Kyosho 1/5 Lost Surfboards RC Surfer 3 RTR Review
Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner
Fully stock but with a 2s 4000mah Lipo
Length: 26.0 in. (660mm)
Width: 6.3 in. (160mm)
Height: 12.8 in. (325mm)
Approx. Weight: 50 oz. (1,400g)
Team Orion 45A Brushed ESC
- 1/5 Scale, heck yeah!
- Gorgeous looks, really solid feel
- Lost Surfboards licensed design
- Top notch quality
- Fully factory-assembled
- Looks amazing on the water
- Can actually surf waves
- Rudder design protects prop
- Everything you need included
- Fun as hell!
- Right arm was detached out of the box
- Surfer is really hard to attach to board
- Brushed instead of brushless motor
Ever since getting into hobbygrade RC 6 years ago, I have always been attracted to Kyosho’s products. Oddly enough, up until picking up the Surfer 3, I had not owned any. Before I bought my first few toys, Kyosho’s great looking cars and airplanes had me circling . When I found a hobby shop local to me, I was surprised to see they had very few Kyosho products. When I asked if they were any good, the guys at the hobby shop told me, “Yeah, their stuff is awesome, they are just not as popular in the US”. I wonder how or why this could be. As we all know, the US market is dominated by a few RC giants and their sub-brands. Every time I see a new vehicle offering from Kyosho, I get really excited and then ultimately chicken out when I don’t see reviews or videos from reliable sources.
When the Surfer 3 was announced alongside a really cool action video, I finally decided I was going to stop lurking and just jump in feet first. The Surfer 3 looked way too cool, and way too fun to pass up. I signed up on Tower Hobbies to get notified when it was in stock. The minute I got the notification, I plugged in the applicable coupon code and reduced the price from $229.99 to $194.99.
As I do with most of my RC orders, I was pulling out my pocket-knife as I walked in the house ready to slice the tape and open the box. The first thing that impressed me was just how big the surfboard is. I knew it was 26” from the spec sheet, but seeing a 26” surf board was way cool. Not only that, but the solid feel of the board and the beautiful detailing of the design had me smiling ear to ear. The rudder is kind of an inverted V shape that turns the Surfer 3 on a dime, but also serves to protect the propeller in shallow water.
The included transmitter is actually really nice for an RTR transmitter. It has dual rates for steering and end point adjustment knobs for forward and reverse throttle. I had initially planned on using my own surface transmitter for this, but I like the way this transmitter works with the surfer.
Speaking of the surfer, I was a little sad to see that my surfer’s right arm was unglued and disconnected from the body. At least it wasn’t broken just unglued, so I mixed up a little 5-minute epoxy and glued that sucker back on. As advertised, the surfer himself is light-weight but made out of a nice strong material that I doubt will ever be damaged by wipeouts in the water.
Other included items include an extra rudder, o-ring, , screw driver, a hook for installing the surfer to the board (more on that later), a wall charger and Orion 2200mah nimh battery with deans plug. I don’t use nimh any more so I’ll be using a 2s4000mah lipo.
So every summer, I spend 2 weeks at the family lake house on Lake Champlain in Vermont. I always take a float plane, an Axial SCX10, and a boat. I stopped taking speed boats there, because even with the calmest waters, Lake Champlain is still a huge lake and thus, never completely flat. My speed boat outings there were never fun as I spent more time trying not to bounce too much or jump to high off of a wake (and ultimately flip). The last few years, I have taken a Reef Racer 2, just because it’s not bothered by choppy water or boat wakes.
So I followed the easy instructions for switching the jumper on the ESC from nimh mode to lipo mode… took about 5 seconds. Then I stuck my lipo on the charger while I mounted the surfer to the surfboard. The surfer himself has hollowed out feet with a bar going across them. There are holds for each foot on the surfboard lid that need to be removed so you can attach them to the surfers feet with small rubber bands that are included. The holds then get screwed back onto the board lid. While this is an effective way of holding the surfer to the board while providing some give, the process is a tedious one. I surely let a few expletives go in the process. Once you get it mounted, you are ready to go.
With the battery installed and your transmitter on and surfboard on, you are ready to close the hatch. This is done by screwing it down with the four included screws with rubber o-rings and the handy little screw driver that is also included.
So finally to the water!!! I was pretty sure I didn’t want to go in reverse with my surfer, so I set the endpoint on reverse all the way down with a quick turn of the knob. I left the forward at 100% and didn’t dial down the steering at all. My first outing was on pretty calm water as I wanted to see how fast he could go (keeping in mind he is made for surfing, not for speed runs). I was scared of getting my GPS speed meter on the board, so I can’t really guess how fast it goes, but I’d have to guess somewhere between 10 and 15 mph. Oddly, given the size of the Surfer 3, it actually looks pretty quick. Not only that, but the sheer awesomeness of the visuals make for a very fun experience. I ran it for about 10 minutes thinking I was surely getting near low-voltage cut-off. When I opened it up, I was surprised that my battery was still charge 60%. The motor however, was hot enough to fry an egg on. While it is water-cooled, it is brushed, and the Surfer 3 is quite large and heavy. If you run the Surfer 3 like an ordinary boat (throttle on high most of the time), you'll run the risk of overheating the motor or even burning it out.
For my next several outings, I made it a point to surf in choppy, wakey water. In absence of real beach waves, the Surfer 3 is definitely more fun on rough water. He becomes almost like a skateboarder, making sharp turns or riding across the smooth faces of wakes and small waves. The chop in the water is fun for jumping also. Of all the cool toys I have taken to the lake house, I must say, the Surfer 3 has gotten the most attention from passersby. It just looks so darn cool do see the little dude staying on the board as he bounces around like a boss! I did make it a point to NOT stay on the throttle the whole time as to not overheat the motor. This makes the experience very pleasant and leisurely. You can just have a seat and goof around on the water while occasionally sipping your favorite beverage. I tried my darndest to flip the surfer or wipeout, but the nature of the surfboard makes it virtually impossible to flip. Couple that with the beginner friendly speed, and you’ll feel comfortable handing the transmitter to even a total RC newb.
With a lipo battery 4000 to 5000mah, I doubt you’ll ever get anywhere near lvc before you decide to hop in for a swim yourself! This is rare for a boat as they generally drain a battery really fast. Just remember not to run high throttle too much as you will eventually burn the motor out. In the future I’ll probably look to upgrade to brushless just for a touch more speed and a little better efficiency. Another thing I like to upgrade on my boats is the propeller. Going from a plastic propeller to a metal one makes more of a difference than you’d think.
At the end of the day, the Kyosho Lost Surfboards Surfer 3 RTR is an amazingly fun and awesome looking 1/5 scale surfer. It is also surprisingly affordable given quality of everything from the board itself to the electronics and transmitter. I’d have been willing to pay more to get a brushless system and no battery since boats are best run with lipo power. If you are just starting out in RC, the nimh will be fine for a while, but you’ll still need to get a decent charger so you don’t have to wait hours on end between charges. If you are in the mood for something different, or just love surfing and RC, you cannot go wrong with the Surfer 3… especially using the Tower Hobbies coupon codes. I’ll update this review if/when I ever make it to a beach with actual waves. I love this thing, and I think you will too. Now that I've gotten my first Kyosho RC, I can't wait to get something else by them! Let me know if you have a suggestion for a future review!
Watch the video below to get an idea of the fun you can have on a lake. Watch it all the way through or bounce around as the video includes a few minutes of 3 separate runs. If you want see some real surf action, do a search on youtube to see some of the other Surfer 3 owners hitting the real waves.