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SipaBoard electric paddle board review

Aug 14, 2023

Inflatable paddle boards have become a fun, space-saving and convenient way to more easily explore lakes, rivers and oceans at any age. And now you can add a little horsepower to your ride with the SipaBoard Drive Neo, a first-of-its kind, fully integrated self-inflating and motorized electric SUP (stand-up paddleboard).

Sure, the SipaBoard Drive Neo lets you more simply power through strong currents — but it also offers peace of mind if you’re paddling with younger kids or older folks. And, since there’s never a guarantee against bad weather, you’ll be able to quickly and safely cruise back to shore. Plus, that same motor lets you self-inflate your board for a more hassle-free day.

An electric motor might seem like a simple technological upgrade, but this is no ordinary paddleboard. Take it out on the water and you’ll be sure to get plenty of questions and excited glances from other paddlers. However, before you buy, you’ll have to decide if the SipaBoard brand of luxury leisure is within your budget — because at $2,800, the Drive Neo is most definitely a splurge.

With an electric motor that both pumps up and powers the board, the SipaBoard is an innovative SUP that gives you the freedom to explore uncharted waters while still being able to safely navigate back to shore. But all these upgrades and extra features come at a premium price.

With inflatable stand-up paddleboards normally running anywhere between $200 and $800, it might be hard to see how shelling out a few thousand dollars could be worth it.

We saw a similar debate play out when e-bikes first hit the market alongside standard bikes. Sure, the mechanics of riding the bike are the same on either model, but having an e-bike means you can more easily power through harsher terrain, tread longer distances and enjoy a more relaxed, less physically demanding ride.

The same is true for the SipaBoard; the integrity of the activity stays intact, but you get more opportunity to explore. The SipaBoard Drive Neo’s motor helps you fight against antagonistic currents and keep you cruising when your limbs grow weary, all while letting you savor your time on the water with less effort all around.

One of the major selling points of the Drive Neo is that it self-inflates with the help of the electric motor. Not only does this mean you don’t have to spend time sweating over a manual pump, but since the SipaBoard’s motor is run on batteries that charge via an adapter, it also means you don’t have to hunt down a power outlet or drain your car’s battery to get everything set up.

To inflate, just roll the board out, hook the hose from the motor to the tail end of the board and turn the motor on to inflate mode by pressing all four buttons on the remote at the same time. Once the motor kicks on, the board will start to inflate and automatically stop after a few minutes. At this point, you’ll drop the motor into the board’s center slot and press all four buttons to restart the motor, which will finish fully inflating the board, automatically stopping again when everything is ready to go.

With the motor, the total inflation process takes about five minutes. Then all that’s left is to lock on the motor’s lid, snap together the paddle and add the tail fin.

This streamlined setup helps you get on the water that much faster because, let’s face it, that’s where the Drive Neo is most fun to play with. The board has three speeds that range between 3.5 and 4.5 miles per hour, which you control from a remote attached to the paddle or via Bluetooth from the SipaBoards app, which also keeps you updated on the battery life.

When we went for a test ride, we found that the board offered a lot of stability in all three speed modes, even in slightly choppier water. The electric motor let us quickly get off shore and out to venture the waters — though we still had to focus on steering clear of rocks and other obstacles. The best part is that when you’re ready to return to shore, you can hit the third speed and truly cruise back virtually effort-free, almost as if you’re being towed by a boat.

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The remote also reacts almost instantly to changes in speed and power, so if you are worried about an oncoming collision, you can turn the motor off in a second and regain manual control of the board. And if you tumble off the board, the motor will automatically turn off when the remote on the paddle hits the water, preventing the board from getting too far out of your grasp. This is one of the most thoughtful features of the board in general.

Although the electric motor is the board’s main selling point, you don’t have to use it all the time. With the motor off, the SipaBoard functions the same as a standard inflatable board, making it great for sunbathing, paddleboard yoga, fishing, picnicking or exercising. You can also clip a seat onto the board for a more kayak-style experience. And if you fancy a night ride, the SipaBoard’s motor has a light that illuminates 10 feet deep in clear water, which is a nice feature for visibility and safety in the dark.

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When you shop the entire SipaBoard online, you’ll have the option to choose from four motorized boards tailored for different speeds, stabilities and activities, as well as three additional non-motorized, but still self-inflating, boards.

