Easy entry to 1/8-scale racing!
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s July 2016 issue.
Words: Mark Ronge
Photos: Edwin Rodriguez
Fast, cheap and durable. It used to be a rule that you had to pick two of the three since it was nearly impossible to meet all of the criteria in one model. With the advance of manufacturing techniques and improvements in the designs of buggies in general, we live in a great time in that there are available models that are fast on the track, durable enough for bashing and very affordable, which helps bring people into the hobby. A prime example of this is the Team Energy G8X buggy, a nitro RTR 1/8-scale vehicle that can function as an affordable entry into racing and has many of the features typically found on much more expensive dedicated racing vehicles. Because 1/8 vehicles are so durable, this also makes the G8X a prime candidate as a heavy duty basher thanks to its beefy construction. It even has some interesting design features, making it lighter than some of the most expensive models available. Because of the attractive price point, this buggy is great for people interested in trying out racing, but who weren’t willing to dish out huge bucks just to stay competitive and is definitely worth a closer look.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: Team Energy
WHO IT’S FOR: Intermediate to Advanced Drivers
PART NUMBER: 97C992
HOW MUCH: $299.95
BUILD TYPE: RTR
• Affordable price
• Great for bashing and club level racing
• Contains all of the same tuning options of big-budget race buggies
• Interesting design choices shed weight for a great, neutral handling buggy
• Plenty of power on the stock engine and it is cheap to replace (perfect for a first nitro)
• Durable to handle all sorts of off-road terrain
• Gold anodized look is hit or miss
When I started off-road racing, the entry price was quite intimidating as you had to drop almost a grand to be competitive even in the beginner classes. If only buggies like the Team Energy G8X were available back then, I am sure more people would have been interested in the racing aspect of our hobby. Since the G8X has all of the features of a high-end racer, the low price makes this buggy perfect for those looking to give racing a try. Even if racing is not your thing, the buggy is great for an all around basher since it is durable enough for racing and is properly equipped for any terrain.
TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• Various shock pistons
• Fuel and bottle
• 8X “AA” batteries for receiver and transmitter
• Glow plug igniter
• Byron 30% Race Blend Fuel
• Usually, budget priced RTRs are a bit on the heavy side so I was surprised when I placed the G8X in my hands and felt how light it was. I did some quick research and confirmed that this buggy is just as light as, if not lighter than plenty of the high-priced 1/8-scale racers on the market. This is mainly due to the main chassis plate being more narrow than the norm, which also has the pleasant benefit of keeping the weight distribution more centrally located. With the lateral weight distribution mainly in the center of the vehicle, it can transition between turns more quickly than if the weight were spread out over a wider chassis.
• The G8X has an excellent suspension setup that is very easy to tune quickly, which is very important when experimenting with different setups. Starting with the shocks, you will not find any cheap plastic pre-load clips, these are threaded anodized aluminum all around. They are also very substantial in size (16mm bore to be exact) so they should work on the roughest of conditions. Sway bars are fitted on the front and rear, essential for balanced handling characteristics on the track. I like that everything is fully adjustable, the camber angles are easily changed via steel turnbuckles. The shock towers are very beefy and match the gold anodized look of the buggy and have multiple shock mounting positions. Team Energy also designed these shock towers so that the center of gravity is kept low, without loosing any structural integrity. There are shock protectors and dirt guards to keep the shocks and rear arms from getting messy and make it easier to keep your G8X looking brand new. The stock setup feels very plush, probably better suited for bashing duties right out of the box.
• The dual-bellcrank layout is the tried and true method that all 1/8-scale racing buggies use. The servo saver is easily adjusted and is mated with a waterproof servo capable of about 180 ounces of torque, more than enough to turn buggy wheels. Like the camber setting, toe angles are adjusted with the included steel turnbuckles. The stock tuning setup has a small amount of toe out, which is just the way I like it on 1/8-scale buggies in order to get a quick turn-in response.
• Being a nitro vehicle, an SH .21 sized engine powers the G8X via a 3-shoe clutch. All three of the differentials are sealed gear types, which can be tuned with different fluids as the user gets more comfortable driving the buggy at its limits. A waterproof 42 ounce servo handles the throttle and braking, and the front and rear brake bias is adjustable by way of the servo links. The G8X uses standard 17mm style wheel adapters, so pretty much every type of aftermarket wheel will bolt on with no issues. The included tires are nice and grippy, but are definitely geared more for all-terrain types. The only advice I would give to those looking to hit the track for a beginner race is to get a dedicated set of racing tires suited for the track you will be running on.
• One feature Team Energy did not skimp on is the included Dimension GT3X 2.4GHz radio system. I cannot think of an RTR that I have tested in years that came equipped with a radio containing an LCD screen that feels like the more expensive aftermarket offerings. This is one RTR radio that I can honestly say can continue to serve you in future models because it is extremely easy to program and feels nice and lightweight, which is important for longer race days. The 3-channel radio even has some higher end functions such as exponential and channel mixing. The included body looks great as well, very streamlined with a killer paint scheme.
