Bic Oxbow River Air
- Extra rigid construction
- 5-fin setup
- Compact shape
- Extra grab handles
- Heavy for its size
- Low quality accessories
- Only center fin is removable
- No paddle included
Table of Contents
We can count on 1 hand (and maybe just a few fingers) the number of boards that are on the market specifically for river conditions and the River Air is just in that small group. It’s smaller than most iSUPs and has extra features that you rarely find in similar boards. So, we took to investigate to see if we could recommend this board to our readers.
|9' 2"||36"||6”||23 lbs||280 lbs|
Before you look into the performance of this SUP, you have to realize that it’s not designed to be used under normal circumstances. Because of that, it’s not all that fast on open, flat water. In fact, while you can use it in areas other than rivers, we really don’t recommend it since its short length is might make balancing difficult over longer periods of time.
On it’s intended water type, we can say that the River Air does much better than you would normally expect from an iSUP. The 2 areas where it excels is balance and maneuverability. Having an extra wide deck plays a big role in this as does the 5-fin setup.
We usually talk about surfability with our boards and this is an ironic one. If you were on a wave, you’d do great with this SUP, but the problem is getting your board far enough in open water to catch one, so we call this one a wash.
There are a few features on this board that not only help out the rider but we actually wouldn’t dare to go down a river without them. The best example of this is the embossed EVA pad.
In addition to being comfortable, it has a diamond grip that gives the rider maximum traction since you are guaranteed to get water on the deck constantly. Without this added traction, it would be very difficult to keep from slipping and falling off.
Speaking of falling off, there are a total of 7 grab handles located through the deck to make sure you have a place to grab onto if and when you fall off. There’s the center grab handle that we expect with most SUPs and then there’s the nose and tail handles that help you to move the handle in and out of the water. What makes this board special are the additional 4 handles on the sides of the deck.
The last main feature of this board is a 4-point bungee storage area near the front. We doubt that you would need to have a big need for storage on such a small SUP, but it’s nice to have just in case.
Remember that this board was manufactured by Bic but designed by France’s large surf company, Oxbow. Looks wise, you only have 1 choice when it comes to color and it’s…well…not very attractive. It includes the trademark Oxbow design but there are these color strips that are reminiscent of the couch every mom had in the 70s. We’re sorry but we would expect more from a company that is principal a clothes and sports equipment designer.
Looking beyond the superficial, it’s a tough little board that’s perfect for slipping in between rapids and rocks while on a river. Our biggest complaint about the shape of the SUP is that there is no rocker to speak of, meaning that the board is just flat with no angle toward the nose. Considering that you’re going to be going through rough water a good deal of your time, it would really be nice to have a high rocker.
One of our absolute favorite things about this board is the fin system. Having a 5-fin system gives you excellent tracking with very little drag underneath. Also, there is a removable center fin so that if you decide to go into deeper water you can attach it for better tracking or lose it if you’re going into the shallows. It would have been nice to have all the fins be removable for better storage and setup.
All Bic Oxbow boards use the standard SUP Air construction but with a little extra. In case you’re not familiar with how it works, it involves using a single layer of PVC material that is reinforced both internally and externally. The internal side of the reinforcement involved high-density drop stitch construction inside while using stringer on the outside. Essentially, this involves a belt being wrapped around the board from nose to tail to make the board feel as solid as possible. In addition, they use double-layer PVC on the rails since that is the most vulnerable part of the board.
The extra bit that these Oxbow boards add is what’s known as a stringer, which are essentially 2 PVC strings that wrap all the way around the board to increase the tension once it’s inflated. This acts to make the inflatable board as solid-feeling as possible while using the least amount of material.
Out of the box you can expect an oversized backpack with wheels, dual-action air pump, repair kit, and a 8” Dolphin fin. We like the backpack since it has extra room for more than just the board and iSUP gear, so you can bring your own personal gear without having a separate bag.
However, the air pump is a bit underwhelming. One of the most laborious parts of going on the water is inflating the board and the last thing you want is a pump that isn’t going to inflate well. While not a bad air pump, we wouldn’t show if off to our friends, either. You may want to consider purchasing another model separately or even an electric pump, for that matter. Plus remember that board doesn’t come with a paddle or leash.
To be perfectly honest, this board didn’t live up to our expectations. It was created by a French designer but somehow came out looking less than attractive. It’s manufactured by one of the top plastic producers in the world but the accessories feel cheap and it doesn’t include a paddle (big black mark in our book).
Honestly, it isn’t a bad SUP — it’s just disappointing because it had so much potential. To be fair, we’ll give it points for being a river iSUP when there are very few of those on the market. However, if you’re willing to spend a little bit more, there are some pretty solid options out there.
If you really want a river iSUP and you’re on a budget, this might be the board for you. Just remember that you have to factor in the cost of a paddle as well.