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Monday, June 9, 2014

Inflatable Cruiser SUP V-Max AIR vs. V-Max Bamboo

Cruiser SUP Team Member Glenn with V-Max Bamboo
Paddleboard Direct and Cruiser SUP team member Glenn recently took the Cruiser SUP V-Max AIR out for some testing on Lake Ontario during 15-20 knot SW winds with accompanying 5 foot rolling swell. Not very easy conditions to say the least, but with the experience that Glenn has on a SUP, more than enough to get a great comparison of an inflatable to a rigid SUP. If you have ever wondered the difference in performance of an inflatable SUP compared to a rigid SUP then please keep reading below. Glenn offers some excellent detailed analysis of his experience.

Here's what Glenn had to say:

"When it comes to varying Stand Up Paddle Board models, I have ridden almost all of them.  If you give me 2 different SUP's to compare with as little as a few millimeters of specification in difference - I am able to tell them apart. My point being, when I test SUP's, I am constantly comparing the board to the database in my mind of all the boards I have ever paddled and I pay attention to every minute detail. Comparing the Cruiser SUP V-Max AIR to the V-Max Bamboo, there is a huge number of similarities, but also a huge number of differences. First thing you notice, the V-Max AIR is inflatable, there is no mistaking that. While the V-Max AIR is stiff,  you can easily tell it is inflatable (softer feel, but very stiff). The softer feel is almost comforting when riding in rougher conditions, as it isn't as harsh of a ride as the V-Max Rigid can be in steep and short period wind swell.

Cruiser SUP Team Member Sands riding V-Max AIR
Transport: There is no question the V-Max AIR is superior in the transport department. I drive a pretty small car and while I do often carry several boards on the roof, the back pack size of the V-Max AIR in the back seat is a nice treat compared to the constant howling wind coming from the roof rack with a rigid board (or two) strapped to the racks.  

Durability: Again, there is no question the V- Max AIR wins. The V-Max Bamboo is definitely tough, however if it is dropped or impacted into something like a rock, the board is most likely going to ding or crack at the spot of impact. Of course, you don't wan't to abuse any SUP, but if you happen to tick the V-Max AIR off a rock on your way into the water, the board will just bounce off with minimal to zero damage.

Glide and tracking: I would call it a dead heat. Both SUP's average about 12-14 stokes per side.  The V-Max Bamboo is crisper on the first couple of strokes and to accelerate, but once at speed, both SUP's maintain momentum equally well.

Going downwind: This is the one area I have to give to the V-Max Bamboo version, but barely, and with some explanation.  Getting a glide on the V-Max Bamboo takes nothing more than putting yourself in front of the piece of swell and letting the board do the rest. The V-Max AIR does need an extra stroke or two and requires a little extra muscle to get the board up to speed.  But, let's rewind back to the rock I hit on the beach where I realize that if I was using the V-Max Bamboo I would not have even been on the water to catch that swell, that took one more stroke to catch, as I would have spent the day fixing the ding on the board. I then quickly forget that it took one more stroke to catch the swell.
Cruiser SUP V-Max Platinum Edition Bamboo Touring

Looks: That is a tough call, in my opinion. I like red, I like bamboo, I like silver; I really just love all Cruiser SUP's.

Overall:  When I factor in the convenience and the toughness, the V-Max AIR is my preferred version of the V-Max. Still, there is a place in my board quiver for the V-Max Bamboo version and I will use both throughout the season. Though, most likely the V-Max AIR will become a fixture in my car just for the flat out reason that the performance is so similar, yet the V-Max AIR is so much tougher, portable, and convenient.  Factor in the price difference between the V-Max AIR and V-Max Bamboo and it is very tough to find any reason not to go with the V-Max AIR.

Winner: Inflatable Cruiser SUP V-Max AIR!"

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