When it comes to fandom, the folks at Funko got it right when they said that “everyone is a fan of something.” While we often think of fandom as covering pop culture, sports fandom is big, and from there we can branch off into the high-octane world of motorsports and its many niche offshoots. Motorcycle enthusiasts are their own breed, often identifying with specific brands, builders, and types of bikes. One such brand with a fan base all its own is Ducati, the Italian maker of motorcycles and superbikes, such as the sought-after Panigale V4.
Released last year, the Panigale V4 has some upgraded models, including this year’s V4 R, and the Panigale 25° Anniversario 916 — a special edition that just hit the streets (and track) this week. Of course, there’s also the V4 S, and that model is also hitting the pavement this month, but in a miniaturized form thanks to Canadian toymaker Spin Master.
The Upriser RC Ducati Panigale V4 S Motorcycle is the world’s first self-balancing, radio-controlled motorcycle and stunt bike. Officially, it’s designed for ages 14 and up, but the Ducati heritage and the amount of tech that’s built-in will put this in a slightly different class altogether — not so much a “toy” as it is a pretty sweet, completely functional collectible for the growing “kidult” crowd.
Radio-controlled vehicles can be a ton of fun, but motorcycles have traditionally been a point of frustration over the years. The biggest issue: how to balance a two-wheeled vehicle as a full-function toy? Previously, this has been achieved by cheating things — essentially using plastic side guards or balance wires with the idea that the bike will lean to an extent, but not tip over. And tricks? Aside from a jump or spin here and there, affordable RC motorcycles were pretty limited. The Upriser RC changes that.
The 1:6 scale superbike contains “true balance” and “omni wheel” technology to perform like no other RC superbike before it. It’s self-balancing at the start, which means you have to stand it up and lightly hold the head of the rider until you feel it start to balance itself. It wiggles a bit as it calibrates the internal adjustments, and then it just stands there on two wheels — which is actually pretty remarkable in itself — ready to get rolling.
In a straight line, this miniature Ducati can hit speeds of up to 12 miles per hour (that’s 20 kilometers, for our metric friends). The Ducati has full steering control and the ability to pull off stunts, such as donuts/burnouts, drifts (while driving), and wheelies. What’s particularly impressive is that in wheelie mode, the bike uses both its self-balancing tech and omni wheels together, allowing it to stand in place on one wheel while moving in any direction. The secret sauce is seen by looking closer at the Ducati’s back wheel — the “treads” are actually smaller wheels that pull off the drifts and wheelie motion.
Having used the sample provided by Spin Master for about a week, thus far, we’ve been able to test it both indoors and outdoors. The manufacturer recommends it for outdoor use, and I heartily agree. To really have fun with the Upriser, you need a wide open space (we used a high school parking lot frequented by other RC enthusiasts) with plenty of room to let it rip with no risk of obstructions or traffic. That said, I was able to get it rolling on our neighborhood sidewalk, which isn’t as fun as going full-speed across hot asphalt. We certainly managed to turn a few heads and draw a couple of onlookers as well.
The attached rider is removable by design, and it’s not recommended to run the bike without it. As we’ve already discovered, this thing can take a beating, so the rider will go flying if you happen to clip a curb as we did. If that happens, simply stand the bike back up and hold it in place until it self-balances. Collectors might want to use the included display stand to put this on a shelf, but we recommend hitting the pavement and letting the Upriser RC get scuffed up with some real-life road rash!
The Upriser RC Ducati Panigale V4 S by Spin Master made its debut this week as an Amazon Prime Day launch item. At a suggested retail of $149.99, the price is a little more palatable than the $27,895 of the actual Panigale V4S, making the superbike fun accessible to a wide audience. Get yours here.
Photos: The Rock Father