Review: Cyrusher Ripple electric snowboard actually works! (mostly)
Crusher, a Chinese company known for its burly electric bikes, surprised many in the snowboarding community when it announced its electric snowboard in December. Part snowboard and part snowmobile/e-skateboard/scooter, the Cyrusher Ripple mounts a jagged 3kW hub motor-wheel in a rear hole on a snowboard and puts the battery in a backpack that the rider must wear. Cyrusher states that the Ripple can go 30+ miles at speeds up to 30 miles per hour.
To our surprise, they actually had some review models and sent us one that we took up to Vermont to put through the paces. Would it actually work, and more importantly, would it be a fun form of transportation?
Cyrusher Ripple Setup
The Ripple came in a few boxes and is…heavy. The 156cm snowboard without the 11lb battery is a whopping 33lbs or 15kg, and all that weight is in the rear. The rear weight is jarring for someone used to carrying around a sub-10lb snowboard. This thing weighs as much as a mountain bike and is best carried with the rear wheel rolling on the ground.
It came without bindings, so I put on some old, traditional bindings I had on a snowboard I used about five years ago. I’ve ridden with Burton Step ons for almost five years, and if I had an extra set of those bindings, they would have been a much better experience. I’m also used to a longer 160cm snowboard, but 156 isn’t freakishly small for my 6′ 220lb frame.
The 635Wh battery is a big rectangular item about the size of a lunch box and must be placed in a backpack. The backpack battery situation isn’t any more awkward than putting on a backpack full of books, but you are already on a 33-pound snowboard. There’s a big wire with a spring that connects the battery and the Ripple, and that’s about all the assembly required. The battery came about half charged and, thankfully, uses a common e-bike 48V barrel battery charger.
There’s also a USB-A port that can be used to charge the controller simultaneously (my controller charger cable was missing). To turn on the system, you need to hit three buttons in order: First, the battery inside the backpack needs to be turned on, then the button on the snowboard, and then the handheld controller.
The controller is pretty interesting here and is in a gun-like shape that looks similar to some of the electric skateboard controllers I’ve used. It actually has a color display, speedometer, and battery indicator but in a font size that might not be legible through ski goggles, at speed, and in bright sunlight. It worked well for me in my limited testing while still, and frankly, I didn’t look down at it much while riding. Perhaps most interesting is that it not only accelerated the Ripple but it could also brake it too – which is helpful when a carving brake it way harder to do with the added rear weight.
Riding the Cyrusher Ripple
Cyrusher Ripple isn’t like a regular snowboard for obvious and non-obvious reasons. The use case is mostly cross-country riding or even some slight uphills. The huge extra weight in the back of that 3kW motor and controller actually keeps the wheel in the snow but also makes it really hard to carve, especially on the limited types of snow that the Ripple is made for. Cyrusher passed this cheat sheet on compatible snow and it is basically packed powder that it works best on. Wet snow is too sticky for the wheel to offset the static weight of the Rider/Ripple. Powder snow doesn’t provide enough traction for the wheel. You need the kind of groomed stuff you often find on Vermont mountains – but on flat land.
As I said before braking isn’t done by carving but by hitting the brakes on the wheel. Carving is limited to steering and it isn’t at all like a regular snowboard. One analog I can give is like riding a trike vs. a regular 2-wheeled bike.
As you can see in the video, my 100kg frame didn’t have luck on anything that wasn’t plowed already. My under 100lb son, however, was able to use it on a variety of surfaces and actually had a great experience on it. He’s also a competitive snowboarder and was able to turn and carve the thing, which in total was half his weight.
For him, this is a really fun toy, and he’s been showing it off to some of his snowboard buddies.
Cyrusher says you can climb 20% grade hills, and I think that’s probably the most optimistic of snow/rider combos. My son was able to climb slight gradients, but anything more than a few degrees would have the wheel spinning. For me, I was happy to get moving on flat land.
I’ve often wondered what a powered snowboard would look like. I’ve even drawn up some ideas similar to this one, except the wheel is in between the feet like a One-wheel. Another idea is to make the integrated battery/motor removable and have paddles off the sides like a paddle boat. Or maybe just a jet fan to blow you across the snow like a paramotor?
But these are just pie-in-the-sky dreams, and Cyrusher actually made a powered snowboard happen! And the thing actually works!
That said, the limited types of snow and rider profiles where Ripple works as intended make it a lot less of an exciting reality. It is heavy, unwieldy, and, with the extra weight, harder to steer.
I think the appeal of this is for the tinkerer/hobbyist or that person who is addicted to snowboarding but lives in Kansas, where there are no hills. You might be able to use it as a personal snowmobile type of use case as well. Some folks will love this thing but I think it is a niche product.
But all great ideas had to start somewhere. And I do think this has “legs”. If Cyrusher, who are the leaders I the field since they are the only ones in the field, can cut about half the weight they will have a much better product. And, if it can, at the same time, make it better at grabbing more types of snow, I think you’d have a mass-market type of product here. Then make the motor sense if it is grabbing snow and slow down if it isn’t. Then maybe make the whole thing removable so you can take it off and go downhill when you want?
Then we’re getting somewhere.
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