When I was a kid, the Big Wheel endgame was to pedal down the driveway, then peel out in a Mario Kart-esque sliding turn. That typically meant more skinned chins and elbows than glory. Razor's Crazy Cart, though, lets me drift to my heart's content. You want fun? This thing's got fun.
What Is It?
It's an electric go-cart that's built for flat, smooth surfaces. It can zip you around at speeds of up to 12 miles per hour, and with practice, you can pull a lever to slide out the tail, making you drift like a miniaturized Ken Block. It's made for kids ages nine and up, or parents whose kids don't mind sharing.
Why Does It Matter?
You can drift. You can drift. With a standard wheel system it's all but impossible to drift on an under-powered system like this. You can't stomp the accelerator and spin your tires in place. This simple (patented) lever allows you to control how aggressive your slide is, which lets you teeter on that heart-pumping line between in and out of control.
Despite its somewhat diminutive size, Crazy Cart clocks in at 55 pounds. It's a bruiser, but for good reason; the solid steel frame makes the Crazy Cart strong enough to withstand many, many crashes with stationary objects without so much as a ding. You sit in a plastic seat with a belt that's too small for adults. There's an on/off switch on the side, and an additional safety button just under the hard metal steering wheel, so you don't accidentally take off like a rocket while you're trying to get situated. It also has a 24 volt (two 12V) sealed lead acid rechargeable battery system. You can't remove the battery, at least not easily, but you can just plug the cart directly into a wall outlet.
The steering wheel itself works differently from the wheel on your car, in that it's connected 1:1 with the wheel below it. When its arrow is pointed to the right, that's where you'll go. If it's pointed backwards, that's reverse. You've got a variable-speed foot pedal to precisely control how fast you're going. And the best part? There are no brakes, so you just have to take your foot off the gas in time and let the motor's resistance slow you down.
But wait! More about the drifting, since that's why we're all here. On the bottom of the kart you have one thick, rubber, inflatable drive-wheel, directly connected to the steering wheel. This is also where the motor is. Up on the front corners of the car are two small caster-wheels, but most of the time they don't even touch the ground; they're there to help keep you from eating it on sharp turns. In the back are two more coaster-wheels connected to the Drift Bar. This is where the magic happens.
When you're driving normally (with the Drift Bar down), the rear wheels are angled backwards about 45 degrees. This creates more pressure on their fronts, which makes them track normally, just like the rear wheels in most standard cars. When you pull up the Drift Bar, though, the wheels tilt so that they are perpendicular to the ground, which means that they can slide in any direction, just like your office chair. It's so incredibly simple, and it works so wonderfully well. Total stroke of genius.
Dang, is it fun. The weight limit very clearly says 140 pounds. With clothes on, I was pushing 180 when I was testing it. Not to worry! Razor told me, "It should be fine. You won't get it all the way up to the maximum speed of 12MPH, but it'll still be really fun." This was dead-on. Over the course of a few weeks I tested it with a bunch of different friends. The heavier testers definitely went a little slower than some of the more petite folks that tried it, but not enough to diminish the fun any. We typically tried it out in big, open parking lots after dark. It really needs a flat, smooth surface to do its thing.
If you're used to driving a car, it takes a little getting used to the Crazy Cart's 1:1 turning ratio and directional arrow. I wish the arrow were a little easier to see, actually, because it's incredibly important. When you've got the Drift Bar pulled up, the direction that arrow is pointing is the direction in which you will travel, regardless of how the cart's body is oriented. It takes a little while to wrap you mind around that.
It also definitely takes some practice to get control over the drift. At first you'll just spin out like crazy and stall. After a few sessions, though, we started to get the hang of going into a power slide, recovering, and carrying our momentum onward. I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly satisfying it is when you nail a good one. The fact that you're on a kid's toy doesn't diminish that satisfaction at all.
The only thing that did cramp our style a little bit is when we started experimenting in more crowded places. This thing goes fast and is really heavy (especially with you in it). You definitely don't want to drive it around anything that could be damaged (parked cars, statues, garage doors, people).
None of the smaller, lighter riders had trouble staying in it, but the taller, heavier ones, with a higher center of gravity (i.e. me) were definitely able to roll it a few times. To the Crazy Cart's credit, it survived unscathed from our rather harsh testing. We had a couple guys weighing over 200 pounds try it, and they still had a great time (though the taller you are, the more awkward it is to squeeze into), though they definitely didn't go quite as fast. It's worth noting that customer reviews have had a lot of complaints about parts breaking, but we didn't experience any of that in our testing. Also, we should have been wearing helmets, but we are dumb.
It is so. Unbelievably. FUN. It's pretty much a sure-fire means of eliciting uncontrollable giggling and prolonged periods of grinning like an idiot. The Drift Bar is just genius, the build quality surprisingly strong. I definitely crashed side-first into a metal pole (a couple of times) while attempting a stunt, and while it definitely wasn't comfortable, Crazy Cart didn't break. Just a little scratch of the paint and I was scooting off for another attempt.
The ride is responsive, relatively stable, and definitely provides enough speed to make it exciting. Finding a curved cement alcove and successfully tracing my way around it while drifting was probably my proudest moment. Seeing your friends wipe out: Also very satisfying.
The absolute biggest problem here is the battery. Razor says you'll get up to 40 minutes of drive time with it, and your 90 pound 12 year old just might. We typically tapped out at about 20 minutes. They were a very fun twenty minutes, but considering we had to toss the cart into a (large) trunk, relocate to a parking lot, and unpack it, 20 minutes just doesn't feel like enough. What's worse is to get the battery back to full, you have to charge it for twelve hours! So, basically, you can have 20 minutes of fun with this once a day (maybe twice if you go first thing in the morning and then again at night). If only it had a swappable battery!
The Crazy Cart also really struggles on even very slight inclines. Going uphill is so slow that you might as well get out and push it, so you save the battery for the good stuff. Gravel and cracked cement are really hard on it as well, as those rear caster-wheels are so small that they catch very easily. A lot of these issues have to do with the fact that we were adult-sized humans, but even the intended child-sized audience will probably need to stick to a level drifting field.
Should You Buy It?
I mean, money being no object? Yes! It's so, so, stupidly fun. That said, this thing costs $400. That means you need to have enough disposable income to feel okay about spending that on a toy, and even then, a toy that you can't use for more than 40 minutes at a time under ideal circumstances.
Of course, if you have the patience of a saint, you could wait and see if they every release the Crazy Cart XL, a larger version for adults. I feel like something that big, with that much more power, would actually be kind of terrifying. But I'd definitely want to ride it. [Razor]
[Update: We just got word that the Crazy Cart will be launching in the UK this September and will be available at Argos, Toys R Us, and on Amazon.]