HobbyKing HyperBipe Build & Review

The HyperBipe by HobbyKing’s ‘Durafly’ brand is a lightweight foam electric biplane sold in plug-n-fly (PNF) and almost-ready-to-fly (ARF) kit formats. Featuring a vivid colour scheme and blade-like fuselage, the HyperBipe looks great and promises to be a very capable sport and pattern flying machine. The fuselage and wings are constructed using EPO foam which has a very smooth polished feel to it, similar to the popular HobbyKing EFX Racer released by Durafly last year.

HobbyKing HyperBipe.

I picked up the PNF sample being reviewed here from the HobbyKing UK Warehouse for £77.86 not including domestic shipping fees. Read on to find out everything you need to know about this biplane and see if it lives up to the hype!

Specifications

With the plug-n-fly format HyperBipe the motor, ESC, servos and propeller are all included with the purchase of the aircraft. To complete the setup, an 800 to 1300mAh 3S battery and 4 channel radio receiver are required.

Interestingly the included motor appears identical to a SunnySky X2212 motor, however it has no markings or labelling on it to identify it as such. The X2212 is certainly a suitable drop-in replacement motor, should one be needed.

The HyperBipe has a wingspan of 900 mm, a length of 900 mm and a flying weight of 600-650 grams (depending on battery weight). The completed plane as reviewed had the following specifications:

  • 1x Unbranded brushless 2212 size 1400 KV motor (included with PNF version)
  • 1x Unbranded 9x5 propeller (included with PNF version)
  • 1x Unbranded 30A brushless ESC (included with PNF version)
  • 4x Unbranded 9g servos (included with PNF version)
  • 1x Turnigy NanoTech 1300mAh 3S 45C LiPo Pack (via HobbyKing)
  • 1x Hitec Minima 6T 2.4GHz radio receiver (via local dealer)

Unboxing

The HyperBipe arrived quickly from the HobbyKing UK Warehouse and was packaged in a large brown cardboard box with some air-bag style packing material protecting the retail box inside. Durafly is one of HobbyKing’s new premium grade product ranges and the improved quality was immediately noticeable when unboxing the product. The retail packaging includes the vibrant colour scheme that is used on the airframe as well as the technical specifications for the HyperBipe. Inside the box the components were very well packaged inside a purpose moulded polystyrene retaining tray, with the larger pieces such as the wings secured in place with paper tape. The photos below show how the HyperBipe is packaged (click to enlarge):

HobbyKing HyperBipe retail box. HobbyKing HyperBipe retail box closeup. HobbyKing HyperBipe retail box interior.

I was impressed with the design that had gone in to the packaging for the HyperBipe and pleased to see upon unpacking the box that there were no damaged pieces. Included in the box in addition to the wings and fuselage were the undercarriage, wing struts, accessory pack and instruction manual. Unlike many HobbyKing aircraft, the package does not contain the glue required for assembly. This isn’t such a bad thing as the unbranded glue usually included is not very good.

HobbyKing HyperBipe unboxing. HobbyKing HyperBipe accessories.

Design & Assembly

The PNF HyperBipe comes with the power system and servos already pre-installed, so assembly is just a case of glueing the plane together and setting up the radio control equipment. Assembly took around an hour, much of which was waiting for glue to dry. The instruction manual is well written and illustrated, which makes assembly straightforward.

HobbyKing HyperBipe instruction manual.

There are two access hatches on the underside of the fuselage, one at the front retained by two small magnets and one in the centre which uses a spring loaded latch. The forward compartment houses the battery and ESC, while the central area is for the elevator/rudder servos and radio receiver. The aileron servo leads enter the central compartment via recessed channels in the wing. One aspect of the HyperBipe which is an interesting design choice is that the airframe is assembled only using glue, which means the wings are permanently attached to the fuselage. This may make storage and/or transportation of the HyperBipe problematic for pilots with limited space available.

HobbyKing HyperBipe access hatch.

