Horizon Hobby E-flite Shoestring, the 50" EF-1 Pylon Racer - Review - RC Groups
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Horizon Hobby E-flite Shoestring, the 50" EF-1 Pylon Racer - Review

Horizon Hobby has a new EF-1 Pylon Racer -- The E-Flite Shoestring! This all new Go-Fast & Turn-Left design is their best looking race plane yet. Don't tell the diehard racers, but this Shoestring is also a great flying sport plane.



Total Wing Area:375 sq. in.
RTF Weight:3 lb. 6 oz.
Wing Loading:20.9 oz/sq. ft.
Transmitter:JR 9503 DSMX
Servos:(2) JR Sport MN48 & (2) JR DS388
Receiver:Spektrum AR7010 DSMX
Motor:E-flite Power 25 1250kV
Battery:4-cell 2500
Prop:Racing 8x8E - Sport 10x5E
Racing Power:930 Watts
Racing Power Loading:275 Watts/lb
Available From:Horizon Dealers and Fine RC Hobby Shops
Retail Price:$199.99
Street Price:$149.99

In the late 1940s, Rod Kreimendahl began designing a racer to compete in the new Goodyear category at the National Air Races. Rod based much of his design on lessons he had learned from building model airplanes. Rod’s wife suggested the name “Shoestring” because it was being built on a shoestring budget. Rod’s partner, Carl Ast, and Carl’s brother Vincent, handled most of the fabrication and mechanical work on the Shoestring design. Racing pilot Bob Downey agreed to pilot the new racer and even loaned them an engine for that first race. The Shoestring began its racing career in the 1949 National Air Races Goodyear Trophy Race and was one of the fastest planes on the course that year.

Circa 1952
Circa 1952
Designer Rod Kreimendahl on the left
Designer Rod Kreimendahl on the left

The original Shoestring is still claimed to hold the title as the aircraft with the most wins in aviation history and is presently on display at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino California. Over time, the full-size Shoestring design has seen numerous revisions and improvements and this new Horizon Hobby E-flite Shoestring is based on one of those newer versions.

The E-flite Shoestring is Horizon's latest addition to their very successful Pylon Racing stable of thoroughbreds and has recently been approved to compete in the new Electric Formula 1 class of NMPRA racing. This highly competitive class of racing specifies the motors and planes that may be used in competition events. Here is a list of the approved components and a link to the RCGroups discussion thread on the topic of EF-1 Racing.

As an added bonus, EF-1 planes make great everyday sport planes. You can race your Shoestring one day and, with just a change of the prop, you can sport fly for the rest of the year.

I guess the time has come. Let’s open the box and get started on this sexy new racer.

Kit Contents

Kit came double boxed with all parts individually bagged.
Kit came double boxed with all parts individually bagged.

Kit Includes:

  • All Parts pre-covered in an attractive UltraCote color scheme
  • Hinge Slots precut and CA Hinges in place
  • Fully Sheeted Fuselage
  • 2-Piece Sheeted Wing with Aluminum Spar
  • Horizontal Stabilizer & Elevator
  • Vertical Stabilizer & Rudder
  • Fiberglass Motor Cowl & Wheel Pants
  • Streamline Canopy and Large Battery Hatch
  • Racing Pilot Figure
  • Landing Gear and Pushrod Fairings
  • 32-page Photo-illustrated Assembly Manual

What a pretty front end!
What a pretty front end!
Wings and Things
Wings and Things
Hardware & Stuff
Hardware & Stuff

Kit Requires:

  • Power 15, or Power 25 Electric Motors
  • Minimum 4 channel radio with 2 Mini servos & 2 MG Micro servos
  • 2-6" servo extensions
  • Thin & medium CA glue
  • 30-minute Epoxy glue
  • Thread locking compound
  • Assorted drills, knife blades, pliers, and hex wrenches

Recommended by E-flite and supplied by Horizon for this review:

  • E-flite Power 25 -1250 kV Brushless Outrunner Motor
  • E-Flite 60 Amp Brushless Speed Controller
  • E-flite 4-cell 2500 mah 30C Lipoly battery
  • Spektrum AR7010 DSMX Receiver
  • 2-JR Sport MN48 Mini Servos
  • 2-JR DS388 Micro Servos

E-flite Power 25 Outrunner Motor
E-flite Power 25 Outrunner Motor
Type Brushless Outrunner
Continuous Current 50A
Max Surge Current 58A
Max Power(watts) 850W
RPM/V 1250 kV
Weight 183g
Number of cells Li-Po 3s-4s
Shaft diameter 5mm
Motor Connector 3.5mm
Price $69.99

