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Authentic SuperSkids™ & SuperGrips™ Micro Heli Gear Review

Jeremy Z reviews a set of Authentic SuperSkids™ on his fixed-pitch Honeybee.

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Introduction


Test Helicopter:E-Sky Honeybee Mk. III FP
Stock Heli Weight (w/o batt.):7.6 oz. (215 g)
Superskids Heli Weight:8.7 oz. (247 g)
Weight Gain w/ Superskids1.1 oz. (31 g)
Stock Gear Weight:0.4 oz. (12 g)
Superskids Weight:2.1 oz. (61 g)
Tools Needed:#0 and #1 Phillips
Battery:PolyQuest 2S 800 mAh 20C
Motor:Stock 370 can
Manufacturer:Superskids
Available From:Superskids Order Page

Many modelers who decide we would like to learn how to fly RC helicopters gravitate towards the less expensive micro helis, for a myriad of reasons. For me, the reason was low cost of entry, inexpensive replacement parts, and a huge group of people here at RCGroups with experience in these helis for help.

However, along with the low cost of entry, we have to expect that not everything is engineered to the utmost. Many things on these micro helis were designed to do a certain job within a certain price point, and sometimes the focus on weight is stronger than on durability.

In my heli learning process, I've found that the weakest link in these micro helis is the landing gear. When the opportunity arose to review the Genuine Superskids, I was happy to try them out.

Kit Contents

The kits contain everything shown below, plus the installation instructions. One very nice touch was that a pair of really nice rubber bands were included that are the perfect size to work with the included new battery bay area.

The kit is available in two colors, white or black. The white kit includes white skid frames and fins. The black kit includes black skid frames and black fins with carbon fiber stickers. After talking with the designer of these skids, I found out that he had originally intended to use actual carbon fiber, but found the plastic to be much more durable.

In addition to the upgraded landing gear, the SuperSkids package includes:

  • A tail fin, which reinforces the fragile tail saver rod (see photo)
  • A tail saver bead, which keeps the tail saver rod from getting caught on things
  • Struts, to stiffen up the gear and tail boom
  • Brackets to hook rubber bands onto for the new battery mounting system
  • Nice, thick rubber bands, to hold the battery pack in place
  • An antenna tube, which slides in special holes in either side of the skid holders

    My History with micro heli landing skids

    I started flying with the E-Sky Honeybee FP, like dozens of us did. Also, like dozens of us, I broke the stock skids on one of the first rough landings. Furthermore, I repaired those skids a few times -- also like dozens of modelers. Those stock skids are made of small diameter carbon rod, which is lightweight, but also very brittle. It doesn't take much of a hit to break them.

    Take a look at my "Rough Landings" video below. The first & second landings in that video are more than hard enough to break the stock landing gear.

    There are three solutions:

  • Keep buying & repairing the skids with stock parts
  • Use the training gear and accept the huge weight & handling penalty
  • Use aftermarket skids

    I have tried it all three ways. The first option was nice if you are watching the old checkbook because you already spent a load of cash on the heli. ($3-8)

    The second option is nice if you are really just getting started-- tipping over and having blade strikes, landing tail-first, that sort of thing. ($7) The training gear gives kind of a false sense of security, because it adds so much weight down low that the heli behaves like a pendulum.

    The third option is nice after you are past the first two. I wanted something sturdier than the stock skids, but something that didn't effect the flight of the heli as much as the training gear.

    Installation

    The kit comes with a four page installation instruction sheet. By following the illustrations and text, most people will not have a problem installing this gear.

    Basically, the stock carbon landing gear sticks right into the frame and is held in place with small pieces of surgical tubing.

    The SuperSkids gear replaces the stock gear and battery mount, and adds a couple other nice items.

    The first thing I noticed about the SuperSkids kit was that that plastic is not cheap. It is very flexible, but not to the point of being rubbery. When I put things together, everything lined up as it should have. The molding was precise, with very little flashing left over from the molding process. The skids are polished, anodized (hardened) aluminum, and have nice little rubber plugs in the ends.

