At A Glance
The North Neo is a no-compromise wave kite, used by riders on the GKA Strapless Tour like Airton Cozzolino and Matchu Lopes to devastating effect. It’s a three-strut design with a short bridle, designed to offer incredible turning speed and impressive drifting capabilities.
This year it gets an upgrade in the shape of the special “Flex Segments” in the leading edge. These allow the kite to twist even more during the turn initiation. The Delta design features Adaptive Tips and also tuning options on the bridle to let you dial in how the kite rides and tune it to the conditions of the day.
In terms of construction, the build quality is second to none as always from North. Trinity TX is used in the canopy; this material features a triple weave fabric that runs laterally from wing tip to wing tip, while a double weave runs from leading edge to the trailing edge.
This unique material allows the designers to build elasticity into the profile from leading edge to the trailing edge while keeping the stiffness from wing tip to wing tip. Each yarn is also coated with a protective layer before it gets woven and then two additional protective layers are added to protect against UV and keep the material crisper for longer. Essentially this new material means longer lasting kites that keep their performance!
To ensure the kite is surf tough there are load distribution panels, and computers do the sewing and cutting to ensure every kite is perfectly put together to reduce potential weak areas where stitches can be missed. Tuefelberger lines are used throughout the bridle and the bar, which offer incredibly high breaking strains and durability against stretching.
There are also anti-snag tips to stop the lines catching the wing tips in a crash, the excellent Airport Valve II for fast inflation and Polyurethane bladders for extra durability. New this year are larger diameter tubes for the one pump system to make inflation and deflation even faster.
The Click Bar was launched to a huge fanfare last year, and the Game Changer (as it was known) has certainly stood up to the test of time. We had one on long-term test and treated it appallingly to see how it would stand up to some abuse, never rinsed it, never really took any care of it, and it is still going strong today. Any fears of the mechanism not working can be firmly consigned to the bin.
This year there are some upgrades to the Click Bar which are great to see. The few small niggles have been addressed, and there have been further improvements. The mechanism is unchanged, but the floats have been beefed up and reinforced to prevent any early signs of wear or damage (something we never personally experienced, but there were a few reports of an issue last year).
Also, the V point adjuster has been changed to be much simpler, it’s now a plastic screw affair, which allows you to unscrew and slide and then tighten in the desired spot. The line, which passes through the V point adjuster has also been reinforced, so there should no longer be wear issues here.
Finally, and one of the biggest changes is the new chicken loop program, the bar is the first that we can think of that sells without a chicken loop. Don’t panic though this is for a good reason. You have the option of the Freestyle Kit, which comes with a longer leash and a bigger chicken loop for unhooking and freestyle tricks. There is also a Freeride Kit which comes with a smaller loop, positioning the bar closer to you for improved control, this also comes with a shorter leash, which is tidier when you aren’t unhooking. Finally, there is the Rope Slider Kit, this is the same as the Freeride Kit, but the chicken loop has a low friction metal tube, which the rope can then slide through at a far lower friction rate. Less damage to your rope and no risk of damaging the chicken loop either.
You still get an automatic untwisting safety system with a front line re-ride that works exceedingly well, the now legendary Iron Heart V release mechanism and a long-lasting TPU covered depower line. Also new is the dropping of the 5th Element Trust Bar, now if you want a 5th line set up it is an easy add-on to the Click Bar, it takes about 3 minutes to do and is simple too.
We rode this bar all last year, and for freeriding and waves we wouldn’t be without it, the upgrades this year are fantastic, and we would highly recommend you try it out if you haven’t already!
In The Air
The North Neo is an impressive kite; we’ve been riding it in a variety of conditions and the feedback from all the testers has been hugely positive. First up it’s an incredible kite in the waves. It’s easy to fly and feels second nature when you are out there riding, like an extension of your arms it goes exactly where you want it to when riding in onshore conditions.
The turning speed and handling are alarmingly good, the reaction from the kite to input from the bar is almost instantaneous, and this allows you to throw it around the window with ease. The bar pressure is quite light in both settings although you can tune it for a bit more feel if you want. However, it isn’t so light that you don’t know where it is and the kite is so well behaved it is usually exactly where you expect it to be.
Drifting is fantastic, the kite seemingly happy to defy the laws of gravity as you ride down the line. In offshore conditions where you are riding fast, such as waves like One Eye, the Neo has no problem floating back down the line as you concentrate on your turns.
"The Neo is incredible in the waves, and its dynamic nature makes it great fun for the foilboard too."
It is without a doubt one of the better wave kites on the market. Especially when coupled with the Click Bar, which personally I am a huge fan of. Any thoughts of durability issues should have been firmly dispelled by now, and the extra control this set up offers is brilliant. You can dump power in the middle of a bottom turn without changing your body position if you need to, something you can’t do with a traditional depower set up.
There is one aspect of the Neo that is surprising perhaps. It is an incredible freeride kite. The hangtime and jumps on this kite are excellent, which is funny as most riders who have one probably no longer own a twin tip. If you don’t try this with some straps on a plank, then you are missing out. It’s intuitive to fly and easy to use, making for an entertaining combination for revisiting all those moves you used to do.
The depower this year has improved somewhat; the range of the 9m is very impressive indeed. I’ve been riding with this as my biggest kite this year, and I’ve not missed the 11m so far. With a foil board, I can be riding in 8 knots, as long as the kite stays in the sky, I can foil. As the wind increases, I can get out on the surfboard with good technique in 13-14 knots and then amazingly I can hold it down with ease on a twin tip when it’s over 35!
This could almost be a one-kite quiver if you had a foilboard, surfboard and twin tip to accompany it!
Upwind is excellent on the Neo as you would expect from a kite of this calibre, after a long run down the line you are back at the takeoff zone with ease. Relaunch is also incredibly easy, pull a rear line and away you go unless the wind is light.
The perfect kite for the waverider who loves to foil, the Neo is incredible in the waves, and its dynamic nature makes it great fun for the foilboard too. Up its sleeve, you’ll find some fantastic jumping and hangtime capabilities as well.
It’s tough to find fault with this kite, from the build quality to the handling and the awesome Click Bar it’s an excellent package. The cost of the Click Bar is extreme perhaps, but then if you want cutting-edge tech, you’ll be paying cutting edge prices.
Fans of the Neo will not be disappointed; this latest incarnation improves even more on a platform that was awesome before. Faster turns, lots of tuning options, fantastic wave capabilities in all conditions and a penchant for boosting and hangtime make this a compelling choice.
This review was in Issue 69 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!