Friday, 20 May 2016

Review: Worker Flywheels

Aftermarket flywheels are another one of the developments aimed at pushing flywheel technology further. These Worker flywheels are an excellent example of such, a set of drop-in flywheels. Let's look at how these wheels differ to stock Nerf flywheels, and how performance is affected.

Worker flywheels, like Nerf flywheels, are made for specific blasters. The set I acquired is designed for Rapidstrikes, Stryfes and Rapid Reds, and will likely work for Rayvens. Demolishers have a unique flywheel style, and so have a unique Worker flywheel, as does the Modulus.
The obvious main difference is the shape of the flywheel. While Nerf's flywheel is smooth and flat (the one pictured has a build up of foam residue), the Worker flywheel is concave and toothed. Physically speaking, the component that limits how fast a single stage flywheeler can fire is friction between the dart and the flywheels. No matter how fast you spin the flywheels, as long as they're the stock Nerf ones, you're limited to somewhere around 120-130fps, depending on darts etc. Worker flywheels were presumably designed in an attempt to increase the friction between flywheel and dart, and so increase dart velocity.
A side by side look. Note that the edges of the Worker wheel bulge out noticeably, while the Nerf wheel is basically completely flat.

The diameter of the concave section of the Worker flywheel is actually only a tiny bit wider than the stock Nerf flywheel, measured from the tips of the teeth.
The edges of the Worker flywheel do bulge out a bit wider than the stock flywheel.

The Worker flywheels are also lighter than stock flywheels, though whether this mass difference is significant or not, I don't know.
Worker flywheels are a press fit onto standard 2mm shafts. They're significantly tighter than Nerf flywheels are, to the point where I have serious trouble getting them off motor shafts. This is of course very good for combat use, as you don't have to worry about the flywheels "walking" off the shafts due to torque, but very annoying for maintenence and motor replacements.
A look down the middle of the Worker wheels, showcasing the concavity and toothing of the wheels.
Flywheel cage closed up. As mentioned before, they're a straight drop in part, so nothing else needs to be done to make the Worker wheels work.

Something I was not expecting but greatly appreciate is how well "matched" the Worker flywheels are (basically how physically similar they are). They are significantly better matched than most Nerf flywheels I've come across (presumably through more precise manufacturing), and so produce a noticeably quieter and more harmonious noise. A well matched set of flywheels also provides a minor performance benefit compared to a poorly matched set of flywheels, in both muzzle velocity and accuracy.
One of the big benefits of Worker flywheels is an increased muzzle velocity, provided you have proper motors with a proper power source. A comprehensive post on Britnerf has a good amount of data and observations, and their data agrees with what data and experience I have. Said post recorded a muzzle velocity increase of ~15fps on average, and while I don't have proper data of my own to refer to, I can say that darts do fly out noticeably faster with Worker flywheels installed.

Another big benefit I saw was accuracy improvement. Previously, my Bullpup RS could achieve a spread of over a metre at just ~8m range with Kooshes, which is horrendously large and made it a nightmare for mid range combat. Switching to Worker flywheels saw the spread reduce to a little more than half a metre from the same range and darts. In the first event with the Worker wheels installed with FVJs, I saw a massive improvement in effective range, and was able to effectively engage at significantly longer distances. This accuracy improvement combined with the increased muzzle velocity make a Worker flywheeled blaster substantially more effective in combat.
The main disadvantage to the Worker wheels is that by virtue of the toothing, they tug on darts more aggressively than stock flywheels, and in particular love beheading weakly glued Kooshes - before I found a good Koosh glue, I was constantly beheading probably a third of the Kooshes that I fired (I now use Selley's Shoe Glue, and it works incredibly well). I also noticed greater wear on FVJs, just behind the tip. It's something to watch out for, especially if you use darts with poor foam or weak tip glue.

An additional interesting data point is the performance of Worker flywheels at excessively high speeds. One of the players in the Melbourne groups has XP180s on his Rapidstrike for flywheels, and runs them on 3S with Worker flys. This is excessively fast considering XP180s already get glass ceiling velocities on 2S, however the player has reported getting 10-20fps muzzle velocity gains running on 3S vs 2S, and only with Worker wheels, as stock flywheels on 3S just burn darts.
It is worth noting at this point as well that while stock Nerf flywheels build up a foam residue over time through use (which improves performance and reduces dart wear), Worker flywheels do not build up any residue whatsoever.

