TKB has just returned from an amazing trip to Mauritius where we were lucky enough to join F-One for their 2014 Global Meeting. During this trip we scored amazing conditions and had the chance to try all their new gear, including the 2014 Bandit 7.
While the Bandit 7 looks very similar to the Bandit 6 at first glance, F-One’s Raphael Salles and Robert Graham were on hand to show and explain the changes. Robert came on board last year as F-One’s new kite designer and has brought a fresh perspective to one of the most popular and longest running kite models in kiteboarding.
The canopy of the Bandit 7 now uses Teijin Technoforce fabric and the kite was completely redesigned because of this. Technoforce is a stronger material than the classic Teijin T9600 as it has double the amount of ripstop threads.
While testing 2014 prototypes, the F-One R&D team discovered that not only is Technoforce stronger, but it also stretches less, providing opportunities to improve performance by taking this into consideration during the design process.
On the water there is a clear difference between the Bandit 6 and Bandit 7. The Bandit 7 has a more stable feel to it and flutters less. It also has very little tendency to surge forward or fall back due to wind gusts or sheeting angle. If you sheet out while riding the Bandit 7 holds it’s position in the window very well and simply smoothly depowers without surging forward to the edge of the window.
The high-end of the kite also feels improved and the Bandit 7 feels more manageable with less fluttering when depowered.
There have also been a number of small changes to the kite. The most noticeable detail is that the F-One logo is sewn into the kite as opposed to printed. This sounds like a minor thing but it really makes the kites look great in the air. Robert also put a lot of effort into cleaning up the reinforcement details throughout the kite.
The bridle layout remains similar to last year’s with two pulleys per side. Robert gave us a great explanation of the Bandit’s bridle and helped us understand some differences between bridles with pulleys and those without.
The initial shipment of 2014 Bandits will be available with the same bar as the Bandit 6, but a new bar will be available soon. When we tested the Bandit 6 last year, we had three small issues with the bar that have all been addressed with the new bar. The first is the introduction of a push away quick release, aligning F-One with what has become the industry standard.
Also, the new bar is half red and half white, making it easier for consumers to tell one side of the bar from the other compared to an all white bar. Finally, the hard plastic on the end of the depower line has been changed for webbing, eliminating the issue some riders had of having the hard plastic end hitting their hands while riding.
TKB will be doing a more in depth review of the Bandit 7 when we do our 2014 gear test, but don’t hesitate to give this kite a try if you have a chance. F-One has a great thing going with the Bandit and has managed to make a lot of improvements to it for 2014.