AE’s excellent 4WD buggy is back, and boy is it better!
Photos: Walter Sidas
From RC Driver Issue: 134
With today’s level of RC engineering, it’s hard to take a current design and make it better. Think about it; a manufacturer designs a car that is strictly a racing machine. They put countless hours into it, filling it full of carbon fiber and high-grade aluminum. Then there’s testing, revising and testing again until they come up with something they feel is top notch. That’s just for Version 1 of any vehicle; then there’s Version 2 (or .2) and, as we see here, a Version 3 (or .3). So the question sits: after two versions of the B44 hitting the track, can the .3 be that much better? I think you’re about to be supremely surprised.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: Team Associated
WHO IT’S FOR: Experienced Racers
PART NUMBER: 9063
HOW MUCH: $379.98
BUILD TYPE: Kit
• New 7075-T6 hard anodized chassis for improved handling
• Adjustable chassis weight bias
• Molded battery trays that allow the use of saddle packs or a single, shorty LiPo battery
• Thick, carbon fiber dual top deck and front/rear shock towers
• Floating servo and motor mount
• Includes three gear differentials, but is backwards compatible with the previous generation VTS slipper clutch and ball diffs
• Factory Team V2 12mm Big Bore shocks
• Full Factory Team treatment, titanium and aluminum everywhere
• JConcepts Finnisher X-Flow body included
• Some of the build steps will test your patience
• Had some screws loosen up on the bottom side of the chassis after running it
I’m always a bit skeptical when reviewing vehicles that are two or three versions down the line; I compare it to movies that have a Part 2 or Part 3 (where the original is better than the later releases). This B44, however, does score big points with its .3 successor. While I’m not a fan of the gear diffs (they work well but I’m just a ball diff type of person), the updates to the chassis, the weight bias option and the improved durability make the B44.3 an excellent choice in the 4WD buggy market.
TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• Molded Tool Kit
• L wrenches
• Molded Camber Gauge
• Electronic Speed Control
• Brushless Motor
• Team Associated XP DS1015 Digital Servo
• Reedy Blackbox 410R Competition ESC
• Reedy Sonic 540 Mach 2 7.5T Modified
• Futaba 4PX Transmitter
• Reedy 4100mAh 65C 7.4V Shorty LiPo Battery
• In previous years, the chassis on the B44 has been a beautiful carbon fiber plate. The backbone of the B44.3 has moved to a hard- anodized, 7075-T6 aluminum plate. This new design helps lower the center of gravi- ty and improves handling with its symmetrically-designed torsional flex. To aid in this flex, a new floating motor mount, float- ing servo mount and top decks have been added. Another cool feature is the option to build the .3 in either saddle-pack (front motor) or shorty-pack (rear motor) configu- ration, allowing the driver to change the weight bias of the car depending on track conditions. In either configuration, there is plenty of room on the chassis for the electronics.
• The suspension remains largely unchanged from the B44.2 with the excep- tion of the included V2 12mm Big Bore shocks. These new units improve handling as well as travel for the smoothest suspension to date. An anti-roll bar is included for the rear of the buggy and comes with two different bars for tuning.
• The steering is also unchanged but is one of the big features of the car. As I men- tioned earlier, the servo now sits in a ‘floating mount’ design. While the mounts only attach to the chassis on one side, the alumi- num and carbon fiber mounting system keeps the servo firmly in place. The servo rotates the steering system on a precision set of ball bearings.
• The B44.3’s drivetrain is about as rug- ged as they come. The front, center and rear, fluid-filled gear diffs feature machined steel rings, pinion and plane- tary gears and, once built, are about the smoothest gear diffs you’ll find. Tying all four corners of the car together are a full set of CVA driveshafts rolling on precision ball bearings. Factory Team rear hubs are included and use oversized outer bear- ings for strength. A 48P spur gear is stan- dard equipment.
• The battery mounting system is pretty unique. A large ballstud spirals into the battery mount and captures one end of the battery strap. Lay the strap down and rotate the lock to secure the battery firmly in place. This makes a very easy install and removal process.
ON THE Track
For the review process, I usually take my car to the track and run a few packs through it, but for the B44.3 I headed over to Radio Control Hobbies and Raceway for the James McGowan Memorial Race. This is a pretty small indoor track that, for this race, featured a pair of crossover jumps, a hairpin, a fast chicane section and a very fast short sweeper. This was an excellent layout to test all the components of the B44.3!
With the kit setup, the steering was very good. It wasn’t too aggressive and seemed smooth but I found that during practice with other 4WD cars, I had to hesitate way too much mid-corner before getting back on the throttle. This had me really trying to overdrive the car to keep up, so I knew that I would have to make a few adjustments to get the buggy to pivot more. If you like a subdued drive, the kit setup is good. I changed the rear anti-roll bar and rear camber and this allowed the B44.3 to whip around the corners much faster; I was putting in some pretty fast laps even with my limited time on it!
