable and without much of a character change in or out of the loop and the kite will also happily sit with you unhooked down-the-line. Riding underpowered is possible, but just requires a little more technique to get the power in the smaller sizes like this one from moving the kite about.
The seven metre is very happy at the top of its range, providing smooth power and depower and, although it does lose a bit of feeling and steering when heavily trimmed, it actually takes a lot of wind before you do need to think about trimming the kite down. Excellent relaunch and smooth handling make this a fantastic kite for high wind wave riding, but we just found it a little more technical to fly than some kites that are more suitable for the basic skills of very early intermediates.
Excellent optimum high-wind performance. You can see why these kites are popular in places like Cape Town.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
We'd like a bit more handling to be retained when the kite is heavily trimmed, but by the time you are heavily trimming this seven metre, you'd probably be on a five in other kite models anyway. What it does mean is that if inexperienced riders do find the wind suddenly picking up to uncomfortable levels, they can still trim the kite down and make it safely back to the beach.
SIZES: 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
This test is in issue #51