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 Neo, and why this may or may not be the right kite for you.
The Neo is a good fit for a specific type of kitesurfer.
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. The Neo is a good fit for you.
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, and some are dedicated wave kites like the Neo. One thing's for sure, I've never experienced a kite quite like the Duotone Neo. I don't mean this in 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.
I hadn't spent much time on the Neo before, seeing that I usually fly big air and hangtime kites. I never thought it was a kite that fit into my quiver. The fact that I don't live in Michigan to be able to ride all the gear at the shop means I am limited in the amount of gear I test. However, when I gave it a try at the distributor meeting, I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.
One of the first days of the trip there was a light wind morning where I was on a 10m Neo and was the only person on the water. I was shocked; after riding a kite of that size with so much power it made me want to rethink my choices. Rather than foiling with a massive 17m like I usually do, why not just use a Neo.
The Neo has an unbelievable amount of power for a kite its size and slacks really well when carving or going downwind on the foil. In addition, being able to jump, loop and flip all sorts of ways is much easier when riding a smaller kite. The steering and bar feel of this kite wasn't like anything I had ever flown. I remember thinking, "no wonder Airton, Matchu and Sebastian are so good." Equipped with a kite like this, one-handed kiteloops, smacking the lip of a wave, or landing your first backroll on a foil is made much easier.
This kite is clearly designed for wave enthusiasts, world champions, and foilers, but at the same time it works great for your everyday rider or as a school kite. I am really liking how diverse all the kites are becoming. You can have one kite that can win a podium, then take the same kite and go teach a lesson.
Hilary and I were in Saudi Arabia teaching kiteboarding to a local community on the Red Sea. We had a variety of Duotone kites and the Neo was our instructor's top choice for lessons. Our second choice was the Dice, which also works well as a teaching kite but lacks the same relaunch of the Neo. This kite is extremely responsive, fluid and instantaneously dumps power with the release of the bar. After flying this kite it made me want to find some swell and jump into strapless freestyle and wave riding!
I found that the Neo handled really well in all wind conditions and doesn't flutter even when you think it should. Ken Winner used a new cloth material this year which allowed him to reduce the overall weight. This change resulted in less flutter of the canopy and extra durability when dropping your kite in the waves.
The wind range on the Neo sits between the Duotone Dice and the Rebel. It's not going to be as large as kites like the Duotone Rebel, the Slingshot Rally or the Cabrinha Switchblade. Unlike the Dice, the Neo has a lot of low-end. In fact, this is the most powerful of all the wave kites. You've likely heard it's a good idea to size down a meter or two on the Neo and that is correct.
Duotone Neo Wind Range
Duotone Rebel Wind Range
Duotone Dice Wind Range
The wind range on the Neo is quite impressive for a wave/freeride kite. It has a large amount of grunt for a kite of its category, and as you'll see in this video I am foiling with a 10 Neo in less than 10 knots of wind. It's not going to be as good as the freeride kites in the lineup like a Rebel or compared to a Switchblade, but somewhere in between a Dice and Rebel.
Armed with a foil and surfboard you could ride a Neo any day of the week and never have to think twice. The Neo is by far the most powerful wave kite from what I've heard. Not being a wave rider, I asked some of the people there about their thoughts on riding the Neo; they told me to size down a meter or two so that I don't get pulled off of the waves.
The Neo comes in sizes ranging from 3-12 without missing a meter, so you can precisely choose the size you want without skipping a meter. Especially when you are getting down to kites that small, one meter makes a huge difference. Remember, with the Neo's grunt they recommend to down size the kite by one or two meters. So a twelve meter would pull more like a thirteen or fourteen, depending on your size.
Why size down on the Neo
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 sideshore 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 where 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.
This is something that took me by surprise; why would you ever want to size down a kite? Even when I go foilboarding I like to be overpowered and be able to jump and flip as high as possible. After my session in Spain on the 10 Neo, I now see why this is the case. When you are focused on catching the perfect wave, too much power in the kite will pull you off the wave face. Even though the kite was smaller than what I usually ride, I was able to go just as high and flip with more control than if I were on a bigger kite. So I can see by riding this kite on the foil how having the proper kite allows you to carve, drift and get deep into the wave without feeling like the kite is ripping you away from it. You don't want to be overpowered in the waves, just enough so that you can ride upwind, make it over the white water, and have enough power to build up speed to smack the lip.
For foiling, you can generate the pop and speed with the foil, rather than with the kite. The 10 Neo is different than a 15 Juice or Mono because of its speed and ability to generate quick power. The bigger kites have a strong, steady pull, yet lack the playfulness of a smaller Neo. That being said, the Juice and Mono are both really good lightwind kites for foiling and twintip riding. It's simply a rider's preference that varies from person to person, the conditions in which you ride in, and what you are looking to do.
The Neo dumps power immediately and performs surprisingly well on the low end. Most wave kites fly better on the high-end of their wind ranges so that you don't get pulled off of a wave. From our time in Spain I can say I have never been more stoked when flying a wave kite. That being said, I need to spend more time on all wave kites.
