With controlled precision Siddharth Mehra (15) navigates the unstable surface of his new-age skateboard, pausing to stabilise the wobbly contraption — the ripstick.
“Speed thrills,” he said, explaining the attraction behind this new toy fad. “It’s more exciting than a normal skateboard because it’s more versatile.”
Involving mastery of knee-hip coordination to manoeuvre the two unstable flanks connected by a metal beam, the ripstick is a skateboard minus two wheels.
In the space-starved crannies of the city, more and more children are “ripsticking” on terraces, inside their homes and in playgrounds.
Mehra and three of his friends have perfected their balance zipping across his Malabar Hill building compound.
Already a craze in the US, where skateboarding is as much about practical considerations of transport as about cool youth subculture, ripsticks were so far only available in the West. And children like Mehra, would get them through friends or relatives coming from abroad. Now, stores in Mumbai have also begun to stock them.
“Sales have been picking up now with word of mouth publicity,” said Surendra Prajapati, a salesperson at Breach Candy’s Premsons.
The store has sold 35 to 40 pieces since they began stocking ripsticks in March. The price ranges from Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000 per unit.
For most, it’s a novelty toy rather than a transport device, one that offers the possibility of improvisations.
“When I ripstick alone I get up to my own tricks, shooting baskets while on it,” said Rishi Munim (11). Similarly, Mehra and his friends have come up with “ripstick football”, which as the name suggests, involves shooting goals using a golf ball while whizzing around on the board.
Ripstickers are a fairly exclusive club. “Not everyone has one so every one wants to try mine when they see me use it,” said Kabir Rajani (11) a student of Ecole Mondiale School, Juhu.
But not everyone is equally enamoured.
“I wouldn’t even count it as a skateboard,” said Jimmy Hilloo (17), whose been skateboarding for the past seven years and uses it as a means of transport. “The ripstick takes practically no skill at all — if you can stand on it you can pretty much ride it.”