I haven't written a review in a few years, but I have got a lot of requests, and I have a lot of positive things to say about the Bandit. I got to try just about every size on the same day, so here goes.
I think it is important to state what kind of kiter you are if you are going to write a review. I am pretty much a tried and true aggressive free-rider. [pause for smirk]
I am 174 pounds (80Kg). I’ve been kiteing for over 9 years, and while I try the occasional kite loop, or unhooked trick, they are not typically neat. I spend a lot of time hooked in, and going big, tying to get the highest corkscrew front roll with a board grab I can get. Recently I have tried to move in the wake-style direction but with nary an aspiration.
Still I prefer pop to float, but I don’t want to give up hang-time. Until recently I was wishing I had never given up my old generation-one North Rhino, you know, 7 years ago when they were C kites. Since the whole ‘bow’ kite thing, I have simply not been satisfied with -any- kite.
In a nut shell.....(yes I’m the nut)....
Let me say this, hands down, the Bandit 3 is one of the best kites on the market. I have tried a lot of kites but I am very happy with the bandit. The first thing I noticed was the pop, C-style: pull the handle, POP! The second thing I noticed was the kite is far more powerful than most for it’s size. If your bread and butter kite is a 12 (as mine was) go smaller. I got an 11 and I am overpowered on it in conditions where a North Rebel, Vegas, or Rhino (08), or a Cabhrina Crossbow, etc. in size 12 would have been in their sweet spot.
But while there is more power, the kite is fast, and allows for more control. So you get more power under your control with a smaller kite, and more immediate response and bar feel. You know where the kite is at all times.
You control how much power is in the kite and this equates to faster progression. I may not have progressed as much as I think I have in the past month with the Bandit, but I certainly have more confidence, and I am having more fun than I have had in the last 4 years.
As far as picking a size goes, my opinion is not on what size will work for you for what wind range, it is more of a question of what you want to do with the kite. I can make the 11 work in 11 mph up to 30+ gusting around 40 (hold on tight!). But I can make the 10 work in about the same range say 12 mph up, and the 9 as well. Since we get fairly constant wind well over 15 at 3ed ave, any one of these sizes will get the job done.
The difference, like I said, is what you want to do with the kite. If you like balls to the wall power, effortless upwind, flirting with the edge of the speed spiral, and insanely huge jumps, the 10 or 11. If you want to try some serious technical tricks and you don’t mind working upwind from time to time, the 9 or 10. But seriously anything over 30 mph and the 11 is all about teeth grinding, leg pounding, over-the-top power. I’ve noticed a lot of people, especially those who are on their surfboard or directional a lot going with an 8-11 combo. But for me, the 8 on a twin-tip is a little small.
I had wanted a one kite quiver, leaving the rigging decision to be between my usual twin tip and a larger directional for light wind. The 9 would have been the correct size for that.
That’s right...If you are the sort to go for a one kite quiver and you are on a 12, the 9 is your Bandit size.
Your mileage may vary but so far I have found the 9 to work from about 12 mph up. I have to work to stay up wind with a twintip when it is light, but it's worth it to have a kite that I feel properly powered to trying anything with. And when I say 'work' I'm not talking about slogging and sineing the kite. Try it, it might surprise you, it did me.
The kite has pop. You know where the kite is, and you can control the power that is in the kite. So jumping is that old C-kite feel. The one thing missing (at first) is the big floaty jumps where you feel the kite catch the wind and you glide, often getting secondary lift from gusts etc. But here I qualify this with (at first)! What you get is immediate lift, which makes jumping and progressing so much fun. But those big floaty jumps are still there if you learn how to do them. It took me a couple of sessions, and I was getting just as floaty a jump as any kite I had tried. But thankfully the Pop style jump is the given, easy, no-brainer, and the floater is the learned skill. I have just hated all the recent kites that were the other way around (often to the extent that jumping just wasn’t as much fun.)
Ok...the bad....the bar....
F-One didn’t seem to set the bar very high on the Bar. They make one of the best kites on the market, but it’s like someone forgot to design the bar until the last hour. Luckily for us, the kite uses equal length lines, so just about any bar will do. (My favorite is the North Quad Control because it is the same bar length, line length, and bottom center line length as the F-One bar. Also, the bar is adjustable, so it has a 45 cm setting and a 55 cm setting, one bar will work for multiple kite sizes. All of my bar complaints were resolved with $420 worth of additional cost. Once again, with the North bar, I only need one.)
So what is wrong with the bar?
The first thing I would do is to take off the metal triangle thingy on the front lines. After a failed jump one of my front lines got wrapped up on this triangle and broke. I haven’t heard of anyone else having a line break, but I have heard several others get the front lines wrapped on the line slicer...uh, I mean _triangle_ leaving the kite difficult to control.
A side note is the bungee on the front bottom safety line. It seems like they were trying to avoid the leash-line-flapping-in-the-wind issue you can get with other bars, but the bungee causes the lines to knot up when you crash. Here too, the load bearing line on the front bottom seems flimsy and small, I would prefer this line to be made of a thicker higher grade line. I have heard of this one breaking a lot.
Second thing I would do is to add a dynamically adjustable stopper (like the ones on the North, Naish, or Slingshot bars). The bar pressure isn’t so bad on the Bandit, but it is on the higher side. Having a dynamic stopper helps to avoid ligament injury and simply makes going out and cruising so much more fun. It’s great to set the stopper let off with your front hand and lean over steering one handed off the stopper. Not only that, but it can also be fun to bring the stopper in and jump one handed. This way you don’t have to worrying about keeping the bar sheeted in. I use to love that about C-kites, and with a dynamic stopper the Bandit, and it’s signature power under control, feeds this addiction as well.
The Chicken Loop: the “Donkey Appendage” that is intended to keep the loop on your harness, is too short to do the job. I like fast landings, but often the bar comes down if you choose to land in this manner. I have had several times where the loop came of the hook, and the one hand I had left on the bar was not enough to hold The Awesome Power that is the Bandit.
It was one such event when my front top line broke. Speaking of which, this brings me to another minor annoyance about the bar. The release mechanism is a one sided Velcro affair. I got dragged a bit before I was able to engage this release. It left me with a distinct lack of confidence in exactly the way the awesome power that is the Bandit, didn’t.
Finally: I would recommend the Bandit III to anyone, I didn’t intend on getting hooked on this kite, but it really is worthy of all the hype. I certainly am stoked. The Bandit III, North Quad Control combination really has returned my stoke for the sport.
Last edited by oqion
on Sun May 16, 2010 7:12 am, edited 1 time in total.