With the recent surge in popularity of strapless freestyle, it's no surprise that this kite can also throw down some big boosts, loops and has the ability for freestyle tricks. This is a three strut kite with a massive amount of grunt for its breed. This low-end is why we've been so stoked on the Neo as a freeride kite. Effectively, you get the low end power of the Rebel but not the same forgiving high-end. MACkite team rider and local Grand Haven legend Marc Hoeksema rides the Cabrinha Drifter for waves, big air and foiling. Seeing him always throwing down on a wave kite inspired me to try them out for myself. I have never owned a wave-specific kite before, but this year I think I will have to add one to the quiver.
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. As soon as you sheet out, while it's a very smooth transition, you can instantly dump the power. 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 and 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.
The Neo has moderate bar pressure with immediate and precise steering feedback. When sheeted in, it has a nice and easy pull to it so that you know exactly where your kite sits in the window. Yet, when you sheet out, there's a smooth transition where you can instantly dump nearly all of the power from the kite. This allows you to get where you want in the lineup, drop in, and set your rail without having to worry about the kite pulling you off the face. Even when sheeted out it is obedient and sits where it's told. This is not something uncommon in wave kites; actually most wave kites do this.
The difference with the Neo is that even in light winds it has this same kind of grunt and pull, with an immediate dump in power. This was nice for foil tricks because it allowed me to flip and rotate without being yanked out of control. I think that learning tricks on the foil becomes much easier when you have the ability to dump and repower your kite so quickly and effortlessly. Part of the Neo's DNA is its ability to turn under control while fully depowered.
The Neo, like all other kites in the Duotone lineup, allows you to adjust the settings on the steering lines and front bridles. This gives you the option between lighter or heavier bar pressure with less or more feedback from the kite. This is standard on most kites nowadays, but not something to be overlooked when looking for the most precise kite to add to your quiver. Also, the Neo has the option to be flown as a 5-line kite if you like that system. Let's say one day you want to ride and carve in the waves, another day you want to work on your strapless freestyle. This kite allows you to easily change its turning and looping radius, while also adjusting its drifting characteristics.
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 kite-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, with next to no feedback and positioned itself right where it needed to be when I wanted to steer it for a hard turn. It's also exceptional as you can ride right 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 that you can really open up and ride your surfboard like you would without a kite.
Drifting is something that is often assumed as common knowledge. For me, however, I don't think I actually knew what drifting was until I actually experienced it for myself. Now I'm sure a lot of you know what it is, but I'm going to quickly explain it to the rest who don't know. Drifting of the kite occurs when you are riding towards the kite, whether it be making an aggressive turn on a wave, following the kite down a wave face, or riding straight downwind. Drifting is the ability of the kite to fly without tension in the lines. A Rebel, for example, needs constant supervision and to keep the lines tight at all times; this takes away from your focus on the waves ahead of you.
The Neo will probably take you by surprise at its unnatural ability to fly with no tension in the lines or, in better terms, its ability to "slack". You'll be happy when you switch from a traditional freeride kite to a surf-specific kite that allows you to easily surf the waves. If you have yet to experience the ride and feel of a wave kite, I would highly recommend it as it's an amazing feeling!
The Neo is extremely responsive and easy to control with one hand. This is one reason that it's such a great kite for teaching as well as getting barrelled down the lineup. I was doing one-handed kiteloops one day with the Spirit GT foil and a 9m Neo, as well as riding unhooked and drifting the kite through turns. This kite is so responsive that I had no problem completing the powered kite loops and catching myself for a soft landing on the foil. That being said, it is still grunty and will burn your forearms if you are riding overpowered or sheeted out for a long period of time. Sometimes I forget how intense of a workout it can be when riding overpowered; that is why they recommend sizing down a few meters.
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.
If you are looking for a great all-around kite that can do a bit of everything, yet specializes in the waves, then this is the kite for you. It's not only one of the top wave kites on the market, it can boost and loop with the best of them. What do you think Airton was flying when he won the GKA Strapless world championship? He certainly wasn't on a Rebel or Dice, that's for sure. He was on a Neo, boosting massive airs, doing handle passes, board-offs, and tricks that are unimaginable to us mortal folks. I wouldn't expect to see it in Red Bull King of the Air anytime soon, but you never know with those strapless freestyle guys.
The Neo jumps, loops and boosts great. However, when stacked up to a Rebel or Evo, it doesn't have the same amount of hangtime you're looking for. This is clearly due to the shape and canopy specific to each design. The Rebel, however, doesn't stand a chance against the Neo when stacked up in waves. The Neo is comparable to a Dice with its boosting abilities. If you are looking for a great all-around kite with precision and consistency in the waves and air, then the Neo is your choice kite.
When it comes to kiteloops, the Neo is not meant for mega loops like the Dice. 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 it's 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.
