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BZ-444 RTR Review

This article was originally published in RC Driver’s December 2015 issue.

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Words: David Harrington
Photos: Edwin Rodriguez

I have had my eye on this Basher brand since HobbyKing started distributing them. The name is so straight to the point, it’s almost like naming your brand “Racer”. That got my interest. So with a name like Basher, their target market is obvious, and their line up of 1/8-scale nitro RCs and Nitro Circus sponsored monster trucks fit the bill. Then comes the BSR Racing subdivision of the Basher family. Amongst the BSR Racing line up is a 1/8-scale buggy, a 1/10 2WD buggy, and a 1/10 4WD buggy. The 4WD buggy that we’re looking at in this article comes in several versions. A full race kit with all the goodies, two loaded up ARTR versions, that include either a 10.5 or 17.5 system already installed, and the RTR sport model that I will be evaluating today. When somebody purchases a RTR they usually want everything included, but ultimately want it at a price less than the race kit. So compromises will be made, and many sport level kits are aimed more at the first time backyard bashers than the racers. So it will be interesting to find out, is this car from Basher brand’s BSR Racing a basher or a racer? I already knew the answer from the beginning, but I thought it would fun to just let this play out.

AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: Basher/BSR Racing
WHO IT’S FOR: Beginner-Intermediate
HOW MUCH: $159
BUILD TYPE: RTR

PROS
• Race ready 10.5 sensored power system
 Metal gear servo is fast and strong
  Quality materials, fit and finish
 Convenient clamping motor mount
 Uses the more common stick pack battery
 Excellent handling
 Sealed drivetrain

CONS
• I personally would like to be able to move the battery hold down pieces in closer to accommodate shorty packs as well as standard stick packs.
Wing material is kind of brittle

REVIEWER’S OPINION
I think this is a great car for the backyard basher or first time buyer who wants something to beat around the house, but may want to get into racing later. The sealed drivetrain, stick pack battery configuration, and durability makes it good for a backyard bashing, but I’ll tell you, you’re missing out if you don’t get it on a track. I was impressed with the out of box handling, and how responsive the BZ-444 is to tuning changes. With a couple minor tweaks, I was actually surprised just how superb the handling is!

TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• Bind plug
• Preload clips

ITEMS NEEDED
• Four “AA” type batteries for the transmitter, 2S stick pack LiPo battery, LiPo charger

ITEMS USED
Turnigy Nano-Tech Ultimate 6000mah 2S 90C LiPo battery #NC6000.2S2P.9 $52.98
Racer Edge EZ80 charger, RCESC1700, $74.99

ADDITIONAL ITEMS USED
• Associated 35wt shock oil, #ASC5429, $4
• Associated 30wt shock oil, #ASC5422, $4

HOP-UPS WE RECOMMEND
Pro-Line Ion M4 Tires, 8222-03 (R) 8223-03 (F), $13 pair, These tires are a necessity to run on a slick clay track. I recommend looking into what works at your track.
Pro-Line Trifecta wing, #6250-17, $14, This wing will be more durable than stock, it’s pre-frosted for greater visibility, and it should improve handling.
Team C Nylon connecting cup, #TR4030, $3.50, While I did not have a problem with the center drivecups during testing, these have been reported to be more durable. You will need four total.

FEATURE BREAKDOWN
The BZ-444 is designed and track proven featuring a mid mounted motor and rear mounted battery style race chassis, but is made of a more durable composite, and is designed to accommodate stick packs. This makes sense as stick packs are more readily available, and generally cheaper for the first timer, or you may already have stick packs around. To make room for the larger battery the chassis is wider than the race version. Composite upper braces make a rigid back bone, for a stiff chassis with just the right amount of flex.

The suspension is the same as the race version with the exception of the shocks, which are your standard RTR plastic units. The aluminum shocks on this race version are a big bore, and at first I was afraid the car would be under-damped, but after a change of oils I found the stock shocks work just fine, and never leaked. There are numerous holes for shock position, and roll center to get it dialed in, but I found it didn’t take much to get it feeling just right.

