Reviews / Kites
The North Neo has been in the range for a few years now; it is North’s dedicated wave kite and is a hugely popular kite in the range. It’s designed to be fast, deliver lots of low-end power and be able to drift down the line with ease. It’s a three-strut design with a very short bridle, the kite also utilises North’s Adaptive Tips which allow you to tune the kite, there are also tuning options on the bridle too.
With a nod to the growing discipline of strapless freestyle, the kite can be tuned this year to offer increased performance in this regard. Set the kite on the high depower setting on the bridle combined with the hard setting on the adaptive tips and you’ll get a kite that can jump well with lots of depower when you throw the bar, perfect for working on those strapless tricks.
For 2017 there aren’t any radical changes to the kite, but more incremental changes to improve the turning speed, depower and also the feel at the bar. To achieve this, the leading edge diameter has been reduced, and the profile of the kite has been flattened slightly.
As ever you get amazing built quality with the Neo, there are plenty of reinforcements in all the right places to enable it to handle a few sessions in the rinse cycle. TechnoForce D2 canopy material comes as standard; Dacron is used in the high-wear areas, and computerised cutting and stitching are used to ensure a precision build. The Airport Valve II is easier to screw on, easier to maintain and has been thoroughly tested to reduce any instances of failure.
The kite also features Anti-Snag Tips, Self Rescue Handles and a reinforced trailing edge. All in all, it’s a very well put together package!
The Neo can be flown on the Trust 4 or 5 line bar and also the new North Click Bar; we’ve been riding it extensively on the Click Bar, as do the North Wave Team and we feel this setup offers the ultimate in performance with the kite.
The Click Bar trims the rear lines instead of the front lines; the mechanism itself winds in both rear lines simultaneously; you just have to either rotate the bar end to power up or push the button to depower. Each wind or click adjusts the lines by about 2cm.
On top of that the depower rope and safety line is now enclosed in a rectangular tube of TPU, this slides through a shaped hole in the centre of the bar. While this might seem innocuous, it serves a very important purpose on top of stopping the depower line from wearing. As you sheet in and out, this untwists the lines from any tricks of moves you’ve been doing.
There is also an adjustable stopper ball which you can easily slide up and down to set the bar trim level to your desired point. The depower throw on the bar is long, now you don’t have the trim system on the front lines you can make the throw as long as you want. Riders with shorter arms can use the stopper ball to ensure the bar never goes out of reach when they let go of it.
A new Iron Heart V chicken loop has been developed and is available exclusively with the Click Bar, it features the same tried and trusted release mechanism but has ceramic bearings which are open so they can flush out any sand. These allow the centre and safety lines to untwist easily. There is also a new mode which keeps the suicide ring out of the way of the chicken loop too.
Overall it is an exceptionally well thought out and put together product; we are currently long term testing these bars, five months in with now maintenance and leaving them salty and sandy and we have had no issues so far.
For riders who love the Neo, the good news is the kite still has that exceptional DNA that has made it so famous. It offers positive feedback at all times and turns on a dime, which is so important in the waves. The drifting ability on this kite is incredible, and it just seems to be weightless in the air when the lines go slack, allowing you to concentrate on the wave and not worry about the kite too much.
Bar feedback can be quite hard if you are used to kites with a lighter bar. However, you can trim this on the settings on the bridle. The Neo is one of the most customisable wave kites out there, actually allowing you to personalise the feel of the kite. With two trim options on the bridle and two on the adaptive tips, there are quite a lot of possibilities.
If you aren’t into tuning and fettling, we liked Patri McLaughlin’s set up of the blue hard setting which gives lots of positive feedback on the bar and fast and precise turns and big jumps. However, it is worth playing around with the settings to dial in the kite to your riding style. We’ve outlined the characteristics of each setting below for you:
Bridle Trim Settings
Loop between the yellow and black webbing: Medium depower setting – best drifting, round turn, better speed of turn, more direct bar feel.
Loop between the blue and black webbing: High depower setting – highest depower, best sheet and go, best jumping.
Adaptive Tips Settings
Hard - Heavier bar load, precise steering, more feedback, better jumps and more powerful kite loops, faster power development.
Soft – Lighter bar, kite reacts faster and turns tighter, kiteloops are smoother power development is softer.
As you can see there is quite a bit to digest there, so we recommend you get the kite dialled for your riding style to reap the full rewards of what is on offer. We were impressed by the upwind ability of this year's kite, the thinner profile leading edge penetrates the window a little bit better and getting back upwind after riding a long wave was easy.
Another area the Neo impressed us was as a freeride kite, with a twin tip underfoot you’ll find you can boost some huge floaty jumps with plenty of control and you can tune the kite for some aggressive kite loops too! Strapless freestyle is also a dream; especially when combined with the long throw of the Click Bar, you can pop for your trick with ease and then dump all the power quickly and in a controlled manner.
Fast, dynamic and excellent in the waves the kite also impresses as a freeride machine; it works well with a foil too. Loads of drift on the wave it seems to hang in the air when the lines go slack too, allowing you to get away with some aggressive moves in the pocket of the wave.
No complaints here, the Neo is a fantastic setup.
If you are looking for the ultimate wave kite, the Neo is one to consider, the build quality is second to none, coupled with the Click Bar it is a real weapon and the handling and performance on offer and fantastic. We’re definitely in love here at the office!
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Rou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!
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