Aqua Inc’s Air Rider 9.2ft surprised us. Firstly it comes supplied with proper fin boxes – in this instance two Futures side bites and a middle US box (2+1). This is slightly unusual (although becoming more common)within the world of inflatable stand up paddle boards and suggests the 9.2ft is an iSUP with performance.
The second surprising attribute was how stiff it is once inflated. The supplied pump is a joy to use and gets up to 15psi super efficiently but there’s plenty of room to ram more air in. (We managed to get around 20psi inside which is much better for rigidity). Even though it’s a single chamber pump it’s one of the newer school models that allows the inflation process to be quicker and easier with more air compressed into a slimmer chamber.
The Air Rider 9.2ft is extremely stiff for something stuffed with air – and this is without the use of any carbon rail inserts or stiffening mechanism being utilised. It’s also a very thin profiled board that’s super light and easy to transport.
Even though there’s the obligatory bungee cord up front, suggesting it’s more of a tourer than anything else, we weren’t convinced. OK, if you’re on the lighter side then it will suffice but the overall shape and high end fin box configuration suggests something else is hiding under the hood.
And we were right. Tracking fairly well on flat water it’s a relatively straight and true paddle out to the peak. It also climbs broken swell white water better than we expected – certainly for an iSUP anyway.
With a few quick and deep paddle strokes the Air Rider zooms onto waves effortlessly and although there’s still a bit of give under foot (this is an inflatable after all) it retains its shape well and therefore offers a good wave riding platform that delivers a smile inducing amount of surf performance. Let’s be honest, you’re still never going to be fanging warp speed cutbacks but for an iSUP the Aqua Inc Air Rider 9.2ft carves a decent arc and allows for almost proper surfing that all but the most fussy of paddlers will enjoy.
For an inflatable stand up paddle board Aqua Inc’s Air Rider 9.2ft is a seriously rigid piece of equipment. Couple this with its proper fin boxes and you have a pretty unique looking sled. While fine across flat water, for lighter weight paddlers, we felt the Air Rider comes into its own when on a wave. It’s one of the few inflatables that can be ridden properly in swell, that rigidity doing its level best to eek every bit of carving efficiency out of the board. If you’re searching for a SUP that covers flat and wavey environments, with a slight slant towards surf, and still retains the advantages of a blow up, then Aqua Inc’s Air rider 9.2ft will certainly be a good fit.
Price: £739 with pump and roller wheeled bag