The Neo SLS performs a lot like the old Neo, but it does have some advantages.
The real question is whether these changes are worth trading in your old Neo. I had the chance to try this kite in some light wind and some stronger wind with onshore and cross-shore onshore conditions. I've had loads of time on the original Neo, and after trying the SLS I do have an opinion on whether the trade up is worth it. Let's break down what you can expect and then we'll get into whether it's worth it or not.
I've done enough reviews on the Neo that I'll keep this short. To summarize what you can expect from any Neo SLS or original, there are certain characteristics that make it awesome.
- On/off Depower
- Dimmer switch is very intuitive
- Tons of power. Always size down in the waves or it's way too much.
- Don't always size down for freeride
- You can use a smaller kite and have extra power to get upwind
- No power in the loops when sheeted out
- Can steer intuitively when there is no power in the kite, letting you place it two steps ahead of your board effortlessly.
Long story short, this is a wave machine, plus it's good for freeriding so you're not stuck with a one-trick pony. It's not the best drifting kite, but it's super close. Of all the wave kites, it's the one I've had the most sessions on to date.
So what's new?
The Neo SLS had some changes to the shape, the lines and bridles are thinner, and the kite is lighter. Normally I make fun of this, but there is some real benefit here.
It does turn a lot faster. Many times new kites make this claim and it almost gets annoying how every kite seems to get faster. Now on the Neo, I actually noticed this and appreciated it.
I recently dislocated my finger and I found it easy to steer, turn, and place the kite with one hand on the bar- my hurt hand, no less. The bar pressure was light and responsive and I would be lying if I said I didn't have a ton of fun on this kite in the waves.
As for performance beyond the faster turning, the weight came into play. It is a little lighter and packs smaller into the new eco-friendly bags. In the air, this didn't really impact my session. My first session was in about 13 to 21 knots on the 9m. When the wind got light, the kite stayed in the air and I was able to create some apparent wind but the difference was not that noticeable from the regular Neo. The lighter material does help with drifting in lighter winds as well.
The trend towards lighter kites is cool, but I think the real benefit comes when you are using these for foiling. You won't get that much of an advantage on the surfboard in lighter winds beyond the little boost in light wind drifting.
Is it worth it to upgrade?
If you already have a Neo, these kites are close in performance. The original Neo is still awesome in my opinion. If you don't have the budget for a new kite I wouldn't sweat it.
If you've never had a Neo before, I think I personally would splurge on the SLS. But again, if you're on a tight budget and you find a closeout Neo there's going to be a huge difference in price and the older models are going to be more than enough for most people. You'll just be giving up the lighter, more responsive steering and the foiling benefit of the lighter canopy in light wind conditions where you need to generate apparent wind.
So for surfers, SLS is cool but maybe not a deal breaker. For foiling, it's going to make a huge difference for light wind sessions.
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