Category Archives: Feature

The Best things seem to come from Bicycles – Bezerk RC

It seems that so many things seem to have started with bicycles, Look at the wright brothers, who started out working on bikes, and so the story of Bezerk RC also starts with bikes.

Paul Sims has been fabricating most of his life, from cars, and motorbikes through to working for his fathers business, Greenspeed, an Australian manufacturer of recumbent bicycles (laying back rather than sitting on top).  Paul worked at Greenspeed for some time from fabrication, to R&D, production, outsourcing and whatever was needed. Just like any family business, he still finds himself working there most days fabricating for the business, as well as his own company, Bezerk Cycles, that has been operating for some time, mostly generating work from word of mouth.

2009 saw a friend give his son a promotional RC truck which reignited an interest in the hobby for Paul who had always wanted one himself, and so Paul ended up at Knox Off Road where he still races today, in fact he tells me that he currently holds the title of the club President, so he isn’t leaving any time soon.   Naturally Paul’s mind ventured int fabricating hand made parts for these cars, from electric conversions to custom parts and mid mount conversions for buggies and trucks.

Initially borrowing a friend’s mill to fabricate parts occasionally, a friend who raced with Paul at the BRCCC suggested that he “start a facebook page”, and suddenly a global market for Bezerk RC appeared and as the number of inquiries from around the world increased it suddenly appeared that it could be a viable business by itself. So that dreaded trip to the bank manager was made, funds procured and Paul set about making his own Mill.  Yes, not one to take the easy way, Paul scratch built his own CNC Mill. It took a few weeks, what I expect was an incredibly steep learning curve for new software and equipment, and Paul was up and running with his own equipment.

Paul told me that, The supply of carbon was always the hardest to find. My current supplier is providing material that many customers and reviewers have had nothing but good things to say about.  Bezerk parts have gone to most places around the world, the Internet of course makes that happen. He prototypes for other peoples companies and outsource work if required.

 

Custom work has always been the focus of the work at Bezerk, whether it be replacing a hard, or impossible to find part, to parts with minor changes to suit a users needs, right up to completely custom parts and chassis.  Making a dream into reality as Paul puts it.  Requests come in every form from fully fledged cad drawings to sketches on pieces of paper.

From your regular club driver or basher to drivers of other teams, the list of Bezerk customers, and parts, is growing daily. Parts start from around $10 for a pair of BD7 battery hooks for example up to $90 for any onroad chassis. Looking through not only the price list on the facebook page, but the photos and information about projects that Paul has undertaken is certainly a glowing reference of his fabrication skills and the imagination of his customers.

From concept to reality. Bezerk RC’s first 12th scale, based on an xray platform, narrowed up chassis, relocated shock pickup and carbon side springs with set screw tweak adjust.

To find out more about Bezerk RC, or to have a look at the work that they have done, check out their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BezerkRc and tell them Aussie RC sent you 😉

What to Buy – Rally Cars

Hello to all on my first blog post for Aussie RC News!

For those of you that know me, you know that I love Rally, in both it’s full size and small scale versions.  Even to the extent of keeping up with what is happening with the fairly active Colorado RC Rally Championship.

Given the recent release of a Rally car from Team Associated, I thought we would have a stroll through the RC Rally cars that are available on the market today, or soon in some cases.

Today I am going to focus on three similar vehicles mostly, the Losi TEN Rally X, the Team Associated ProRally and the Traxxas Rally.  Why?  Because all there are a similar size, 4wd Short Course truck based, Ready to Run vehicles. These are a good compromise between looks ,handling, durability, capability and price. Let’s start with some numbers, prices I have pulled from Amain Hobbies and are a guide only.

Traxxas Rally Losi TEN-Rally X Associated ProRally
Length 552 mm 540 mm 535 mm
Wheelbase 324 mm 334 mm 324 mm
Width 297 mm 296 mm 296 mm
Based on LCG Slash 4×4 Ten-SCTE ProLite 4×4
Waterproof Yes Yes Resistant
Motor 3500 KV 3900 KV 3500 KV
Tech  – AVC  –
Price  $410  $520  $380

Traxxas Rally

Of these three focus vehicles the Traxxas Rally was the first to the party with the first release of the official Low Center of Gravity (LCG) Chassis for the slash 4×4 platform.  Fitted with a low hatch type body and rally tyres the Rally expanded on an already popular shaft driven 4×4  platform for Traxxas. By all accounts it has certainly hit the spot with regards to durability and price although there has been some criticism of its BFGoodrich replica tyres and handling, but it was never a dedicated rally platform to start with so you shouldn’t expecting handling like the rally cars on television. Some criticism has also been leveled at the car for it’s lack of resemblance in shape and livery to a real vehicle, but I don’t think that is enough to not want to buy it. http://traxxas.com/products/models/electric/7407rally

I am quite partial to the Traxxas Rally in green.

