57405 Tamiya Dancing Rider T3-01 Build and review

I am a sucker for things that are a little bit different, so you can imagine how excited I was when Tamiya announced the T3-01 Dancing ...

I am a sucker for things that are a little bit different, so you can imagine how excited I was when Tamiya announced the T3-01 Dancing Rider. It is a totally new class of RC chassis that is based on the three wheel motorbikes seen whizzing around the streets of Japan. I couldn't wait to get my hands on one and try it out.

Preparing the build

As you would expect from Tamiya the manual is very clear and easy to follow. It is always good to take a read of the manual to ensure you are familiar with the build process, and have any tools you need to hand.

Bearings - The kit comes with plastic bearings that are all actually moulded on a parts sprue, so if you use these then you will need to trim any extra plastic from them to ensure that they are smooth before installation. If you want to use bearings instead you need the following
  • 4 x 630 
  • 8 x 1060
  • 2 x 1280
I used a set from www.RcBearings.co.uk

Building the T3-01 Dancing Rider

The differential is the first thing to assemble, it is a different design than the familiar Tamiya stock open gear differential. The 40 tooth differential gear contains six 8 tooth planetary gears that rotate inside.

You place 3 on each side of the differential with a liberal amount of grease, before attaching the differential joint, and sliding on the 1280 bearings on the outside halves.

All of the differential components are made from hardened plastic, I do not think this will be an issue as kits like the TT02 run fine with plastic diffs made from the same material, and they run a much more powerful motor.

With the differential built we move onto the rest of the gearbox internals. Using the included stand allows you to easily rest the gearbox half on its side. The smaller idler gear (30-14T) spins on a 3mm shaft with two 630 bearings at each end

With that installed in the gearbox half its time to fit the differential. The manual shows a liberal amount of grease to be installed. You can add this, but it will cause more friction, so I personally leave these dry, or only add a very light amount of grease as I am running the car with bearings so the drive train will be free anyway.

Checking that the B5 part is installed the right way up, it is time to screw the two halves of the gearbox together.

The rear suspension is next, and and it is a very unique set-up to standard RC fayre. It uses a cam slide suspension that uses a coil spring that you can easily adjust once built.

The first thing you need to assemble is the adjuster cap, just screw the grub screw down until it is flat with the other side, and easy way to test, is to place it on a surface, if it wobbles just slowly unscrew it until the cap stop wobbling.

The spring is attached to the sliding cam and a cap

This slides into the gearbox, then you attach the adjuster cap.

As you can see above the spring is compressed via a cap which is adjusted with the long grub screw that you have mounted into the adjuster cap. There is a good range of movement for the rear axle.

You can make the rear softer or harder by a simple turn of this screw. The maximum adjustment is 1 turn either clockwise (Stiffer) or anti-clockwise (softer) to change the spring tension. I just built it as the kit recommended setting, as ultimately the amount of range on the rear suspension is quite limited, so best to go with the more general medium setting to start with.

The rear axles are next. The metal dog bone half is installed into a plastic end that rotates the wheel hex. You need to check the measurement here. It should be 38.2mm long, luckily as this is a Tamiya kit you can just use the 1:1 scale illustration in the instructions to check it is the perfect length.

You have to check that they are aligned with the flat side of the plastic part, then slide them in. I would suggest you do this without adding any glue, to ensure that it all fits fine. Once you are happy with it, then you can add a little dab of CA glue although be careful if adding CA glue on the shaft and inserting it. as if it is not aligned it will be stuck incorrectly. To be honest, the fit is tight and the actual dog bones do not have too much load on them, so I would not bother, or just add a dab of glue on the shaft when it is inserted.

The driveshaft spins on a pair of 1060 bearings that are enclosed in a plastic outer hub. A standard 12mm hex is mounted on the end ready to spin the wheels.

The rear axles are then attached to the rear gearbox half, just make sure that the dog bones fit into the differential joints before you attach the screws. Once assembled you can check by rotating one of the wheel hex's and the opposite side should spin.

