by Dave Markle
OK, this is a "first impression" review of the new 2013 F-one Bandit 6. Prying this thing out of Lost's grubby little mitts was tough indeed.
Me:2 years of riding experience (maybe that's 1-1/2 actually)
Bandit 4 10M, Bandit 5 12 & 14M
2013 Bandit 6, 10 Meter. Red. Blowing 20+ kts at Frisco. Butter smooth wind.
On to the review. Those of you familiar with the flying characteristics of the B4 and B5 will be well accustomed to the B6 -- it's not a radical transformation like the jump from the Tres to the 4. It's basically an evolved Bandit 5. In terms of how this thing flew, those of you who know how I fly my kites have probably seen that I throw the kite around the window pretty quickly. Some have even noticed on the beach how much I pump up my B5's -- a lot. I do this because when I throw the kite around under load, the B5 has a propensity to change shape, giving an "uneven" feel.
I can say that in my short experience, the B6 improves on the 5's design by feeling more rigid when moved fast under load -- it's got a much more direct feel than the 5 -- IMO it feels more like a C-kite than any of its predecessors, but still remains powerful. At the time I'd reviewed the kite, I was going back and forth between my B5 12M and this B6 10M. Unlike a lot of C-kites I've flown, I didn't want for power. I also thought the kite had less propensity to backstall, and is a bit more stable than the 5, which, when flown low, tended to need a bit of "babysitting" to keep in one place.
I threw the B6 around as hard as I could, cranking on the bar, and I didn't find it wanting to change shape, deform, or backstall (with the trim pulled in about 3 inches) All in all, a worthy successor.
The new bar also has a grip that goes around the entire diameter of the bar. This should make for a bit more durability. IMO it's lame that the bar is white. It's going to get grimy fairly quickly, I'd expect.
In summary, the good:
* More stable
* More direct feel
* Fast as hell
* More colors actually look good this year
* It costs money
* A beautiful snow-white bar which will probably be brown-yellow after 20 sessions.
* I didn't try the bigger sizes -- I think the proof for me will be how the 12 flies. Can it be as solid feeling as the 10? Surely you'll give up speed, but if it's as predictable and well behaved as the 10 I will be a happy camper.