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Unbelievable RC

Reviewed: Suzuki GSX-R1000 & Ducati Desmosedici by Nikko - RC Mania

July 2007

Street Price: $79.99 US
Manufacturer: Nikko
Mfgr's recommended min. age: 8
Our recommended age range: 8+
Primary use: Outdoors
Top speed: Approx. 11mph (est.)
Radio: 49mhz or 27mhz, multi-band
Includes:

  • Assembled motorcycle
  • Bike stand
  • Adjustable side skids
  • 9.6V rechargable battery
  • Battery charger
  • 9V battery for the controller
  • Instruction manual
Requires:
  • A driver!

Initial Impressions

These bikes look hot! They're literally cool enough to look at that I'd consider buying one even if they weren't RC (gotta love the included display stands). These things are the perfect scale and capture some very impressive details. Stickers are placed just right on both the bike and driver. The only thing I don't like is that the articulated rider figures feel flimsy and have gaps around their joints. The reason for this, though, is that the riders actually lean in turns!

Again, the attention to detail is just awesome on both the Ducati Desmosedici (left) and the Suzuki GSX-R1000 (right). Some things you have to get really close to see. I'm very impressed! Also available are a Honda and a Kawasaki, and all four bikes have the same suspension & motor, so they're evenly matched for racing. Speaking of racing, there are two main frequencies available, the normal 49mhz & 27mhz, but better than that, each has a tri-band (A-B-C) selector, allowing you to run a total of 6 of the bikes simultaneously!

These machines aren't all about looks. There's working suspension front & rear, the tires are soft, grippy rubber and shaped just like real motorcycle tires, and the heaviest part, the battery, gets mounted all the way at the bottom to keep the center of gravity very low.

Preparing to Drive

Nikko strikes again with another full setup with everything you need right in the box. They include a 9.6V battery and compact wall charger, and even have a 9V battery for the transmitter. These guys really take care of you. Battery installation on either bike requires no screwdriver, just a simple twist of an easy locking mechanism with your fingers.

 

In the Professor's Lab

Mmm, yes, these, these rider figures, they flop around so easily, like, how do you say, "crash dummies?" I can only hope they are stable while riding, yes.

Wait, the front wheel steers freely, is it broken?

OH! Oh my...

This is most unexpected. MOST unexpected! The front wheel, indeed, is not controlled at all! It is free to move however it wishes! Only the movement of the driver is controlled! Let me explain! At the back of the bike, there is a strut that connects to the driver. The strut connects to a servo, which is basically a motor and gears inside of a box. The servo is controlled by the radio!! When you turn the wheel on the transmitter, you are instructing the driver to lean to one side! It is the shifting of his weight that makes the bike lean! It is the leaning of the bike that makes the bike turn! This is fantastic! Brilliant! I've never seen anything like it in RC! Drive! Drive it! Drive it now! I must see!

Testing

The first thing that struck me when I got on the road with one of the bikes is that speed seems a bit lacking. I really wish there was a turbo setting on the trigger! Once you start getting into turns and seeing how far the bikes lean in turns, though, it feels more appropriate.

Speaking of leaning, the included side skids can be mounted two different ways. One way, with the skids angled down closer to the ground, the bike is really limited in how far it can lean over. This keeps turns nice & wide and almost completely prevents falling over. On the "advanced" setting, with the skids pointing up higher, the bike can really get deep into a turn to whip through some sharp corners, but with this extra leaning comes the need for more driver skill & agility to keep the bike from falling over. I found the first setting to be almost too easy, but it's probably the best way to go for younger kids. Don't bother trying to run without the skids -- I already tried, and it didn't work.

For the best turns, you want to let off the throttle trigger first. This shifts some of the weight of the bike forward and also lets the speed come down slightly. For an even tighter turn, use the brakes (activated by pushing the throttle trigger forward instead of squeezing it). These bikes really do take practice to master their handling and get the most out of them, but there's a limit. Unfortunately, in addition to their modest straight-line speed, their smallest turning ratio is a little on the large side (they don't turn too sharply no matter what you do).

You have to love the leaning action of the riders, though. The inside knee actually sticks out in a turn, and the head turns in the same direction!


Video

I've got a special treat this time -- two separate videos, one of the Ducati, one of the Suzuki!

(Click a video a second time to view it larger in a new window.)

Conclusion

This is a really, really tough one to score. On the one hand, I was a bit disappointed by the performance of these bikes. Going straight, I wanted them to be faster. Turning, I wanted them to turn more sharply. With the amount of space required to run them and to make them turn, it's difficult to race a pair around a course without a lot of practice to really build up driver skill. On the other hand, the bikes look amazing, and the leaning riders with turning heads will neverget old. Plus, Nikko has again come through with good value by including a battery & charger.

I say, get one of these bikes, find a really big parking lot and go have yourself a ball. If you get tired of it, clean it up, take off the skids, and put it on its display stand to enjoy & be proud of it for months after that.

A-

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