As Surf and Bodyboard enthusiasts we understand the importance of finding a good quality bodyboard that can perform well in surf conditions as well as being budget friendly. Holiday makers and the general public will not always understand how cheap bodyboards don’t hold any value. We were lucky enough to be given the Olaian Radbug 500 from Decathlon. We took it for a test drive and want to show you why this bodyboard outperforms budget bodyboards that can be bought at any of the local shops found on the UK coastline.
This is high performance bodyboard that will help you progress quickly on your bodyboarding journey.
Prepare to catch lots of waves and generate high speeds. The channels in the base will help your turns along the wave.
Is It Worth Buying an Expensive Bodyboard?
In a word – yes! You will have a lot more fun out on the waves if you invest more money from the start in a high quality bodyboard.
The first main difference is the size of the bodyboard. The cheap bodyboards that you find at the local shops are small and thin. Typically they are made for children and teenagers as parents can satisfy their children by spending £15 on a board. The Radbug 500 bodyboard ranges from 38 inches to 44 inches depending on your size. This is great as it means you can find your custom sized bodyboard.
There are two ways to choose the right bodyboard for yourself. The quickest and easiest method is to choose a bodyboard that comes to the same height as your belly button. However, as someone with short legs and long torso this doesn’t suit me. I prefer to choose a board by measuring between my chin and knee’s. This helps me find a board that I can comfortably kick with.
If you need to bodyboard beyond the sea floor, then you’ll need to be kicking your legs for speed as you can no longer push off to help generate speed. This is why the Olaian Radbug 500 bodyboard range is absolutely worth it. The four different size options give you the best opportunity to find the right sized board. I used the 41.5 inch bodyboard, which I found perfect for my height and I am 5’8”.
The Radbug 500 is a very buoyant bodyboard. To the holiday user, this means you will catch lots of waves. The higher your body sits out of the waves, the better your chance of catching waves. The width of a bodyboard (as well as the size) will help with buoyancy. At 56cm wide, the 41.5 inch bodyboard made sure I caught loads of waves. I could even straddle the board and sit comfortably while I waited for sets to roll in.
This bodyboard is aimed at the intermediate rider, however I don’t see any issue with beginners investing their money and then building up their skills to make the most out of the board. The Radbug 500 has a high density slick base which helps you glide across the waves. The cheaper bodyboards don’t offer any comparison. If you attempted to catch the same wave, the cheap bodyboard would either not pick you up, or even if you did catch it, you wouldn’t ride it for long.
The Radbug 500 was great for getting speed along the face of the wave and performing some simple tricks. The waves weren’t forming to allow any aerial attempts, however I did catch some very small barrels. The slick base and channels within the base of the bodyboard meant I was able to generate the speed to stay ahead of the face of the wave. If you are unsure what the channels do on a bodyboard, they give you more bite as you try to move on the face of the wave. Cheaper bodyboards do not have these features, so anyone looking to actually ride a wave and not just ride the whitewash should try and find a board of similar status to the Radbug.
With a dense EPO foam core and two fibreglass stringers, the board is fairly stiff. You get a very solid feel, which is reassuring as you know that the bodyboard will last you a long time. I took a few heavy wipeouts and the board proved itself to be very strong. If you compare the Radbug 500 to the cheap polystyrene bodyboards, you will realise just how cheap of a product they are and why you should stay away.
This bodyboard comes with a leash that can connect at the bicep or wrist. It is very comfortable and easy to use. The strength of the coiled leash is reassuring, especially if you are heading out in a big swell. The benefit of choosing this bodyboard over a cheap alternative is that you get a safe flotation device that will stay with you throughout your session.
One nice feature of the Radbug 500 Bodyboard is the wide nose. The benefit of this is that there is plenty of space for hand positioning. This means that you get more grip, which is needed as you begin to make those fast turns. As an intermediate you will have greater steering on your bodyboard, so this feature will really help you carve along the wave. The preformed deck helps you to locate good hand and elbow positions to help you with your turns.
The Radbug 500 is a high quality bodyboard that will really help with your development as a bodyboarder. It sits slightly higher in price than some other comparable bodyboards, however I think it’s worth the extra. The buoyancy means you’ll catch heaps of waves and the ergonomic design means you’ll soon be shredding the waves better than the holiday warriors.
If this bodyboard sits out of your price range, Decathlon also do the Radbug 100 which is there budget bodyboard for beginners.
How Much Is A Good Bodyboard?
Many people are tempted to buy cheap bodyboards thinking that they are getting a good deal for a short Holiday. But in reality these cheap bodyboards are not only bad in terms of quality and performance, but they are also bad for the environment. A cheap bodyboard can put you at risk in the ocean and should be avoided.
I feel that a solid entry level price for bodyboard is about £40+. At this price range you are bound to find a board that comes with a slick base and a solid core foam. This should be considered a budget. Don’t be tempted by the local shop “deals” as these product are going to let you down.
Environmental Impact of Cheap Bodyboards
These boards are often made with low quality materials that are not only harmful to the environment, but also harmful to our coastline. For example, cheap boards are often made with polystyrene which is a type of plastic that does not biodegrade and can take hundreds of years to decompose.
This means that when you’re done with the cheap board they end up in the land fill or in the ocean, where it can be harmful to marine life and contribute to plastic pollution. When these boards break in half, which happens often, it sends a huge number of micro-plastics into the water.
When I tested the durability of these cheap bodyboards I found that on my first paddle out I could already hear the foam twisting and starting to disconnect from its outside layer. This is the beginning of the end for your board as the core or outer layers will soon break as they get wet and pressured during your session.
What Makes A Bad Bodyboard?
Low quality materials that are found in cheap bodyboards are not durable. This means that they are more likely to break or malfunction. This can be dangerous when you’re out at sea and need a flotation device to keep you above the water. What makes surfing and bodyboarding safe is that you are permanently connected to a buoyancy aid (your board). If this is not serving any purpose, then you are at risk if you ever found yourself drifting away from the shore.
Although not all holiday makers will want to spend lots on a bodyboard, you are really short changing yourself if you buy one of these cheap boards. If you are looking at buying something cheap, then consider things like the base and leash of the board.
When you head into the local town shop you will see the bodyboards on sale and notice that some have a fabric base. This is not effective for catching and riding waves. You will also find a string leash – this will not last and will not keep you safe. On a big swell you could become detached from your board and therefore have lost the one thing that could keep you afloat.
We have sampled multiple bodyboards, some which are entry level and very affordable, while others are for intermediate and advanced riders. All of these bodyboards will last you multiple holidays or seasons, so don’t be afraid to spend a few extra quid on a better bodyboard. It will mean you have a better time of the waves and not be adding to the sad landfill of cheap bodyboards!