Worker flywheels are available on Taobao (basically Chinese eBay) for 40CNY, however unless you live in China, you'll have to organise additional handling and postage to get it to you. It cost me 30AUD for two sets including all extra fees using Buychina, one of many Taobao "agents". Overall I'd highly recommend Worker flywheels on any top notch flywheel blaster build (assuming they're compatible of course), the performance improvements and out-of-box matched flywheels make for quite significant improvements over a stock flywheel build. Worker wheels should only be added after motor replacement however, new motors with a proper power source give a far bigger performance improvement, and given how much more friction they appear to add to the system, Worker wheels may actually be detrimental to a weaker flywheel build.
I will certainly be putting Worker flywheels in any of my future flywheel builds that I intend to use a lot, unless a superior flywheel or blaster system presents itself.

Something I would like to see is a smooth concave aftermarket flywheel, as I'm not sure if the toothing is actually necessary. I would be interested to see if a smooth concave flywheel could achieve similar performance without the extra dart wear.


  1. Are these the fabled offset flywheels people talk about?? Doctor snikkas metal flywheel cages are a bit pricey so i am looking for new flywheels that deliver much better accuracy.

    1. Offset as in angled/canted? No. Ryan of MTB's testing and modelling of canted flywheels and spin shows that spin just helicopters out full length darts, and so canted flywheels are quite bad for superstock, though of course more testing needs to be done. The angled flywheels come purely from the flywheel cage, the flywheels themselves have nothing to do with the angle.
      The accuracy gains from the DRS cage is more likely from the far superior machining, concave flywheels (at least I believe concavity helps) and the brass dart guide.
      I believe Worker flywheels improve accuracy because of their concavity plus superior tolerances making for better matched flywheels.

    2. I have a superstock Hyperfire with 3 MTB hellcats on 3s and I do not get helicoptering, the darts travel straight and true...for nerf darts.

    3. "Straight and true" - two words that could never be applied to Elite darts. To the Elite Suctions maybe, but suctions perform significantly worse out of flywheelers than Koosh. Koosh seem to have a much greater tendency to spin out from canted fly cages than regular Elites.
      Have you tried it with Kooshes?
      I still don't believe that the spin from canted flywheels helps, if anything else because noone has published conclusive scientific proof to say so. Those who do promote canted flywheels as superior haven't published anything showing that the canted flywheels themselves help, above anything else.

    4. Seriously, any testing conducted that shows any significant gains using koosh darts with a rhino/falcon motor replacement using canted wheels??

    5. Every Hyperfire build I've seen that doesn't have a brass guide helicopters out Kooshes far too often to be usable. Ryan of MTB did some simulations of spinning darts, and the simulation showed that when a *full length* dart is spun enough, it spins out of control and helicopters. If not enough spin is applied, then it doesn't get any spin stabilisation effects. I also saw a version of Hawki007's BSP cage printed by Ryan, and with Worker wheels *without* the brass guide, all it did was spin out darts.
      At the moment, I'm inclined to believe that the brass guide is the one doing all the work here, and the other accuracy gains from canted flywheel cages come from the fact that they have far tighter tolerances and better machining than stock Nerf flywheel cages.

    6. If that is the case what is there an optimum lenght for the brass guide??
      Is there a way to get a more stable plastic flywheel cage??

    7. Hawki007 recommends a single dart length of brass "barrel" for a brass guide. Getting a good stock flywheel cage is pure luck seeing as Nerf's tolerances are rubbish. Rapidstrike parts tend to be worse than Stryfe parts, but besides that it's all luck.

  2. Tempting.. what other blasters other than a rs can it fit in?? Also the noise reduction how significant?? You did mention it separates koosh dart heads, does it wear down darts much quicker than a superstock with default wheels??

    1. There are Worker wheels for basically every important flywheeler - the RS/Stryfe/RR, Demolisher and Modulus are all compatible with their particular Worker wheel design.
      The noise difference is more that the wheels are much better matched and so produce a much more harmonious noise, rather than Worker wheels being straight up quieter.
      It does wear down darts more quickly, but not hugely as far as I can tell. I've fired a lot of my darts several times through my Bullpup, and the wear does not appear to be significantly more than if it had stock wheels. The Koosh beheading is more due to older Kooshes having awful tip gluing really.

  3. Just curious, do the worker flywheels work/fit in an elite rayven? The elite rayven is the only superstock blaster that I own.

    1. Yes, RS/Stryfe Worker wheels work nicely in an Elite Rayven.

  4. Do they work in a modulus

    1. Yes, there are Worker flywheels for the Modulus.