Losi TEN-Rally X

Whilst the Traxxas Rally isn’t exactly an older vehicle, the Losi TEN-Rally X is a fairly new release and was one of Losi’s first models to be released with Active Vehicle Control from Spektrum.  Similar in appearance to it’s 1:24 micro scale cousin, it is a much larger package with a bigger punch.  Shaft driven and in the conventional layout of most 4×4 short course trucks, it is fitted with rally inspired tyres and a hot hatch style rally body. However the addition of the AVC to this vehicle appears to contribute to it’s price, almost a clear $100 more than the offerings from Traxxas and Team Associated. http://www.losi.com/Products/Default.aspx?ProdID=LOS03000

Looks great in action.

Team Associated ProRally

Released less than a week ago this rally beast is based on the Prolite 4×4 short course truck from Team Associated.  The associated has a much more realistic looking hatch body with a Rockstar sponsored livery that makes it look spot on like a real rally car. A good price point which appears to be under $400 USD this vehicle is listed as having water resistant components, whereas the other two vehicles here are listed as being waterproof.  How waterproof any are in real life I can’t ascertain from here, but as more real world reviews appear that will reveal itself. http://www.teamassociated.com/cars_and_trucks/Pro_Rally_4WD/RTR/

Looks more like the real thing, and a good price.

Other Rally Options

Now these three are far from your only options when it comes to rally cars, there is everything available form 1:24 rally cars up to the gigantic 1:5 Rally Car (both form Losi actually).

The HPI WR8 Flux available currently in the Ken Block 2013 GRC (Global Rallycross) livery is one that comes to mind.  Marketed as a 1:8 scale vehicle it has a similar wheelbase to the above three vehicles, but is actually a much smaller vehicle than these supposedly 1:10 scale vehicles from Traxxas, Losi and Associated.  The big difference is the WR8 is much narrower and is not only a licensed body shape with a real livery, but is nearer to a more accurate model in it’s scale.  At $480 USD it is a great looking vehicle for the money, and very durable and powerful, but a bit of an orphan when it comes to wheels, tyres and bodies with it being almost a unique size and scale outside of HPI. http://www.hpiracing.com/en/kit/112715

The Tamiya XV-01 is another that I really wanted to include, mainly because this is my personal rally ride at the moment.  With a range of realistic bodies available because it is the standard 1:10 size of most touring and drift cars. For scale realism, this is the car that ticks the boxes.  This belt driven vehicle has protection for not only the belts from dirt and debris, but for the electronics of the radio and ESC as well.  The motor is front mounted giving this vehicle an amazing scale handling characteristic.  However where it falls down is it’s small scale.  You really need to find some scale terrain to drive it on.  On blue metal, it suffers and gets rocks jammed in the steering, on a 1:10 off road course the obstacles are simply too large.  Whilst I have loved it, I have found fewer off road places to drive it than I expected.  Don’t let that put you off, if you have the right kind of terrain, it is an absolute BLAST to drive.  https://www.tamiyausa.com/items/radio-control-kits-30/4wd-rally-on-road-(xv)-36180/rc-subaru-impreza-wrx-sti-58528

Rally cars can not be spoken of without looking at the Rally Legends models.  Whilst not the most technically complex or advanced vehicles, they more than make up for this in incredible scale looks.  With licensed bodies and liveries of famous rally cars such as the Lancia Stratos, Fiat 131 Abarth, Lancia Delta S4, Lancia 037, Ford Escort and Iveco Tracker Dakar Truck.  http://www.rallylegendsrc.com/ and http://www.rallylegendmodels.com/RLM_-_Online_Store.html

In the LARGE scale, you have the monstrous, $2000 Losi Mini WRC car, complete with AVC, 29cc petrol engine with EFI, 800 cc fuel tank, remote operated start and a licensed Mini Body.  Great looks and would sound great, but out of the budget of many drivers. http://www.losi.com/Products/Default.aspx?ProdID=LOS05000

Slightly smaller is the Kyosho DRX VE, marketed as a 1:8 and 1:9, but more like a 1:7 scale vehicle.  Realistically it is a similar size to the three short course converted vehicles featured in this article, but the electric and nitro versions of this model have been on the market for some time.  With a few licensed bodies available the DRX VE is more like a converted 8th scale buggy than short course truck in it’s layout, size and configuration fitted with tenth scale electronics.  At around $400 USD it is a big model capable of covering a broad range of terrain.  There are some weak points of the DRX design, however while the model price is good, bodies can be very expensive to replace. However all in all it is acknowledged to be a good rc car.  http://www.kyosho.com/eng/products/rc/detail.html?product_id=108654

There are a lot of other rally cars of varying scales available, but I thought I would cover the more popular ones today rather than every one on the market!

