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2013 Buyer’s Guide: F-One

Photo Giles Calvet

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F-One is releasing the sixth edition of the Bandit, the original Delta kite, and is sticking with the concept of one model of kite to fit most riders. The Bandit now comes with a unique bar that has been machined from solid aluminum. F-One’s Raphael Sales answered our questions about the changes at F-One for 2013.

For 2013 F-One is releasing the sixth version of the Bandit and is sticking with the idea of one main kite for all riders. What’s the philosophy behind having just one main kite model?

Year after year we are able to improve to the Bandit and it gets better and better in each kiteboarding discipline with each new version. I believe that the needs of all kiteboarding disciplines are actually quite similar, so why shouldn’t a kite be able to fit them all? It’s strange to me that nobody seems to ask the opposite question: What needs are actually different between each kiteboarding discipline? If you really put all the needs for freeride, freestyle, waves, strapless, cruising, hang time, and unhooking down on paper they are not so far from each other.

The philosophy is to make things simple to understand and to make the sport more free and open. We believe that most riders don’t want to limit themselves to just one single style of riding, but it’s not realistic for them to have different kinds of kites in their quiver. You should be able to adapt your style of riding according to the conditions, not according to your gear. If there are waves you go wave riding. If there’s no surf you can do anything else. If you want to be a happy kitesurfer you have to be able to enjoy what mother nature offers you.

F-One Bandit 6

What is some of the rider input you used when developing the Bandit 6?

I can tell you that each rider from each discipline will carefully check to see if the kite is an improvement over the Bandit 5 or not. Some riders are always afraid that we will forget some of their specific needs for their style of riding and the kite won’t perform as well for them. When we start the R&D process we try to learn what riders think should be improved, what the weak points are, and then we start working. It’s very important for us that we don’t give up anything riders love about the Bandit when creating the next version.

During the process it’s really hard for other riders to come in and test the prototypes because only myself and Mika Fernandez know where we started from and where we would like to go. If you do not have the complete picture it’s quite difficult to understand what is happening during the R&D testing process. When setting our goals for the next generation we get comments from many different people including distributors, dealers, and schools, so it’s really wide mix of comments that we use. We also know the Bandit better than anyone else and so we know what can be improved.

2013 F-ONE KITES
Kite Name Sizes Stock Line Length Target Date Available
Bandit 6 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14m 24m High performance all around Now
Volt 3 5, 7, 9, 11, 13m 24m Freeride TBD

What will Bandit 5 riders notice when they try the Bandit 6?

You will not know why at first but you will feel more confident on the B6. Afterwords when you analyze why you’ll notice that the B6 is more stable and more solid and at same time more comfortable. The traction is smooth and constant and the power delivery is easy to handle, but it doesn’t mean that the B6 will not give you a pull if needed.

The kite stays more stable in the wind window without moving back and forth so it gives you a constant pull and a perfect angle to go upwind. The stability of the profile in high winds and the depower ability have been improved as well. Combine that with the low end the Bandit was already known for and you get an incredible wind range. The bar feeling and the transmission of information from the kite are more direct than before and there is no adaptation time even if you were not a Bandit user.

The B6 feels smaller and lighter than B5, about one size smaller, which is quite cool for the bigger sizes. Handling, turning speed, and radius are impressive for kite loops and wave riding. With all the new features it’s easier to jump with correct technique and the hang time has also improved. All the flying characteristics of the B6 will be interesting for riders at all levels.

Photo Giles Calvet

Were there any construction changes to the Bandit for 2013?

Yes, we have made some construction changes including the way we stitch the different panels of the canopy and how we reinforce the canopy’s leading edge profile. Every year we find little modifications we can do to constantly be improving the strength and durability of the kites.

With the Bandit 6 being the kite that will suit all riders, where does the Volt fit in?

We use the Volt for schools and package offers. It’s more oriented to beginners but experienced riders who try it are often surprised by its performance. With the Volt, we focus more on effortless relaunching by using a bigger Delta angle and we also work on the kite’s riding speed to keep relatively low to allow for perfect control.

Will the 2-line Source SUP kite be updated for 2013?

The Source remains the same because it perfectly fits the SUP kite program. Now that we have more and more SUP riders on the water I hope we will see more of them testing kites with their boards.

