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Unbelievable RC

Fast Lane RC JLX Matrix

September 2011
rc

Street Price: $99.95 US
Manufacturer: Fast Lane
Mfr's recommended min. age: 8+
Our recommended age range: none
Primary use: Outdoors
Top speed: approx. 8mph
Radio: 27mhz
Includes:

  • Controller
  • Instructions
  • 9.6V rechargable battery
  • Wall charger
  • 9V controller battery
  • 4x "stabilizer" training wheels/bars
  • Tire inflation gauge
  • Tire inflation adapter
Requires:
  • Just a driver!

Initial Impressions

The Fast Lane RC JLX Matrix motorcycle has a very futuristic style and looks like a two-wheeled drone robot with its opaque full canopy. It's big (over 19" long) and bright and features real air-filled rubber tires that you can inflate with a bicycle tire pump. They even include a tire size gauge to use as a template to make sure the tires are inflated to just the right size for optimal performance.

Everything you need to drive the JLX Matrix is included in the box. It has a pretty standard-sized 9.6V rechargable battery and a charger, and even the 9V battery the controller needs. To keep the bike from ever falling all the way over, they include two full sets of "stabilizers" that act like training wheels on the side if you tip over. Only one set gets installed at a time, so the second set is a spare in case the first gets damaged. The bike also has working suspension at both ends, which is pretty trick.

Testing

After turning the JLX Matrix on, the best way to get started is to hold it off the ground in one hand while holding the controller in the other and giving it some "gas." This spins up the powered rear tire and also accelerates the hidden internal high-speed flywheel that provides gyroscopic stabilization to help keep the bike upright. You can also just put it on the ground and start with it leaning on a stabilizer wheel, but that takes more time to get going and is a little less reliable. The JLX Matrix really does drive on just two wheels balancing itself upright just fine, as long as it's going in a straight line. When it turns, it immediately leans onto one of the side wheels. When that happens, things immediately become less fun, at least for me. For one thing, it automatically slows down when it's turning, and you can't prevent that. It also turns around a painfully large radius. It can take 20 feet or even more to turn around 180 degrees, depending upon the surface and how much it slows down. You can let off the throttle or pulse it to reduce the speed even further, which allows the bike to turn more sharply, but once you've slowed down, it won't stand up on 2 wheels again until it's back up to speed. Slowing also reduces the speed of the internal flywheel, and the bike becomes a little harder to control and more sluggish to respond to your commands. The result is that after a turn, I often had to deal with the bike flopping back & forth on alternate sides before it would go back to driving normally.

One extra feature the JLX Matrix includes is a special forward flipping function. When you're driving straight and reach full speed, you can push & hold a button on the controller with your thumb, and the rear of the bike will lower itself like it has hydraulics, then it'll catapult forward with the help of a basic front disc brake, doing a full flip, landing on its wheels and driving off normally. I got it to successfully execute this very cool stunt several times. However, more times than not, it would either flip halfway and fall over, or fall over when landing. You have to be going perfectly straight on flat ground and truly reach absolute maximum speed (remember turning, even a tiny bit, always slows it down), to pull off the stunt.

Video

(Click a video a second time to view it on YouTube with more options!)

Conclusion

The Fast Lane RC JLX Matrix really disappointed me. What bugs me most is that I spent $100 US on this thing. That's a lot of money to spend on something that offers so little fun & excitement. It requires a huge open space to drive around at all, just because of its really poor steering. If it needed a big driving area because it was fast, that would be a different story. No, it needs that space because of a performance deficiency. It almost looks like it's moving in slow motion as it limbers around, and running out of room or getting stuck up against a curb gets aggravating after the 5th or 10th time. It has reverse, but that's not very useful when it's leaning all the way over, as you can't really control its steering when it's moving slowly. It'll just swing around turning in whatever direction it's leaning, forward or reverse, repeating an arc hitting the curb with its front then rear tires alternately. I am tempted to give the Fast Lane RC JLX Matrix an F, but I am forcing myself to go with a low D because while it is very expensive and not fun, it does operate. With enough room, you can drive it around, and it can do the front flip advertised on the box. It's not completely a failure. Just mostly.

D-

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