What 2wd RTR Buggy for 2014?

I wrote a piece in February contemplating what 2wd buggies were available on the market today, and promised a follow up looking at what RTR cars are out there to consider for racing.

There are actually more 2wd Buggies available RTR than there are in kit form today.  For many years, 2wd buggy was, and has once again become, the mainstay of the buggy world, and the ideal introductory platform for new drivers racing in the stock class with a 17.5t motor limit.  It teaches new drivers about throttle control, vehicle dynamics and car setup among other things.  As far as the manufacturers are concerned, what better way to start than with a package that is bundled up, built and ready to go!

What are the benefits to a RTR over a kit?  normally the electronics are not the top of the line, but do the job, often alloy parts are replaced with plastic equivalents and you obviously get little choice in tyres, esc etc.  Some do come with a battery and chargers, some do not.

So let’s have a look at some of the options out there, and which ones you should give close consideration to.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Team Associated

in the RTR line, team associated have the B4.2 RS Brushless RTR.  THe first question I hear many saying is what about the B5 twins?  well, they are brand new models, and they don’t do a RTR yet, if they do at all, but there is nothing wrong with the B4.2, it is still a world class car.  Fitted with a rear mounted motor, 2.4ghz radio, composite chassis, Reedy 3300kV motor and a gear differential.  In this package you get a world class platform set up ready to go.  Against, it is a sensorless motor and esc, so ineligible to race at most clubs in Australia.  It does not come with a battery, and that’s about it really, it is a good vehicle at a good price!  How long it is available for with the B5 on the market however will be interesting to see.

Losi / TLR

A little more expensive than the B4.2RS, the 22 Brushless RTR doesn’t seem to be a whole lot different to the 22 kit.  Again, now superceded by the new 22 2.0, but that doesn’t make the original a bad investment by any standard.  Fitted with a ROAR legal 13.5 brushless (sensored) motor and esc combination, alloy chassis,  a Spektrum 2.4ghz radio and gear differential this is one powerhouse package.  Cons, well most 2wd buggy racing is 17.5 or open, leaving 13.5 somewhere in the middle, the good news, you only need to add your own 17.5 if you are going to be racing stock.  Pros, you pretty much get all the goodies that a kit 22 has, with the exception of a ball differential.

Kyosho

Price wise slotting in between the B4.2RS and 22 RTR, the Ultima RB6 ReadySet is a brand new RTR model on the market following the release of the RB6 kit. Featuring an alloy chassis, 2.4 ghz radio and a 2700 kv sensorless motor combination. Again, problems arise here whereby the motor is not sensored, so not able to race in most places, and if you have to buy a new ESC and motor it kinda defeats the purpose of a RTR as a race car.  Admittedly many RTR kits are aimed at the casual basher, but to have a RB6 and not race it would be somewhat of a shame.

ECX

Many racers would look at me and say ECX as a race car, really?  Well, why not, lets not be brand snobs and look at what options are available.  Ok, so ECX is neither know for racing, nor aimed at it, but their Boost RTR Buggy is durable, and race legal, and very affordable!  It comes out of the box with a basic battery, a race legal 20t brushed motor and gear differential.  If you are starting in the hobby, certainly an option to look at.

Traxxas

We can’t talk about 2wd RTR buggies without looking at the Traxxas Bandit.  Available at a range of price points depending on if you want a brushed motor, waterproof, brushless or TQi radio system, the bandid is a long lived platform, that while aimed at the basher, can be used on the track as well.  The brushless versions are more expensive, but are sensorless motors, so no good for racing.  the basic brushed version however only costs a little more than the ECX boost but comes with the famous Traxxas parts availability at virtually every hobby store, a 12t 550 motor, which does have too many turns for 17.5 racing, and is a 550 can, but it can affordably be swapped for a suitable brushed motor.  There is even a training mode in the esc that allows for only 50% throttle to be applied, perfect for the young beginner, and a battery is included as well to get you going right out of the box.

