Based on the stand alone patented F-One Delta C-shape design, the Bandit six meets a complex and demanding performance criteria, suited to every aspect of kiteboarding. Detail changes and fine-tuning have had a huge influence on the feel of the B6.
The wind range is now greater than ever and there's also been a reduction in the amount of distortion in the canopy when fully sheeted-out and in overpowered situations, as well as a reduction the lateral pull. You will have easier control of your trajectory and a greater feeling of stability, giving you more confidence.
The B6 also delivers a steadier pull and reacts less violently to the gusts. The lift for high jumps is still there, but it's now even easier to bring it into play.
Thanks to work on the dynamic weight of the kite, the B6 feels even lighter while riding. It's more reactive and less tiring; as if you're riding a kite size smaller.
There's also more direct control and a more direct feel for the kite's reactions at the bar, sheeted in or out. The bar offers a steadier feel without the floaty feeling and you won't have to sheet back in to make your kite turn.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We have tested every version of the Bandit kite so we always look forward to see what Raphael and his team have in store for us each year. It's always going to be a 'Bandit' and it has such a strong following but when the dream is for one kite that does it all, you still never quite know exactly what's in store.
First thing we did was unwrap the bar and somewhere in our minds we probably enjoy this bit with new kites the most, because in many ways your connection is the most important bit. The new all white bar looks super slick and it's incredibly light weight and very comfortable in your hands. It's also nice and small and very neat. Everything above the bar is good, the cleat trimming system works really well and has a really nice handle on the end, even if it does tend to wrap itself around the chicken-loop line a bit when fully trimmed, but we can live with that because the cleat system works so well and the kite really is incredibly tunable that you can get the kite to give you exactly what you want, depending on how you want to ride. At the bar it's plug and play and couldn't be easier to set-up.
Below the bar it's all the same with the Velcro release, which of course has been tried and tested over many years and does work, sandy or not, but you may look at some other systems and wonder why there isn't more development with this one. There's a spacer above the chicken-loop that does key nicely into the bar, but isn't the most robust, but it does the job. So: above the bar ? excellent; below-the-bar ? fine, but could do better. Having said that the chicken-loop is a nice size and the chicken-finger does turn out of the way nice and tidily.
Over the years the Bandit seems to have been really focussed on providing this huge wind range. This year we've got that but with more feeling. The air frame seems a little more solid and the Bandit Six flies forward really well. As the kites in the past have had so much range, there was a slight tendency to distort but this feels tighter, as if it's had a facelift and is more rigid in the tips especially.
The Bandit definitely has, and continues to have, a unique feel. It's one of the greatest all-rounders ever produced, but we think this version is better for boosting and freestyle than for waves. But it's only slightly more angled in that direction and as a one-kite solution it does it all so well. The usable wind range is incredible: you can boost to the moon on one tack and unhook and do tricks on your next because it's so tunable in an instant. We did hit its limit for unhooking later on when it got windy but then it just got better and better for boosting. It simply loves a lot of wind for boosting and it is a huge amount of fun in lots of wind. It's also very assured in its loops too, allowing you to throw some quick ones and then some bigger more powerful ones as you progress and not once were we worried. There is no delay/lag at all and quite a respectable amount of power behind the loop, too. It's just a bit more than what you'd expect from a freeride kite; it still transports you downwind, but not so fast that you're wetting yourself.
The Bandit Six really feels incredibly well tuned and trust-worthy all around the window. There is still oodles of boost to keep the masses happy, don't worry about that, and any back stalling has been eliminated... as hard as we tried to find it!
Another very good point is that we felt comfortable leashed to the re-ride safety line all the time. Even when trying unhooked tricks we didn't feel the need to go onto suicide because the bar doesn't travel miles up the line. It depowers the kite straight away but you're then not left with lots of kite line around you and once you get the bar back the kite relaunches straight away. That's a really impressive quality for us from a safety point of view and is very rare to see such a safe and easy system that's so quick to relaunch.
The Bandit drives forward very cleanly and is a fast, performance freeride kite. Leaning more towards a freestyle-freeride performance, the Bandit Six is still a very capable wave kite. If you already have a Bandit and are looking to trade you absolutely will not be disappointed with this. There's no off and on with the power and it just feels so refined. It truly is a one kite option for all types of riding with a very impressive wind range.
Boosting huge, then unhooking and then running to the car to grab the surfboard for session number two!
KW WOULD CHANGE:
If the chicken-loop system was upgraded the Bandit would be very hard to beat.
SIZES: 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
KITE BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality ? 7.5
Full Package - 7
Low end ? 8.5
Top end ? 9
Steering speed ? 7.5
Turning circle - 7
Bar pressure ? 7
Water relaunch ? 9
Boost ? 8.5
Hang-time ? 8
Unhooked ? 7.5 (when it's windy it's too much. It flies forward better but it's still ballsy)
Easy of use ? 8.5