Stevens Aeromodel G-Ride G300 Review

Albert Wahrhaftig has a blast exploring this exceptionally sophisticated laser-cut kit, which resulted in a great looking, superb flying, 3D park flyer!

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Introduction


Wingspan:36.5"
Wing Area:260 sq. in.
Weight:12.5-15.5 oz.
Tested Weight:14.9 oz.
Length:34.5"
Wing Loading:6.9-8.6 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:Hitec HS-50
Receiver:GWS R6NB
Battery:Thunder Power LiPo 2100mah
Stock Motor:GWS EPS 350-CS
Tested Motor:EFlite Park 400 Brushless
Prop:GWS1080
ESC:CC Phoenix 25
Available From:Stevens Aeromodel

In every respect, the Stevens G-300 is a class act. It is a beauty to look at, flies great, is built from components of highest quality, and is a joy to construct, especially if building is a significant part of this hobby for you as it is for me. Having lived with this design for a few weeks, there are things about it that still leave me in awe. I marvel at how light it is, at the clever engineering, at the sheer elegance of its structure. Read on. You’ll see what I am talking about.

Stevens says “…this plane is firmly rooted in thoroughbred aerobatics. [It offers] an elegant mix of precision and freestyle flying,” and so it does. Designed around a GWS EPS 350-CS power plant, the G-Ride will also accept a variety of brushless and outrunner motors. Mine is built around E-flite’s new Park 400 brushless motor.

Kit Contents

Inside the sturdy cardboard box, the contents were carefully packed. The many fragile balsa sheets were protected from warping and damage by being tightly taped to stiff sheets of cardboard. In the kit I received for review every last bit necessary to complete the plane was included. There was a 31 page amply illustrated construction manual and two large and extraordinarily clear plan sheets with additional notes about construction. I think the plans are a work of art, and if there is even one typo in the instructions, I didn’t find it. Like I said, class!

There are eleven sheets of laser cut balsa and a couple of sheets of ply. We’ll be looking at them more closely in a moment. Interestingly, in Stevens’s design there is no strip wood. Many of the components that are usually fabricated from strip wood (e.g. fuselage stringers, wing leading edge, etc.) are contained in the laser cut sheets. This allows them to have the various notches and tabs that interlock to provide a sturdy airframe.

Although my usual habit is to label parts if necessary, detach them, and sort them into boxes according to their intended use, I followed Stevens’ advice to leave them in their sheets until needed. Some of these parts were fragile and it was no surprise that a few (but a surprise that it was only very few) had split along the grain. A drop of CyA took care of that. (Or a call to Stevens would've had replacements to me promptly at no charge.) Since I’m a guy who started in this hobby when you cut your parts out of fuzzy printwood (with the parts so close together that no normal kid is going to be able to cut them out without major damage), to me, the ability to produce pop-out parts of this quality is an evolutionary advance right up there with television, computers, and Playboy magazine.

I was amazed at this wing center section with the box that mounts the landing gear. The whole thing was staying together at this point without glue. That’s how good the parts fit was throughout this entire kit. And, just to avoid a possible law suit, let me point out that you must glue the parts together after admiring their fit!

Now check out the beautifully designed parts junctions in the stabilizer and elevator. To me this is art, but it also increases the gluing surface on these small parts.

Building the G-Ride

You can download the complete G-Ride manual if you'd like to peruse it. There’s no need for me to provide a step-by-step, except for those who don’t feel like downloading. These photos and comments will show you an overview of what you are getting into.

Fuselage

Though most of us start with wings, the Stevens manual starts with the fuselage.

The fuselage sides were trusses, completely formed from laser cut parts. I had to handle everything with care. At this point the parts and the truss itself were very fragile. In order to figure which end of the truss diagonals was which, I refered constantly to the full sized plan and looked for tiny letters inscribed on the ends of the parts.

From here on, fuselage construction was a matter of joining the sides with formers and with keel-like top and bottom longerons that minimized the possibility of achieving the infamous banana shape. Before doing so, I needed to decide what motor to use and modify the firewall (former F2) accordingly.

Hitting Two Rough Spots

It seems that on every plane I build, there is at least one thing that gives me nightmares virtually from the first glance at the plans. In this case, how do I get not one but two thin, floppy, pull-pull cables through the little yellow tube in the fuselage? The tube was so deep in the fuselage that I wasn't going to get there going from front to back, and going back to front I'd have to pass it through the covering to reach a little tube which I could hardly see (and couldn’t see at all if I was using opaque covering). Well, children, it took me a lot of time. Once I somehow got the cable into the tube and through it just a little bit, I taped a long pair of forceps to a pair of pliers and used this long contraption to reach through the fuselage, grasp the end of the cable, and haul it forward. Good luck and let me know if you figure out something better.

