Friday, February 11, 2011

Red Highway Chile: Lego Technic 8051 Review

Due to the laws of scale, it was never possible to build really, really large Technic motorcycles that would classify them among the season flagships, or at least the upper-echelon models. However, their specific and somewhat unique design deserves constructor's respect, and should be a good source of ideas and a role model of efficient, compact design. That is, at least, what I was expecting while unpacking the Lego 8051 Technic motorcycle.

Instead of featuring a main model and a significantly less efficient "B", here we find two models that are almost equivalent ― though there is a tiny bit more focus on the racing bike that we will be dealing with here, than on the Easy Rider-style cruiser.

The first easily noticed parameter regards its looks: as opposed to many other strictly functionality-driven Technic sets, this motorcycle puts a lot of effort in its form and decoration: body panels, exhaust pipes and branches, radiator grille, plenty of stickers, dashboard... but yes, despite none of these having mechanical functions, they all make it look great and without them the bare bike would look just like some poor skeleton. (Though, in that case it would be a little bit easier to see the engine in operation).

However, it is nicely packed with features for a model of that size and a very limited dimensional constraints: fore and rear suspension, three-cylinder inline engine with transmission and a chain drive to the rear wheel, openable fuel tank, steerable nose and a retractable kickstand.

Such a density of features, combined with high strength of the supporting frame and the need to look realistic means the structure is quite complex, which reflects to the building. Despite the building instructions being quite clear themselves, the model is not the easiest to build, with many parts being loose or delicately balanced throughout the process. It takes about an hour and a half to build for an experienced Legoist.

One can find a nice demonstration of the flexible axle connector usage, along with the clever positioning of the engine and many other components at an angle, which is generally quite difficult with Lego. The clever bodywork structure itself is a great idea, and if you are into building motorbikes, you will definitely get some great hints from the 8051. Among moving parts, there is no particularly new system involved.

For a medium-sized set, quite a nice amount of useful parts: two large wheels, two large and one heavy-duty small spring, several dozens of chain links, a large 40-tooth gear and a couple of smaller ones, three engine cylinders with its pistons and stuff, and some custom bodywork panels. There is also an amount of beams, though insufficient for large experiments. And ― tons of 3-stud-width axles!

None officially supported, though I suppose it should be relatively easy to modify the bodywork and the overall design, and perhaps modify it to look like some specific motorcycle. However, since the model is tightly packed with parts, there isn't too much freedom to change in its interior.

No specifically designed manual controls on this one; roll it on the floor, look at the engine running, steer and occasionally stop (and extend the kickstand).

It is not the easiest to build and requires some patience with parts loose during the construction. Also, it would be quite difficult to build almost anything else substantial out of this set, than an another motorcycle. It would be nice to see the engine operation more clearly, but since it's so constrained by design, construction and form, it would probably make it look somehow awkward.

A fine piece of mid-sized Technic, though perhaps a little bit more designer-oriented than usual models, with plenty of purely decorative parts. However it looks undeniably great, and without those parts, it would not resemble a motorcycle in the first place. Some cool technical parts to add to the collection, especially for the road-going projects, and some clever construction tricks to learn, though applicable primarly on ― other bikes. It is nicely operable and fun to play, but doesn't have a power feature that makes your neighbour's children start packing stuff for Legoland.

1 comment:

  1. Great Blog! this was my first Lego after a 20 year dark age.