    With my stock E-Sky 2S 800 mAh pack, I had it mounted all the way forward. With my PolyQuest 800 mAh 20C pack, it needed to go a little further back. With a 1200 mAh pack or a NiMH pack, the battery holder brackets could easily be located further back, closer to the main shaft. (Note: On a Honeybee FP, you will probably want to stay with an 800 mAh pack; adding more battery weight means that you will be running at 7/8 throttle just to hover.)

    Also, the fact that the skids themselves are anodized aluminum is a nice touch. These will not get bent easily.

    Flying

    Weight concerns

    The reason I didn't upgrade to SuperSkids sooner was that I was concerned that the extra weight would make my "adequately-powered" Honeybee FP anemic. As it turns out, I needn't have worried. As I mentioned in the Specs. table at the top of this review, there is only a 1.1 oz. penalty compared to the stock landing gear.

    Does this 1.1 oz. rear its ugly head during flight? I noticed that my flight duration was reduced by about 90 seconds, compared to stock. The heli is also noticeably more stable, compared to stock. It has a bit of that pendulum effect that I mentioned with the training gear, but much less so. It isn't enough that the copter is harder to bank.

    Landing - The Hard Part

    Since the main idea of this gear (at least to me) is to prevent breakage of the landing gear on less than ideal landings, I thought I'd try a few rough landings. Half of the secret is that flexibility of the plastic used in the legs, and the other half is having anodized aluminum skids. They really work well. Once a pilot is able to land on purpose and without having to worry about coming in tail-first; this is the time to consider the upgrade.

    Action!

    Photos

    Videos

    Downloads

    Is This For a Beginner?

    I would say this is not for a stark beginner, who is still crashing and breaking things daily, but for an advanced beginner. One who needs more durable landing gear than stock, but who doesn't really need the ping pong balls on sticks any more. If you are the self-conscious type, and can't stand the training gear, this is a good route to go. You won't look like as much of a noob with landing gear as sharp as this.

    Others...

    I thought it would be fair to put this comment in from Gary, the owner of SuperSkids: "What's in a name? The product reviewed here is a set of authentic SuperSkids. Since SuperSkids has been on the market, folks tend to call any upgraded landing gear 'superskids', and this can get confusing. There is at least one manufacturer who has nearly copied the name, but not the quality. So, this review is on SuperSkids™, there are noticeable differences in the products, and you get what you pay for. Gary, from SuperSkids, had this to say about it. "If they're not SuperSkids™, they're not super skids."

    Any Room for Improvement?

    In my opinion, one set of SuperGrips, either black or white, should be included with the skids. Being small pieces of molded rubber, it cannot cost much to include one set with the skids, and it would be another nice touch. He could sell the colored ones separately.

    I mentioned this to Gary; here was his reply: "For what it's worth, we considered including some SuperGrips in the package, but decided against it for the customer's sake, not because of the minor cost. The reason is that, as our web site says, they are not for beginners. A person learning to fly will often land sideways at a pretty fast speed. The heli will ordinarily slide, but with SuperGrips could very easily tip over. A lot of our customers are beginners and they'll put on everything in the package. We want them flying, not repairing broken flybars and blades caused by part of our SuperSkids kit."

    A Second Opinion

    When I first received this assignment, I was concerned that I might not be able to give a balanced review, since I only have a fixed-pitch micro heli. At least half of the micro helis on the market are collective pitch. Since Gary sent me two sets of skids, one black set and one white set, I thought this would be a prime opportunity to help balance things out.

    I went over to the Micro Helis forum here, and sought out a suitable person to give a short second opinion. I asked for volunteers. I happened across 'beafraid8', and noticed that he was quite helpful to other micro heli pilots. Someone else also recommended him, so I sent the second set of SuperSkids and a couple sets of SuperGrips his way. The following are his thoughts on SuperSkids.

    Author – Roman Fyler (beafraid8)

    "Well, first and foremost, I must thank Gary of SuperSkids for sending me these SuperSkids for review! Nothing better than a freebie!

    These went on my Blade CP. This was my first helicopter, and I like it because it doesn’t let my left hand get too lazy. I’ve gone with a brushless main motor and a heading-hold gyro, but the power isn’t significantly greater than it was in stock form. I’m still using a single tail motor, too.

