2019 Duotone Neo Review
Today, we’re doing an in-depth review of the 2019 Duotone Neo. In years past we’ve often touted the Neo as more than just a wave kite but also an awesome freeride kite. While this is true, it occurred to me that we’ve almost done this kite an injustice in regards to its surfing capabilities. This year, I’m committed to going the extra mile with these reviews. We’ll be diving in to everything you might want to know about the 2019 Duotone Neo, the good the bad and why this may or may not be the right kite for you.
So you’re thinking of picking up the Duotone Neo. That tells me a couple things about you. Chances are, you’re dedicated to your discipline and you’d choose a surfboard over a twintip any day. Or maybe, you just live somewhere with conditions that are always wavy and that's just the hand you’ve been dealt. Another possibility is that your knees might just be getting tired of jumping and you’re looking for something new to progress at. Lastly, and most likely, you’re someone who likes to do it all but doesn't want to make any sacrifices when it comes to your wave riding.
You’ve probably been looking at a range of kites. Some claim to be pretty good in the waves, some are dedicated wave kites like the Neo. One thing's for sure, I’ve never experienced a kite quite like the 2019 Duotone Neo. I don't mean this is the fluffy feel good review way. What I mean is it has a unique blend of characteristics that absolutely put the Duotone Neo into a category of its own.
Let's break down exactly why that that is trait by trait.
The 2019 Duotone Neo
The wind range on the Neo sits between Duotone Dice and the Rebel. Meaning it’s not going to be as large as the freeride kite in most brands respective line ups. Kites like the Duotone Rebel, the Slingshot Rally or the Cabrinha Switchblade for example. That said, don’t be mistaken. Unlike the Dice, the Neo has a lot of low-end. In fact, this is the most powerful of all the wave kites we carry. You’ve likely heard it’s a good idea to size down a meter or two on the Neo and that is correct.
Here's a comparison on the wind-range
2019 Duotone Neo Wind Range
2019 Duotone Rebel Wind Range
2019 Duotone Dice Wind Range
A comparison of the 2019 Duotone Neo, Rebel and Dice Wind-Range
Why size down on the Neo
This is for two reasons. First, you don’t want to be overpowered on the waves. The Neo, like all wave kites can dump power immediately. It stands out in the sense that most wave kites really don’t have much low-end. They fly better on the high-end of their wind range. This is by design as you don’t want to get pulled off the waves. Hence, it’s a good idea to ride a size down. This is actually a huge plus for the Duotone Neo. It’s insanely easy to get back upwind on those side shore days. You know, the days where you end up a half a mile down the coast and you need to get back to where you started.
This low-end is also why we’ve been so stoked on the Neo as a freeride kite. It has all the benefits of a wave kite. It’s fast, playful, yet it still has tons of power and grunt. It's not uncommon for kites this playful to also lack grunt and low-end power. This is not the case with the Neo.
The second reason you want to size down on the Neo is because it can get overpowered. Not in the sense of danger. Just that if you don’t size down, on those side on and onshore days, you’ll find yourself just in front of the section you want to be on the wave.
If you’re using this kite as a freeride kite, you’ll appreciate the Neo as one of the few three strut kites out there with this much grunt. This is by far one of the most unique features of the Neo and something you’ll want to consider if you’re using one as your main kite.
Effectively, you get the low end power of the Rebel but not the same forgiving high-end. This is quite unique to the Neo and you will not find another wave kite with this much low end power.
The 2019 Duotone Control Bar
Bar Pressure and Feel
The Neo, is interesting due to the fact that when you’re fully sheeted, it has a moderate bar pressure and excellent feedback. Yet, as soon as you sheet out, while it's a very smooth transition, you can instantly dump the power from this kite. It will still respond to your input while sheeted out but you won’t feel as much feedback from the kite.That's actually a common trait with most kites. Not exclusive to the Neo. Regardless of the lack of feedback in these instances, I had no trouble placing the kite where I needed it when the time called for it.
