HobbyKing Ridge Ryder Build & Review

The HobbyKing Ridge Ryder Slope Wing is a compact delta wing design built for unpowered slope soaring. It is lightweight with an all EPO foam construction and small enough to keep in your car.�At the time of writing, I paid �44.47 for the Ridge Ryder not including postage costs. Slope soaring is a�type�of radio controlled flying where�planes�with no motor are flown using the power of the wind, ridge lift and thermals. They can be hand-launched or lofted using a powered tow plane. I’ve bought and assembled a Ridge Ryder to see how it flies.

HobbyKing Ridge Ryder.

Ridge lift is produced when wind meets an obstruction such as a cliff or mountain ridge which is steep enough to deflect the wind upwards. This provides the upward force necessary for slope soaring aircraft to gain altitude and stay airborne.

Specifications

As the Ridge Ryder is a slope soaring machine, there is no motor or ESC to include, so HobbyKing only offers the wing in a PNF version which includes the servos only. This means that a UBEC device and battery need to be added to provide power to your radio receiver and the included servos. If using a UBEC is not desired, LiFe or AA batteries are an alternative, but care must be taken not to exceed 6V output as the servos may burn out during use. Also be sure to check your radio receiver accepts high voltage input to avoid frying it when connecting directly to the battery.

The Ridge Ryder�has a wingspan of 913 mm, a length of 500 mm and a flying weight of 175 grams with no battery or radio receiver. Up to 84 grams of ballast weight can be added using the internal ballast tubes. HobbyKing recommend the use of either a 4.8-6.0V NiMh receiver battery or a 2S 800mAh LiPo battery with a UBEC regulator. The completed plane as reviewed had the following specifications:

  • 2x Unbranded 9g servos�(included with PNF version)
  • 1x HobbyKing X5 Pro 5V/5A UBEC (via HobbyKing)
  • 1x Zippy Compact 850 mAh 2S LiPo Pack (via HobbyKing)
  • 1x Hitec Minima 6E�2.4GHz radio receiver (via local dealer)

As this is a delta wing type plane, your radio will need to support computerised elevon mixing in order to fly the Ridge Ryder.

Unboxing

The Ridge Ryder arrived securely packaged in a large brown cardboard box with an informational sticker attached. Inside the box was the almost fully assembled wing, very well retained in position with three packing blocks. Also included was an instruction sheet, glue, spare servo horns and the ballast weights. There were no missing pieces or shipping damage to the model. It arrived the next day after ordering from the HobbyKing UK warehouse.

HobbyKing Ridge Ryder retail packaging. HobbyKing Ridge Ryder retail packaging (closeup). HobbyKing Ridge Ryder unboxing.

Design & Assembly

The Ridge Ryder is simple to assemble and prepare for flight. Included in the box is a single sheet of instructions on how to assemble the aircraft. These instructions were well written and easy to understand with no language translation issues. The decals are applied to the fuselage at the factory which helps to save time during assembly and are of good quality.

HobbyKing Ridge Ryder instructions.

On the underside of the wing there is a hard plastic landing skid pre-installed, which is glued to the foam fuselage. This is a nice feature which makes landing on hard surfaces less of a concern and should help to extend the lifespan of the plane.

HobbyKing Ridge Ryder plastic landing skid.

Two 9g micro servos are pre-installed at the factory, buried within the foam wing. This means that it is not easy�to identify the brand/model of the servos, and as HobbyKing does not advertise�on the product page that they are metal gear servos, they are likely to be unbranded plastic gear servos. During assembly the two servo rods simply need to be connected to the pre-installed elevon control horns. I also added some�3M Blenderm�tape to the control surface hinges to reinforce the foam.

HobbyKing Ridge Ryder preinstalled servos.

On the underside of the wing there are two small finger holes to assist with hand launching.�There is also a thin carbon fibre reinforcement spar visible across much of the wing to give the plane more rigidity during flight.

HobbyKing Ridge Ryder fuselage underside.