Eflite 60-Amp Pro Brushless Controller
Eflite 60-Amp Pro Brushless Controller
Type Brushless Speed Controller
Max Cont. Current 60A
Max Surge Current 75A
Number of cells Li-Po 3-6, NiCD/NiMH 9-18
Battery Cut Off Preset or 70%
BEC 2.5 Amp Switch Mode
Weight 66 gm
Dimensions (L x W x D) 76 x 33 x 13mm
Power Connector EC3 Type
Bullet Connector 3.5mm
Price: $84.99

E-Flite High-Power Battery
E-Flite High-Power Battery
Batteries Type Lithium Polymer
Number of cells 4
Capacity 2500 mah
Voltage 14.8
Weight255 gm
Dimensions (L x W x D) 132 x 43.2 x 19.1mm
Maximum Continuous Discharge 30C
Maximum Continuous Current 75 amps
Main Power Leads 12 AWG
Power Connector EC3 Type
Price: $64.99

Spektrum AR7010 Receiver
Spektrum AR7010 Receiver
Frequency Band 2.4 GHz
Type DSMX Frequency-Agile
Number of Channels Seven
Receiver Type Dual RX
Antenna Two Antennas per RX
Range Class Full Range
Main RX Size 1.85" x 1.0" x .62"
Remote RX Size 0.98" x 0.89" x 0.27"
Weight 0.49 oz (14g)
Voltage Range 3.5V - 9.6V
Price $89.99

JR Sport MN48 Servo
JR Sport MN48 Servo
Type Analog
Size Factor Mini
Bearing Single Ball Bearing
Operating Speed 60° .18 sec @ 4.8V
Torque 48 oz-in @ 4.8V
Weight 22.7g/0.8oz
Dimensions 1.3" x 0.58"x 1.02"
Gear Type All Nylon
Price $23.99

JR DS388 Servo
JR DS388 Servo
Type Digital
Size Factor Micro
Bearing Dual Ball Bearing
Operating Speed 60° 0.16 sec @ 4.8V
Torque 60 oz-in @ 4.8V
Weight 20g/0.7oz
Dimensions 1.14" x 0.43"x 1.18"
Gear Type Metal
Price $69.99


Photo-illustrated Manual
Photo-illustrated Manual

The 32-page Assembly Manual includes numerous pictures and helpful building tips. Seasoned ARF builders should have no problems with this plane. Carefully inspect all the various parts and tighten the UltraCote covering on the wings and fuselage as needed before construction begins.

Landing Gear

The landing gear assembly is the first task listed in the manual. When I checked the wheel pants, I found that they had excess fiberglass and resin on the inside that could drag on the top of the wheels. A few minutes work with a Dremel sanding disc cleaned up the problem. I found that the Dremel also worked well opening up the slots for the landing gear in the gear fairings. I used Scotch Multitask tape to fasten the fairings to the fuselage. The Multitask tape is crystal clear and remains flexible over a long period of time. After I attached the fairings, I trimmed off the excess fairing material flush with the front of the fuselage former.

Excess fiberglass cleaned up
Excess fiberglass cleaned up
Cutting LG Slots
Cutting LG Slots
Excess plastic cut off flush with the former
Excess plastic cut off flush with the former


Wing assembly was next. The CA hinges were pre-fitted in slots in the wings and the ailerons but each hinge slot needed to have a 1/16" wicking hole drilled in the center and the UltraCote covering removed next to the slot to improve the wicking of the CA.

The aileron servos were fastened to pre-installed mounting tabs on the wing servo covers. The recommended DS338 servos were a perfect fit. I decided to use the included servo mounting tape in addition to the servo screws to secure the servos to the covers.

I needed to push the servo wiring back into the wing to clear the servo cover mounting screws. The screws are long enough to puncture the servo lead if the wire is left in the way.

I found that the hardware package contained both right-hand and left-hand control horns. The manual shows to use one of each type on the ailerons. The "foot" of the control horns should be installed toward the root of the wing.


Before I started on the fuselage, I opened the fuselage cooling air exit hole. The hole can be seen from the inside by holding the fuselage up to the light. Once I had located the hole on the bottom of the fuselage, I used a soldering iron to cut away and seal the UltraCote covering.

When I tried to fit the wings to the fuselage, I had trouble installing the clip on the left wing panel.

