At A Glance
The Neo has been in the North line up for a few years and it has an army of fans around the world. It’s the kite that powered Airton Cozzolino to his impressive win at the strapless event in Tarifa. It’s also the kite that pulls him into barrels all over the world.
It’s a simple four line, three-strut design with a short bridle and North’s adaptive tips to connect the rear lines to the trailing edge. These allow to easily tune the handling and feel of the kite by just sliding a larkshead along to a different knot. In previous years the kite has been famous for it’s extreme low end power but this year North have sought to improve the depower of the kite and also improve the turning speed.
Essentially the changes are small and this isn’t an overhaul but a refinement of the popular model from last year. The canopy profile has been flattened near the leading edge with a rise as you get to the trailing edge. The wingtip struts have been tuned to allow more flex in order to improve the turning speed too.
There are no major changes to the 2016 bar aside from a new colour way, red and blue is the new blue and yellow it would seem! The whole set-up is of a very high standard, clean and uncluttered and using quality Teufelberger lines.
It is very comfortable to hold due to the ergonomic bar grip and the chicken loop slots into the bar well when unhooked, preventing the lines from twisting. Safety is one of the key aspects this bar boasts about and it is for good reason, the Iron Heart Quick Release is probably one of the best on the market.
You can buy the bar with different line length options, giving you the choice to opt for shorter lines and more handling/less power or longer lines and less handling/more power. The bar ends themselves are integrated into the floats like last year giving a clean finish, and you can also make the bar shorter or wider by unclipping and twisting the bar ends around.
You can also easily tune your back line lengths by removing the red plastic covers, which gives you access to the rear lines. It is really easy to trim them and a nice tidy feature.
The mini 5th line safety system works exceedingly well at dumping power from the kite very quickly. The depower trim is catered for with an above-the-bar cleat system that allows you to tune the amount of depower throw you have on the kite. If you have small arms simply move the cleat further down towards the bar to make it easier to reach.
In The Air
The Neo is a stunning kite to fly; it’s so responsive it feels like an extension of your arm. The reaction from the kite to input from the bar is instantaneous and this lends it very well to its designed purpose, wave riding! In onshore conditions it is easy to whip the kite round the window to help you manoeuvre on the waves.
For 2016 Ken Winner worked on the shape of the struts to allow then to flex a little more. He discovered after testing one strut designs that more flex allowed the kite to really turn. However the struts add key stability benefits and help relaunch too. By making them thinner near towards the trailing edge the kite gets more benefit from twisting and still keeps the benefits of the struts in the first place.
There is plenty of depower too on the new Neo with a short amount of throw so you get a lot of control at your fingertips. In gusty conditions the kite feels stable and you don’t get those big hauls at the hips when the wind hits the kite.
In cross and cross offshore conditions the Neo has another trick up its sleeve, drift. You can park the kite and really turn your attention to wave riding allowing the kite to float down the line. Even when you get a bit too close to the kite and the lines go slack the Neo can hang there for a few seconds often allowing you to get the tension back and avoid a crash.
It’s one of the best wave kites we have flown and if that is your style of riding this kite should be in for consideration! Whilst “technically” a kite for the waves the Neo is pretty good at jumping and can also throw a mean kite loop too. Don’t let the wave orientation put you off if on occasion you also like to ride a twin tip and throw down some big airs and loops!
Fast, responsive with fantastic drift and good depower. The large wind range allows you to take a smaller size than most, which makes wave riding more fun, especially in lighter winds!
No complaints here, as a wave kite this is excellent.
If you are looking for a very capable wave kite that can handle everything you throw at it look no further than the Neo! It can also perform to a high level when you have a twin tip underfoot so don’t let that put you off if you are looking for a more all round machine.
This review was in Issue 53 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit North Kiteboarding
By Rou ChaterRou 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!