4WD ELECTRIC BUGGY
Words: Steve Trebing
Photos: Edwin Rodriguez
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s August 2016 issue.
The electric four-wheel drive buggy continues to be a prominent class to run among the racing crowd. At the local tracks, I see upcoming racers graduate to this class and I see some that just want to run for fun. 4WD racing tends to be a more expensive class and that does turn away some who want to try the class. But that doesn’t have to be. BSR is looking to get drivers into the 4WD class with a capable car that won’t break the budget. HobbyKing’s racing line, BSR offers the BZ-444 Pro and it comes in three forms, RTR, ARR and Kit. We are looking at the ARR version but they all feature the same basic platform, and what a platform it is! BSR seems to have gotten a club racer style buggy right, let us take a closer look and see if runs as good as it looks.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: BSR Racing
WHO IT’S FOR: Beginner to Intermediate
PART NUMBER: 9424000425-0
HOW MUCH: $199.99
BUILD TYPE: ARR
• Tons of upgrades
• Fantastic ESC and motor
• Lots of adjustments
• Saddle pack battery configuration
• Stock class race ready
• Parts support can be slow
• Low stock at times from website
Trying out the 4WD 1/10 electric buggy class is easy with the BSR Racing BZ-444 Pro ARR. For a great price, you get a more than capable buggy already loaded with electronics. It handles well and can be dialed in to most track surfaces. This buggy dished out plenty of action during testing and I plan on driving it a lot more in the future!
TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• Radio and Battery
• Turnigy GTX3 2.4gHZ radio system- For an inexpensive radio, the GTX-3 packs a lot of features in including a LCD readout so you can easily see what you are tuning.
• Turnigy Nano-Tech 5000mAh 30-60c Hard Case Saddle Pack- Tunigy’s well-priced packs offer plenty of power and high capaci- ty for great run times.
HOP-UPS WE RECOMMEND
• Trackstar Oils, part number varies, Did you know Hobbyking’s Trackstar offers a full line of oils to help get your car dialed in? The 60ml bottles are defined in CST when choosing weights
• Pro-Line Pinpoint tires- We ran our 444 on turf just for action photos and if you do too, a tire swap is necessary. Pro-Line’s Pinpoints are a great tire for this style of surface.
• The BZ-444 has a standard tub style composite plastic chassis that just works. It’s lightweight and moderately rigid but still flexible enough to provide great performance. The saddle pack battery configuration provides plenty of real estate for all the electronics, with room to spare. A multi-piece upper deck helps brace the spans between the front and rear gear cases and the center gear supports. The layout places the saddle pack in the rear with a forward mounted motor and the electronics mass on the opposite side for a well balanced platform.
• Very high quality, all aluminum, oil filled shocks are included with the Pro versions of the BZ-444. The shocks look good and felt ultra smooth. Composite A-arms, composite shock towers and composite steering knuckles make up the plastics of the suspension and all have a solid feel. What was really nice to see were aluminum hinge pin pivots for all four inner arms. What was even cooler were the aluminum caster blocks to support the steering knuckels. Fully adjustable turnbuckles front and rear round out the very complete factory upgraded suspension package.
• No shortcuts were taken in the steering department. A TrackStar TS-D99X super high- speed steering servo is included with the RTR and ARR versions of the buggy. Steering on the buggy is further handled by a standard dual bell crank system with an adjustable servo saver on the right side.
• Keeping with the theme of fully upgraded out of the box, the BZ-444 gets front and rear ball differentials, CVD’s on all four corners and in the center driveline as well as an aluminum adjustable motor mount. The driveline is of course, ball bearing supported and after removing the motor for a driveline check, I was pleased to see everything spin smooth and free. The differentials were also well built from the factory and did not require any adjustments.
• The finishing touches for the buggy include a pre-cut cab forward race ready body which we shipped right out to Larry over at Kustom RC Graphics. Larry knocks out incredible paint work so if you’re not one with an airbrush, he can make your race scheme come alive. A clear Lexan pre-mounted wing secures to composite wing mount and white dish wheels are wrapped in fairly soft, race ready tires.