There was only one change I would consider making to this design. The stringers over the nose and on top of the hatch were vulnerable to damage, especially when the plane was inverted over a stand like that shown in the photo. In E-Zone discussion threads, I have seen Stevens designs where these areas are covered with 1/32 balsa. This is smoother as well as stronger.

Wing Construction -- What a Plus!

The wing was built in one piece. The “shear webs” were one single laser cut part that interlocked with the ribs and with spars that were later placed on the top and bottom. This was not only one of the ways that Stevens builds in lightness, but also one that eliminated the tedium of cutting and fitting web after web. I love it!

Finishing

Everything else is explained more than adequately in Stevens’ manual and plans.

I covered the G-Ride with Coverite Microlite. This material is light at 0.6 ounces per square yard and very easy to handle, and is it beautiful! My colors are a rich transparent red and a translucent white. My wife, never an enthusiast for model aircraft, loved the result. To her the red seemed to glow like a ruby and the lustrous white provided a gentle setting. She declared this the most beautiful of my fleet.

Flying the G-Ride

Once again, I asked Red Jensen, proprietor of Red’s Hangar One Hobbies in Rohnert Park, Ca., to be my test pilot. Red is the only pilot who can fly a plane through the little hole in a Cheerio (well, almost). In short order we were at the little park where Red flies and the plane was up in the air almost instantly. Red goes for it all on first flights and hardly bothers with ordinary loops and rolls. We start off with rolling circles and low inverted passes, graduated to hovers and harriers, and from there to all the combinations of tumbling, spinning, straight up, straight down, knife edge, you-name-it maneuvers you can think of. And, oh yes, the G-Ride did fly right off the workbench.

This plane looks gorgeous in the air. It will do anything you can think of, and with its light wing loading is all but stall proof.

Red is a man of a few words. Here is his assessment: “It’s excellent. Very directionally stable, very groovy, no bad habits at all, lots of fun.”

Now it was my turn at the sticks. There are two reasons why I asked Red to do the initial test flight. One, obviously, is that he is a far better pilot. The other is that complex aerobatics and 3D is what flying is all about for him. I’m just stamped from a different mold. Hey, no offense, but for me 3D is like athletes on steroids: incredibly impressive but unnatural. What I want is a plane that looks and flies realistically, that will do any maneuver I decide to call for, and that don’t give me no trouble. So the G-Ride is it!

On take off, I needed to hold some up elevator to prevent nose over, otherwise she’s off the ground with no fuss. With the recommended low rate control settings, the G-Ride is well within the limits of anyone who has flown a low wing aileron equipped plane or two. At low settings, graceful loops and rolls are within reach. I had to work at it to get a stall, and on final approach the G-Ride slowed down and floated to a gentle landing. Important for me is that I love the look of it. This is a pretty plane made even prettier by sun glowing through the red panels on the underside of the wings.

Conclusion

As far as I am concerned, this is the cutting edge of park flying - a beautiful plane, sophisticated in design, with impeccable flight characteristics, and really pleasant to build. It is of the highest quality and is the most error free kit I have ever seen.

Video Gallery

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Oct 01, 2004, 10:41 AM
Registered User
Albert,

You must be all thumbs, like me, cracking all those pieces. I didn't break any, just knocked them loose from their positions before glueing. I built the G on a flat building board and this certainly prevented any damage from occuring. As you found out, you can't just grab this model anywhere, the best way to hold the fuselage is to hold onto it in front of the wing. The two fire walls and solid balsa sides make this area of the fuse the strongest section.

I came up with a different solution to string the pull pull cables in the fuselage. I inserted a piece of music wire through the guide tube and out the slot in the bottom of the fuse. A "smear" of CA secured the cable to the end of the wire, let the CA dry completely. Then I carefully withdrew the music wire pulling the cable through.

This kit was my first build, and I was thrilled to see the amount of thought and care that went into this design. My friend, an expert pilot, who flew my plane in some breeze said, "It flys light, but tracks like a forty sized plane". He ended up buying his own kit despite his aversion to building.

Cabbie.
Oct 11, 2004, 11:31 PM
Tyler Renkert
skyyking's Avatar

Review needs better pictures and video


Please do not mis-interpret, but the pictures and video of this ship do not do the plane justice. The build description and details are great. The author obviously put some time into this project.
A review should really make the reader want to go out and try to fly like the video or pictures the reviewer has provided. If I did not know the plane I would have no idea how much fun this plane really is.

There is always chance for redemption- try and freshen those photos and video.

SK
May 05, 2009, 07:10 PM
Registered User
I'm building this model but bypassed the pull-pull for the conventional system. One area that did give me concern is the canopy. I'm new to building and decided to try a canopy hatch. It seems to be coming together nicely. I may have to shrink the canopy to its base in a couple of areas but not much. Any ideas?


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