The assembly process starts by glueing the lower wing to the fuselage. I chose to use ZAP Z-Poxy 5-minute epoxy glue for the wing assembly for maximum strength, as the wings are only connected to the fuselage by smooth foam surfaces. The two wing struts (which have carbon rod reinforcement) are then glued in to the recesses in the lower wing. The top wing is then glued to a mounting stand-off on the fuselage. All of these assembly steps should be undertaken quickly so that the wings can be precisely aligned before the glue sets. The instruction manual includes an illustration of how to check the alignment angles are correct.

HobbyKing HyperBipe wing assembly.

Next the horizontal stabiliser is glued in to the fuselage body, and the rudder control surface is glued in to the tail fin section of the fuselage. A noteworthy design point here is that all of the control surfaces are separate hinged sections rather than a single piece of foam. This provides a more uniform and faster control surface response and the problem of foam splitting along the hinge point is avoided.

The front undercarriage is a single piece metal rod design which is retained in the fuselage using a push fit system and plastic plug. At the rear of the plane a small tail wheel is screwed in to the rudder to provide steering on the ground.

HobbyKing HyperBipe electronics bay.

The propeller is retained on the threaded motor shaft with a nut and a plastic plate which the foam nose cone is screwed on to.

Aileron control surfaces on the wings are then connected together with linkage rods. Self-tapping screws are provided to secure the linkage rod in the plastic clevice, which needs to be assembled with care to avoid stripping the thread inside.

Finally the receiver is installed in to the central component bay with either self adhesive pads or Velcro (not included in the package). When connecting the servos to the radio control system I was disappointed to discover that one of the pre-installed aileron servos was faulty. This meant I was unable to fly the HyperBipe until buying and fitting a replacement. As the included servos are unbranded, I chose to replace both aileron servos at the same time, with two Turnigy TGY-50090M metal gear 9g analog servos.

HobbyKing HyperBipe interior.

When setting up the HyperBipe it is important to pay attention to the recommended control surface movements as described in the manual. All of the surfaces have very wide movement ranges and will need to be rate limited otherwise the aircraft will be uncontrollable. Configuring a generous amount of exponential on all surfaces before the maiden flight is also strongly recommended.

HobbyKing HyperBipe assembled.

Flight Performance

After getting the HyperBipe trimmed out and spending some time flying the biplane, I was left thoroughly impressed. The HyperBipe flies like it is on rails, with really good tracking and a very wide speed range, as would be expected from a sports biplane. Once set up properly the HyperBipe is very precise to fly, being well suited to F3A pattern flying and is also capable of 3D manoeuvres such as prop hanging and knife-edge flying. Under arm hand launching is very easy as are spot landings.

The included stock motor has plenty of punch when coupled with the Nano-Tech 45C battery, and is capable of sustained vertical flight. When using a 1300mAh battery flight times of around four to six minutes can be expected. There is enough space in the battery bay to include a small LiPo battery monitor/alarm if desired.

Despite the all glued construction, the airframe has good rigidity and handles high G-force manoeuvres with ease. When set up with a low/high rate switch, extremely fast rolls and tight acrobatics are possible. The battery bay did fly off during a fast roll, so making use of some tape or an elastic band is advisable. Moderate wind speeds also don’t pose a problem for the HyperBipe, with good resistance to crosswinds and gusting.

One downside of the HyperBipe commonly reported on web forums is that the undercarriage is not strong enough and this is certainly true. After a few bumpy landings the foam surrounding the plastic retainer becomes deformed, making the undercarriage loose when fitted. Flying without the undercarriage is possible on grass sites however if you want to keep the undercarriage operational, reinforcement with plywood or a 3D printed shim available on Thingiverse (see below) is recommended.

Conclusion

Whilst let down somewhat by a weak undercarriage design and cheap servos, the HyperBipe is a brilliant biplane with a wide flight envelope and good quality foam construction. I would definitely recommend the HyperBipe as a plane for the intermediate to advanced pilot and will certainly be holding on to mine for the foreseeable future.

Buying the ARF kit HyperBipe and fitting better quality servos and ESC would be a good option to avoid issues with the PNF component quality. One of my favourite aspects of this aircraft is that not only is it capable of fast acrobatics, but also slow circuit flying which makes for a versatile aircraft.

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