How to Ride a RipStik and Keep Your Balance

ripstick
Source: Youtube.com

Caster boards aren't the skateboards of last generation. The new design of skateboards, called a RipStik, is a caster board that relies on the torque of your body as well as the orientation of the wheels. If you've received one of these boards for a gift, you're likely wondering how to ride a RipStik. We’re here to give you a step by step tutorial on how to enjoy this caster board.

We’ll also tell you what safety equipment you need and how to get the best use out of it. We can also give you a few pointers on increasing your speed and balance on the RipStik. First, let’s go over what makes the caster board so different from a regular skateboard.

RipStik Design

RipStik Caster Board (Blue)

The RipStik consists of two separate boards with independently-steering wheels. The steering axis is mounted at about 30 degrees, and there are springs attached so that the wheel can return to its default position when pressure isn't being exerted. The two segments of the RipStik are joined by a spring-loaded torsion bar.

Safety First

Before you start learning how to ride a RipStik, you need to get your safety gear in order. Here’s what you’ll need. If you’ve ridden a skateboard or inline skates, the list might seem familiar:

  • Helmet
  • Wrist guards
  • Elbow pads
  • Knee pads
  • Gloves
  • Mouthguard

ANSI and Snell are probably your two best bets when choosing a brand for your safety gear.

When wearing a helmet, it needs to offer full protection from the crown of your head to the back of your head. You won’t have much face protection, which is why we recommend a mouth guard. Falling face first into something and chipping a tooth will ruin the fun.

Size your helmet carefully. It should fit your scalp snugly, but not so tightly that it cuts off circulation and gives you a headache.

Elbow and knee pads should be the same way. The straps going around your arms and legs need to be secure enough, so the pads don’t move around. The idea is for them to protect these critical joints because they are some of the most vulnerable to injury. They also get plenty of scrapes that pads help to prevent.

Wrist guards protect your wrists and the backs of your hands. Although you may not land on your hands, it’s essential to wear gloves and wrist guards on the off chance that you do. As far as gloves go, you can wear fingerless gloves. When riding a RipStik, you’re using your arms and hands to keep you balanced.

Regular Clothing

Aside from your protective gear, it’s best to wear loose, yet comfortable clothing you can move in. T-shirts, tank tops, and shorts work best. You can wear long pants if you want. Just be aware that your legs and feet need to be able to move. With this in mind, make sure your shoes have good tread and fit well.

Getting Started

Now that you have your safety gear, you can start learning how to ride a RipStik. The best thing to do is pick a patch of smooth asphalt, maybe with a slight downward slope. You don’t need the incline, but it can make it easier to get momentum. When you have more speed, it’s easier to keep your balance.

Also, you need to be near grass. This way, if you feel yourself starting to fall, you can steer onto the grass and hop off safely rather than trying to jump off the board while it's in motion.

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RipStik Caster Board (Blue)
  • Groundbreaking caster board that acts like a skateboard/snowboard hybrid
  • Pivoting deck and 360-degree caster trucks enable snowboard-like carving
  • Spiked traction pads, kick tail and nose, and concave deck design
  • 76mm polyurethane wheels and precision ABEC-5 bearing casters
  • Designed for children 8 years and up; supports up to 220 pounds

Standing

First, position the RipStik properly. The narrow end is the nose, and it should be pointed forward. You’ll place your non-dominant foot here. For most people, this is the left foot, but some people have a reversed, or ‘goofy’ stance in which the right foot is forward.

Place the RipStik with the board resting on the ground, tilted directly toward you. Place your left foot directly on the center of the nose portion of the board and gradually push it to the upright position. This part is harder than it might sound because there's only one wheel on each section.

Take a few deep breaths. For one, it calms your nerves, and for two, it can lower your center of gravity and make it easier to maintain your balance. Relax your upper body. Once you have a firm balance, you can start moving.

If you need help, move to a spot with a railing and use that to support yourself.

Kick off with your rear foot, just as you would with a skateboard to get it going, At this point, you need to act quickly because the weight of your body will force the RipStik to lean to one side or another. This action causes it to come to a stop. As soon as you start moving, place your right foot on the tail portion the same way your left foot is on the nose.

Picking Up Speed

Now it’s time to get some speed from your RipStik. If you've ever used inline skates, this part will be familiar to you, even if it takes time to relearn.

It doesn’t matter what side you start from, but the goal is to have each wheel propelling you forward in opposite directions, similar to how inline skates work. You do this by pressing down on the toe of one foot. Doing this will make the wheel of that segment of the RipStik move to the right and roll forward.

To prevent the board from just turning, you need to balance this motion by rocking back onto the heel of your other foot at the same time. For example, if your lead foot is pushing to the right, your back foot should be pushing to the left, and vice versa.

This is the necessary motion to get you started moving. However, your ankles are only so strong and can only generate a certain amount of momentum. If you want more speed, you're going to have to generate power from more substantial muscle groups. In other words, you’ll need to add your hips into the motion.

Swivel your hips in conjunction with the motion of your feet. Make sure you're exerting the same amount of force on each side. Otherwise, you'll end up going in a circle or taking a meandering path.

Make the sequence of motion continuous. If you stop, the board is going to tip over, so you need to keep it perfectly balanced with your movement.

Making Turns

The movement we’ve described so far has to do with keeping the RipStik in a straight line. What if you want to turn? The answer is simple: put all your weight toward one side of the board. By doing this, you cause the wheels to turn to the left or right. If you keep the back foot straight and alter the positioning on the front wheel, that’s another way to turn.

Tips on Keeping Balance at First

It can be hard to keep your balance on a RipStik when you first get started, but it gets easier over time. The best thing to do is to relax. By keeping your abdominal muscles relaxed and maintaining a relaxed posture, it's easier to keep balance. You don't want to have a ramrod-straight posture. This tenses you up and raises your center of gravity.

Look down to make sure your feet are centered on the board. As a rule, your weight should be evenly balanced between both feet, and your knees should be bent. Bending your knees transfers some of the feeling of force up through your feet more easily. Hold your arms out to the sides as well.

How to Stop

What if you decide you’re done riding for the day and are ready to stop? If you’re going slow enough, you can just coast to a stop and step off the board, but if you’re going faster and need to stop riding, you’ll just have to jump off.

First, let the board slow down as much as you can. If you’re going fast enough, the rotation of the wheel maintains balance on its own. When the board is going slowly enough - about a light jogging speed - hop off and immediately go into a jog, so you don't fall on your face.  Don't worry about losing the board; it can't move too far on its own.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to ride a RipStik is challenging at first, but with enough practice, you'll get it right. It does take a lot of balance and coordination. If you don't have those skills, you'll have a much harder time on this board. Just take it slow and be patient with yourself when learning how to ride. No skill worth learning comes instantly. Focus on the basics and you’ll be off in no time.

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