BIC have been floating around SUP for a while. In that short time they’ve been responsible for a plethora of affordable performance gear aimed at all comers. The iconic BIC branding doesn’t just adorn disposable razor packs and throwaway pens! The company produces a line of performance stand up paddle boarding kit – sported by the UK’s very own Pete Holliday, who uses BIC sleds to devastating effect.
During a recent sojourn to the Caribbean I got their 10ft Air iSUP to try out. The Air is touted as being an all round stick you can take and store anywhere. Most will be aware of the easy to transport properties of inflatables and the BIC is no different. The brand, however, has thought things through and also provides a svelte and lightweight pump and removable central fin. Rolling up into a tight package the 10ft Air and associated paraphernalia stow away neatly and securely.
The only fly in the ointment was the bag, which, although robust, has mesh panelling that gives visibility inside. Paranoid travellers may not be comfortable with this. Not being able to secure the bag meant valuables had to be stored elsewhere. During the trip the BIC Air 10ft was thrown at a variety of different conditions – from shallow live coral reef breaks to full power downwind conditions and general touring scenarios. In all instances the board performed well – durability and versatility shining through.
Not the most rigid of sticks (there is some ‘play’ as you paddle along – to be expected) the BIC nevertheless glides well on the flat, picks up windy bumps with ease and is surprisingly agile on a wave.
Larger riders may find the next size up more stable while lightweights will be fine with the 10ft. The ride from the deck is quite high relative to the Air’s narrow width, making for a wobbly experience in some conditions – side chop in particular. Blowing up the BIC was super easy – much less work than with some. Moulded side bite fins help with tracking along the flat but do little with providing grip during wave sliding antics.
The central fin provided is fine for downwind and coastal touring but swapping to something smaller allowed for better surf performance. A US box fitting allows different skegs to be used although it’s a slight faff having to use an Allen key to tighten and release the fin (although screws are no better and can also easily be lost). Bungee cord is located on the nose for storage, although I wouldn’t have wanted a gear laden craft – bigger sizes will be better for this.
BIC’s 10ft Air is a good all round inflatable SUP – great on downwind runs, although riders will have to watch their trim, and surprisingly agile in surf. Choppy conditions aren’t really the BIC’s forte and sheltered water would always be a better call.
The supplied pump was a joy to use while riders can eek out more performance by swapping the central fin. A robust and durable finish with everything folding up neatly into its bag rounds out this versatile bit of kit.
As a one board only quiver, for those mainly paddling on sheltered or inland waters, with a bit of coastal action thrown in for good measure, the BIC Air 10ft will tick middle to lightweight all round paddlers’ boxes. Good for slow/small waves, touring and moderate downwind paddling.