The Bandit is the main kite offering in F-One's line-up and designed to be the best kite for each discipline and style of rider, from the beginner to the pro athlete. Continuing from the Bandit 4, the aim was to further improve the wind range on the B5, easily power up at the low end, but that was also more forgiving in strong and gusty conditions. The weight of the kite also needed to be reduced to improve the underpowered performance and also to increase the ease-of-use at the bottom end. Handling improvements allow the kite to be positioned exactly where you want it and it can be precisely managed during a kite loop, also offering high responsiveness in the larger sizes. Construction and structure are updated, both in choice and distribution of materials, including a 25% thinner leading edge, new three point bridle system and a new strut shape. Finally some important work has been done on the bar feeling and pressure with the B5 now putting more effort through your harness and less through your arms. Overall the B5 is lighter,
more manoeuvrable and more responsive. It's also smoother and ultimately more enjoyable, regardless of the type of riding that you do.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We already tested the ten metre Bandit 5 near the end of 2012. That review is now online at www.kiteworldmag.com/kite-tests/ F-One have designed a one-kite-for-all for the last five seasons, and each size of the Bandit is carefully produced for the specific conditions it's meant for, so we thought it was important to get hold of the 14 metre, to see how it coped in the light winds. First thing to note is that F-One's bar system is absolutely beautiful. Super thin and comfortably lithe in your hands, it also has a very smooth trimming cleat and rope, which we've always really liked. The slight lag in terms of up-to-date technology is with the Velcro quick-release system on the chickenloop, which F-One have always stuck with, but F-One products are nothing if not functional and easy-to-use. Some of you may know however that F-One recalled and replaced for free some of the 2012 bars earlier this year, but that wasn't to do with the actual Velcro system itself. Rest assured all is sorted now though, FOne honoured all replacements, but we have to mention it. On the water what's apparent is that the Bandit 5 has one of the largest usable wind ranges in each particular size we've come across. The low end is fantastic for a 14 and the top end is just stupid. In real world terms it gives you the opportunity to go big with lots of hang-time, to unhook with lovely out-of-theloop performance and to also wave ride all in the same session. Hands down this must be one of the best kites out there for doing everything with one kite. It's really not difficult to get it to achieve what you want. All the old school boosty moves mean you have to be lit to be able to get loads of hang-time and float. Your kite needs to be revving hard. For unhooked moves you want power, but it has to be usable without dragging you off downwind. It needs to fly forward nicely, which the Bandit does and, as long as you've got the kite well trimmed, you can sheet in and unhook with perfect power for your passes. There's also more depower than you'll ever need, so it really
is a one kite solution for lots of different styles. Of all the hybrid C kites out there, this one really does hold true to its heritage in terms of C kite performance. Really enjoyable to fly, it's not wishy-washy in terms of feeling at the bar and it's wonderful riding a 14 metre with a nice, small bar that still has a very direct feel. The power is delivered in lovely, incremental amounts even though there's only eight to ten inches of throw, so you're not left throwing the kite around and then waiting for the power delivery. So how does the 14 metre fair in the light wind category? If you're a heavier rider and looking for a sub-20 knot solution then you will enjoy this as other, lighter riders would enjoy their 12 metres. The range it has is excellent, it's not going to totally over power you as the wind picks up to 20 knots when some 14s would get heavy and very unruly. This remains manageable and there's still oodles of
performance in the canopy as it takes you high and pulls like a C kite - nice and direct through the middle of the window. It's a real plug and play model, the swept-back delta is very easy to use, the relaunch is great and there's a lot of potential there, from hardcore boosting to more advanced wake-style. The better you are, the more you'll get out of it.
The B5 14 metre isn't an out and out lightwind kite and it doesn't fit into that super highperformance race kite category for absolute lowest wind performance either, but for an average rider looking to jump on a nicely performing kite that's still in an easy to handle size without having to jump on a 16 metre slug, then this is highly recommended.
All the character and fun performance characteristics of smaller models in a 14 metre. There's no need to change your riding style at all with this. It makes 12 - 15 knot conditions a lot of fun for bigger riders and lighter riders can get out in less.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
We wouldn't change much at all, but as this is a light wind review, then ideally it would get regular sized men going in less knots, but then you'd lose the top end and playable characteristics.
14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
This test is in issue #58