The motor is mounted to a cam which is clamped into place in the cast aluminum motor mount. This makes adjusting gear mesh a snap. Just loosen two screws and rotate the motor. The power is transferred to a center spur which is slipper clutch equipped. The entire drivetrain is enclosed. Just four screws to access the slipper, and then just one more to remove the cover over the pinion gear. CVD type universals are used in the front for smooth power transfer while steering, and dog bones are used in the rear. While steel drive cups are used to drive the axles at the wheels, the center driveshaft is propelled by composite cups. This is actually a nod to the race version, as this significantly reduces rotational mass, making the drivetrain more responsive, and the chassis less inclined to roll under power. Another nod to the race version is the ball diffs being included, and gear diffs being an option. Ball diffs require more maintenance, bad for the basher, but can be fine tuned more accurately than a gear diff, good for the racer.

The tires are a medium soft mini block pattern that should work well on many outdoor tracks. While the compound is not super sticky, it is fairly soft, and will wear quickly, but this is a decent set of race tires for an RTR RC. They are mounted to to some stylish white spoke wheels. To accommodate the wider chassis a wider body had to be designed, and it is screen printed with some nice graphics.

A 4WD car will put extra stress on the servo, because when the traction is uneven the tires will actually pull at the servo. The servo is a metal gear unit with a decent amount of torque, and is fairly fast, really fast for a RTR servo. It is a good match to the car. The radio is your basic RTR unit, but this one does have a quality feel. The steering wheel has a rubber grip, and I like that it has a stubby antenna which is less likely to break.

I have to admit I am biased when it comes to the power system. A couple of my friends and I have been running the 120A version of the Turnigy Trackstar, and we all agree it is the best bang for the buck race controller out there. At 80 amps the version that comes in the BZ-444 is powerful enough to handle the included 10.5 turn motor. It is a sensored controller, so you don’t have the cogging issues found in unsensored systems, and throttle control is smooth. It is what is called a “blinky” controller, which means when there is no timing boost programmed a light blinks constantly, which makes it ROAR legal for spec class racing. The Turnigy program box is sold separately, and will unlock the true potential of this controller. Besides all your usual adjustments, reverse mode, Lipo cutoff, brake strength, drag brakes, punch control, timing (boost), etc., it also has this Turbo mode which I find interesting. When you turn up your timing to give up power for speed, the turbo mode kicks the timing in after a user selectable amount of time, so you get the best of both worlds. The 10.5 motor has large vent holes to keep if running cool. It also has powerful magnets and a large rotor that you can feel grabbing when you spin it. I really love the power from this motor.