I contacted Horizon and together we decided that my particular kit had a combination of a thick left fuselage side and a short left wing mounting pin. This problem had not previously been reported to Horizon and was not present in the kits they had on the shelf. The solution was to slightly groove the left fuselage wing clip plate enough to allow the clip to slide into place.

Once the wings were installed, I was able to mount the elevator and rudder to the fuselage. The pre-drilled mounting holes for the elevator horn did not line up with the elevator pushrod. The elevator control horn should be installed at a angle so that the pushrod lines up with the horn. I was able to use the front mounting hole, but had to drill a new back mounting hole. Once the horn was installed at the proper angle, the elevator worked smoothly throughout its full deflection.

As a matter of personal preference, I added some square stock to the back of the firewall to reinforce and strengthen the motor mount area.

When I tried to mount the cowl, I found it was a pretty tight fit. I found some excess resin and raised fiberglass strands around the base of the inside of the cowl that seemed to be causing the problem. After I trimmed the cowl smooth on the inside with my Dremel sanding disc, the cowl slid into place much easier.

Once I removed the canopy/battery hatch from under the installed cowl, I could not reinstall the canopy. It seemed the front edges of the canopy were binding and keeping the assembly from sliding forward. I used my Dremel sanding disk to remove some material from the sharp front edge of the canopy until I was able to get the canopy to slide under the cowl and then slide down and back into place. This is still a very tight fit even when trimmed, but there is ZERO chance that this canopy is going to come off in flight!

Radio Installation

The manual showed to install the elevator and rudder servos almost touching on the centerline of the fuselage. I found that the elevator and rudder pushrods operated with less binding if the servos were mounted closer to the fuselage sides. I also found that because the pushrod tubes are slightly offset vertically, it was best to install the elevator pushrod "Z-bend" facing down and the rudder pushrod "Z-bend" facing up.

Servos toward the sides
Servos toward the sides
Note "Z-Bend" orientation

The narrow fuselage of the Shoestring makes for a tight radio installation. The assembly manual shows a very workable location for the remote receiver of the AR7010. However, I decided to mount the remote receiver vertically on the fuselage former behind the servos. This was just a matter of personal preference because I wanted to get the remote receiver antennas a little further away from the battery and the ESC. No matter how you decide to mount your receivers, remember that the factory recommended installation places the main receiver and the remote receiver antennas at 90 degrees to each other.

Main RX
Main RX
 Remote RX behind servos
Remote RX behind servos


The completed Shoestring racer weighed 3 pounds and 6 ounces -- the exact same weight as my Pogo! That weight is only 2 ounces over the legal minimum flying weight allowed for EF-1 class racers.

The recommended CG range is from 2-3/8" to 2-5/8" back from the leading edge of the wing. By sliding the battery all the way back against the wing tube, I was able to get the Shoestring to balance at the 2-5/8" mark. I found that the battery could be a little difficult to remove from this location, so I installed a piece of filament tape as a tab to help.

The manual lists the recommended control throws for low rates (racing) and for high rates (sport flying). The recommended aileron deflection includes about 1/8" of differential, that is each aileron travels 1/8" more upward than it does down. This differential is mechanically achieved by the placement of the control horns - they are set back slightly from the aileron hinge line. However, I needed to fine tune my throws slightly to get them to match the manual. The JR 9503 Transmitter programming allows several methods for setting up aileron differential. I plugged my aileron servos into separate channels and used the Dual Rate settings to fine tune my aileron travel. I also used the D/R programming to set the elevator travel differential. Since I prefer to fly with exponential, I then added 25% exponential to the low rates and 35% exponential to the high rates for all my controls.


The E-flite Shoestring takes streamlining to another level. The landing gear assemblies on other EF-1 models have exposed wheel hardware, wing bolts, and sharp intersections with the fuselage. The Shoestring has smooth mounting hardware and fairings for the landing gear/fuselage intersection.

Pogo Gear
Pogo Gear
Sundowner Gear
Sundowner Gear
Shoestring Gear
Shoestring Gear

On most EF-1 racers, the pushrods and hardware on also exposed. The E-flite hardware package includes fairings for the rudder and elevator pushrods. I covered the front section of the pushrod exits with tape so I could move the fairings farther back to cover more of the pushrods.



