First some notes regarding Rebel vs Neo from Ken:
- Neo doesn't fly to the edge as aggressively, so keeping it downwind of you and pulling smoothly through turns on the wave is easier.
- Drifts downwind in the air extremely well
- Neo turns quicker with more consistent power delivery.
- Neo turn initiation is easier -- less bar input required.
- The gap from Rebel 9 to Neo 6 will feel smaller than the gap from Rebel 9 to Rebel 6.
- Quicker relaunch
- Neo is fine for strapless jumping, but not as good as the Rebel for strapped jumping.
Ken also reminded me for Peterheirman that much of the testing in Maui was done in Waiehu where you get short period choppy swell with dead-onshore wind, much like the conditions he was describing in the North Sea.
Some personal notes:
I've had a few sessions on an early prototype and I can say that it DEFINITELY pulls harder, meter for meter, compared to the Rebel. Ken says he toned down the low end a bit in the final version in order to improve the high-end, but if he says it pulls like a size larger Rebel, I believe him. Therefore I think it may be totally reasonable to just get the Neo 6 to fill the entire gap down from Rebel 9.
As far as twintip riding, I found the Neo to be a great freeride kite in some ways but not great in others... It's super stable and easy to ride, so mowing the lawn was great, relaunch was super easy, it turned fast and felt responsive. Jumping is where it got really really interesting... I would send the kite and go up, and then I would just kind of sit there, hanging in the air. I kept waiting for the kite to accelerate over my head, requiring a loop or at least a redirection, but it simply refused to do so. With any other kite I've ever ridden, the kite would've for sure gone straight over my head and tumbled, but this kite sits so well in the window that it just hung there, a little downwind of 12:00 as I went up, and stayed there as I drifted slowly back down. The hangtime was crazy and the feel was very different from any other kite. When Ken says it works well for strapless jumping I believe it, when he says the Rebel jumps better strapped, I believe that too... In spite of the hangtime my guess is that it didn't get me as high or rocket me up the way a Rebel can. 2 caveats to this jumping review, though... 1. as I mentioned, it was a proto, not the final version, and 2. I don't jump a whole lot and only had a few hours total on this kite. That said, there were a good number of us testing the kite (local guys, not North affiliated) and everyone said pretty much that same thing. They also said that it was the most powerful kite they've flown, though, again, Ken says he toned that down.
Hope this all helps, and to be honest, I don't have a whole lot of more info on this kite. If anyone picks one up or gets a demo in please put up your thoughts here. A little warning; though the kite has been announced it may have been a little premature as I think most areas won't actually be getting Neos for some time (here in North America we're still at least a month out on production kites), and the initial run may well be limited, so be patient.