We recently received the new Bic SUP Air 11 inflatable standup paddle board (ISUP). Best known for an extensive line of hard shell boards, BIC has recently expanded their inflatable kayak line to include the SUP AIR, with tentative plans for varying sizes in the future. The SUP AIR 11 paddle board features high-pressure 10-15 PSI drop stitch technology, and is geared towards “all around” use.
The box as received weighs 38 lbs, measuring 33 x 20 x 11 inches. Inside the box is the BIC SUP backpack which houses the SUP AIR body, repair kit, instructions and removable deep tracking fin. Also included is a single action hand pump with pressure gauge and multiple adapters. While the SUP Air alone weighs 26 lbs, the backpack with board and pump is 33lbs. The pack measurements of 32 x 18 inches make it small enought to easily fit in the trunk of a small car.
Remove the SUP Air from the backpack and roll it open.
There are two integrated tracking side fins at the rear of the board. Lay the board face up (fins down) so that you can access the military valve.
The SUP AIR 11 utilizes one spring-loaded military valve for inflation. These are very simple to use and feature an inflate mode (spring plunger is UP) and a deflate mode (spring plunger is DOWN). By using your finger to gently push on the plunger and slightly twist, the plunger can be moved to the inflate mode (air goes in and doesn’t come back out) and deflate mode (air goes in and comes back out). Before you go to all the effort of inflating the board, PLEASE make sure the plunger is in the inflate position.
The included single-action pump comes with a pressure gauge, so you can monitor the board’s PSI. Attach the gauge to the hose, and attach the hose to the inflate side of the pump. Utilizing the military valve adaptor, screw it onto the valve slightly to lock into position. You’re ready to pump!
The first couple of minutes are very easy. At about 6PSI, pumping will get a little tougher. Keep at it – for maximum performance, you will need to get it up to minimum 10PSI
The higher the pressure, the stiffer the board. The SUP Air recommended pressure is between 10 and 15 PSI; if you are a smaller person, you may be able to get away with the lower-end PSI. Finish by screwing on the valve cover which protects the valve, and also ensures you don’t accidentally push it open.
If you’re planning on some touring (versus light whitewater), attach the deepwater fin which will aid in tracking. The fin slips onto the track in-between the two fixed fins, then slide the retaining clip through the opening until it clicks (locks) into position. Remove this fin if you will be playing in shallow water. Unlike some removable fins, this can be installed before or after inflation – in fact, it is probably easier after inflation.
That’s it! Except for the upper arm workout, set up is quite simple – in less than 10 minutes, you’re ready for the water.
Features and Specifications
According to Jimmy Blakeney, BIC’s Product & Marketing Manager for SUPs & Kayaks, the key specification to determine board payload is the volume of the board – meaning, how much weight can it carry. The BIC SUP AIR is 205 liters. Secondary attributes such as width, outline and length are then considered in relation to skill level. Based on this formula (called the Guild Guide), the BIC SUP AIR 11 indicates about 210 lbs max rider weight for good stability as a beginner.
The BIC SUP Air 11 features a multi-layer, abrasion and UV-resistant PVC utilizing “drop-stitch” technology. In the simplest terms, the top of the board is held together with the bottom via thousands of “stitches” which allow the boards to be pumped up to very high pressures.
Bungee deck lacing with four d-rings in the bow – measuring 16 x 11 inches wide, tapering down to 12 inches – allows one to attach/carry gear.
The center features a thick EVA traction pad measuring 27 by 83 inches. One rugged, low-profile carrying handle is centered in the traction pad, allowing one to easily carry the SUP Air while not impeding paddling.
One military valve and one d-ring for an ankle leash are located at the back end.
The backpack features a rugged mesh on the sides, top and bottom, allowing water to drip out. The shoulder straps are adjustable and padded. Four straps allow one to cinch the entire package down tightly, while a front plastic zippering pocket – measuring 13 x 10 inches – can house small belongings.
There are two side fins, and the one removable deep water tracking fin.
We did measurement tests. The BIC SUP Air 11 is 29.5 inches wide inflated and measures 11 feet in length.
On the Water
We took this out on a large lake on both a relatively calm day, and one with slight chop. I must preface this by the fact that I am a novice standup paddler. That said …. this is an incredibly easy board for beginners to use. It feels stable and was surprisingly simple to stand up without losing one’s balance. And either standing or kneeling, paddling and tracking was straight. Unfortunately, the ability to test out the surfing aspects is not something we have access to.
Due to time constraints (and variable weather) we actually had the board pumped up for two weeks solid before taking it out, with no apparent air loss.
Packing It Up
Deflating the board couldn’t be simpler – turn the military valve to the open position and all the air will swoosh out. Starting at the front end, fold up the board beginnning from the snout with the top side up – this allows more air to be pushed out from the rear while you fold. To protect the fins, replace the small foam rings over the side fins, and remove the deep tracking fin. As a tip, you might want to put the fin in the zippering pocket. While the board easily slips back into the backpack, the addition of a bungee or small belt would be a great touch, allowing one to keep the board rolled up.
The BIC SUP AIR 11 is great fun for all-around paddle boarding.
These versatile, multi-purpose boards are great first time boards because they allow you to explore all facets of the sport. With the 29.5 inch beam, it is wide enough to be very stable for beginners while the thick EVA pad provides good traction and a comfortable grip on the feet. The deepwater tracking fin allows one to paddle and track smoothly when on calm water – such as shorelines, inlets, mild rivers and lakes – yet can be removed easily for shallow waters and surfing in small waves. The front “rocker” (lift to the snout/bow) is useful in surf performance.
The BIC SUP AIR 11 is very simple to set up and pack away, it paddles well and tracks/glides nicely. At 10-15 PSI, they are also quite rigid.
Best of all, it’s very portable. The board fits easily into the included backpack, making it a great inflatable for travelling or for heading into remote areas.