Venom GPV-1 RTR – BONUS CONTENT
Interview with Venom’s Chris Nicastro, designer of the GPV-1 RTR motorcycle
See additional photos below
Chris Nicastro has been behind the scenes in the RC industry for a while, first designing car bodies for HPI and now working in research and development for Venom. An RC bike enthusiast for years, he gained some attention for a 1/12-scale RC bike he created a few years ago. Here’s what he says about the Venom GPV-1:
RC Car Action: How did you manage to convince Venom Group management to let you design a model for a class that has such little support from the rest of the industry?
Chris Nicastro: When I first came onboard Venom, Clint Bower, co-founder and president of the U.S. Division of Venom Group Intl., and I got on the topic of radio control motorcycles, and I showed him the 1/12-scale bike I had done on my own, and he loved it. Some time went by, and eventually Clint approached me and asked if I would design a bike.
RCCA: Was 1/8-scale always the target?
CN: We debate for a while on the size. We looked at 1/12-scale since I had already proved that concept; we looked at 1/8-scale particularly because of the huge underground popularity of Kyosho’s HOR series of bikes; and we looked at the existing 1/5-scale market, of course. We went with 1/8-scale for a few reasons: it had the least competition, you could drive them pretty much anywhere, and we felt the most potential for success. Once that was settled, the design process began.
RCCA: The pivot point of the swingarm is aft of the front sprocket, which is in-line with full-size bike design but goes against conventional wisdom for existing model bikes. Is it safe to say that realism was key in your design process?
CN: Although it could affect the chain tension at the far extreme of the suspension being compressed much further than you would ever see on the road, the main benefit is that the two systems—the suspension and the drive line—are kept separate, so we could achieve maximum efficiency from both. And I did want to have the motor as far forward as possible, balancing with the swingarm length, shock position, wheelbase and CG, and concentrating the mass of the bike as close together and as low between the centerline of the axles as possible. And we did want the realism; we wanted it to look like a static model sitting on the shelf.
RCCA: Did you have to make any compromises in the design to keep the accountants happy?
CN: There were compromises but only in bringing it to market as an RTR package. Whatever was missed in the RTR, I was sure to pick up in our optional parts offerings. In effect, everything I wanted to do with the bike has been covered. So you can get the “full boat” bike from concept to production. The whole focus of the project was to bring radio control bikes to the novice. Bikes have a reputation of being hard to drive, so we had to be able to hand this bike to someone who’s never seen one before and have him driving around the parking lot within minutes. We feel we’ve achieved that goal. We also made it so that the bike has a bike envelope of performance, where race guys can re-tune it and not make it feel like they are playing with a toy.