You see kids on skateboards all the time, but one day, you see a group of kids playing in a parking lot, on what looks like a skateboard but only has two wheels. You think it looks like a fun challenge, and you decide that you want to learn how to ride a RipStik.
Whether you want to learn how to ride a RipStik for your summer workout or as a fun recreational activity for your kids, learning how to ride a RipStik is easier than you might think.
What Is A RipStik?
Before learning how to ride a RipStik, you should learn exactly what it is, and how it differs from other recreational boards.
RipStiks and Waveboards are the most popular brands of casterboards — a durable plastic board that runs on two small revolving wheels. Casterboards are like skateboards in that they are designed to run on pavement, but they are propelled by shifting weight from one foot to the other. They are also similar to snowboards because they allow the rider to maintain momentum without ever touching the ground.
The Basics Of How To Ride A Ripstik
Learning how to ride a RipStik involves only a few easy steps:
- Find proper safety gear
- Locate a surface to ride
- Get familiar with the RipStik
- Hop on the RipStik
- Twist those hips
- How to stop
Find The Proper Safety Gear
Before learning how to ride a Ripstik, you need to find the proper safety gear. You do not want to accidentally hurt yourself because you started riding without safety gear.
Luckily, finding proper safety gear is easy because the RipStik is so similar to the skateboard. Therefore, you will want to wear a skateboarding helmet, but you should also get knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist pads (all of which will protect you when you fall).
In terms of clothing, you will want to wear something comfortable and movement-friendly (though, you do not want the material to be so loose that it may get caught in the wheel). Athletic shorts and a t-shirt will give you a comfortable range of motion that jeans and a button-up may not provide, but ultimately you should wear what you feel most comfortable in.
For shoes, you may want to get a pair of skateboarding shoes. Skateboarding shoes have a flat sole, allowing more of your shoe’s surface to come into contact with the board which will give you better traction. Also, if you ever do RipStik tricks like “ollies” (where your shoe slides up against the board), skateboarding shoes will last longer because they are more resilient to scraping.
If you do not have or cannot buy skateboarding shoes, shoes with rubber soles will work well too.
Locate The Optimum Surface
Once you have the proper safety gear on, you will want to find an area with a smooth and even surface. A parking lot works well for those who have a friend who can help them get rolling. However, if you find an area with a slight slope, you will have less resistance when you are first developing your riding skills.
Do not choose a steep hill or a busy street! The best places to practice when you are first learning how to ride a RipStik are sidewalks, driveways, or empty parking lots.
Avoid riding through areas with cracks, speed bumps, water, or sand. Surfaces like these may throw you off balance and cause you to fall.
Get Familiar With The RipStik
Before you hop on, you will want to place your RipStik on the ground and make sure that the nose (or the front end) of the RipStik is facing the direction that you want to go. Stand on the side of the RipStik so that your non-dominant foot is near the nose, and your dominant foot is near the tail end.
Unlike a skateboard which can be ridden in either direction, a RipStik can only go in the direction that the nose of the board is facing. You will be able to tell which end should face front because it is smaller and slopes inward like an arrowhead.
You will want your dominant foot near the back end because it will provide you with more stability as you ride, and it will allow you to propel yourself more easily. If you are not sure which foot is your dominant foot, it is usually the foot you would kick a ball with. However, you can test out the board from both directions to see which side feels more natural for you.
Fun fact: riding with your left foot in front is referred to as riding “regular.” Whereas, riding “goofy” is when you ride with your right foot on the nose of the board.
Hop On The RipStik
Next, put your front foot (the non-dominant one) in the center of the nose end of the board, with your toes facing perpendicular to the front of the board. Lean into your front foot while pushing off the ground with your back foot (the dominant one). After the initial push, center your back foot on the tail end of the board.
You will notice that the quicker you can get on the board, the easier you will be able to find your balance. Whereas the slower you go, the more difficult it is to get the board moving. This may sound complicated, but it will feel more natural once you have your balance down.
An easier approach may be to have a friend support your weight as you step on the board. This allows you to focus on where your feet should go and how your weight should be distributed. Your friend should walk with you (out of the way of the board) until you are ready to let go.
If you do not have a friend, you can lean on a wall or a railing to help you get on the board.
Twist Those Hips
Once moving, make sure to reposition your footing if your feet are not centered on each half of the board. When you ride a RipStik, your feet must be in the middle of both the nose and tail sections (otherwise, it becomes difficult to move the board without stumbling). If you are not centered on the board, simply stop the RipStik and try again.
It is much easier to stay balanced on the RipStik once the board is moving. After you have adjusted your weight, let the board glide forward while maintaining your balance.
To gain momentum, twist your hips and feet back and forth in an “S” motion (each end of the RipStik should move in the opposite direction — like the movement of a snake or a river). If you push into your toes on your left foot, then you will feel yourself also push down on the heel of your right foot (and vice versa).
After you feel confident, you can make the “S” motions bigger by incorporating more hip movement. This will allow you to continuously move forward.
When learning how to ride a RipStik, the easiest step is the final one: stopping.
When you are ready to stop your RipStik, you can either hop off your board or steer into a patch of grass.
Hopping off your board is usually initiated by lifting the dominant foot off the tail of the board and stepping back onto the pavement. You will feel your weight shift into your non-dominant foot, and the tail of the board may lift slightly into the air. However, since the RipStik cannot balance on its own, your board will not roll away from you.
If you are concerned about stopping while your board is moving quickly, move the foot on the nose of the board towards one side to come into a 90-degree turn, then remove your foot. This will slow the board down before you get off of it.
More Than The Basics
Now that we have reviewed the basics for learning how to ride a RipStik, you will want to learn how to gain speed and turn.
Unlike a skateboard, which requires stepping off and pushing with one foot to gain speed, the RipStik allows you to speed up without your feet ever leaving the board. To gain speed, apply the same twisting motions from earlier, but start by moving each platform back and forth in small rapid movements.
You should notice that this motion slightly increases your speed of travel. As you get comfortable with this, increase the length of the back and forth wiggling motion. The correct twisting motion is rhythmic and involves almost full body movement.
When you are ready to start turning, all you have to do is lean your body weight in the direction you want to turn (just like you would on a skateboard or snowboard). Your front foot will determine the direction of your turn. If you lean the heel of your front foot down, you will turn in that direction, and if you lean into the toes of your front foot, you will lean in the direction of your toes.
The back foot determines the degree of the turn. As you lean your back foot in the opposite direction of your front foot, you will increase the sharpness of your turn. The relationship between the back and front foot will only be mastered through practice.
Just remember, the front foot steers you, and the back foot will do the opposite of the front foot.
Conclusion: Do Not Get Discouraged!
Although learning how to ride a RipStik may seem difficult at first, once you have the basics down, it can be incredibly exhilarating!
Some people may have better balance and coordination, allowing them to learn how to ride a RipStik more quickly, but everyone learns at their own pace. If you stay focussed, apply what you have learned, and keep practicing, you will know how to ride a RipStik in no time!
(After you have learned how to ride, if you had a friend help you stay balanced, reverse roles with your friend and show them how fun it is to ride a RipStik!)