ON THE TRACK
The BZ-444 and I hit a local BMX track that was not being used at the time. It’s still a little wet here and the outdoor tracks weren’t quite ready. On a freshly charged pack the buggy launched hard and hit the first jump like a pro. The pre-load in the suspension was a little soft and the BZ-444 bottomed out launching and landing on the far side of the rather large jump. Taking it through the high bank corners of the BMX track was amazing and I was able to carry tons of speed into a series of small doubles. The doubles were smaller than the first mega jump and the suspension seemed to really like the smaller stuff better. A small whoop section followed and this seemed to upset the buggy a little, but I was able to power through without too much issue. Finally, another high bank cor- ner and into another monster jump, which I took a little slower this time and that seemed to do the trick.
I made a couple of suspension pre-load adjustments and sent it back out. Much better now! Only a little belly slap on landing the big jumps and it made a huge difference in the whoop section. It seems with a little more time to tune, I would have been consistently lapping the BMX track like a champ. All in all, the BZ-444 is no slouch at the track. The out of the box setup is just about perfect for a stock 17.5 class of 4WD.
Steering was super-fast and very crisp. The track was fairly loose dirt but I had no prob- lems getting the buggy to go where I pointed it. There were of course times where I was in full four-wheel drift mode if I gave it too much coming out of a corner but, managing power is the name of the game in off-road racing.
The buggy is equipped with a Turnigy TrackStar 80A ESC and a Turnigy TrackStar 17.5 brushless motor. This is the perfect setup for beginner and intermediate racers. The power is on point for stock but not overpower- ing for the beginner. Cranking on the throttle would send the buggy hard and fast down the straights. The TrackStar ESC does a nice job slowing the car down if you have the braking set up correctly. I needed to add a little drag brake into the setup to get it just right. This is how I like to drive; you’ll need to set it up the way you like for the best results. The beautiful thing is, it is all adjustable!
As mentioned earlier, the suspension was a bit soft for the track I was racing on. I was able to adjust it and see a big increase in performance, but I would probably have liked to rebuild the shocks and experiment with the mounting positions if I had a little more time. The weigh distribution of the BZ-444 is just about perfect out of the box, making it very easy to jump and control in the air. With the slight drag brake I dialed in I was able to fly the car just about flat and level over all but the huge jumps.
During my testing, the only part that broke was a spur gear. I was fairly impressed with the overall durability and the buggy seems fairly stout and looks as though it can handle just about anything you can throw at it. One word of caution. Parts from HobbyKing can be a little tricky to get, depending on stock levels. It took quite some time to get a replacement spur gear for the BZ-444. That may be something to consider.
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SPECS AND TUNING OPTIONS
Length: 12.95 in. (410mm)
Width: 11.65 in. (250mm)
Height: 5.25 in. (140mm
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
Body: Fully Painted and Trimmed Lexan
Wheels: White Plastic
Wheel adapter type: Hex
Tires: Front and Rear: Micro-Pin
Type: 4-wheel Independent
Shock positions: Fully Adjustable, 3 Top, 2 Bottom Front and Rear
Camber: Adjustable Tie-Rods Front and Rear
Roll: Adjustable Front and Rear
Wheelbase: Fixed Position
Ride height: Fixed Position
Type: Dual Bellcrank w/ Servo Saver
Toe: Adjustable Tie-Rods
Type: Composite Tub
Material: Composite Plastic
Transmission: Direct Drive
Differential: Ball Diff Front and Rear Clutch
Gear ratio: 2.5:1
Bearings: Metal Sealed
Feature Breakdown: 10
Overall Value: 9
If you have an itch that only 4WD Off -Road Buggy can scratch, you really need to consider the BZ-444 Pro. For the money, this is easily one of the best values on the market. For under $200.00 you get a fully race ready buggy. Add your radio and a battery and hit the track. The buggy is designed well enough to be very competitive at most tracks. Swap out the 17.5 for a 4.5 or 5.5 and unleash the beast in the 4WD Mod class at most any track! This one is certainly a keeper for me. I can’t wait till the weather clears up a bit and I can get it out there with some competition!
HobbyKing, Basher, BRS, hobbyking.com