The RipStik and RipStik Air caster boards are children's toys that look like wavy skateboards --- instead of going straight, however, the wheels are tilted so that the rider powers the boards by swerving from side to side. The twist on a traditional skateboard design proved popular; in 2009, RipStik was named the Outdoor Toy of the Year in "Licensing Update 2009" by Gregory Battersby and Charles Grimes.
The RipStik Classic and RipStik Air have the same general body shape, but each comes in different colors. The Air has gray, blue and red versions, and the Classic model comes in five different shades: blue, green, pink, red and silver. Aside from the black rod in the center of the RipStik Classic and the thin platform in the center of the Air, the two models appear nearly identical; however, there are several differences in construction and design.
Both models of RipStik are designed for general riding and "carving," or traveling forward in a side-to-side motion as with a snowboard. Additionally, both boards have the capacity to do traditional skateboarding tricks, including manuals and ollies, as well as aerial tricks like kickflips and jumps. While the models are similar in price, the Air does cost more. Potential buyers should also keep in mind that neither model of the RipStik travels successfully on bumpy surfaces or hills; they're designed for smooth, level ground.
Whereas the RipStik Classic focuses on basic riding and movement, the Air is specially constructed to perform well with aerial tricks. According to the official Ripstik website, the Air weighs less than the Classic, so it's easier for riders to hoist it off the ground, and it contains a spring in its center platform that is intended to center riders as they land. Finally, the RipStik Air is a bit more symmetrical and flatter than the Classic, which has a nose that is slightly bent to curve up about half an inch and a tail shaped like a fin, which curves up about an inch. The Air does curve up slightly at the nose, which is narrower, but its tail is flatter to allow riders to easily stamp down on it and propel the board off the floor.
To stay safe while riding either model of RipStik, wear a helmet, kneepads and elbow pads. The boards can jut out from under riders, especially during the learning process or while performing difficult tricks. Finally, it's important to realize that the wheels on both the RipStik Classic and RipStik Air will wear down and grow slick over time and with continued use, which can pose an additional threat. To keep the boards in top shape, replace the wheels every few months.