Brand-new to market in 2009, Rikon’s 70-200EVS lathe seems thoughtfully engineered and ready to take the competition to task with a couple of impressive features. First, it is outfitted with a 1/2 hp AC motor, controlled by a variable frequency drive inverter. Rikon tells me that this sophisticated controller adjusts line frequency to help reduce electrical and mechanical stress at startup. It also provides soft start, monitors torque output and helps the motor run cooler. In testing, the motor purred like a kitten and ran noticeably cooler than the rest. In fact, it barely warmed up to the touch, while the other lathe motors became really toasty. Since heat is a motor’s undoing, I imagine this inverter will extend the motor’s service life, which means good return on investment over time.
Motor controls aside, the 70-200EVS sports four bearings in the headstock instead of two, to help spread out spindle loads and keep things spinning smoothly. In an effort to combat creeping along the bed, Rikon designed the tailstock’s sole several inches longer than the other machines. It locked down like a vise. I appreciated the 8" tool-rest provided here, as well as the push-button kill switch. A safety lock-out would make that even better.
During testing, the lathe powered through my turnings. But, moving the belt’s position to different speed ranges would have been easier if the doors had a latch instead of an Allen bolt. I also noticed that chips accumulate on top of the motor and inverter box, and they’re tougher to clean out of the narrow bed slot.
At day’s end, I think Rikon has a promising new lathe here, right out of the starting gate. It’s top dollar, but the inverter and extra bearings may just help ensure that you eventually will be able to pass this fine tool on to your grandkids.