Time to add the motor to the gearbox. The T3-01 uses a 370 size motor, These were used in the Tamtech cars, so it will be interesting to see how fast it actually runs. The motor has a plastic 26t pinion that you need to slide onto the shaft. Whilst the concept of a plastic pinion sounds alarming, the T3-01 has fixed gearing,  and it is mounted firmly in place with its own alignment hood ensuring the motor is installed correctly so it should wear well and not strip easily.

To fit the pinion you just need to gently slide it on the motor, then placing it on a hard surface with the motor facing down, just push on it gently until the motor shaft reaches the end of the pinion hole.

Fitting the 39t spur gear is the final step of assembling the gearbox. It has a pair of 630 bearings to help it spin on the steel shaft.

For those that care about these things, the internal ratio of the T3-01 is 3.33:1 so the overall final drive ratio is 4.995:1

Finalise it all off with the gearbox cover to help keep out the dirt.

With the gearbox finished we move onto the chassis frame. The Dancing Rider turns by rotating the front part of the chassis as the rear wheels stay on the ground. To achieve this it has a steel swing shaft that rotates on some 1060 bearings.  This sits low in the chassis frame and will be connected to the rear gear box later in the build.

The battery holder is next, here you can choose to build it with an internal cradle for the Tamiya LF1100-6.6V Battery back. However if you are not going to be using that, I suggest to leave it out and use foam or other spacers to ensure your own battery will fit.

The battery holder is a simple swing mechanism, you do not want to over-tighten the screws to ensure it swings freely. Once attached it is held up with a long plastic shaft that is secured with a body pin.

Time to attach the servo, you just need to ensure that it is nice and central. A regular 1/10 standard or low profile servo can be mounted, just take care to ensure that it is all correctly positioned in the mount. Take your time to ensure it sits in the middle, and that the top of the servo spline is between 10-12mm away from the top of the mount.

For this build I just used a basic servo, as I have no idea if high response times will not make much of a difference when trying to steer this trike around.

You now start to build the steering arm attachment, just ensure that the grub screws are perfectly aligned with the bottom of the A3 part and that the A9 arm moves smoothly.

The lower part of the servo saver is next up, just ensure that your servo is at neutral and that you have the right attachment to fit to your brand of servo and fit it together. The steering arm is a hybrid of the Hi-Torque servo saver, so it is much better than the stock servo savers in most Tamiya kits.

The servo is now attached to the front half of the chassis near the pivot point, it slides in nicely and it attached with two screws.

The RC deck is now attached, this will hold the other electrics (Esc and receiver). At this stage you can also add an additional deck which includes a transponder holder.

With the electrics installed (I used a TBLE-02S) it is time to attach the rear gearbox to the chassis, just check that the steel rotation shaft is installed and you grab it tight with the 3x10mm machine screw.

Now we start working on the front fork.  The front suspension consists of the upper section and two shafts that slide inside. They are cushioned by springs and held in place with long screw bolts. You can change the stiffness of the springs by adding additional 5mm -Rings on the two shafts. However I would suggest you start out without any of these.

The screw bolts can go really far in, taking away most of the suspension from the front. I eventually decided on 84.5mm as a starting length that still gave me some movement at the front fork. Obviously you want to ensure that the left and right ones are the same length, so I used some digital verniers to ensure that they were both equal.

With these done, you can add the front mudguard.

We attach the front forks to the chassis with a set screw, check you do not over-tighten it.  Now you will notice that the front is just flopping around, this is because the T3-01 steers from the rear.  You need to add a spring that will help the front wheel centre between corners. The spring seems quite loose, if people start racing these I think tuned versions of these will become available.

The spring is held in position with a plate and it does centre the front forks in a wibbly wobbly fashion.

The rear wheels are standard M-Chassis size, so you can customise your trike with a wide range that are available. Importantly that also means that you can use a wide range of tyres for when you want to race them at a track....

The front wheel and tyre are unique to the T3-01 chassis. The profile of the front tyre is round as you would expect from a bike, as the front end is the part that leans around the corner to steer.

All of the wheels are attached with screws. You can attach them nice and tightly, checking that you have not over-tightened them and they still spin freely.