EF-1 racers are designed to fly fast and turn left. Keeping up with one of these racers could be challenging for some folks. Luckily E-flite has designed the Shoestring to be a little forgiving in its flight characteristics. It is very neutral in its roll and pitch stability so it will stay where you put it, even when its turned on its side. A little exponential programmed into your TX will tame down the responsiveness of the airframe and let you fly a nice smooth race course. Full bore performance is spectacular! Winning pylon races requires Practice, Practice, Practice. I suggest you start with an 8x6E prop for the first couple of racecourse practice flights to get used to the airframe. When you feel comfortable, swap to the 8x8E and Let-er-Rip!

When you are finished racing, swap out your racing prop for a 10x5E and your Shoestring will become a well mannered sport plane. A 10x5E prop allows the Shoestring to fly all of the sport and pattern style maneuvers like a Pro. Don't worry, you will still have plenty of power for those long vertical lines that look soooooo good.

Taking Off and Landing

Take Offs

The combination of conventional landing gear, a high pitch prop, and a powerful motor normally results in some major torque issues. Major torque issues usually result in some exciting takeoffs. The earlier E-flite design on the Pogo racer exhibited this trait. However, the newer E-flite design of the Shoestring reduces these effects to some extent. I found that a further reduction could be achieved by flattening the takeoff stance of the racer. I bent the tail wheel wire down and forward which raised the tail and flattened the stance of the plane.

This change helped, but it did not totally eliminate the torque effect on takeoffs. I found that I still needed to hold about 1/4 right rudder stick when I hammered the throttle from off to full bore. The plane still swings to the left, but it is now controllable. In sport plane trim, with the 10x5E prop, the Shoestring is much milder mannered on takeoffs and requires just a touch of right rudder to keep it straight on the runway.


The Shoestring is a slick pylon racer design and it doesn't want to slow down even when you pull the power off. Landings took a longer, lower approach than a sport plane. I found it best to pull the throttle back to idle on the downwind leg right in front of me and then go way out before turning base and then setting up a flat final to touchdown. In sport plane configuration with the 10x5E prop, the Shoestring slowed down sooner and settled easily into a nice steady 3-point landing stance. It still took a longer landing approach than a Twist 40, but it was very manageable.


The Shoestring loves to race. I found it quicker around the pylons than either the Pogo or the Sundowner. The Shoestring was very stable and it rolled into and out of the turns with very little loss of speed. It just seemed to me to be a much more refined racer than its siblings.

Is This For a Beginner?

No!! Pylon Racing planes are NOT suitable for first-time pilots. The E-flite Shoestring is a well mannered racer, but it is a racer none the less. Experienced flyers or intermediate flyers with taildragger experience should do fine with the Shoestring. However, if you have any doubts, I'd recommend you start out with the 8x6E prop and make a few practice flights up high and a few landings. Then, when you're feeling comfortable with your Shoestring, strap on the 8x8E and try flying a consistent pylon course up high. Finally, move your steady flight path down to about 20 feet off the deck.

Flight Photo Gallery

Flight Video Gallery



The E-flite Shoestring is a great EF-1 Pylon racer that will be showing up in numerous winner's circles this coming year. This scale model ARF builds quickly and is a real stunner on the flight line. The recommended E-flite components are all NMPRA approved for EF-1 racing and they will give your Shoestring smoking performance!

When you're finished racing, you can slip on a 10x5E prop and start showing off your best pattern moves to your Homies. A great looking racer that can fly like a pattern ship --- who could ask for anything more!


Thanks to my Wife for her help with the photos, to Jesse Webb for his steady hand on the videos, and to Angela H for her editing magic. Thanks also to Horizon Hobby for providing the Shoestring Racer for this review!


  • Very Fast EF-1 Pylon Racer
  • Sleek Good Looks
  • Great Color Combination - Easy to See
  • High Quality ARF - Easy Build
  • Well finished Fiberglass Parts
  • Numerous Streamlining Touches
  • Great Flying Sport/Aerobatic Plane


  • Excess Resin and Fibers Inside Some Fiberglass Parts
  • Canopy/Battery Hatch Fitting Problems
Last edited by Angela H; Feb 27, 2012 at 04:49 PM..
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Mar 20, 2012, 04:13 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
What a great flying EF1 racer. Best possible plane to start racing EF1 IMHO.
Last edited by kingsflyer; Oct 08, 2016 at 08:52 AM.
Mar 20, 2012, 06:37 PM
Never fly an A model anything!
jayb1rdz's Avatar
A balanced review and very well presented.

Well Done Mike and team.

