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Photo:Gilles Calvet

Photo:Gilles Calvet

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Get full 2015 gear info from 26 brands in the TKB 2015 Buyers Guide.

F-One continues to refine the Bandit kite for 2015 with subtle changes, their twin tip boards have more flex for more comfort and better twist control, and the surfboards received a big upgrade in construction. Founder and lead designer Raphael Salles walks us through what’s changed and what’s new for F-One’s 2015 product line.

The 2015 Bandit is the result of over 50 prototypes? What changes have you made in terms of construction or handling in its 8th year of development? The Bandit R&D process is actually always about 80 prototypes so we need a lot of days on the water to test them properly! But after eight years together with Mika, we have become quite an efficient testing team so we’re able to test more and more.

Every year we improve the construction with little details, like how to place the one pump and where to add reinforcement. The biggest difference on the 2015 Bandit is the shape of the trailing edge Dacron panels. It now has a curved shape instead of a straight line between the canopy and the Dacron. This change was made to manage the tension in this area between the two materials that have quite a big thickness difference.

In terms of handling, the new Bandit is more stable and solid so you will feel more confident with it, especially when the wind is getting stronger. the low end is better because you will go through the holes without knowing that there is one; you can keep the bar fully down and the kite will do all the work. the big sizes feel lighter with more handling and turning speed. the kite loops are fast and with great acceleration on the end. the bar feeling and feedback is also greater so you will feel more confident and ready to try new tricks. This year the Bandit is going to be available in the 17m size.

KITE-BANDIT-BLUE_YELLOW_ORANGE

What was the motivation for this kite and how much additional low end performance can we expect out of this kite? We had a demand for a product that offered more power and low end so we decided to add the 17m. This big size is not made for racing and was principally tested with twin tips. This means that it is a great kite if you want to plane early in light wind but the marginal low end conditions are hard to describe with numbers.

the 17m is your go to kite when you want to ride in below 10 knot conditions; it will pull you with great, constant full power and will go through the big holes.

The next step down in the line is the Trust. How does that compare to the Bandit and who might be the target rider for this kite? The goal with the Trust is to have a kite that makes learning kitesurfing easy. It’s also the kite you need if you do not ride a lot. The main difference will be the lower riding speed you will get with the Trust; it will allow you to manage all chops, have time to enjoy your ride, and prepare you for your first jumps.

At Surf Expo F-One teased us with the news of race kite. What will F-One’s interpretation on a race design look like and will it also work as a freeride kite? Yes we are working on it and so far, the results have been great! our race model with be a good tool for long distance, hang time, and foiling as well as the one that team riders Alex and Charlotte will use for the speed record. The interesting thing is that we managed to keep our Bandit bar feeling so there is no adaptation delay when you jump on it.

The Monolith control bar has a clean, lightweight and simple design. Were any changes made to it for 2015? Our push away quick release has been on the market since early 2014 so it is proven now that it works and lasts well. We didn’t change it for this new season. It’s a mechanical system that has a tower on top of the handle so the handle is free to work even if your bar is stuck down. It also gives more space for your fingers and keeps them away from the handle. The entire system is as clean as possible without many complicated features and all parts are well integrated.

KITE-MONOLITH-CONTROL-BAR

What are the big changes in the twin tip line for 2015? For 2015 we keep the HRD rail concept but adapted it a little with a sharper edge and thinner volume. We have changed the volume distribution on the Trax and the molds and shape of the Acid for better grip and improved planing.

We have also worked on the construction side with a new fiberglass orientation and new carbon. Overall, the boards have more flex for more comfort and better twist control.

Many of the twin tips come in a standard and a carbon construction. What are the performance differences between the two and are the two constructions suited for particular riding conditions? Yes the Trax and Acid are available in carbon or fiberglass. The carbon versions are lighter and more responsive and will give you a little more performance. The fiberglass versions are super comfortable and go through chop incredibly smoothly, especially with the HRD rails.

The performance surfboards received a big construction upgrade for this year. What’s behind these new materials and methods? the new Mitu and Signature are made with a sandwich of high density foam — the goal was to give them flex. We wanted to have more comfort but also more turning capacity on these boards. They both now feel more alive and work their way in the waves by flexing and not breaking through them. It’s an interesting feeling because everyone who has tried them on the water so far is surprised by how their riding level has improved, but none can really explain why. It’s more of a whoa, what is this and how is it possible that i’m riding better.

Photo:Gilles Calvet

Photo:Gilles Calvet

We have also adapted the shapes and the camel deck design, incorporated the heel absorber into the deck and have thinner pads with a new texture and lots of grip. So the combination of changes in construction, design and shape all contributed to good improvement in the 2015 surfboard line.

How should the various skill level of riders choose between the Mitu and the Signature line of surfboards? Mitu is clearly the strapless model and the Signature is more the carving machine. The Mitu has good planing for light winds and can be used in any kind of waves size; it even works well for prone surfing.

Mitu Pro

Mitu Pro

Why is the Fish still available in last year’s bamboo construction, and what are the ideal conditions for this board? The Fish offers incredible planing and it can be made in bamboo for keeping its performance. Bamboo is stiff, light and strong as well as proven construction, but it is also a little less expensive that the hd foam so it allows us to keep its price lower.

Ideal conditions for the Fish are light winds, especially with the 5’10 because it has a lot of volume.