Racing’s in its blood!
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s September 2015 issue.
Photos: Walter Sidas
It’s incredible how quickly 2WD buggies are evolving and the directions they are going. When 2WD buggies surged back into the RC scene they were rear motor mounted as they had been for years, but now mid motor has become standard for high bite indoor racing and AE has developed two platforms, one mid motor and one rear motor, depending on the type of track you want to race on. The mid motor B5M has been a huge success and racers all over have been flocking to this buggy because it simply works. But AE somehow got the idea to mess with success and take the popular B5M to the next level and now they offer the B5M Factory Lite buggy we are about to review. It still looks similar to the B5M, but this buggy is loaded with Factory Team options like lightweight chassis, lightweight motor plate, aluminum front axles and several other goodies to help you shave even more time off your laps. Let’s see the details.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: Team Associated
WHO IT’S FOR: Intermediate to Advanced Driver
PART NUMBER: 90000
HOW MUCH: $279.99
BUILD TYPE: kit
• Lightweight chassis and motor plate
• AE diffs are always awesome
• Highly competitive right out of the box
• Responsive handling
• Accepts multiple battery configurations
• Would have liked coated shock shafts included in the kit
Team Associated knows 2WD buggies and the B5M Factory Lite is another epic release for the popular buggy class. This buggy is ready to race on high grip tracks right out of the box since it includes a load of option goodies to build up on its already impressive mid motor platform. If you want to race 1/10 e-buggies competitively, this could be the car you need to take down the win.
TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• Shock tools, oil, grease and Allen wrenches
• 7.4V LiPo (Shorty, square or saddle) Pack
• LiPo charger
• Radio System
• High Torque Servo
• Electronic Speed Control & Motor
• Reedy 410R Black Box ESC, 27000, The 410R is Reedy’s latest offering for a competition grade speed control. The ESC has customizable programs, blinky mode and logging features to help you get it dialed in to your driving style.
• Futaba 4PX Radio System, FUTK4905, So this AE buggy is stored in the Model 19 slot on my 4PX which I use to control a large portion of my RC fleet. This radio has plenty of programming options and even telemetry ability with optional sensors.
• Reedy RT 1508 Servo, 27101, Reedy’s new competition grade servo features high voltage ability, pumps out 212.4 oz./in. of torque at 7.4V and perhaps most importantly has a full black wire lead…oh so stealthy!
ADDITIONAL ITEMS USED
• Reedy 17.5T Brushless Motor
• Pro-Line Racing Prime Tires
• Robinson Racing 31T Pinion
HOP-UPS WE RECOMMEND
• FT Shock Body (V2) with Genuine Kashima Coat, 91576/ 91578, If you thought AE shocks were good before, wait until you try them with this new coating for a silky smooth feel and minimal wear.
• Ti Screw Set, 91600, I’m becoming a bigger fan of Ti screw sets not because they are lighter and strong, but because when race venues put additives on the track it often rusts the stock steel screws. No worries with Ti screws though.
• Graphite Battery Strap, 91545, Will this part make you win races? Most likely not. Then why are we suggesting it? Simple; #becauseracecar
In step three of the build process you pull the gray anodized lightweight chassis out of the box and a smirk will emerge on your face knowing this chassis weighs in at 108g; this is one of the reasons you bought the kit. The aluminum plate allows for a stiff chassis that wears less than composite. Plastic side plates bolt to the chassis and help secure your selection of battery, either a shorty pack, saddle pack or square pack. Packs are secured with an upper battery strap with thumb screws and foam spacers. A composite nose plate secures to the chassis plate and ties the front suspension clip to the buggy’s main section. There is plenty of room to mount a standard servo, ESC and receiver up front.
Up front the shocks mount behind the shock tower and meet up with hefty arms so you can settle down if you are worrying about durability. The upper links are blue titanium with AE’s impressive new rod ends. I’ve dinged AE in the past for their rod ends, but the new ends look solid. The caster blocks and steering knuckles feature inserts so their geometry can be tuned with optional included inserts. The rear arms are a swept design with large hubs at the ends and also with inserts to change toe. Wheelbase can also be adjusted by moving spacers between the hubs and arms. The upper inner pivot block in the rear is blue anodized machined aluminum since it is a high stress area. The gray ano’d aluminum shocks with composite caps are oil-filled, dual O-ring sealed and feature threaded bodies for preload adjustments. There is plenty of suspension tuning available on the car, but AE always provides a pretty dialed setup out of the box to start working with.
If you were looking for a servo saver on the steering you won’t find one. Today’s high end servos can handle steering duties just fine on a race machine like the B5M. AE fits the buggy with solid composite cranks that ride on ball bearings with a composite drag link and pivot balls at each end and spacers under them to adjust Ackermann. Ti links are used on the steering, too, with swept ball ends meeting up with the steering blocks. A standard servo sits nicely in the nose of the buggy with aluminum mounts included to secure it.