Mar 20, 2012, 07:20 PM
Alien_Tech's Avatar
Great review! Here's a shot of the one at Chino.
Mar 20, 2012, 07:22 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Gotta love that shade of GREEN! What a great air museum.

Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Mar 20, 2012, 09:47 PM
I have no friends
Question, and something I think should be in every review....what are the flight times with both prop configurations?
Mar 20, 2012, 09:54 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Good question. An EF-1 race usually lasts for just over 1 minute at full throttle. Total flight time from takeoff to landing is about 2-1/2 minutes. I set my TX race timer for 4 minutes.

Sport flying uses less watts, so I usually set me timer for 6 minutes. Now I'm pretty conservative and I never fly my planes to ESC cutoff, so these numbers could be stretched a little, but I'd rather be safe than taking the "Walk of Shame".

Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Mar 21, 2012, 11:35 AM
Registered User
I have to choose between this model or the POGO.....Wich is a better flier ???
Mar 21, 2012, 03:14 PM
Registered User
gooniac33's Avatar
Nice litle plane!
Mar 21, 2012, 08:30 PM
Registered User
Originally Posted by FedericoA
I have to choose between this model or the POGO.....Wich is a better flier ???
I think the Pogo flies just as well as the Shoestring. Neither flies better than the other, once they are setup correctly.
I have had four Pogos and I just maidened my first Shoestring today!

They all fly very well.

I do however think that the Shoestring is a nicer kit than the Pogo. It requires less fiddling around to get things to fit well.

Oh yeah, and NICE REVIEW, Kingsflyer!!

Mar 21, 2012, 08:52 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Thanks Kent. I agree that it would be hard to pick which one was "better". They are pretty much spot even as far as racing flight characteristics. The only thing that might tip the scale would be in the area of sport flying. The Shoestring's flatter wing flys pattern manuevers a little better.

The real answer is to pick the one you like the best. You won't be dissappointed because they both fly great.

Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Mar 21, 2012, 09:28 PM
Never fly an A model anything!
jayb1rdz's Avatar
Oh, I did forget to metion here, although I did on the main thread......I did lose the canopy in flight. It departed after flying the full course on knife edge which would have created substantial lift on the canopy side. I also thought it would not be at risk of coming off.

Down it floated into a shoulder high field of Rye. Lucky I have salvaged the part from a buddy's wreck.
Mar 21, 2012, 09:34 PM
Registered User
Ahh yes, I completely agree with you on the sport flying part.
The Pogo has some positive dihedral along with the low wing, which makes it roll somewhat non-axially. And you can't fix that with the single central servo.

The Shoestring sport flies beautifully, and you can tweak the roll even better since it uses two servos!

Also, what I didn't mention is that if you want a looker, the Shoestring wins hands down, at least in my opinion! The lines of the Shoestring are very sexy!

I was going to take this one and strip it down to recover/repaint to make it different for racing. When I pulled the parts out of the box, I made it so far as to remove the stickers on the cowl. I just could not make myself recover and paint something so nice looking! So, it's like all the other Shoestrings out there, except it doesn't say 'Shoestring' on the cowl!

I'm getting ready to order another one to strip though....

This is one very well designed and built plane. It reminds me in many ways of the Kane/Small Miss Dara design that I'm lucky enough to have one of. I know they also designed this plane.

I am really smiling now that I can fly something like the Dara agressively and be able to get another if (when) I crash it!

FUN stuff!!
Mar 21, 2012, 09:40 PM
Registered User
Originally Posted by jayb1rdz
Oh, I did forget to metion here, although I did on the main thread......I did lose the canopy in flight. It departed after flying the full course on knife edge which would have created substantial lift on the canopy side. I also thought it would not be at risk of coming off.

Down it floated into a shoulder high field of Rye. Lucky I have salvaged the part from a buddy's wreck.
I wonder how that happened?
I truly believe that the canopy on my Shoestring at least, if properly seated and pushed back, would never have a chance to come off.

Is it possible that the canopy was not pushed back fully to the magnet?
Mar 21, 2012, 11:51 PM
Never fly an A model anything!
jayb1rdz's Avatar
Anything is possible. I have had over 50 flights on the shoestring and the canopy seems to have been getting easier to remove and replace each time. I had rounded the front corners and sanded the inside of the cowl for better fit prior to maiden.

Without finding the missing part, I won't know if their was a failure of the ply hooks, magnet or the dummy that put it on. I am pretty sure it was seated right but it wouldnt be the first time I made a mistake....... maybe the third !

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