Part of the design behind this kite is its turning ability while fully depowered. We'll cover drift in a moment but long story short, when you fully depower this kite to surf a wave, you will not need or even want lots of feedback when you're focused on surfing.
Like most kites, you can change the settings on the steering lines and on the front bridles. So you have your choice between heavier bar pressure and more input or lighter pressure and less feedback from the kite. You can also tweak the turning radius and the drifting characteristics if you want to use the kite as a freeride kite or for strapless air.
When it comes to customization and personalization the Neo has options and can be fine tuned to your preferences.
The Duotone Neo is the best tool in side on and onshore winds
A Kite that Drifts
The most interesting thing about the Neo is getting used to riding in the waves on it. With most kites, like the Dice or the Evo, you need to keep them moving and maintain some tension in your lines. Meaning you really need to focus on your kite while riding in the waves. The Neo will probably catch you off guard. Because you can basically ignore it completely. It drifts so well and responds to minor input. For the most part, you’ll be surprised at how much more surfing the waves actually feels like surfing the waves.
In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve put some time in on a wave kite and while testing the Neo in side onshore conditions, I was initially treating it like a Dice. Big mistake, once I realized I was over flying the kite, I started parking it. From there I shifted my focus to the wave and my board. I kept feeling like the kite was going to fall out of the sky every time I dropped in. Yet, the kite literally flew backwards, completely stable, next to no feedback and positioned itself right where it needed to be when I wanted to steer it for hard turn. It’s also exceptional as you can ride ride at the kite and it will drift. No surprise here as it is a wave kite but if you’ve yet to experience this, it is an awesome feeling.
The Neo is exceptionally responsive and quite easy to control with just your front hand. Granted, because it can be so grunty you’ll get some forearm burn if you fly one handed sheeted in the full time. The kite is still quite responsive fully sheeted out. Just one more benefit in the waves is you can really open up and ride your surfboard like you would without a kite.
Matchu Lopez ripping on the Neo in Brazil.
If you’re considering the Neo, you might not always want to rip in the waves. If you do want to pick this kite up as a freeride kite, you wouldn’t be disappointed. In fact, many people opt for wave kites as a freeride kite as most modern wave kites are still light years beyond the freeride kites we had not that long ago.
When it comes to jumping, the Neo is powerful and grunty. Now, don’t expect it to have the same hangtime as say the Rebel. It has a similar hangtime to the Duotone Dice.
The kite has a very consistent and controlled feel. I should elaborate on consistent. It’s actually a great kite for anyone looking to get out on a twintip and especially if you want to try your hand at strapless freestyle.
So the burning question here. Will it jump as well as a Duotone Rebel or even the Evo? No, it will not. Those kites are designed with exactly that in mind. The Rebel is literally a specialist when it come to big air. So no, of course the Neo won’t exactly compare. That said, for most riders, this isn’t a deal breaker. So yeah, of course you can jump and have tons of fun on the Neo. We’ve been praising it for a couple years now because it is a good freeride kite. Think of this kite as a specialist for the waves with the added perk that you’re not locked in with a kite that's only good in the waves.
We all know most kites are reaching that point where they do most everything well. Even niche kites like this one. So, If you’re riding a much older kite, the Neo is going to be a huge upgrade for you.
The kitelooping kite of choice for strapless freestyle riders
When it comes to kiteloops, the Neo is not meant for Mega loops like the Dice. Yet, it can be a versatile kite if you like to incorporate loops into your tricks. In fact, We’ve done a few videos on other wave kites and touched on the fact that freeriders and hooked in freestylers usually enjoy fast wave kites for this reason.
When it comes to looping the Neo, think of it from the perspective of wave riding. You can loop fully sheeted out and position the kite. It won’t have much power in the loop. Or you can loop sheeted in and tap into the grunt that this kite has to offer. This is actually very useful when positioning yourself on the circle section in messy waves. Especially if you ride somewhere with blown out messy waves.
