Track ready and basher approved
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s May 2015 issue.
Photos: Walter Sidas
To date, the lineup of vehicles bearing the name Basher RC from HobbyKing has been, well, limited to basher style vehicles. However, this latest release, the BZ-222 buggy is track ready right out of the box. High end, competition level machines boast such features as droop screws, threaded shocks, CVDs and other such goodies and those options are all standard equipment on the BZ-222. Not only that, but the buggy is easily converted from rear to mid motor to suit the driver’s style or track conditions and it doesn’t require a shorty LiPo in either setup so batteries can easily be sourced for it. Topped off with a beautifully pre painted body, the BZ-222 is poised and ready for track duties.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: Team Basher By HobbyKing
WHO IT’S FOR: Bashers and Club Racers
PART NUMBER: 9249000751-0
HOW MUCH: $159.99 (RTR version only)
BUILD TYPE: RTR
• Swappable between mid or rear motor
• Belt style transmission
• Big bore threaded shocks
• 3mm alloy chassis
• Transmitter for the RTR version is toy-like
• The stock transmitter failed to work properly (An aftermarket system was used for testing)
2WD Buggy has always been my “bread and butter” for RC racing so when I saw the BZ-222 come in for review, I fended the rest of the staff off with a big stick to make sure I’d get to test it first. My first impression upon opening the box was, cool … they custom painted a body for it. Wrong; the Lexan shell is pre-painted at the factory, but it looks awesome. Further inspection revealed a myriad of tuning options to dial the buggy in for any driving style and/or track conditions with perhaps the best one being the ability to switch between mid or rear motor setups without the need for a four-gear setup. Sure the transmitter included with the RTR BZ-222 looks a bit hokey for a race machine, but when I saw the price of the buggy, I didn’t care … and then I picked my jaw up off the floor.
TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• Bind plug for the radio as well as the few parts required to swap from rear to mid motor configuration
• (4) AAA batteries for the transmitter
• 2S LiPo stick or shorty
• Compatible charger
• Turing Nano-Tech Ultimate 6000mAh 90C LiPo (NC6000.2S2P.9) $51.73 (US Warehouse)
HOP-UPS WE RECOMMEND
• TrackStar Silicone Shock Oil (assorted weights) $2.34 each
The big bore shocks on the BZ-222 seemed a bit under-damped from the factory so we opted for some heavier oil from TrackStar. A quick refill with their 700 weight oil had the buggy firmly planted on the track and eliminated any chassis slap.
• Optional Ball Diff Set For BZ-222 (9249001080-0 ) $15.39
The stock bevel gear diff is sealed to allow for the use of different weight fluids for tuning, but the optional ball diff adds a whole other dimension to the BZ-222. Such traditional race setups might require more maintenance, but the performance they bring to the table is well worth it. A ball diff offers much smoother power delivery over bumpy conditions and is easier to fine tune than the gear diff setup.
• Robinson Racing Pinion Gear 6-Pack Even 16-26T (1050) $12.69
The stock 15T pinion gear gives the buggy great hole-shot authority, but for larger tracks with long straights and huge jumps, gearing up is imperative. This assortment of pinions from RRP means you’ll always have the right gear combo no matter where you’re racing.
The transmission of the BZ-222 utilizes a belt between the differential gear and the top shaft gear. Basically, the belt replaces an idler gear that would normally reside between the two aforementioned gears and the idea is that there is a small amount of give in the belt to protect the gears, drive shafts and electronics from any undue force from copious amounts of throttle. One might wonder as to the longevity of a belt versus an idler gear, but Basher RC has thought of that and incorporated a belt tensioner to the tranny to keep things nice and slop free.
Many 2WD buggies these days are switching to the mid motor configuration, especially with the high-bite clay surfaces we run on. The BZ-222 is no exception as it can easily be switched from rear to mid motor in around 30 minutes or less. Further enhancing the appeal of the buggy, standard stick-pack LiPos can be used with either motor configuration so the purchase of shorty packs is not necessary.
The suspension of the BZ-222 is all business. Big bore aluminum threaded shocks, droop screws in the rear and fully adjustable links for camber and toe are all standard issue. No matter what your driving style requires, rest assured that you’ll be able to find that perfect setup with this buggy.
The ESC and motor found in the ARR and RTR versions of the BZ-222 are sensorless, but they offer a ton of tuning options for such a modestly priced vehicle. Parameters such as running mode, reverse force, brake force, drag brake, neutral range, start mode, timing, battery voltage protection and protection mode can all be changed to suit the end user’s tastes. All features that are sure to keep any would-be racer on top of his or her game.
