Desmo Race Spike Coaster review

In November 2016, Maurer Rides announced the Spike Coaster, a single rail coaster with interactive capabilities. The unique and innovative model has thrilled many roller coaster fans as well as industry professionals, winning the “Best New Product Award” at IAAPA 2017. The Spike Coaster model features two-seater cars that empower drivers the sensation of riding a motorcycle or similar vehicle. The track and the cars use a rack and pinion system, which is explained in detail here in this article.

Photo © Mirabilandia

Two years after Skyline Park opened the first Spike Coaster, Sky Dragster, in 2017, Desmo Race opened in Mirabilandia as Spike’s largest facility to date. The Duel Coaster has two runways that are both the same length (1,722 feet) and the same height (72 feet). Part of the Ducati World expansion in Mirabilandia, which opened just before the roller coaster, Desmo Race gives riders the feeling of riding a real Ducati motorcycle as they race alongside other riders, reaching top speed of 50 mph.

Photo © Mirabilandia

Since there are only three Spike Coaster models in the world (none in the US), I wanted to share my thoughts on the ride. During my day at Mirabilandia I had two laps on Desmo Race, one on each side as well as a front seat and a back seat. I would have liked to have had a few more rides, but due to the long queue and my limited time in the park, I chose to experience as many other attractions as possible, such as Katun and iSpeed. However, my two outings on Desmo Race were both enjoyable and sufficient for me to reflect on the race as a whole. In this review, I’ll cover the driving experience, operations, and thoughts on what might happen to this model in the future.

Desmo racing experience

The coaster itself is designed to provide an intimate experience for one or two riders as they glide through the trail in their motorcycle-style car. One of the advantages of the Spike Coaster model over other coasters is the freedom and exposure you get when riding. Most coasters lock you in a car with a lap bar or shoulder restraints. Some, like the Raptor Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) roller coaster or the Intamin Motorbike roller coaster, offer riders more freedom and visibility. The Spike coaster takes the concept of a Raptor car and a motorcycle and builds on it. In the front and rear seats, pilots feel more free and exposed as they slide through the track. Having only a seat belt as a restraint may seem overwhelming to some, but I felt completely safe on the ride.

Photo © Mirabilandia

When it comes to the driving experience, the speed is generally excellent and the ride is filled with significant lateral forces. The initial launch was more powerful than expected. the car accelerates through valleys, and even passing some of the higher elements such as an airtime hill, the train does not lose speed. On Desmo Race’s layout in particular, there are a number of curved airtime moments that give a surprising amount of airtime. Like I mentioned, you are just buckled up by a seat belt so some of the forces feel a bit more extreme due to the exposure.

The coaster was also quite comfortable compared to what I had heard. Before visiting the park, another roller coaster enthusiast told me that the ride was difficult and unpleasant. However, I can say with pleasure that I found the ride smooth and comfortable in both seats. The car is very noisy when driving on the track due to the rack and pinion system, which can give the impression of difficult driving. This was not the case in my experience – Maurer did a great job of making the roller coaster ride smooth.

Desmo Race On-Ride POV

See a POV video of Desmo Race below:

Desmo racing operations

When it was announced, one of the main concerns of the Spike model was its capacity. With only two-seater vehicles, many thought large fleets would surely have capacity issues. One of the ride’s creators, Steve Boney, claimed the ride could be sent out every five seconds and see a capacity of over 1,400 passengers per hour. Boney also explained that each car acts as its own blocking zone, meaning that multiple cars can be on the track at the same time without needing a designated braking zone.

I may have caught the coaster running on a day off, but the operations were way below what I guess the park wanted. First, the roller coaster was not open when the park opened. I was lucky that it opened before noon and operated the rest of the day, but heard that this coaster suffers from decent downtime. In terms of day-to-day operations, one track carried only two cars, while the other carried three. RCDB lists the ride as having 12 cars so I’m assuming seven were in storage (one was visible from the station). To add to the lower-than-usual number of cars, amusement ride operators only allowed one car to drive on the track at a time, dividing it up when a car returned to the station. I wasn’t sure why this was the case, but since they wanted all passengers to leave the station immediately after driving (and the operators spoke Italian), I couldn’t ask any questions.

To the best of my ability, I timed the dispatches outside of the queue, and after a few different tries, I found that a car was cycling every two minutes or so. With five cars traveling between the two lanes, dividing each of the five cars within two minutes, the ride was running at around 300 people per hour. This is a very small amount, even for the smallest Mirabilandia park. I should note that both tracks were speeding a car every 20 seconds or so, despite track 1 running two trains and track 2 running three trains.

I only waited about 12 minutes for my first ride, as my group entered the queue shortly after the interview quietly opened the ride. However, I waited 45 minutes for my second trip. Like I said, maybe I visited the park on a slower day. If larger fleets want to build this model, there would have to be a significant improvement in operations.

Desmo race interactivity

Each car has a throttle grip and a throttle button that are readily available to the driver. Maurer claims that both the accelerator and the button are capable of increasing the speed of driving. Despite the driving experience and the constant speed of the car, I couldn’t help but feel that neither the boost button nor the throttle affected the speed. During my ride in the front seat, as any thrill-seeker would, I tried pushing the boost button and turning the throttle at the start of the ride while going through tighter elements, but I did. found no answer. As the ride continued, I kept trying to activate the boost, but still didn’t feel any response.

There were times when the car accelerated, like exiting valleys or turning down to the ground, but I felt that these accelerations were programmed rather than in response to my movement. I will consider faulty mechanics as an option, but I wonder how much control the drivers really have over the vehicle. If anyone has ridden a roller coaster and felt the controls are working, be sure to leave a comment below.

Thoughts for the future of the Spike roller coaster

Despite limited capacity and apparently low interactivity, I really enjoyed my two outings on Desmo Race. I have been on 176 different roller coasters, many of which are similar to each other. It was a big change of pace to ride something as unique as the Spike roller coaster and experience its innovative offerings. I think roller coasters have a lot of potential, both for big parks and small parks. I don’t know the exact cost of the ride, but the Ducati World Expansion set, which also includes flat rides and a large building with simulators, cost 25 million euros, so I imagine each track in Desmo Race could not have cost more than US $ 7 million. This price range gives small parks the option of building a merry-go-round like this one.

For large parks, I think the Spike model can be used as more than just a coaster. As Maurer has shown in concepts such as these –, the spiked roller coaster can be used for indoor attractions as well as the vehicle of walk for an immersive dark ride.

With small cars and a thin track, the size and handling of the coaster makes it possible to create thematic scenes around the ride.

Large parks could create exciting dark rides with Spike if the capacity was increased. If Disney wanted to take the TRON property to another park, I think Spike would be a better option than a Lightcycle Power Run roller coaster clone. Imagine Lightcycles-themed blue and orange tipped cars winding through dark space, with special LED lights illuminating the track behind them as they drive. I could also see Universal use this roller coaster model if they ever decided to create another ET attraction. Imagine a small animatronic ET rolling in front of you as your bike hovers over a themed scene.
I’m sure there is a plethora of ideas and implementations for the Spike roller coaster. If it can run at a higher capacity, the Spike model could be a big draw. With a pleasant and unique experience, I think there could be a lot of good things in store for the Spike model.

About the Author: Zachary Culp is an undergraduate architectural student at Pennsylvania State University pursuing a career in themed entertainment. He loves parks that offer fast, intense roller coasters and a great vibe and atmosphere. His dream is to one day participate in the construction of rides that advance technology, thrills, storytelling and landscapes.

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