Sizes Available: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12m
Sizes Tested: 8m
The Neo is the benchmark in kiteboarding in waves, incredible drift, total control at all times and the ability to perform to podium levels in the waves and for strapless freestyle. For years the Neo has been the wave kite against which all the others are measured; the unique combination of power, control and drifting characteristics have made it the wave kite everyone wants to ride.
The kite’s weight has been optimized to increase performance and the kite reacts instantly to input from the bar. The result is a kite that feels like an extension of your body on the wave. The wind range is huge with lots of low-end power, allowing you to ride a smaller kite, while at the top end, the kite still offers lots of control. If you want to dominate the waves with total confidence and rule skies, the Neo is the kite for you; tune it to your riding style, initiate the launch sequence, and head straight to the top step of any podium!
Visit for more info: www.duotonesports.com/kiteboarding/kites/neo/
This year the Neo gets a number of substantial tweaks that lead to slight changes in the performance of the iconic surf kite that holds the most world championships under its belt. While the subject of this review is the conventional Dacron version of the Neo, it’s also available in Duotone’s step up SLS construction this year as well, although if you’re looking for a 3 or 4m version, the regular Neo is your only option.
This year Ken Winner, architect of the Neo has narrowed the arc or curve of the leading edge while changing the layout of the canopy and some of the loft profiles on the struts to achieve a smoother feel that dials up the maneuverability as well as the classic drift that the Neo is known for. With slightly narrower canopy width/cord across the center strut and a slightly larger width/cord at the wingtips, Duotone’s goal was to increase drift and swifter steering for keeping the Neo ahead of your surf game as you’re carving down the face of a wave. In addition to the changes made this year, the Neo is also available in the upgraded SLS materials which pits the traditional material version against the new Penta TX airframe.
Inflation Valve: Airport nozzle required
Attachments: Center bridle: Knot / Wingtip bridle: Lark’s head loop
Centerline Split: High-V
Front Bridle Options: Single setting bridle / one sliding pulley
Design and Features
On its face, the regular Neo uses various grades of Dacron in its 3-strut airframe and high-quality trinity TX ripstop in the canopy. Sporting Duotone’s large diameter inflation valve dubbed the ‘Max Flow’ system which connects directly with Duotone’s pump hose without the use of a nozzle; the inflation system’s twist valve rotates with the insertion of the hose to keep air locked in the kite. Deflation options are available through both the inflation valve and a dump valve on one side of the kite, making both inflation and deflation quick and easy. The Neo uses a single setting bridle that utilizes a single slider to adjust the angle of attack with the front bridle attachment point ending in a knot and the wingtip pigtail ending in a lark’s head loop. The wingtip uses Duotone’s adaptive tip bridle which, this year, offers three settings to tune the feel of the kite. The yellow knot puts you in the ‘soft’ position, the blue knot is in the middle with a black knot sets you on you the ‘hard’ setting (which is noted to be the choice of world champ Airton Cozzolino). As you move from soft to hard, you are moving the effective attachment point for the outside lines farther forward on the leading edge which increases the bar pressure and causes your bar movements to have bigger impacts on the airframe. The regular Neo uses Dacron conservatively on the wingtip and a lighter grade Dacron across the trailing edge which are features that demonstrate even the regular version of the Neo has been geared towards weight reduction.
Having started on the blue adaptive tip setting, which is the middle/factory tuning position, it was apparent that the Neo has undergone some small but significant changes that move the dial on maneuverability. While the Neo still has its trademark grunty pulling power, the steering response was a bit tighter with bar inputs feeling really direct on turn initiation. The factory setting feels a little smoother overall with more progressive power delivery across the throw, but across the three tuning options, we found the yellow/softer setting to be the most comfortable in terms of bar pressure and the closest to the feel of a general freeride kite; however, the harder settings give you more direct feedback for those that like more bar pressure and force in their inputs. While the Neo generates a ton of power, the depower at the end of the bar throw allows you to really dump all that pulling force which means you get the best of both worlds; power when you need it and drift when you want it.
Testers highlighted the Neo’s solid boosting power with super maneuverable turning and lifting abilities that generated decent jumps. As the Neo plays double duty as a world-championship strapless freestyle kite, it finds an excellent balance between grunt and lift for strapless airs and casual freeriding. Will it boost like a Rebel or Evo? No, but it is intuitive and user-friendly for fun jumping sessions.
When compared to the Neo SLS, the regular Neo’s drift felt really good with the kite backing into line slack really well, but the new SLS Neo’s materials and lower weight offered a slight advantage over the standard Neo in the drift department. In terms of power and range, the two kites felt very similar except that the SLS seemed to accelerate across the window slightly faster and had marginally faster turning response. In terms of overall bar feel, the regular Neo felt a little harder compared to the SLS version, as if the yellow setting on the regular Neo was equivalent to the blue setting on the SLS. If you like the grunty version of the Neo then regular construction stays true to that feel, while the SLS’s weight reduction makes it feel a little more nimble and softer on its softest setting.
Overall, the Neo in the regular construction continues to be a very compelling wave kite, holding its own against previous versions and keeping in line with its classically grunty feel with excellent power control and super responsive steering. While the spectrum of drift ability keeps expanding with improvements to lighter airframes, the Neo in regular construction is still a very capable kite that many surfers will find perfectly suited to slaughter surf conditions of all sorts.
With over 85 products reviewed, get the digital version of our 2022 Gear Review Guide that puts all the latest products reviews in one easy to access and searchable guide. Want a low-v bar with a durable PVC coated throw line and soft padded bar ends? Use our guide to stay on top of gear developments and find the exact piece of equipment to match your style.
*Already a subscriber? The 2022 Gear Review Guide is in your Tkb library. Log into your account to read the latest reviews.