When it’s all packed up, the 11-foot Drive Neo SipaBoard weighs in at about 17 pounds, slightly less than most other inflatable SUP boards, which are closer to 20 or 25 pounds. Granted, that weight doesn’t include the motor, which comes in a separate carrying case and adds another 11 pounds to your board. Fully assembled with the motor, the Drive Neo board is about 28 pounds, which is pretty on par with most boards in the 11- to 12-foot range.

The SipaBoard comes fully equipped with all the basic SUP accessories and features. You’ll get a board, carbon fiber paddle, fin, carrying case, leash, carry strap, bags for the board and motor, repair and maintenance kits and, unique to the SipaBoard, an electric motor, four batteries to power the motor, a charging adapter and a remote to control the speed of the board. The construction of the board itself is sturdy and durable — and it comes with a nice top grip that didn’t allow our feet to slip around. Its simple, modern color scheme and design also look great, which is always a plus.

Like other inflatable boards, the SipaBoard packs into a carrying case that you can wear like a backpack, and an oversized one at that, giving you the portability that has given inflatable SUP boards the edge over bulky, wooden boards. This makes them great for traveling, whether by car, plane, public transportation, or even a bike if you’ve got the balance. The packability of these inflatable boards also makes it easier to find space to store them in your home.

To repack the SipaBoard, you’ll remove the motor and fin, then press and roll the air out before folding it back in the case, all of which takes only a few minutes. The SipaBoard’s motor and batteries are stored in a separate case with a strap perfect for toting on your shoulder.

Because the SipaBoard is motorized, it does make some noise while it’s working on the water. The sound is not loud enough to prevent you from having casual conversation or from hearing your surroundings, but it might be enough to disturb you if you’re looking for a totally Zenned-out paddle.

The major setback of the SipaBoard is its price. With the most inexpensive motorized model coming in at $2,790, it’s still more than triple the cost of traditional, high-end SUPs. So, if you’re looking to buy your first SUP or want enough boards for the whole family, the SipaBoard is not the most economical way to go.

In addition to the cost of the board, if you’re buying online, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of international shipping, since the company is based in Slovenia (about an extra $180 for US addresses). The SipaBoards do come with a two-year warranty, which you can extend another year by registering your board online. If you want to try before you buy, there are some specialized retailers in the US and EU that might be able to let you test or rent a board. You can find these locations by contacting the SipaBoards information team.

SipaBoard was an early name in the e-SUP game, but there are now other motorized SUP boards on the market. You can buy a motorized attachment that clips onto your existing board or opt for a model more like the SipaBoard where the motor is integrated into the body of the board and aids in inflating it. The SipaBoard still edges out a lot of its competition, boasting faster charging times and a long battery life. Its price is also fairly average for other motorized options, even the ones that come sans board.

For some, the cost of an electric SUP might be worth the safety assurance it can provide. With any water sport, currents and inclement weather can sneak up on you. Having a motorized board gives you more confidence to tread longer ranges of water without as much worry that you won’t have the power you need to make it back to shore. This makes motorized boards, like the SipaBoard, a great option for families, the elderly or paddleboard newbies who are still riding the learning curve. So if paying more for a motorized board is worth the extra peace of mind, then the SipaBoard is definitely something to consider.

The SipaBoard is definitely a splurge. Claiming to be “built at the nexus of technology, luxury, and true sportsmanship,” the SipaBoard holds true to this promise by taking what we already love about paddleboarding and giving us more upgraded ways to use it.

If you already have an inflatable SUP that you love, you probably don’t need to shell out for the SipaBoard. Likewise, if you only get your paddleboard out a few weekends out of the year, then this might not be the right board to splurge on just yet.

Having some motorized help can be great if you’ve got small kids or pets who like to accompany you on the water but can’t quite pull their weight paddling yet. It also might save you from having to call for a rescue if you run out of energy to safely paddle back to shore. And the self-inflating feature is a major plus for those who can’t stand the manual inflation process or just want to get on the water that much faster.

Ultimately, it comes down to your budget and what you want to get out of your paddleboarding experience. If you’re looking for a board that saves you some hassles and operates almost effortlessly, the SipaBoard is an innovative option that’ll truly let you cruise the waters, so long as you remember to give the batteries a charge once you’re back home.

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