Riding a ripstick (clone).


Learning to ride a caster board.



In my 51'st year I bought two walking sticks - as middle aged people often do. I also bought a ripstick as people my age usually don't.

I liked my walking sticks - they helping me get around after busting my ankle, I hope not to need them again for a few decades.

It has been about four months since my injury and it is still a little tender and probably a bit soon to be learning to skateboard but I'll be careful :-) I still have a walking stick just in case.

I have never owned a skateboard before and my total experience was maybe 20 metres and one dented photocopier from falling off someone's board in an office. I do have a lot of ice time though with an intermediate skill level. I could do simple jumps, spins and stuff like that. That was 25 years ago. I was also the first (big) kid on the block with roller blades but didn't do a great deal with them.

Razor make Ripsticks but I haven't seen a trademark logo used. This style of two wheel skateboard is also known as a caster board, wave motion board, snake motion board and who knows what else. I think they should be called "wiggle boards".

I think I first saw them advertised on crazysales.com which is where I ended up buying mine. Genuine razor-ripsticks were $150 in K-mart while I paid $28 plus delivery for mine. I can't see a whole lot of difference between genuine razor and the cheapie except mine had a defective screw on one stopper. ATM alwaysdirect.com.au are advertising them for $24.98 but I have no idea if they are the same quality or the delivery charge.

Knowing what I do now I'd be prepared to pay more than I did but I was not about to pay top dollar without knowing I could actually use the thing.

The Video CD that came with mine was a disappointment. There were no instructions or riding tips - just a video of kids riding them and doing tricks to very crappy music. Google found a few very minimal pages on learning to ride so I feel there is a need for something a little better. I have no intention to learn tricks - just the basics. At over 90Kg I'm probably a bit heavy for the board. I haven't seen a weight limit for this board but similar ones are rated at 80Kg. The razor version is rated at 220 pounds and should be OK for me. For basic riding as opposed to jumps and tricks I reckon I can exceed the limit a bit.

On seeing a ripstick in action people assume you need lighting reflexes to actively balance on the two wheels. This is a fallacy which may be preventing people from trying to learn - particularly those who's teen years are a dim memory.

When in motion a ripstick is inherently stable - this was not obvious before I had one. The basic stick has inclined casters. There are variations on this theme but the base model has wheels which are aligned along the axis of the board when a rider is standing on them with the board level. The self righting effect occurs because the wheels automatically turn if the deck leans. The direction of the wheels is such that the board will move in the direction of the lean and maintain balance. The board does not necessarily turn to point is a new direction. The board does not have to travel the way it points as both wheel can "caster" to one side allowing the board it to move at an angle to its axis. This sideways motion gave me the sensation I was slipping but got used to it.

To turn the board you twist it. The front and back deck tilt independently making it possible to turn the board to point in a new direction.

The rear of the board is called the "kick tail". The underside of mine has a couple of rubber stoppers. This seems to be missing on some other models. The stoppers don't look like they would be very effective to me but I'm not ready to test them.

I taught myself the riding basics indoors on a wooden floor maybe one by five meters in size. It took a few days but I was only doing a few minutes practice now and then.

Trying to balance on a stationary board or the try to get moving from a standstill was a waste of time. I suggest (and other tutorials agree) that is is easiest to learn by riding a moving board. A gently slope may help but my floor is level. Extra people may assist but I was alone and simply balanced and pushed off at one end of the room. Initially I just coasted but soon added a few wiggles to the crossing.

I found starting without support was largely a matter of confidence. While I was tentative the board just seemed too unstable. After practicing riding the moving board I gained the confidence that the board is stable. Once I believed the board would remain upright it did.
More later.



Created by System Administrator. Last Modification: Sunday 13 of December, 2009 17:40:52 AEDT by eddie.

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