Any changes to the bar for 2013? What’s special about the bar’s construction?

Yes, we made big changes to the construction of the bar. We built some prototype bar designs by CNC machining the samples from pure aluminum blocks and we were really impressed by the new feeling we got with this technology. The bars were lighter and super precise.

It was a fair improvement for the bar feeling so we decide to use the CNC process for production. The bar and each end are milled from solid pieces of high-grade aluminum. The grip is molded EVA with a comfortable double layer on top.

How has the twin tip range been updated for 2013?

We have made a lot of small adjustments to flex and twist patterns and it proved to be a good way to improve our boards. We learned a lot from all testing we did. When it comes to twin tips it’s not just a matter of shape and rocker line but how the board reacts when being ridden on the water. We have also adjusted some of the sizes and widths, especially in the larger sizes.

2013 F-ONE BOARDS
Board Name Sizes Type Target Date Available
Trax 132, 134, 136, 138cm Twin Tip High Performance Freestyle Now
Trax LW 140cm Twin Tip High Performance Freestyle Light Wind edition Now
TX 134, 136, 138cm Twin Tip High Performance Freeride Now
Acid 127, 130, 132, 134 Twin Tip New School Now
SK8 132, 134cm Twin Tip Carving, High Wind, Wave TBD
Unik 136cm Twin Tip Progressive Freeride Now
Next 138, 140, 148, 150 cm Twin Tip Beginners Now
Rookie/Kids 128cm Twin Tip Junior Now
Fish 5’4”, 5’6”, 5’10” Fish Surfboard Small Wave and Light Wind Now
Signature 5’10”, 6’0” Quad Surfboard Radical Surfing Now
Surf 5’11”, 6’2”, 6’4” Thruster Surfboard Surf and Strapless Now

What type of rider is each of the twin tip boards designed for?

The Unik is our progressive freeride board and the Next is best suited for beginner through intermediate riders. The Trax is our high performance freestyle board and the TX is for high performance freeriding. As awlays, the SK8 is the carving board. The Acid is for progressive new-school riders and the Rookie is our kid’s board.

How should riders who are looking for an all-around board decide between the TX and the SK8?

The SK8 should be looked at as the board for carving high wind choppy conditions while the TX is more oriented for lighter wind.

Photo Giles Calvet

Were there any major changes to the surf line for 2013?

Yes, we have a new construction process and have moved the production to a new factory. The boards are stronger and also got a little color and nice graphics. The 6’4” and 6’2” shapes remain the same for 2013 but the new construction makes them lighter. We added a 5’10” to the Fish line with a lot of volume that is incredible for light wind and makes this board easy to paddle surf on as well. The 2013 Signatures are totally new. The 6’0” is a evolution of last year’s model with a concave deck.

The 5’10” is a new concept. The nose is rounded compared to a normal outline and tail is wider, it give it a nice compact outline. It has the feeling of a short board but with the stability of a longer board and works really well when ridden strapped or strapless. Both Signatures will do whatever you want on a wave. You just have to look were you would like to go and the board will follow. It’s amazing to be able to turn so sharp while keeping speed and have the feeling that the wave is in slow motion! At speed you don’t feel like you’re going fast because the control is so easy.

What type of rider is each of the surfboards designed for?

The Fish is for early planning and is fast enough to create apparent wind, meaning that instead of using a big kite you can use a Fish. It’s perfect for cruising but allows you to play in waves with a smaller kite. The Signatures love to be on a wave but will surprise you for freestyle strapless and high wind stability. The Surf Series is ready for anything in the waves. The 6’2” is super stable for strapless riding and it Mitu’s favorite board.

How is the Surf 5’11” different from the other boards in the surf line?

The 5’11” is a new way of thinking about wave boards. We tried to make it the easiest carving board in the line. It’s so easy that you don’t need to be a expert to make turns on a wave. With a little more volume it’s easy to ride and allows you to ride at lower speeds. It’s very stable which makes it easier to learn to ride strapless and the single concave bottom makes it smooth in the chop. It’s a different construction than the rest of the boards with a double bamboo deck but no bamboo on bottom. This means it’s not as strong as the other boards, but it makes it more affordable so more riders can explore the directional world.

Want 185 pages of 2013 kiteboarding gear info on 28 brands? Check out the TKB 2013 Buyer’s Guide.

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