So while its not the greatest kite for riders looking to do mega loop kiteloops, it's very much a specialist in the waves. If you watch the 2019 Duotone Product video you'll also notice the strapless freestyle riders are using the Neo to do kiteloops with their surfboards. The characteristics of the neo make it a prime choice if this is your discipline as well.
Realistically, after speaking with many riders over the years, I’ve realized most riders are not looking for a kite with the looping abilities to win king of the air. They usually just want something that is fun when incorporating loops into their hooked in tricks. To that end, the Neo is more than effective and unless you're competing not something you even notice.
The Neo is made for the waves
For the most part, all the attributes we’ve talked about in this review had made the case for why this is an excellent wave kite with some versatility for riders who don’t want to commit only to the waves. While we’ve always talked about the Neo being a great freeride kite I have to admit, this is a true specialist when it comes to the design. I’ve admittedly mostly used the Neo as a freeride kite the past year however, after logging some hours in the waves this fall I realized how much we’ve down played this kites wave abilities.
The drift is really useful especially when riding in onshore and side-onshore conditions. Many of you may not know this but most all around kites work in the waves but I’m sure many of you have experienced that moment where you drop in, slack your lines and the kite falls out of the sky. This isn’t going to happen with the Neo.
When it comes to side shore and side off conditions. The Dice or the Evo, can compete in the waves to a degree but the biggest difference here is with those kites, your flying very proactively or reactively depending on circumstance.
With the Neo, your focus is on your surfing and not much else. You can simply park the kite, surf the wave and even slack the lines. The Neo maintains control and responsiveness when you need it. It has the ability to sheet in for power when you need it or sheet out when you just want to feel the wave. This is something you would miss on a non wave specific kite. And frankly no other kite in the line up can compare when it comes to onshore and side onshore conditions.
Why the Neo is different from other wave kites
The approach is different than other wave kites in sense that its just so powerful. The only downside here is you do want to be mindful when choosing the right size. Like Duotone recommends, you want to size down. I’ve never worried about that while freerding but on the waves, while putting this to the test, there were times that I was overpowered and I couldn’t quite cut back on the face like I wanted to. This is by design. When appropriately sized down, the kite has plenty of low-end when you need to charge back upwind. And you can actually get away with using a faster more responsive kite. This is actually quite clever on the designers part.
Being able to use a smaller size has a hidden benefit. I mentioned wave riders often steer with just their front hand and when sizing down, this makes a huge difference. Being able to use a smaller kite means, the kite will respond better to one handed input and less forearm fatigue when surfing with a bit of style. If you’ve ever pay attention, you’ll notice the best wave riders rarely have both hands on the bar when surfing. I don’t know if this was intentional or not but it was something I became aware of when testing for this review.
There really is no other kite like the Neo. Much like the Duotone Rebel takes a unique approach, the Neo takes a different approach than the other wave kites currently available. After testing and writing up three Duotone reviews this past week I’ve come to realize that the brand as a whole really takes a different approach to their kite designs.
While I wouldn't go as far as to say the gear is superior, I would say each kite does have a unique blend of characteristics that does make it stand out and lends to a different feel on the water. Not so much a feel that extends across all their kites but a very unique feel to each individual kite as well. So if you are looking for dedicated wave kite that works well as a freeride kite, hopefully this review will give you some perspective on what to expect.
Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic
Just a dude from a kite shop testing all the gear one session at a time.
Many people dream of quitting their job, traveling the world and pursuing their passions. Rygo is one of those people who pulled the trigger. Eight years into a postal career, he decided to change everything and travel as a freelance videographer & writer. This took him from coast to coast and a variety of countries. Nowadays you can catch him on the phones, doing lessons, or working on videos. Of course, he still makes a point to travel as often as possible. His mission is to help people and share the stoke with his customers and students alike. Get out there and kiteboard.
Producer of: Ride with Blake I Sessions I Versus I Destinations I Foil Fridays