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Nuova Faor SF501

Nuova Faor have previously been recognized as being a manufacturer of high quality after market parts, mostly aimed at the 1:8 Rally cross sector. The Italian engineering company produce chassis’, shock mounts, suspension and transmission parts of a high quality and mostly anodized for Mugen’s, Kyosho’s and Thunder Tiger’s.  Now Nuova Faor have used their engineering experience in a radical way with the production of their first ever kit, the SF501, a 1:5 scale RC electric motorcycle

The box is large, after all this is 1:5 scale and there’s a lot of lexan involved with the kit. The photograph’s are good and will prove invaluable later as the construction proceeds. Opening the box reveals the masses of lexan, which will eventually make up the fairing, tank/seat unit, front and rear mudguards, chain guard and battery tray. Having removed all the lexan the remaining parts bags that make up the kit are very few. Sparse, minimalist and insufficient are just a few adjectives we could use to describe the very poor instructions supplied with the SF501. These are made up of an overly photocopied manual which looks more like a parts list with some supposedly useful tips at the foot of each page in badly translated Italian.

The frame itself, made from 2mm aluminum plate, consists of three separate box sections. The central and main section support the lexan battery tray, the speed controller, steering servo, alloy motor mount and obviously motor and the main output shaft with, what looks like Delrin, spur gear and front drive gear. The front bulkhead supports the massive and beautifully machined alloy pivot block for the front fork yokes. The rear section provides the upper mounting point for the rear mono-shock, a useful and logical plate for the receiver and the rear body support.

With Nuova Faor’s engineering experience it is not surprising to find that the quality of all the machined plates and blocks is of their usual high quality, we expected to have to ‘dress’ the edges of the aluminium plate but this had already been done by the manufacturer. The plates are separated by plastic supports the largest of which is milled to accept the steering servo. The lexan battery tray is designed solely to accept stick packs, is mounted on three alloy beams, two of which complete the underside of the main box section. This tray is held centrally on these beams by large E-clips. We found it easier to mount the battery tray on the alloy beams and only securing the E-clips in position once the beams have been attached to the chassis plates, this makes the whole operation easier and allows for some self alignment of both the beams and the lexan tray. The battery is supposedly slung from the underside of the tray by using rubber bands, we were led to believe that this method potentially allowed the battery pack to move in its cradle and affect the steering so we used the much more secure and permanent cable tie method.

Forks and Arms
Both the front and rear suspension on the SF501 looks like it has been duplicated from a full-size machine. The front forks are what motorcyclists would recognise as being of the traditional configuration with the 8mm aluminum stanchions being mounted in thick block plastic yokes. Aluminum lower legs slide on the stanchions using plastic ‘fork seals’, though there is no liquid damping provided. Internally the forks have coil springs and both suspension travel and bottom-out are adjusted by means of internal bolts screwed into the bottom of the stanchions. With the forks running dry there is a lot of friction between lower leg and stanchion  The rear suspension, though being simple in design, is a little more advanced than the front. provides a pre-assembled, large volume, complete with oil, threaded body mono-shock which is fixed to the rear arm in front of the rear wheel and to a pivot point under the seat. Suspension travel and stiffness are simply adjusted by means of the threaded collets on the shock. Unlike the front forks the rear suspension is very smooth and friction free.

The Final Link
The SF501 comes with a complete set of rubber sealed, high quality bearings, these are used in the wheel hubs and the steering. The 6mm shaft is also ball raced as not only carries the 69 tooth spur gear but also acts as the rear single sided swinging arm pivot and the nine tooth rear ‘gearbox’ sprocket. Yes that’s right, as you clearly see in the photo’s, the final drive is by a very realistic 6mm pitch chain to a 26 tooth rear wheel sprocket, the chain even comes complete with a split link. Chain tension is adjusted by means of a bolt bearing on the rear wheel axle, through the swinging arm. As we said the swinging arm is a very realistic single sided version, machined from solid aluminum, with it too supported by two large rubber sealed bearings.

Front End Reverse
The steering assembly is one of the bikes simplest features and like most simple designs is very efficient. Unlike a full size motorcycle the SF501 steering head is in front of the forks rather than behind. This gives a similar effect as to having caster on a car. Also unlike all but the most advanced road or race bikes the front fork rake is adjustable by means of a grub screw through the rear of the steering pivot block. Nuova Faor says that with a steep angle of rake (23 to 25 degrees) the bike is more stable in a straight line and reacts more slowly through the turns, this sounds like the set-up to start with. While less rake (19 to 21 degrees) the bike becomes less stable on the straight and reacts faster through the turns, sounds like a bit of a handful until you become more experienced with a bike! Changes to rake on a motorcycle are the same as altering the wheelbase on a car.

The steering linkage couldn’t be simpler, yet uses technology adapted from a full size road or race machine. Whilst the steering is operated by a long, direct link from the servo to the top yoke, which incidentally we had to cut down as it was too long and would have fouled the chassis. The SF501 has a steering damper, used to absorb some of the lumps and bumps which otherwise may deflect the front wheel and obviously affect the steering. The steering damper is only a fairly simple rod and tube type mechanism but tension can be adjusted by adding or removing O-rings. Servo installation couldn’t be simpler it drops straight in from the top, though we had to remove a couple of screws from the mounting plate as the servo was such a good fit. Our receiver was situated out of harms way and as far away from the battery, ESC and any surface water as possible on the plate under the seat/tail unit. The motor and ESC were another matter altogether, with then being installed ‘inside’ the chassis positioning, locating and soldering were somewhat difficult. In the end we soldered the motor leads whilst both speedo and motor were outside the chassis and installed both at the same time with a bit of juggling and maneuvering.

Lexan, Lexan Everywhere
As we mentioned earlier there is a mass of lexan for this chassis, tank/seat unit, fairing, front and rear mudguards, chain guard, which we opted to omit from the review chassis and battery tray. There is also a rather disappointing rider figure, made from lexan. Nuova Faor supplies a decal sheet designed to cover most of the major motorcycle manufacturers.

Keeping it upright
So how does this two-wheeled machine stay upright? Earlier RC bikes had gyroscopes to help a keep them on their wheels, the SF501 has no such device, instead it uses a combination of heavy wheels and tires, a rather strange profile front tire and it has to be said a fair degree of skill. The tires are both heavy and thick, made of a soft type rubber, with rumored different compounds to follow. The rather triangular profile of the front tire is designed to “fall”, though we hope not too much, into turns and provide a greater contact patch when going around a corner. The rear tire has a much more conventional motorcycle profile. Front and rear wheels are machined from, what looks to be, solid billet aluminum which has then been anodized gold, the weight of these wheels is designed to assist with the stability of the machine.

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