During practice, I kept feeling like something was slipping upon heavy acceleration. There wasn’t that instant blast I typically feel with 4WD cars. To help me evaluate the slipping, boss man Vogel had me bring the car over to the side of the track. He pinned the car in place and told me to punch it! I did, but all that was happening for the initial second was massive wheel spin! Since there isn’t a slipper clutch on this car, I basically had to change my driving style just a bit because the power this car was producing, B44.3 + Reedy Blackbox + Reedy 7.5T + Reedy battery, was pretty brutal! It was still drivable and made for exciting boosts of speed off the corners, that’s for sure! The Blackbox I received was prior to the packing boxes and instructions being avail- able, so I will address this over-abundance of instant bang with some additional programming on the ESC.
On the braking side, I have absolutely no complaints. The brakes are smooth and fade free and, even turned down a bit, have enough power to adjust the buggy’s attitude in the air.
The B44.3’s handling is probably the part I liked best about this car. It is extremely predictable on entry and corner exit, and only gets out of shape ever so slightly if you’re being dumb with the throttle. It jumps beautifully and lands well, even if you miss the downside of the ramp. Once you find the right speed, it can hold a line like an on-road car. I found myself using my asphalt experience to carve some great lines though the chicane and around the fast sweeper where time could be lost if you went to wide. There were only two small areas of rough track but the buggy just sailed through them. The suspension on this car is figured out, even in slightly-tuned stock form.
I’d like to say that my day was all shiny side up, but I have to admit I did some serious product testing. My practice sessions were on point; fast through the sweepers, over the jumps and on the straights. I was feeling pretty confident in my skills even with so little race time lately under my belt. The first qualifier was set to go and I was car number one; all eyes would be on me (as it is at any race when the first car in a heat race goes). As the horn sounded, I took off and headed over the first crossover only to hit it short and nose right into the landing ramp. This bounced my car backwards and on its lid. Crash number one was out of the way. The marshal turned me back over and I raced around the track and through the chicane, only to clip one of the pipes and roll the car over again. Crash number two was now in the books. After another marshaling experience, I whipped around the hairpin and headed for the large triple-jump crossover … yup, you guessed it! I cased the landing ramp and flipped over again! Crash number three and this was still the first lap. In the first six-minute qualifier I crashed a total of nine times, all in different parts of the track, hitting different obstacles. The nerves had got me and I was an absolute mess, but thankfully I recovered in the last minute to get some good laps in.
SPECS AND TUNING OPTIONS
LENGTH: 14.88 in. (378mm) WIDTH: Varies
WHEELBASE: 11.18 in. (284mm) WEIGHT: Varies
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
BODY: JConcepts Finnisher X-Flow body
WHEELS: White dish with hex
WHEEL ADAPTER TYPE: 12mm hex
TIRES: Not included
TYPE: 4-wheel independent
SHOCK POSITIONS: (F) 3-tower, 2-arm, (R) 3-tower, 2-arm
CAMBER: Adjustable turnbuckles
ROLL: Adjustable ball stud heights
WHEELBASE: Adjustable with shims
RIDE HEIGHT: Threaded shocks
TYPE: Dual bellcrank
MATERIAL: Hard-anodized 7075-T6 Aluminum
DIFFERENTIAL: Three gear differentials
CLUTCH TYPE: None
GEAR RATIO: Optional pinion gears
BEARINGS: Full shielded
Performance – Acceleration: 9
Performance – Steering: 9
Performance – Handling: 10
Performance – Durability: 10
Feature Breakdown: 9
Overall Value: 9
This car is a downright beast on the track and will make you feel like a star when you’re wheeling it around. I seriously beat it up (not on purpose, trust me!) in the first qualifier of my race and not one broken part! That says a lot about this car as I’ve always been very timid around my B44 and B44.2. Once I got the jitters out, I put this car fifth on the grid in the A-Main in my second qualifier. I was stoked simply because it’s been a long time since I’ve raced 1/10-scale and this car not only made me look good, it stayed together, putting the fun of my race day in actually racing instead of wrenching. I can’t ask more than that. AE, your mission has been accomplished. I’m a happy racer once again
Team Associated teamassociated.com, (949) 544-7500
Reedy reedypower.com, (949) 544-7500
Futaba futaba-rc.com, (217) 398-8970
Pro-Line prolineracing.com, (800) 899-7223
Kustom RC Graphics kustomrcgraphics.com, firstname.lastname@example.org