Last year's Crazy Cart gave kids the ability to drift to their heart's content, but there was one catch: with a maximum weight capacity of 140lbs, most adults couldn't ride it. No longer, the adult-sized Crazy Cart XL brings 27kph sideways hijinks to everyone. And we rode it.
15 seconds into riding this thing, I was sliding across a warehouse floor, sideways at 24kph. It's that easy. At least until I spun out, narrowly avoiding a stack of scooters on a pallet, it was.
Both Crazy Carts are basically electric go-karts with one unique feature: a side-mounted lever that allows the rear wheels to drift out in a fun, controllable manner. It's like being Ken Block, just on your kitchen floor.
Manufactured by Razor — they of roller blade-wheeled scooter fame — the little Crazy Cart ($US350) found fame after its inventor, Ali Kermani, filmed this pint-sized tribute to Ken Block's Gymkhana films, called "Ken Box." That's Ali driving and doing battle with the gorilla.
It turns out that kids aren't the only ones who want to pretend they're skate shoe magnates turned race car drivers. So, to make the contraption adult friendly, Ali applied his original formula to a larger package.
A central wheel sits directly under the steering wheel, driven by a 500W electric motor via a chain. Normally, the rider's weight is carried by castor wheels at the rear, but a second set of those mounted on the front corners are there to catch the weight if the machine starts to tip forwards. Like the rear wheels on your car, these castors are locked straight normally, but can be uncoupled and allowed to spin freely by the Drift Bar.
On the $US800 Crazy Cart XL, all these components are beefed up. The motor increases in power from 300 to 500 Watts, battery capacity is increased and the ergonomics become more spacious.
Ali tells us that he doesn't want the XL to be a one-season toy or a passing fad for its buyers. So, he's created a machine that's built to last, all while sustaining the kind of abuse only big kids like you and I can throw at it. The chain driving the front wheel comes complete with a tensioner and a guide that surrounds the lower sprocket — so it won't come off accidentally. The Drift Bar is also beefed up, gaining mechanical advantage so heavier adults won't have a problem leveraging their fat butts off the floor. The seat is not just larger, but much stronger, capable of supporting up to 300lbs. Even the "gas" pedal is optimised for larger riders, it's now a hinged design that stands prominently enough to be engaged with precision by even the largest feet.
The drive chain is equipped with both a spring tensioner (out of sight, further up the tunnel) to keep it tight and guides (pictured) on both sides of the wheel sprocket. Combined, that chain should stay where it's supposed to.
This additional strength and capability is immediately palpable; the XL feels not like a plastic children's toy, but rather a substantial, beefy machine that should stand up adult-sized play. All the fasteners are sturdy Allen bolts in standard sizes, the frame is aluminium tube and the wheels ride on sturdy carriers. Of course, all that also makes the XL substantially user-serviceable. If you do break something or damage it, a repair is only going to take a quick run to Home Depot. Ali also tells us that all the XL's parts come off existing Razor vehicles, so you can already order spares and replacement parts on their website. They will also sell you additional battery packs that you can swap right in if the 40-minute run time doesn't sound like enough.
Lift the seat to access the batteries, they're basically four NiMH motorcycle batteries that you can quickly swap out.
What's it like to ride? Well, in a word, it's a blast. I ride fast motorcycles every day, but immediately found that the Crazy Cart's ability to take you to its limits and beyond in safety, without major consequences, to be refreshing. It's also surprisingly quick; rather than creep away from a dead stop like a sensible toy, the XL accelerates strongly all the way from 0 to its limited top speed of 27kph.
Sitting with your butt just inches from the ground, 27kph feels fast.
It also facilitates fine control with an accelerator that delivers linear, tactile progress. When reviewing cars and motorcycles, we often talk about things like "feel" and "throttle response" and the Crazy Cart XL does both better than many supposedly performance-oriented road vehicles.
That all adds up to a riding experience that's fun, fast and intuitive from your first ride and something that's much more than just a silly toy.
"I want this to be a platform," Ali explains. "Something people can use to learn skills on."
He compares it to a skateboard in that sense, a simple device that can do much more than its four wheels and wooden platform would suggest. I think it'd be a great way for new and experienced drivers alike to learn and evolve their car control. That they can do that in a safe, easily accessible way is even more compelling.
Pull the Drift Bar to allow the rear wheels to rotate freely, facilitating the drift.
And what about drifting? Well, it makes that easy too. While there is a learning curve, the Drift Bar compliments the throttle's fine control with a progressive application; pull it up a little for a small drift or a lot to fly sideways at high speed. "It goes where the arrow points," says Ali, referring to the arrow milled out into one of the steering wheel spokes, a lesson any budding car drifter will benefit from learning.
Where can you use the Crazy Cart? Well, any flat, smooth surface. "It will even work on carpet," according to Ali, who says plenty of people are using them inside their houses, but also in cul-de-sacs, parking lots, garages, driveways and on tennis courts. The XL is as much fun flying across a wide open space at 27kph as it is negotiating low speed obstacles, where it's a technical puzzle for your brain to solve instead of the visceral thrill delivered elsewhere.
Inventor Ali Kermani came up with the idea for the Crazy Cart as his Master's thesis.
From my clumsy initial goes to watching Ali drift past my camera with millimetre-perfect precision, the appeal of the Crazy Cart XL is infectious. Once you start riding it, you won't want to get off. As a toy, it's fun. As a learning tool for drivers, it's useful. As a safe way to live out your sideways fantasies without crashing your expensive car or losing your licence, its a perfect device for this modern age.