    After pulling them out of the box, I was very happy with the quality of these parts! They are well-packaged and all the small parts are in their own little bags for convenience (and to prevent me hunting around on the floor for dropped parts).

    Pulling them out of the bag, I can’t help but grab the “carbon-fiber” tail pieces first. These things are actually plastic, and are extremely flexible! It almost feels like rubber, it’s so flexible. All of the other plastic parts have the same feel to them. Flexibility is going to make these very durable. So far, so good!

    The instructions are very clear and straight-forward with plenty of pictures. I had them on my Blade CP in about 35 minutes, taking my time. I don’t want to ruin “review parts”! I was very cautious in my construction. I would imagine most pilots will have them installed in about 20 minutes.

    A few notes on the install.... First of all, the carbon-fiber rod that supports the front of the canopy is a VERY tight squeeze. The tabs that are on the front skids are really too low for the Blade CP canopy, so you have to carefully squeeze the front carbon fiber rod back in after the installation. Take it out before you begin and re-install it later.

    The second wasn’t really a problem, more of an observation and thanks to the SuperSkids engineers!

    The instructions call for one battery mount to be behind the front skid support, and one in front of it. The instructions mention this should only be a starting point, so kudos on that as well.

    In my case, I fly the Thunder Power 3s 730mAh packs. These packs pack a punch and are extremely light. I had to move both battery mounts forward of the front skid support to get the proper CG. Once I wrestled the front canopy rod into place, the canopy fit the same as before and required no modification.

    I simply love the rubber-band clips built-in to the new battery tray. Nice touch! I found myself wanting a piece of Velcro to hold the battery in place, but test flights later proved it unnecessary.

    Here are my initial weight measurements:

    Stock Skids SuperSkids
    Total Parts Weight:15g45g
    All-Up Weight:295g325g

    It has a MUCH more aggressive stance with the new skids. It’s much wider, too, which should make landings easier for beginners once they ditch the training gear. These skids even LOOK tough!

    Flight Report: After flying out a couple of battery packs, I’ve found that the added weight of the skids is definitely noticeable. Rolls and loops are much slower, and they give sort of a “pendulum-effect” to the heli. Flight times are slightly reduced as well.

    This can be good or bad, depending on your skill level and intent.

    For a beginner, this adds stability to the helicopter and helps it to remain upright somewhat. Since these are obviously designed for pilots who frequently break the weak, stock skids, these are ideally suited to the less-experienced pilot. I wish I had bought these when I was learning to fly with this helicopter!

    For intermediate to advanced pilots, these are just too heavy for much more than hovering, FFF, figure-8’s, and the like. Flips, rolls, and loops are pretty ugly, but can be accomplished. Inverted flight wasn’t bad, it was just a bit difficult to transition into inverted flight smoothly.

    Overall, this is a great product and well worth the investment for less experienced pilots that find they are replacing the stock skids frequently. It installs easy, looks great, and is much more durable than the stock CF rods. For advanced pilots, however, the weight penalty may be an issue."

    Here's beafraid8's video:

    Downloads

    Conclusion

    After putting the SuperSkids through their paces, I can honestly recommend them. I was concerned about how the added wieght would effect my already modestly-powered fixed-pitch chopper, but was happily surprised that it didn't make much of a difference. The flight time decreased slightly, but the stability also increased noticeably. A fair trade, I'd say. Consider this inexpensive upgrade when you are past the "Unintentional Landing" phase.

    Last edited by AMCross; Feb 24, 2007 at 10:48 AM..