Helion

Another brand that is all too often looked over in favour of the big boys, it fits into the same category as the ECX Boost in so far as it is affordable, effective and durable. The Helion Criterion is fitted with a 12t brushed motor which, like the Traxxas has too many turns for the 17.5 class, but can be simply and affordably changed.  An ESC that can cope with LIPO and NIMH (including the packaged 7 cell NIMH), even a 2.4 ghz radio. However parts can be a little tricky as with any of the smaller brands in the RC market.

ARRMA

ARRMA is best known for it’s bashing vehicles and twin vertical plate chassis, and their ADX10 BLX is no exception.  Fitted with a twin vertical plate chassis instead of the composite bathtub or alloy chassis and side pods featured in the other buggies, this unconventional buggy is another racing alternative.  Fitted with a 3600kv motor it is fast, but as with the others, is not a race approved sensored brushless system, so a bit of a bummer there, but that is only one obstacle that is common in many of these kits.  These vehicles seem to be available for a good price at many stores so it is an option worth looking into.

What no RTR’s!

Tamiya have a bewildering range of vintage re released kits available for purchase for racing etc, however I am not aware that any are available as a full RTR.  Schumacher and Team Xray are another 2 that only sell kits, not any RTR packages.  Hot bodies as previously mentioned has no 2wd  buggy, although photos of a rumoured one appear from time to time.  Whilst Team Durango did have a RTR of their popular DEX210 the release of the 2.0 version means that the RTR has been discontinued, I presume to be replaced with a new version in time.

Remember, there are bargains to be had 2nd hand

As I mentioned in my last article, there are bargains to be had on the 2nd hand market, with used kits with motors, esc’s and radios fitted for less than their new value.  Check out your local club’s for sale boards, check out eBay and gumtree, look at the RC tech Australian For Sale section and see what is about.  Always remember that it is a case of buyer beware when it comes to any 2nd hand goods, especially electronics.  A broken screw or part can be replaced, but electronics are difficult to repair if they can be repaired at all.

What 2wd Buggy for 2014?

I’ve seen it said by the boys at Action RC, and I tend to agree, that in Australia, 2014 will be the year of the buggy!

In 1:10 there seems to be a renaissance in the number of people racing not only in 1:10, but in Buggy as well!  Certainly I know I am looking at stepping into the 2wd buggy ring, so I thought I would have a bit of a wander through some of the offerings form the big players in the game!  Today i’ll focus on the kits available, however there are some great priced packages available in RTR that I will have a look at another day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Team Associated

The RC10B has been a dominant buggy in the 2wd arena for decades, and the latest iteration brings us a pair of twins in the form of the B5 and B5M.  Whereas the B5 retains it’s composite chassis and rear mounted configuration, the B5M is a completely different kit rather than a single configurable kit and moves to an alloy chassis for the mid mounted configuration that is becoming popular for high traction surfaces such as sugared clay and carpet.  A ball differential and 12mm big bore chocks means that this kit is right up to date with the technology used by it’s competitors. Battery choices are a little different here as the B5 and B5m are designed for Shorty, saddle or square packs rather than the long running standard stick packs. So keep that in mind if looking at these twins.

Another unconventional option from Associated is the RC10 Worlds edition that was recently re released by Team Associated.  In some areas vintage racing is becoming popular and what better to use than a world championship winning design.

Team Losi / TLR

Team Losi, and in recent years, their racing arm TLR, is another of the old boys in the Buggy arena, with the latest offering, the 22 2.0 Buggy being a popular, and robust buggy.  With parts to configure the 22 in the conventional Rear or Mid Mounted position the 22 was one of the first 2wd buggies able to be configured both ways.   Until the 22 most 2wd buggies were only available as a mid mounted configuration through specialist conversions, but with some clever engineering the 22 was able to do it all. With a narrow aluminium chassis, ball differential and a very compact configuration this is a favorite with many drivers.  The original 22 is by no means outdated or uncompetitive either so keep an eye out for good 2nd hand examples.  One thing to consider however, if you have stick packs, it is a very close fit, if it is able to at all, to run a stick pack in the mid mount configuration.  you would be better off with a shorty or saddle pack batteries with the 22.

Kyosho

The latest iteration of their buggy, the RB6 is the latest in a long line of evolution for this buggy.   The RB6 features an aluminium chassis, mid or rear mount engine configurations and the velvety smooth shocks that Kyosho’s race vehicles are famous for. Taking any battery configuration, this platform can be configured to work in any environment.

HPI / HB

The HB 2wd buggy is, umm, sorry, there isn’t one!  While HPI/HB have a killer 4wd buggy in their stable, nothing more than prototypes have appeared in the last decade, so if you are a HPI/HB fan, i’m afraid you will have to look elsewhere!