OUT TO PLAY
The Team Energy G8X is essentially a basher/ racer hybrid, but I wanted to test it out on the track to see if it would be competitive in a beginner/ sportsman style class. Most of my findings can be applied directly to the model even if you only intend on bashing the buggy, as tracks offer a wide variety of situations and challenges.
Having a reliable steering system can be one of the more important features of a beginner-level buggy when headed to the track. Thankfully, the G8X has a very strong 180 ounce servo which is more than adequate for moving an 1/8-scale buggy’s wheels. The speed is also good enough for beginner racers and definitely more than enough for backyard bashers. Turn-in was great off-power, but the buggy did have some tendency to push under acceleration while turning. With some lighter weight diff oils and some suspension tweaking I believe I would be able to reduce the pushing effect, especially since the buggy is so light and well balanced. I was impressed by the stock tires; they performed better than I thought they would (being an all-terrain type) on the track and had excellent rear grip.
The G8X uses an SH .21 sized motor which has been used in other RTR vehicles with decent success. I noticed on my first few runs that the engine seemed to lack a little pep on the low end, but this was during the break-in period so I was not tuned for all out performance. The engine did loosen up after a few runs and temperatures remained right in the sweet spot during my testing. After tuning for performance, the low end bog had lessened and I could get a better feel for the engine’s power output. While the SH .21 does not compare to higher end race engines, it had enough power to allow me to run consistent laps. Sometimes I had to take a double jump instead of a triple, but this is more of a beginner’s car so that should be no problem at all. You can expect about six to seven minutes of fuel time on a single tank. Braking was acceptable. With some rear braking bias I could get the back end to step out for some more fun drift-style turns.
On the race track, the G8X seemed to get pushed around somewhat through rougher areas of the track. This is most likely due to the light weight of the vehicle, but it should be noted if your local tracks are bumpy at all. This surprised me with the plush suspension, but the setup is geared more for bashing out of the box. Jumping the buggy was a blast. It sailed level on most jumps without any bias and minimal mid-air corrections were required. As mentioned before, the plush suspension did result in some chassis slapping on the track where other firmer suspensions would not, but this can be tuned out as well. For backyard bashing and big air the setup is absolutely perfect, as you want the chassis to absorb some of the energy instead of it all being transferred through the buggy’s suspension.
As anyone who takes their surface vehicles to the track knows, buggies will take quite a beating after a full day on the course. Even with the plush suspension and chassis slapping, there was nothing broken after my day of testing. I mucked up plenty of jump sections and while I was trying to figure out the limits of the buggy, I crashed a few times even at decent speeds. If my day of testing is any indication on how well this buggy would hold up during a season of racing or intense bashing sessions, I have to say the G8X gets an A+ in this category. The suspension arm guards and shock sleeves helped keep the model cleaner as well and I had less dirt and debris to remove after my day was over.
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SPECS AND TUNING OPTIONS
Length: 19.7 in. (500mm)
Width: 11.8 in. (210mm)
Wheelbase: 13 in. (330mm)
Weight: 7.4 lbs (3.4kg)
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
Body: Pre-painted and buggy
Wheels: White dish
Wheel adapter type: 17mm hex
Tires: All-terrain buggy tires
Type: 4-wheel independent
Shock positions: (F) 3-tower, 2-arm, (R) 3-tower, 2-arm
Camber: Adjustable turnbuckles
Roll: Adjustable ball heights
Wheelbase: Adjustable shims
Ride height: Threaded aluminum shock collars
Misc: Anti-squat, kickup
Type: Dual bellcrank
Toe: Adjustable turnbuckles
Material: 6061 T6 aluminum
Transmission: Shaft driven
Differential: Sealed gear diffs
Clutch Type: 3-shoe clutch
Gear ratio: 15T clutch / 46T spur
Bearings: Full set of shielded
Feature Breakdown: 8
Overall Value: 10
For being a budget RTR, I was pleasantly surprised in the handling characteristics of the Team Energy G8X. It would have been amazing if I had access to an RTR of this quality for under $300 when I started racing, this buggy has amazing value. I won’t say this buggy will get you to the top of an expert class, since it is a mix of a basher and a racer after all. Because parts are relatively inexpensive it makes a great first nitro, because there is no fear of ruining a high priced item. As mentioned before, the G8X straddles the link between racer and basher so that means it is a very durable buggy and could handle heavy duty bashing duties with ease. The stock .21 nitro engine appeared to have decent power after fine tuning, although slightly short on run times. I definitely think there is a great demand for a buggy of this quality and price point in the industry and urge anyone interested in trying out a nitro 1/8 buggy to check out the Team Energy G8X.
Team Energy, nitrorcx.com