Last but not least we have the support arms. This large arm clips onto the steering servo and it pushes the trike back onto it's wheels if it falls onto it's side.

The chassis is now complete and it's time for the body.

The body itself is easy to paint. The kit includes masking for the windows and for the front lights if you want to add LED's. Once painted, it is attached to the chassis with 4 large body pins that also hold on some side nerf bars.

I decided to do something a little different and made a Racing bike version of the kit. I managed to get a friend to knock up some vinyls, and grabbed a tin of Tamiya PS-16 bright green and behold the Ninja T3-01.

Needless to say it's a racing bike so I thought I would make a (ahem) replica of Kawasaki racer Tom Sykes to drive the trike and added his numbers.

I'm really pleased with how it looks and I cannot wait to try it out.


Regarding the battery situation, the T3-01 chassis only has a small battery bay, so standard racing packs will not fit. This is fine for the Japan kits as they come with a the components to create a special 4x AA battery pack to install, this would ensure that people have an option available to run the kit with a standard Tamiya TBLE-02S brushed esc (Which will run at 4.8v).  It seems a little bit of a misstep on Tamiyas part. The other option that Tamiya suggests is the 55105 Tamiya LF1100 6.6V M-Size battery. Which is a direct fit (with the cradle).

All is not lost however. It is really easy to make your own 4xAA battery holder. I simply bought a 4xAA battery holder from the local electric shop (79p), added a battery cable (£2 of ebay if you do not want to make your own) and went to the local pound shop and bought four rechargeable batteries for one pound (Natch). So for less than £4 I had my own reusable battery pack. You can also just add AA batteries. I got around 30 mins with 4 AA alkaline batteries :)

More battery power!

For those of you that will want more power (Like myself) you can easily find a selection of cheap lipos that will fit. I purchased a 1300 mah lipo battery for less than £5 which fits fine and will give more power and has more capactity. As a general guide, the Tamiya life pack has the following  Dimensions - 70x38x20mm (L,H,W), so try not to go much larger than that if you want to fit it in the battery bay.

Setting up the TBLE-02S esc for 4.8v

I used the Tamiya TBLE-02S esc for this build as it is one of my favourite speed controllers for the price. If you decide to run it with 4xAA batteries you will only be running around 4.8v as opposed to 7.2v for a std RC car. This will activate the low voltage cut-off (LVC) that is built into the device.

To switch off the LVC you need to switch off the esc, press the setting button (I use a 2.5mm hex driver). Now just switch it on and the LED will change colour depending on what settings you want to adjust. All you need to do is wait until the LED goes Red and then you release the button. This just Toggles on/off the LVC. Switch off the esc to ensure it saves the settings.

Track test

The Dancing Rider in stock form is for running on smooth surfaces such as pavement or the race track. In fact the first run was indoors for a quick track test. I popped in the 4 cell power pack and gave it a quick run around my lounge to test it was all working fine. I instantly picked up on the Dancing Riders extreme manoeuvrability at low speed as I circled a rather bemused Dog and got to grips with the basics of driving one.

Next up I took it to the skate park and popped in a lipo battery. The extra voltage gave the Dancing Rider a little more power and the trike zipped off into the distance. I quickly got used to driving it about again with the added speed, now I thought I would push it a bit further.

I moved from the flat stuff and started to drive it up the ramps and half pipes. Despite the small motor it had enough power to ride some of the more gentle inclines and I started to really get into a flow. It didn't feel like I was driving a RC car, instead it reminded me of when I was a teenager on my BMX. leaning into corners, carrying the momentum and riding the walls. Great fun and something that I had never really experienced with a RC before.

The Skate track was not perfectly prepared so the Dancing Rider would hit bits of rubble occasionally and it would bounce a little but not be too unsettled.

Driving it on the skate track really allowed me to get to grips with the way that the T3-01 handles. As you steer only by leaning the Trike you can steer at full speed, the result will be a large steering arc, so you soon learn that throttle and brake are essential to change the rate of steering. At slow speed the turning circle is very tight.

