DUOTONE NEO 7 & 6M

TESTED BY: Jim PUBLISHED: Issue #104 – April 2020

DUOTONE NEO 7 & 6M

TESTED BY: Jim PUBLISHED: Issue #104 – April 2020

TEST TEAM NOTES: Year after year the Neo is a kite that any of our test team over the years would happily live with forever. It’s just so easy and pretty much commands the centre ground in all areas of performance. Not the fastest, slowest, spikiest, softest, driftiest, raciest in terms of getting forward – it’s bang in the middle. Actually, that’s not quite true – this year’s Neo is like the Neo of three years ago that had more power for its size, but the soft feel and extensive depower allow you to still cope with the Neo when you hit its top end. INTUITIVE AND UNCOMPLICATED The Neo’s uncomplicated and all-encompassing nature mean that you almost think that it must be the board that’s giving you such a good session because you find yourself not really thinking about the kite. But, by the same token, some riders want something with a bit more obvious fire in its belly through sheeting or through ultra fast turning and air speeds.

However, the mix of quick turning with intuitive ease and good on-demand sheeting make the Neo a real go-anywhere, all-situation wave, foiling and even freeriding kite. You can mix sheet and go wave riding with quick turns across the window. The power injection doesn’t ever spike; instead there’s a more constant feel of energy from the kite. The bar feel doesn’t switch off like on some other kites, so although it’s certainly not heavy to steer, there’s a constant connection that you’re aware of. The Neo doesn’t have the absolute light weight nature of a single strut foil specialist kite, but it hangs with the good wave / foiling cross-over kites and is probably the best freeride twin-tipping wave kite because the extra sheeting power that Duotone have added to the Neo this year means that when you sheet the bar down there’s some decent hangtime on offer when powered up. Have you seen how high Airton goes on his 8 and 10 metre Neos? ‘Nuff said, really.

EXTRA LOW-END POWER THIS YEAR Once again, as with most wave kites, the Neo is at its best in its mid range when it feels responsive, light and tuned to either sheet out and move forward, sheet in for more power or, when paused as you turn can deliver stable, slack-line drift. Extra low end grunt this year means you can be on a smaller kite super early. There’s a big and incrementally smooth sheeting range on the Neo, so each small sheeting movement has an effect, but there is some potential to feel quite powered up when you sheet and turn the Neo at the top end of its range. So we are usually riding at least a size smaller Neo than kites that other wave riders are on during a session. While that can be a downside for some smaller riders, don’t worry too much because there are loads of sizes available in the range, including a three metre! (You should also note that we guarantee that over the next couple of seasons the French and Hawaiian trend of hydrofoiling with tiny kites in stronger and stronger wind conditions is going to spread more widely, so if you’re a foiler, having access to a really small kite is a bonus).

BUILD AND FITTINGS Duotone have used their own unique wide inflation twist-valve on the kites for a few seasons. Requiring a unique valve attachment for your pump, this is probably our biggest bug bear, because they don’t provide this attachment with all kites – so you need a Duotone pump (or a pump that has the fitting – eg the Mystic pump comes with all the various kite manufacturer fittings). The kite pumps up really quickly of course, but we were always double checking that we had the Duotone valve in the car prior to a session.

DUOTONE CLICK BAR The Click bar really is a thing of exquisite beauty and a joy to use once you’re used to it. Some people have one session on a Click bar and find it a bit ‘new’. The click button to depower is within very easy reach on the end of the bar and, as a result of having no above-the-bar cleat, there’s absolutely nothing in front of your vision with a clean centre line. Meanwhile a clever oblong shaped centre line untwists your lines without you realising every time you sheet in. Clearly there’s a price to pay in your wallet for all these things, but these are no gimmicks and the Click bar is built to last.

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“Reliability is the key to The Neo’s wide ranging success, including on the world stage.”
“Reliability is the key to The Neo’s wide ranging success, including on the world stage.”

SUMMARY: Whether you ride waves seriously, or you’re looking for a kite that you can combine some foiling, some wave riding and perhaps some freeriding with for some steady floaty jumps, you can’t really go wrong with the Neo. There are two settings for lighter or stronger bar impulse, so you can find the right level of direct feel for you. The Neo tends not to light up our brain in terms of an electric feel in your hands, but it literally does everything you need to and totally lets you concentrate on whatever board you’re riding in any situation. Reliability is the key to its wide ranging success, including on the world stage. KW LIKED: Knowing that the kite can deal with any situation on a range of board types. KW WOULD CHANGE: It may not be the most electric feeling kite, but its total dependability helps you reach very high performance in a range of conditions.

NEO BALANCE POINTS: Build quality: 9 Full package: 9.5 Low end: 8.5 Top end: 7.5 Steering speed: 7 Turning circle: 3.5 Bar pressure: 6 Water relaunch: 8.5 Drift: 8 Boost: 5.5 Hang-time: 5 Unhooked: DT Crossover: 8.5 Ease of use: 8.5 SIZES: 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 and 3m

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