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For 2014 F-One has a lot of big changes across their entire product line. The seventh generation of the popular Bandit has been completely redesigned by a new designer and the twin tip line now features HRD rails, a radical new rail shape for kiteboards. F-One is also releasing the Mitu Pro surfboard, their first pro model ever. Nico Ostermann walked us through all the changes at F-One for the new product year.
The Bandit 7 looks very similar to the Bandit 6. How has it changed for 2014?
The 2014 Bandit may look similar to the Bandit 6, but it has received a complete redesign. First, we have a new designer, Robert Graham, who has brought a fresh pair of eyes to the Bandit. The major improvement is the use of Tejin Technoforce canopy fabric. We tried it because it is a stronger material, but the test team found that it had the potential to improve the kite’s performance if used properly. This is the important part – this fabric behaves differently and the whole kite had to be reworked to take advantage of it.
Robert has also brought a lot of attention to detail to the kite which you can see in rounded reinforcement patches on the kite that help spread the load more evenly. The Bandit doesn’t look very different this year, but there have been a huge number of small changes.
How do these changes translate into performance on the water?
The first thing you notice on the 2014 Bandit is the stability of the canopy. There is very little fluttering and the kite is better behaved in gusty winds. The new Bandit really stays put on the edge of the window and doesn’t shoot forward and backwards when you sheet out and in.
Also, the high end of the kite has been improved and there is less lateral pull from the kite. This allows you to ride a little bit flatter without having to fight the kite as much to get upwind. An important thing to realize is that the main goal of the test team is to improve the Bandit without giving up anything. A better high end at the expense of low-end power would be unacceptable to the team. They refuse to go backwards on any of the Bandit’s performance characteristics.
What’s the testing process like?
Raphael Salles and Mika Fernandez work with Robert to test a new round of prototypes every week while developing next season’s products. They send design files to the factory on Monday, have the kites at the office on Friday, and then they test all weekend. It’s a very methodical process and it took more than 80 prototypes to finalize the 2014 Bandit.
I know you get asked this question a lot, but can the Bandit really be a kite for all riders? Why does F-One have just one main kite model when other brands have many?
We get that question all the time. Yes, the Bandit is designed as a true all around kite that will suit the needs of all riders out there, except maybe for racing. Why do we just have the Bandit? We like to turn that question around and ask, why do other brands have so many models? Kites are expensive and we want our customers to feel like they’re getting a good value. That’s why we make sure the Bandit has a great wind range and why we put a lot of effort into making sure it’s good for all styles of riding. We don’t want you to have to buy two kites so you can ride waves and do some freestyle. One kite should be able to do both of those well.
How does the Trust fit in?
The Trust is our school and freeride kite. The Trust is a friendly version of the Bandit, with a more pronounced Delta angle. It’s easier to relaunch and suits a slower riding style than the Bandit. It’s mainly meant to learn on but some riders have found that they really like the comfort of it.
Are there any changes to the bar for 2014?
The all aluminum Monolith bar has a number of upgrades for 2014. First up is something our customers have been asking for, a push away quick release. The new release has gone through a lot of testing and will be available as a spare part for riders who want to upgrade their old bar. The plastic end of the depower line is now webbing and the bar is white and red as opposed to all white. The bar itself is still CNC milled out of solid aluminum, creating a very strong and lightweight bar.
It looks like the twin tip line has been updated for 2014. What has changed?
The Trax and Acid were completely redesigned and now feature the new Helical Rail Design (HRD). HRD is a brand new concept for twin tips. The rail shape morphs from high and inverted under the feet to hard and thin in the middle. It makes the boards very comfortable to ride with less spray and also makes the boards less prone to catching an edge while landing. HRD also makes the board ride a little higher in the water so you feel like you’re more on top of the water as opposed to going through it. It’s a revolutionary edge shape and we’re really happy to be the ones to introduce it.
The Trax and Acid are available in both full carbon or more standard fiberglass constructions. For both boards the carbon versions feel more lively with more responsive pop and they are lighter too. The Acid is also available in a girl’s version and a kid’s version with more flex than the standard Acid. A brand new board for F-One this year is the Spicy, a wakestyle board designed specifically with boot riders in mind. Finally we have the Next, which is a great board for new riders as well as light wind riders. The Next is available in a package with the Trust to have the perfect combo to start kiteboarding.
Has the surfboard line changed for 2014?
For 2014 we are introducing the Mitu Pro surfboard series, our first ever pro model. The Mitu Pro comes in three sizes and is the board Mitu Monteiro now rides in almost all conditions. It is a really versatile board. It has been designed primarily for strapless riding but can also be ridden with straps. It has a relatively wide outline with a deep single concave and should be ridden a few inches shorter than a normal board. It’s stable enough to learn strapless on while also being able to deliver enough performance to satisfy Mitu, both on the wave and for strapless freestyle.
We also have the Signature quad series which has a more narrow outline than the Mitu and can be ridden aggressively at high speed to carve long lines or perform some short quick turns. Both the Signature and Mitu Pro feature our new Camel Deck. This new deck shape lowers the position of your heel on the board, making it more stable while giving you more control over the board and it includes a built-in grab rail. We also still have the 5’11” Surf, which will remain the same classic shape for this year but get upgraded fins compared to past years. Finally we have the Fish, a perfect board to get you going in light wind or for playing in small mushy surf.