The drivetrain consists of Team Associated’s three-gear transmission. A lightweight, hard anodized aluminum top shaft is included in the kit and weighs just a few grams to keep rotating mass down. The top gear meets up with a large idler before spinning AE’s super smooth long lasting ball differential with lightweight outdrives. The outdrives spin steel universal driveshafts with captured pins and clamping 12mm hexes on both ends. The drivline runs on an impressive bearing set. The set is sealed on one side to protect it from dirt and it has a metal shield on the other side to reduce friction. Keep the sealed side facing out to fight dirt. A simple dual pad slipper keeps the tranny putting down the power smoothly and two spurs are included to help you gear the car right for stock or mod racing.
Additional frills on the buggy include lightweight front axles that fit 12mm hexes. A cab forward body and wing come with the kit and are ready for your paint scheme. We sent our shell out to Larry at Kustom RC Graphics for some cool paint work. The body includes instructions on how to cut it out for the style of transmission you run or you can cut it out for a universal fit.
ON THE TRACK
JUMPING/ HANDLING: Let’s get right to the good stuff, the B5M FL delivers on the excitement scale since it jumps and glides through the air so smooth and stable. When I hit some of the smaller, more aggressive jumps on our test track, the buggy popped up and over, landing with the nose on the backside of the jumps and needing just a slight tweak of the wheel to correct depending on how the jump was hit. Over the larger jumps it was more of the same, longer time in the air but the same smooth landings on the downside. Since the track was prepped, bumps were at a minimum.
STEERING: The feel of the steering on the buggy is phenomenal; it has plenty of off power steering which allows it to hug the corners of tight tracks with ease. It’s so easy to whip the car around a 180-degree corner and hit the throttle to launch down the next lane. On power the buggy had a slight push in the larger sweeping corners which is right on the mark, there was very little correction needed to keep the car from over- rotating in these situations. The weight bias feels just right for keeping the weight on all of the wheels which allows them to do their job of grabbing traction and putting the buggy where you want it to go.
ACCELERATION: Our test machine was set up for stock racing, but even still the buggy has plenty of rip at the top end. We give the Reedy power system a big nod here as the power band was excellent and there was plenty of rip on tap when needed. The buggy did its job of laying down the power too; well controlled acceleration, very little wheel spin. The B5M FL was pure fun putting down the power without worrying if you didn’t overly finesse the throttle trigger.
DURABILITY: The track’s pipes are pretty forgiving but the outer plywood walls were not. There were plenty of bumps that scuffed wheels, but no broken parts to report or bent rods. The ball ends stayed on without issue and our servo didn’t seem overly angry from any hits. The B5M FL is lighter which means you think it would break, but it didn’t, it held up like a champ!
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SPECS AND TUNING OPTIONS
LENGTH: 385mm (15.16 in.)
WIDTH: 247mm (9.72 in.)
WHEELBASE: 280mm (11.02 in.)
WEIGHT: 3.4 lbs.
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
BODY: Cab forward mid motor buggy
WHEEL ADAPTER TYPE: 12mm
TYPE: Double Wishbone
SHOCK POSITIONS: 3 Tower/ 2 Arm
CAMBER: Adjustable Links
ROLL: Adjustable link position and/ or height
WHEELBASE: Adjustable at rear hub
RIDE HEIGHT: Adjustable pre-load MISC: Inserts included to adjust caster block angle, spindle off-set and rear toe.
TYPE: Double solid crank
TOE: Adjustable link
TYPE: Pressed and machined plate
DIFFERENTIAL: Ball diff
GEAR RATIO: Pinion/ Spur
BEARINGS: Half rubber seal, half metal shielded
CLUTCH TYPE: Dual pad
Performance – Acceleration: 10
Performance – Steering: 9
Performance – Handling: 9
Performance – Durability: 9
Feature Breakdown: 9
Overall Value: 9
The 2WD class shows no signs of loosing popularity in traction and in fact, you need to be at the top of your game in order to place well in a growing competitive field. With so much competition, you need a car that competes and having one that can do so out of the box is the best way to start. Team Associated’s B5M Factory Lite is a buggy that can do that. The racer is loaded with equipment that racers want and it has the geometry and tuning that can get it dialed into today’s highly prepped track. I was simply amazed with how the buggy handled and how much faster I was with it with little effort. AE hit the mark again, this time with the B5M Factory Lite; no wonder they have so many world titles.
Futaba, distributed exclusively by Hobbico futaba-rc.com (800) 682-8948
Kustom RC Graphics kustomrcgraphics.net
Pro-Line Racing prolineracing.com (909) 849-9781
Reedy, a division of Team Associated teamassociated.com (714) 850-9342
Team Associated teamassociated.com (949) 544-7500