What? Quad Racing Gates
Why? My other gates are on the verge of retirement
When? Available now.
If you've seen any of my videos for the past 6 months you'll probably know I have a whole host of Gemfan gates and flags. I got given them for free when inquiring as to how to get them after seeing them on their Facebook page to practice with friends which was super nice of them. Fast forward to now and they are pretty beaten up, the material is a little weak and the string guides that attach to the gates have mostly ripped off on all of the gates, leaving me to come up with my own solutions such as making a hole through the material.
Anyway, this isn't ideal - with the summer approaching I wanted some new gates I can rely on, are slightly quicker to put together (they can be a pain to get the rods in properly as there's no rubber bits on the ends so the metal tends to slice through the material when feeding it through. I could never justify paying Hoverspeed the amount they charge for gates, for something I'm possibly going to be flying into a lot if they cost that much I'd expect them to last a long time. With experience of using friends and event-provided gates (during setting up and packing away) I've noticed the quality really isn't up to par on these either, especially for the price.
Fast forward to a few days back and Brett let us know that Align were coming out with gates and they were going to rival all current prices and quality on the market, I was super interested. As soon as Align-Trex.co.uk got them in stock I ordered them right away before they sold out, they seemed almost too good to be true considering gates at twice the price had poor quality. I've spoken to the owner and used Align-Trex.co.uk in the past (and currently use them as they now stock mini quad parts!), the support has been second to none so it was an obvious choice of vendor - not that Align product quality is ever questioned to be honest. I come from a Heli background and so I am very familiar with Align, having had 4 Heli's made by Align, and still currently own 2.
What's in the box?
First off, they arrived just in this bag - it seemed a little too small to carry the gates, but nope - it has 2 full gates in there! I was a little concerned of the bag size and how easy it would be to get them back in once the "neat" packaging had been un-packaged - but I can say after putting them up and taking them back down, they DO fit back in! Many times I've had all sorts of items where as soon as you take them out the packaging they seem to expand 2x in size, and are impossible to get back into the bag.
Inside we can see a plethora of tent poles, 2 sets of material for the gates, a load of high quality galvanized iron stakes, and some string. I'm not entirely sure what the string is for, but we'll just go with it. There's no mention if it in the instructions, and I can't see where you would use it either!
Here we can see we've got a couple of sets of smaller poles (used for horizontal supports), and the main tent poles also. The stakes are of a good size, weight and thickness - I think you'd struggle to bend this when putting them into the ground. The hooks mean they will be easy to remove as well! Again, absolutely no idea what the string is for, but free is free right??
You can also see on the ends of the poles there are black rubber domes - these will stop the poles from cutting the material from taking them on and off. A great idea that the Gemfan ones could have done with.
One of the things I noticed straight away is that I don't need the instructions - just looking at the material there's a clever design feature they've added.
On one side of the material is a small little cut-out section where you need to insert the pole. Once fully inserted you can then put the end in the little pocket below, which will mean the gate material fits on perfect. Once in, the bottom of the gate features a cross-section of material that holes the 2 corners together meaning the gate is already very well formed.
We're left with 4 small ish poles that are used to make the gates "3D" - you'll see what I mean further down. These poles again fit in nicely with little pockets for them to sit in.
In the ground
Fixing them into the ground is easy, there are 3 stakes per side - 2 for the outside 3d sections of the gate, and one for the metal ring located by the pole pocket.
How do they compare?
The first thing to note is the cost - they are half the price of Hoverspeed gates, coming in at £50 for a 2 gate package, vs £49.50 per gate. This is a bit of a no brainer even if they are "half" of the quality of hoverspeed.
And the quality? Considering the cost, Align have opted for 130gsm warp knitting cloth as opposed to Hoverspeeds 120gsm polyester, which should mean better durability against prop strikes and quad attacks. Hoverspeed gates are actually pretty good in terms of quality (until you use them for events and they don't last long enough), much higher than that of my Gemfans - so either would have been an improvement in this respect.
There's also the other extra features that neither my current or competitor gates offer - tent poles that are not going to rip gates at a moments notice, but also proper metal rings on strengthened trim that should help against ripping when a quad hits them.
There's also the bag - I cannot believe 2 fit in here so easily, and the bag is of great quality that will outlast probably any gate you put in it - so having the back is entirely useful on it's own even if the gates were rubbish.
Internally, the gates are 145cm high, and 200cm wide - comparing to the 120cm height and 210cm width of the Hoverspeed - so they are slightly taller but a little less wide. They should be great for practicing those tight tracks, especially if you try and aim under the main height of the gate.
I can't wait to test these out, I have some more coming but sadly I was slow to order them so I will have to wait for some more stock before the rest of my order is complete.
If you are trying to find them at your local store (Align is a very well stocked brand at hobby shops), the SKU is M425025XXW and they should start to appear on many sites very soon.
Note: It also seems Align do beach flags too, or will be.. - not on many sites so far but search for SKU HOZ00004T - they are also look to be 2 for £50 - 4m flags with the big metal stakes.
I'm also quite excited to see what else Align come out with - I'm not a fan of their RTF Quad (the MR25), but if they can enter into the Quad world like they have with the Helis, we have some very exciting times ahead... :)