Yokomo

Not a name many are familiar with, but this Japanese manufacturer has a long history in RC.  Their B-Max2 is a configurable mid/rear mount configuration on it’s alloy chassis and takes a shorty, saddle or square battery pack.  All in all it is a world class vehicle.

Serpent

Another manufacturer that doesn’t have the profile that it should in Australia, but some drivers are starting to use them.  The Spyder SRX-2 MM and RM are separate models, not a configurable one.  Serpent have stuck with composite chassis for both their Mid Mounted, and rear mounted models. Big Bore 12mm Shocks, and a 3 pad slipper clutch along with a host of innovative design details make the Spyder a buggy worth considering.

Schumacher

Schumacher has been around for a long time, but doesn’t have the international racing program, or scale of some of the other ig players, but make no mistake, it plays with the big boys on the track.  A small operation in the UK, Schumacher is a household name in RC Racing in England.  With Rear mounted and Mid mounted Buggies scattered throughout their racing history, they offer three fantastic buggies in their Cougar 2wd lineup. The Cougar SV2 is a conventional alloy chassised buggy with a ball differential.  Great for indoor tracks of any kind the motor is just in front of the rear axle, much the same way that the DEX210, and TLR 22 are.  However the Cougar KF takes this a step further as it is a belt driven buggy with the engine mounted a lot neared to the middle of the vehicle.  Some are calling this a front mount, but really it is more of a true mid mount.  With a gear differential and Carbon Fibre chassis, this car is a high traction specialist.  Because of the belt you do need to run saddle packs, however with an optional tensioner you can run shorty packs sideways.  Rear mount fans do not despair, as the Cougar KR is also available with alloy chassis, gear differential, and a black anodised look that makes other buggies quake in fear.  Can you tell that I love the Schumacher buggies!

Team Durango

Whilst Team Durango is a relatively new name in the pits, they have certainly made a name for themselves quickly with quality products at fantastic prices since their 2008 arrival.  Originally building low volume specials, Team Durango now boasts a full range of vehicles, and their latest 2wd, the DEX210V2 is no slouch boasting a huge range of configuration possibilities at a good price.  Rear and mid mount configurations are available out of the box mounted on an alloy chassis and fitted with a ball differential.

Team Xray

Xray have long been known for their Luxury RC kits, however in off road, their presence had until recently been confined to the 8th scale arena.  However the release of the XB4 and the XB4 2wd, that all changed.  Using the platform to the 4wd XB4 to create a 95% commonality of parts, the XB4 2wd essentially has had the front drive shaft removed.  So basically a true Mid mount like the Cougar KF, but with a shaft rather than belt drive. Saddle Packs are the name of the day because of the drive shaft configuration. A multi flex alloy chassis with composite chassis frame is fitted to allow chassis flex to be tuned to the track conditions.  Gear differentials rather than ball differentials are also fitted, although an optional ball differential is available.

Tamiya

As with anything else, there are a range of buggies available from Tamiya, from originals such as the Frog and Hornet through to more modern alternatives.  The TRF201 is their 2wd offering, but honestly, I don’t know anybody that uses one, not that it is a bad kit, just other choices for the most part are more popular.

What is best for me?

That is a tricky question, and the answer depends on a lot of questions.  For example, rear mount buggies tend to perform better on loose surfaces such as dirt or clay, whereas Mid Mounted buggies tend to be quicker on high traction surfaces such as carpet, astro turf or sugared clay.   Parts availability is another factor, so check out what your local hobby store has. Of course there are always online stores, but we encourage racers to support their local stores.  Major manufacturers such as Team Associated, Losi and Durango tend to have parts more readily available in stores and online.  However Action R/C for example, not only have great parts for their Schumacher vehicles, but are super helpful and always willing to help and answer questions.  Other configurations depend on personal preference such as Gear vs Ball differentials, and whilst many kits come with one or the other, mostly the opposite is available as an optional part.  Batteries may be an issue of you have a stock of stick packs for example, then you might look at a kit that can use them as well vs those that can not fit them.

Don’t Discount 2nd Hand

There is nothing wrong with a 2nd hand kit of a previous generation of the buggies that I have mentioned above.  Often they are fantastic value, and if bought locally come set up for your track!  RCtech for examplle has a large Australian buy and sell section, as do most local clubs, so keep an eye out for a bargain, after all it is more about the driver than the car that they are wheeling.

The main thing is to get something, get out there, and most importantly, have fun!