During assembly I applied fibreglass tape along the leading edge of the wing to protect the foam material during hard landings or crashes. I also taped over the servo leads slotted in to the underside of the wing as there was no tape applied at the factory. This will help protect the leads during a crash and stop them from working loose.

HobbyKing Ridge Ryder fuselage.

The only significant part of the assembly process is to glue the two winglet sections to the edges of the main wing. These pieces arrive joined together so must be separated and then trimmed to the correct shape. The kit includes a small tube of unbranded foam glue, but I decided �to use�Deluxe Materials��Foam-2-Foam� glue for maximum strength. The winglets slotted in to the main wing very precisely. It is really important to ensure that the winglets are correctly fitted, so that they are parallel to each other and square with the wing.

To further reinforce the winglets, I inserted wooden toothpicks to connect them to the main wing and applied fibreglass tape to the top and bottom of the wing joints.

HobbyKing Ridge Ryder winglets. HobbyKing Ridge Ryder winglet installation.

The quality of the EPO foam is very good, with a dense feel and smooth surface. It reminds me of the new moulding process used by HobbyKing for the Durafly EFX Racer.

The electronics bay is not particularly generous in size so�deciding how to install the components�required a little thought. HobbyKing describe it as “large” but it really isn’t. It would have been great if the recessed area�was a bit wider towards the back - perhaps in a ‘T’ shape. I added some HobbyKing�non-slip battery pad material to the electronics bay and installed the receiver, UBEC and battery using some Velcro to secure them. Using Velcro to ‘stack’ the flight components�is a good idea as the curved canopy provides a decent�amount of vertical space within�the bay.

HobbyKing Ridge Ryder electronics bay.

Pre-installed within the electronics bay are the two ballast tubes. These have ‘R’ clips (often seen on R/C cars) keeping the weights in the tube. There are eight metal weights and eight foam spacers provided, offering a maximum ballast weight of 84 grams when all of the�weights are used. I installed two weights in each tube during assembly. I found that the weights were a little awkward�to insert and the foam spacers were too soft to use because the ballast tube was barely large enough in diameter. This may have been a quality control issue as I have not seen other builders�commenting on this.

Two strong magnets at the rear of the equipment bay retain the foam canopy in conjunction with a foam latch at the front. The canopy feels securely held in place, so I didn’t think it would be necessary to add any tape or Velcro to it.

HobbyKing Ridge Ryder ballast tubes.

Overall the assembly process was quick and easy, thanks in part to the large amount of pre-assembly done at the factory. The largest�amount of time was spent waiting for the glue to harden on the winglets. Using the above components I found the centre of gravity to be virtually spot on at 180 mm from the nose. Due to the limited electronics bay and small wing area, the Ridge Ryder is not going to make an easy�FPV conversion, but it could be done. I have also seen motor powered conversions on YouTube.

HobbyKing Ridge Ryder assembled.

Flight Performance

As I had expected, the lightweight and rigid airframe provided a superb experience with crisp flight characteristics. Rolls, loops and inverted flight are all easily achieved. I was able to fly in near calm conditions without any difficulty. In high winds the wing�continued to handle well, but it was necessary to use all of the metal weights in the ballast tubes. Flight times are limited only by the weather conditions and endurance of your receiver battery.

Take care not to crash land nose-first as this area will split and deform easily as it is quite thin. After a few flights I added some fibreglass tape around the nose area to protect it from unexpected landings. When flying in strong wind take care with the finger grips as I found them to be quite shallow and easy for the wing to pull free. Using a foot operated bungee launch system should work well if your slope site does not produce�much updraft.

Conclusion

The Ridge Ryder is a really good quality slope wing which�looks and flies great. Assembly is a breeze, with much of the work done for you at the factory. The carbon reinforcement spar, landing skid and integrated ballast tubes are nice�features. It would have been good�to see a slightly larger electronics bay and some might feel the price is a little high for what is essentially some foam and two servos. I would certainly recommend the Ridge Ryder as a slope wing if you have a suitable flying site near you.

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