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ON THE TRACK
When I received this car it was raining outside, but I couldn’t wait to try it. So I began my evaluation in my garage. Since the power system is sensored and smooth on the bottom end, I was able to nudge into the throttle, and maintain control in the tight space. I was checking the steering radius, which is not bad, when the child in me kicked in, and I gave in to my urges to nail it. The rear end slid out, and I was able to get some controlled drift action on the slick surface. I started having a blast drifting around the garage. After the rain died down I took it out front and did some speed runs up and down the block. Top speed is not exactly ballistic, but I’ll tell you if you get the program box to boost the timing, this system will be blasting wheelies up and down the block. The electronics ran cool throughout my testing so there is definitely room to crank things up, or go up a couple teeth on the pinion gear, but as is I felt it it was geared good for a track. I brought it in to blast over the humps in my gravel yard. Typically gravel is the mortal enemy of most 4WD buggies, and RCs in general, but with the BZ-444’s sealed drivetrain, I was able to spray gravel everywhere, and never had a problem with it getting into the drivetrain. I started hopping it over the gutter, and noticed the rear end was a little slap happy upon landing. It could definitely use some thicker shock oil. After that I decided to make some changes for the track, because it felt good, and I really wanted to see what it would do on a track. The stock tires probably would have been ideal on my usual outdoor track, but recent storms have demolished our track. We will rebuild once it cools down outside, but in the meantime we’ve been hitting the local indoor clay track, Warehouse 3. It is impossible to drive on this track without a proper set of clay tires, so I swapped on a set of Pro-Line Ions, and sauced them with some traction compound. I also knew from my previous testing this car needed thicker shock oil for the big jumps on the track. So I put 35wt in the front, and 30wt in the rear, because I wanted to get the rear end to hook better. I also moved the lower position of the rear shock out one hole, to make the rear a little more progressive. Before I hit the track I decided to check it out with my usual car to see how the track was feeling. That particular car is dialed, and I thought it may have been a mistake as that just raised the bar really high. When I hit the track with the BZ-444 I was pleasantly surprised. It felt even better than the other car! When I told it to turn, it turned immediately. It carried its speed through the corners. It jumped beautifully, ever so slightly nose high, but responsive to throttle control, and easy to bring the nose down. The other cars were gaining slightly in the straights, but then I’d blast them in the turns. Soon I was lapping traffic, and lapped traffic is a weakness of mine, but I felt confident, and I weaved in and out of them coming out of the corner. My only glitch was trying to get the steering trimmed up. The tiny analog knob was difficult to reach while driving, and too sensitive to the slightest nudge. Change out the receiver so I can drive with my regular radio, and I would have no problems racing this car as is. Impressive.

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The current breed of 4WD race buggies have been center mounted motors with the battery in he rear. The BZ-444 is no exception, but most race buggies use saddle packs to clear the center driveshaft. Basher instead raised the center diff, and angled the rear diff case up to clear a stick pack, which are cheaper and more readily available than saddle packs.
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The smooth clean design, and counter- sunk screws means that there is nothing on the bottom to get hung up. The screws use racer preferred hex head screws.
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Besides the radio and instruction manuals, there not a lot extra included in the box, but that is because the extras are in the cars. You are getting a lot of car for the money!
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SPECS AND TUNING OPTIONS

DIMENSIONS
LENGTH: 16.14 in. (410mm)
WIDTH: 9.84 in. (250mm)
WHEELBASE: 11.22 in. (285mm)
WEIGHT: 4.52 lbs. (2400g

BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
BODY: Pre-painted buggy
WHEELS: White spokes
WHEEL ADAPTER TYPE: 12mm hex
TIRES: Medium compound mini block tread

SUSPENSION
TYPE: 4-wheel independent
SHOCK POSITIONS: (F) 3-tower, 2-arm, (R) 3-tower, 2-arm
CAMBER: Adjustable links ROLL: (F) 2-tower, adjustable height-hub, (R) 3-tower, 2-hub
WHEELBASE: Rear hub spacers
RIDE HEIGHT: Preload clips MISC: N/

STEERING
TYPE: Dual bellcrank
TOE: Adjustable turnbuckles

CHASSIS
TYPE: Tub
MATERIAL: Composite
THICKNESS: Various

DRIVETRAIN
TYPE: 4WD
TRANSMISSION: Center slipper
DIFFERENTIALS: Ball
GEAR RATIO: Optional pinion gears
BEARINGS: Full set of shielded
CLUTCH TYPE: Dual pad slipper

RATING TALLY
Opinion: 9
Performance – Acceleration: 8
Performance – Steering: 10
Performance – Handling: 9
Performance – Durability: 9
Feature Breakdown: 8
Overall Value: 10

WRAP UP
As soon as I had this car in my hands I knew it had race potential. It just felt right. Everything was in the right place, and most of all there’s a truly race ready and ROAR legal power system. It is also a good around the house basher, and great for a backyard track. Since it is based off a full race chassis, hop up potential is nearly unlimited. With HobbyKing’s direct pricing, you get all this at a bargain price. With the east coast warehouse ready to ship, you’re sure to get it quick!

LINKS
HobbyKing,  hobbyking.com

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