    Discussion

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    Old Feb 27, 2007, 08:56 PM
    Happy bluesman
    hrbeta's Avatar
    Boca Raton, FL
    Joined Jul 2006
    468 Posts
    I LOVE my SuperSkids, they are pretty and tough. This is a wonderful aftermarket kit, very well designed, complete and at a very reasonable price. Thumbs up - my 2 cents
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    Old Feb 27, 2007, 09:08 PM
    Jason
    super_nova's Avatar
    United States, SC, Rock Hill
    Joined Jun 2004
    878 Posts
    I've got a set as well. I had them on for a bit on my blade cp but busted the horizontal wing that sits on the tail boom and connects to the wire struts. It broke on my first crash...I think the blades must have swung around and hit it as half of the wing just snapped off. The tail fin and horiz. wing seem very fragile to me. I also found that the superskids used along with the training gear were too heavy for the stock setup on nimh so I took them off. I have been flying with the stock landing gear but have stopped using the training gear so I'm thinking of putting the superskids back on. Any idea if they sell replacement parts? I'd like to get myself a new wing so I don't have to fly with a busted one!
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    Old Feb 27, 2007, 09:14 PM
    The RED filters through
    RedTalon's Avatar
    Rendon, TX
    Joined Feb 2007
    1,949 Posts
    WoooHoo! - My first post here and I get to help!
    (I broke my wing yesterday after having the skids for 2 weeks)

    Parts list for the Super Skids
    Linky-dinky
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    Old Feb 27, 2007, 09:22 PM
    Jason
    super_nova's Avatar
    United States, SC, Rock Hill
    Joined Jun 2004
    878 Posts
    Thanks Talon! Thats good to know. Tho I am not really in the mood to pay $4 + shipping just for that little wing =P I think I'll just fly it without the struts or cut off the other half of the wing that didn't break and just use the little section in the middle to hold the struts.
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    Old Feb 27, 2007, 10:49 PM
    key
    Registered User
    Joined Feb 2007
    253 Posts
    I bought a set but they're not here yet.. The skids on my HB King were very VERY fragile - I'm confident these can take some abuse!
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    Old Feb 27, 2007, 11:33 PM
    Mom says I'm special...
    beafraid8's Avatar
    Aurora, CO
    Joined Apr 2003
    2,562 Posts
    Yeah, I broke that half off of the horizontal stab after my first inverted-crash (dented lipo went south). I just cut the other side off and used the remains for the boom supports (this removed some tail weight, too). It definitely saves the boom from a boom strike, leaving the boom support bracket in place on the boom.

    Actually, I eventually took the boom supports off to shave a few grams, then put it back to the stock tail. The heli was much lighter and the battery could be shifted forward, which helped with aerobatics.

    Unfortunately it's now just a bit too heavy for me since I'm trying to spend the majority of my flight time upside-down.
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    Old Feb 27, 2007, 11:35 PM
    Mom says I'm special...
    beafraid8's Avatar
    Aurora, CO
    Joined Apr 2003
    2,562 Posts
    Oh, and thank YOU, Jeremy Z, for including my input!!
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    Old Feb 28, 2007, 03:41 PM
    Registered User
    GTX_SlotCar's Avatar
    Maine, USA
    Joined Nov 2005
    891 Posts
    Shipping on most parts is normal 1st class mail for $1.95.
    The wings ended up taking quite a beating, especially when Plasti-Blades became popular. It was designed before Plasti-Blades. On our last production run (which was a couple weeks ago), we changed the formula and beefed up the right, bottom, inner side of the wing/clip a little more. How far to go with it was a tough choice. We decided it was better to replace the wing than the boom. From what I understand, some guys are putting a skid grip on their tail booms right behind the wing, and that saves the boom and wing a little.
    Our titanium boom should be available in a couple weeks.

    Roman, if you'd be interested in testing a prototype SuperSkids 3D, I'd like to send it to you for your comments. This is not a review yet, just to determine whether we should go forward with the project. You can email me if you're willing to do it.

    I have to say that your flight is the first time I've seen SuperSkids do any aerobatics at all. It got a big grin out of me.

    Gary at SuperSkids
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    Last edited by GTX_SlotCar; Feb 28, 2007 at 03:47 PM.
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    Old Feb 28, 2007, 06:25 PM
    Jason
    super_nova's Avatar
    United States, SC, Rock Hill
    Joined Jun 2004
    878 Posts
    I was using wooden blades on my heli when I snapped the wing. I can see how it would break pretty easily if hit wrong...I didn't actually have the wing clip itself break, just half the wing snapped off.