When you think of the Neo, you probably think of wave riding and strapless freestyle. However, you may be surprised that it kite loops really well. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I would buy this kite specifically for kiteloops, but if you are a versatile rider and like to add loops to your tricks, the Neo will do the trick. A lot of freeride-oriented kiters actually prefer a wave kite because of its fast turning speed and ability to dump power quickly. Kite loops with the Neo are fast and not as powerful compared to that of the Dice. This is due to the fact that you don't want to be pulled off of the waves by your kite. If you can loop the kite with the bar sheeted out, then you are able to continue down the wave without sacrificing your ride. However, if you choose to pull in on the bar and loop the kite, it will generate a nice steady pull to get you speeding down the lineup.
This kite is not meant for a rider looking to do mega loops or strictly big air twintip riding, but it does have a lot of great overall qualities that may change your stereotypes of the Neo. Even though it's a wave specialist, it can still take care of you in any conditions that you find yourself in. Go check out some of the strapless freestyle videos online of riders throwing down handle passes, mega loops, board-offs etc. It's super impressive and goes to show you that you can do just about anything on this kite. The Neo has been tweaked and groomed by Duotone pro riders and designers to fit their precise needs, making this a top choice in their lineup.
Most kiters in the world are not looking for the most radical, mega-looping, hard-pulling C-kite you can get your hands on. They are looking for a kite that is fun, easy to ride, feels good, and allows you to jump and ride in any conditions. The Neo is an incredibly well-rounded kite that is good in just about every condition.
For the most part, all the attributes we've talked about in this review have 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 downplayed 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 and 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 sideshore and side-off conditions, the Dice or the Evo can compete in the waves to a degree, but the biggest difference is that with those kites you're 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 lineup can compare when it comes to onshore and side-onshore conditions.
Honestly, all of the things we've gone over are reasons why it's such a great wave kite. We have stated that it's a great kite for all-around riders, but it's an especially good kite if your specialty is in the waves. Ken Winner, the designer of the Neo, made this kite specifically for avid wave enthusiasts and his team of world champion wave riders; it just happens to be good at everything else as well.
The Neo's top quality is its slack. The slack comes in handy when riding waves with side to onshore winds in particular. I would say most beginner to intermediate kite surfers tend to ride in those kinds of winds and this is where the slack comes into play. Any kite will get you out there riding with the waves, but not all kites will get you into the waves. Have you ever experienced the feeling of carving into a wave and having your kite fall out of the sky? That will not happen with the Neo, and ultimately is the reason why it's so good in the waves. With the Neo you don't have to worry about the kite; it makes wave riding so easy and smooth that you'll never want to go back. Give it a try for yourself and see what you think!
Why the Neo is different from other wave kites
The approach is different from other wave kites in the sense that it's just so powerful. The only downside here is that 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 freeriding, 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 designer's part.
Being able to use a smaller size has a hidden benefit. I mentioned that 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 create less forearm fatigue when surfing with a bit of style. If you've ever paid 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.
Now before we get into this category, I want to say that I am not a wave kite expert. I am not claiming to have tried all of the wave kites and that this is the best kite out there. I've simply had the opportunity to fly the Neo and I really enjoyed my time on it. That being said, from what I've heard it's one of the top wave kites on the market and I can see how Airton, Sebastion and Matchu have won world titles on it. One of the things I find different is how they recommend sizing down the kites 1 or 2 meters to have the appropriate size.
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 a dedicated wave kite that works well as a freeride kite, hopefully this review will give you some perspective on what to expect.
Overall I would say that I was very pleasantly surprised with the Neo. Being more of a twintip rider, I've always steered more towards C-kites and big air kites. However, after my time in Spain and putting in some hours on the Neo, I have changed my mind about my kite choices. The Neo has inspired me to switch up my quiver this year and add a wave kite to it. For foiling, wave riding and overall freeride, this kite is amazing and really grunty for its small size.
It was really cool to meet the riders and designers of the gear in Spain and see how much hard work and energy they put into the fine details. I hope that, between Rygo and I, we have shared enough information with you to help you make a better decision on whether or not the Neo is a kite for you.
Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic
Many people dream of quitting their job, traveling the world and pursuing their passions. Rygo is one of those people who pulled the trigger. A few years into his career, he decided to change everything and travel as a kiteboarder, freelance videographer & writer. His mission is to share the stoke & help people put the boarding into their kiteboarding. Get outside and kite!
Producer of: Ride with Blake I Sessions I Versus I Destinations I Foil Fridays
A Michigan boy through and through (even though he was born in Saudi Arabia), Blake is a youth with a lifetime of experiences and adventures. Not only that, he's passionate about sharing his zest for life with others. He is proficient at many fields, including kiteboarding and acting as concierge to any who simply ask. Looking for an adventure? Well, Blake is your guy. From sailing the Gulf and the Caribbean to backpacking Hawaii and Southeast Asia, he knows his stuff and can make your vacation into an adventure.