ON THE TRACK
The steering response on our test buggy was probably the only disappointment in our multitude of running sessions. Through low speed corners, the stock unit was up to the task, but when pushed through the hard and fast sweepers, it seemed to waver a bit. We chalked it up to the sticky track surface at Wolcott Hobby and Raceway in Waterbury, CT in addition to the obligatory heavy doses of throttle. For $159.99 completely ready to run, I really can’t complain and with the money left over, any racer can stash some loot for an upgrade unit down the road when their skills require it. The addition of a draglink with adjustable mounts for Ackermann is a welcome feature and is most useful on tight, indoor layouts.
The factory installed 3300Kv motor in the ARR and RTR versions is fast for sure, so the modified class is the only option if not running the “Roller” version with your own electronics. Basher RC has proven in the past that a pile of money saved doesn’t mean you got a lemon. The stock motor is sensorless, but the tuning options on the ESC allow for a great deal of tweaking. The Start Mode (punch) option gives the driver the choice of four different modes to smooth things out. Of course, using the hefty 90C batteries doesn’t hurt in that department either. The initial throttle response was crisp and predictable while not uncontrollable. Once up to speed, the BZ-222 felt just like a brushed setup. Again, not too shabby for 160 smackers!
The greatest attribute of the BZ-222 is most definitely the handling. The big bore shocks and low- slung alloy chassis really help to keep the buggy centered and tracking straight through even the hairiest of corners. To that end, the buggy also jumps like a champ. No matter how we entered a launcher, the BZ-222 always seemed to square up once off the ground and if not, it was easily rectified with careful inputs of throttle or brake. When tossing the buggy skywards over the larger jumps, we did notice a bit of chassis slap on the landings, hence the recommendation for a couple different shock oils. The oil included in the stock units seems a bit light, so we swapped it out for some TrackStar 700 weight and instantly noticed a difference. The heavier oil made a world of difference, but the track surface we were running on was butter-smooth so going so heavy might not be for everyone.
Keeping with the Basher RC tradition, the BZ-222 is tough as nails. The suspension arms look like something from vintage rides with their square-stock design. Most competition-grade machines these days have parts that are whittled down to save weight, but this buggy has beefy arms to stand up to those pipes. Sure, it might be heavier than most 2WD buggies out there (especially with that porky 6000mAh LiPo), but it’ll save novice racers time and money in the long run. After the required photos had been captured and we had run a few more packs through the BZ-222 to get a feel for it, we commenced with the torture tests. Throwing caution to the wind, we set out for a faster lap time than what was currently the track record. Needless to say, we got close, but there were more than a few tumbles along the way. At the end of the day, the only damage (if you could call it that) was a few ball cups that popped off here and there.
SPECS AND TUNING OPTIONS
LENGTH: 15.55 in. (395mm)
WIDTH: 9.88 in. (251mm)
WHEELBASE: 11.38 in. (289mm)
WEIGHT: Varies with batteries used
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
BODY: Pre-painted buggy body WHEELS: Yellow dish
WHEEL ADAPTER TYPE: 12mm hex front and rear
TIRES: Pre-mounted spikes
TYPE: 4-wheel independent
SHOCK POSITIONS: (F) 3-tower, 2-arm, (R) 3-tower, 2-arm
CAMBER: Fully adjustable links
ROLL: Adjustable with spacers
WHEELBASE: Adjustable with spacers front and rear
RIDE HEIGHT: Droop screws rear and threaded pre-load spacers
TYPE: Bell crank with drag link
TOE: Fully adjustable links
TYPE: Flat pan
MATERIAL: Anodized Alloy
TRANSMISSION: 2 gear with drive belt
DIFFERENTIAL: Bevel gear diff
GEAR RATIO: NA
BEARINGS: Full set of shielded
CLUTCH TYPE: Slipper
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Performance – Acceleration: 8
Performance – Steering: 6
Performance – Handling: 8
Performance – Durability: 8
Feature Breakdown: 8
Overall Value: 8
The BZ-222 is, by far, the best bang-for-your- buck 2WD buggy option on the market today. In a class that normally commands a packed wallet and refined skills, this model is a most welcome arrival. Novice racers no longer have to rely on full-bodied SCTs to cut their teeth in the club racing world for fear of spending a ton on repairs. The BZ-222 gives any blossoming racer the tools they need to master the art of clean lines before stepping into a full-blown race machine. The slew of tuning options on the chassis itself in addition to those on the ESC offer a great platform for those looking to get into RC racing … and do it how we did it back in the 80s; with a 2WD buggy!