BIC Sport TOUGH-TEC Cross Review
Cons: Heavy, harder to move
Manufacturer: BIC Sport
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Cross stood out from the rest of the group not only for being one of the most resilient to normal wear and tear but by not sacrificing paddling performance for durability's sake. This board's plastic shell seems to handle abuse much better than most other boards, allowing you to be a bit more cavalier with where you take the Cross or who you let paddle it. This board got taken down rivers and floated in places that we wouldn't dream of taking other boards and came out relatively unscathed, where a composite board might have been irreparably damaged.
In our crusade to find superior SUPs, we started by researching and comparing all of the most compelling boards currently on the market. We picked out and purchased the most promising models, then tested them out head-to-head until we had our winners. We split our testing process into five weighted rating categories, with the Cross's results in each outlined below.
First and foremost, we rated and compared just how good the BIC Sports Cross is at gliding, This is our most important group of assessments, which combine to constitute 35% of each board's final score. For this metric, we looked not only at how fast each board is in both calm and choppy waters but also at how efficiently it paddles and how far it glides per paddle stroke. The BIC did fairly well for being such a beefy board, earning a 6 out of 10.
The Cross impressed us with its acceleration right from the start. This SUP seems like it tends to float higher on the water and does not require a ton of effort to get it up to speed, especially compared to some of the other burly boards that take a ton of work. It gets about an average amount of glide per stroke on smooth water, with its relative performance to the other boards increasing as conditions get choppier.
Overall, the Cross is a reasonably fast SUP, though it does feel like it plateaus compared to some of the speedier boards. It can hold its own against the fastest boards when there are waves and wind but we definitely wouldn't pick the Cross to compete in any speed races on flat water. It just can't keep up with longer and slimmer boards. However, we still wouldn't hesitate to grab the BIC Cross for fairly long tours or moderate to long paddling sessions.
Next, we rated and scored the stability of the BIC Sport Cross, which is responsible for 20% of its final score. This stand up paddle board did supremely well in our suite of stability tests, meriting an 8 out of 10 for results. In this rating category, we compared how easy it is to stay on the Cross when encountering wind, waves, or wakes, how beginner-friendly it is, and how stable it is when loaded up with gear.
We tested this board in the roughest conditions we could find — windy and wavy enough that we were cautioned against taking a paddleboard out by multiple passersby. However, we found that the Cross absolutely crushed it when it came to choppy water. It can get a little wobbly but we only fell off once when a boat waked us out at point-blank range.
This makes it great for novice to intermediate paddlers, as it has plenty of stability if the wind or waves pick up unexpectedly and allows beginner paddlers to stay standing for wakes and waves, rather than dropping onto their knees to keep from falling off like they would have to on more advanced boards.
It has a nice wide area towards the nose with a set of bungies for cargo, which we found didn't affect the stability all that much even when loaded up with a dry bag and soft cooler. This board would also be a great option if you want to take your canine companion paddling, as it has the stability for it and the plastic shell can take the scratches a bit better than other rigid SUPs.
For our last on-the-water metric, worth 15% of the total score, we compared each stand up paddleboard on how well it steers. We awarded points based on how quickly each board could be maneuvered to avoid an obstacle and on the amount of space required to execute a complete U-turn. The Cross delivered a respectable set of results but it definitely can't match the agility of the best boards, earning it a 5 out of 10.
The BIC is a very middle-of-the-road performer when it came to our maneuverability test, feeling very sluggish and clunky compared to the smaller surfy boards but is significantly easier to turn around and evade obstacles than the longer touring boards.
The Cross is decently responsive as you shift your weight and uses a single QUICK Touring 9" fin. This fin attaches with a somewhat atypical system, relying on an off-center spacer that clicks into place compared to the usual single screw but we haven't lost it yet, so it seems to work.
We generally found it to be relatively hassle-free to slalom this board around obstacles as we approached them. However, it does take a little bit of space if you need to do an about-face, so a three-point turn can become necessary if you are in a narrower channel.
Ease of Transport
Scoring slightly below average overall, the Cross TOUGH-TEC isn't exactly the easiest paddleboard to move around when you are on dry land, earning a 4 out of 10. This is based on the ergonomics of the integrated handle, the board's weight, how hard it is to carry, and how difficult it is to get on a car. Altogether, these tests also account for 15% of the final score for each SUP.
This board is one of the burlier models of the bunch, weighing in just shy of 40 pounds, which makes it one of the heaviest boards that we have tested so far.
The BIC's weight, coupled with its 11' length, combine to make this board a bit of a pain to carry for long distances or to load on a car. It's not impossible but can definitely be quite an exertion to carry it for more than a short stretch. Eventually, we found that we wouldn't really want to grab the BIC if we had to carry it solo for more than a couple hundred feet from the car to the water but it does get significantly easier if you have a buddy to help you out. Fortunately, the built-in handle is fairly comfortable to hold at least.
The same holds true for loading it on a car. We managed by ourselves plenty of times but vastly preferred having a second set of hands around. Thankfully, this board holds up to scratches and scrapes fairly well, making it much easier to load, as we were much more willing to slide it around on crossbars and roof racks — this also brings us to our final testing metric.
The last aspect of each board that we graded and scored is how well it held up to our rigorous testing process. This accounts for the remaining tenth of the Cross's total score and is based on any damage sustained by the board throughout our testing process and if we found any common complaints or issues throughout other user reviews of each product. The Cross crushed it again in this test, earning a 9 out of 10.
The hard plastic exterior of this board can take quite a punishment, resisting most scrapes and scratches incurred through normal use. There were a few cosmetic blemishes at the end of our testing but we seriously put this board through the wringer. We even took this board on a river float where it ran into all sorts of submerged branches and rocks and was run aground on more than one occasion. The internal foam also rebounds a bit after crushing, with the board resuming its normal shape even after we cranked a ratchet strap fairly tight on it to secure it to some crossbars — enough that the board was noticeably deformed.
If you are willing to spend a little bit more than a budget model but don't want to have to baby your board whenever you are moving it around, the TOUGH-TEC Cross is the perfect choice. This board is fantastic for families, novices, or anyone who doesn't want to worry about their board getting damaged from a single moment of carelessness. While there are other boards that can match this one when it comes to toughness, none of the other products paddle quite as well, with the TOUGH-TEC actually holding its own with the top-tier boards when it comes to paddling performance.
The Cross is a great value, holding its own with boards that cost almost twice as much.
If you are looking for a great all-around board that the whole family can put to use, look no further than the BIC Cross TOUGH-TEC. This board should last for years and is great for everyone from a first-time paddler to an experienced paddleboarder. It might not be the fastest of the group and can't compete with boards designed solely for a specific use but you will be hard-pressed to find a more well-rounded SUP. On top of all that, it is relatively affordable when it comes to these products.
— Marissa Fox