    How would putting a skid grip right behind the wing help? Does that just keep the wing from sliding and provide more support to the boom?

    The titanium boom looks promising. Is it much lighter than the stock plastic boom?
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    Old Feb 28, 2007, 08:17 PM
    Registered User
    GTX_SlotCar's Avatar
    Maine, USA
    Joined Nov 2005
    891 Posts
    Yes, a blade strike even with wooden blades could break the wing. Some blade strikes are harder than others, of course. So, if you're throttling down as you crash, the rotor rpm is less and so is the strike force. If you're throttling up to avoid the ground, or if you're in idle up mode, the strike can be hard enough to break the tail boom. I'm not sure if the clip ever breaks from a blade strike. It's thicker on the right (starboard) side than on the left. Plastic blades which are sharper and harder can cause more damage, faster. They're stronger, and that's their appeal. We had to make a decision of how strong to make the wing. We did this on our last product run, with plastic blades in mind. The right thing to do is let the wing be sacrificed to save the boom in most situations. It's faster, easier and cheaper to replace than a tail boom, especially one that's glued into the frame and tail assembly. The new wing is a different material; softer and stiffer (all things are possible), the right is beefed up again, and inside corners are rounded.

    I have never tried putting a skid grip on the boom. I actually never even thought to try it until I was told it can help. So, I haven't seen it work, but I guess it cushions the blow of the blade. Probably rips the grip apart, though.
    Not everyone is flying CP helis, and there are a lot of blades. Where the blade strikes occur depends on your heli and your setup. I've attached a picture of the strike location on my HB2 FP. I fly several models of helis (mostly for product testing), and the strike isn't in the same place on all of them.

    Carbon fiber is the lightest material. Aluminum is a little lighter than titanium, but not as strong. Of course, the weight depends on the Al alloy. The problem with CF is that it splinters. Al bonded over CF worked well, but to get the wires inside needs 3mm ID. At this thickness, the CF eventually still splintered after repeated bends, and the boom was all but useless. We went with Ti (actually T2 alloy) because it was much harder to bend out of shape, and much easier to bend back to shape.
    The superbooms will be in 267mm and 305mm (10 1/2 and 12 inches). The 305 is about 2.5 grams heavier than the stock CF boom. I think less than 1 gram difference in weight distribution. But then, any mod you make to a stock 300 size heli will involve some kind of a trade off.

    Gary
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    Old Feb 28, 2007, 08:29 PM
    Registered User
    Sky_Dancer's Avatar
    Eatonton Ga. United States
    Joined Sep 2004
    1,543 Posts
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by key
    I bought a set but they're not here yet.. The skids on my HB King were very VERY fragile - I'm confident these can take some abuse!
    They will definitely take some abuse but I found out they aren't indestructible. My front and rear frame mounts broke right at the holes where the rods to the battery tray go. That was after quite a bit of abuse.
    Don't mean to criticize, nothing is unbreakable and I'm satisfied with the overall performance, just pointing out the weak point I found on mine.
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    Old Mar 01, 2007, 01:59 PM
    Mom says I'm special...
    beafraid8's Avatar
    Aurora, CO
    Joined Apr 2003
    2,562 Posts
    Gary, e-mail sent sent to your "admin" e-mail address. The CP is flying pretty well, so I think I'll shelve it and work on my Jet Ranger fuselage for it in the meantime. I have plenty of other helis to fly!

    It will probably take me a month or so to get the body ready, the way work is going, but I'll have plenty of time to throw a new set of skids on it and run some packs through it. Let me know. I shed a few grams by going from the AR6000 to the AR6100, too, so I'm sitting at 300g with the stock skids now.
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    Old Mar 01, 2007, 04:41 PM
    Registered User
    Winchester VA
    Joined Nov 2006
    231 Posts
    The wait last year for the newest version was rough but I have been thrilled with my super-skids.
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    Old Mar 01, 2007, 06:58 PM
    Registered User
    spring,tx
    Joined Aug 2006
    444 Posts
    you can also split a small piece of fuel tubing around the boom where the blade could strike
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