The more you drive the Tamiya Dancing Rider you start to finesse the controls. You can also change the rate that you lean into the corner, again affecting the rate in which you turn. Soon you start balancing the amount of lean and the amount of throttle to get the best possible corner speed.

The T3-01 chassis is very stable thanks to the two wheels at the rear, however you will occasionally tumble over. This is not an issue as the trike has a self righting mechanism. When on the side you need to move the steering to full lock and wiggle it around and the arm will knock the Dancing Rider back onto its wheels ready to drive on. Its a fun feature and it could mean you could have races without marshals... Talking of which.

Next outing for the Dancing Rider was a local club, not just a practice lap but a head to head race with another T3-01

We both ran the 4 AA battery pack. The batteries were taken from a cheap pack of £2 alkalines from the local supermarket so we knew that we would be running the same power.. this will be true stock racing.

The Trikes lined up and we raced away. The stock speed of the T3-01 is pretty slow but that is not an issue when racing stock as both of us had exactly the same spec chassis. The Dancing riders were evenly paced however the big change of position came from the corners. Here you could really make up and loose time by choosing the right line as you balance the amount of throttle and steering input into the corner.

The first few laps on the track were difficult for both drivers as we had not done any practice on the circuit, but soon we both started to find lines that suited the Dancing Riders. I made up a little space only to loose it by having to brake too much when over-cooking a tight S-curve. The rival caught me up and took the inside line for the large sweeper. I trailed as we trundled along the straight.

The trikes were evenly matched on the straight so I knew I had to try something a little more desperate on the sweeper, I gently leaned into the corner early, whilst keeping full throttle. My opponent also kept on the throttle as they were confident that they could maintain the sweeper at full throttle.

I moved onto the outside to get a more gentle corner approach, scrubbing off less speed, this helped me make a lot of time up on the corner. Capitalising on this I exited the corner carrying more speed. We were neck and neck and I edged ahead to go deep to the tight 180 degree corner, hit the brakes and squeezed ahead. I just about managed to hold onto the lead until I went a bit too hot into a corner and had to brake, loosing far to much time and I was pipped over the line.

Naturally both drivers were buzzing after such a close fought battle. The Tamiya Dancing Rider seems perfect for a controlled racing class, and by the way that they were getting loads of attention from other attendees at the club I think there will soon be a few more ready to race.


The T3-01 Dancing Fighter ticks lots of the core values that I come to expect from Tamiya. It's innovative, easy to build, oozes charm and importantly its great fun to drive.

As soon as you grab the controller you know that you will be in for a fun ride. The Dancing rider in stock form is not going to break any speed records, that is not important however as you realise that the real fun is about the balance of throttle and steering to get the best line around the makeshift track. The sharp steering allows you to run it almost anywhere.

Its got some issues. It doesn't use standard battery packs, so you will need to find your own solution. Making a 4xAA battery is easy, but it does beg the question why only the Japanese kits have the parts to make the AA pack included in the kit. The recommended Life battery is expensive and costs around half the total cost of the actual kit. However as I listed above a cheap 2s lipo packs can easily be obtained and will give you a lot of running time with the standard motor. The other concern is simply the plastic pinion, I know Tamiya plastics are superb, and there is not much room for error but as soon as an alloy hop-up comes available I will be making a swap.

Overall the Tamiya T3-01 Dancing Fighter is great fun and provides a truly unique driving experience. This tough, durable and cheap kit is simple to build and is easy to drive, but you soon realise that there is a lot of skill and depth available to be unlocked as you aim to maintain the flowing speed. I would not be surprised to see these becoming popular alternative class of racing at the more adventurous RC clubs.

If you want to get a Tamiya T3-01 Dancing rider, they are available from your local UK Tamiya Stockist. Contact http://www.hobbyco.net/ for more info.
tamiya 6650270780937588887

Post a Comment

  1. Your excellent review is one of the reasons I chose this platform for my RC Dog Mod. Yes, I made a T3-01 into a T4-K9.


  2. That is brilliant! Awesome build!

  3. Anyone having issues with it diffing out? I have a torque tuned motor in mine and it keeps diffing out.



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