Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Nitro Buggy Review Sworkz S350 EVO II

The competition buggy that workz!

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

Photos: Walter Sidas

Developing a new car brand is not an easy thing to do nowadays, but one company seems to be having an easy time gaining respect in the racing community and that company is SWorkz. SWorkz has been around for several years with quality products and designs and they have signed World Champion driver, Atsushi Hara to wheel their extensive line of race vehicles. This combination has piqued the interest of many racers; yours truly included. Last year I built and ran the S350 BE1 EVO Pro USA Edition E-Buggy. The build was a little difficult but the performance was amazing. Now I had the opportunity to build and test the SWorkz S350 EVO II Pro 1/8 Off-Road Nitro Buggy which is available from Amain.com. Will this new nitro buggy release have what it takes to turn racers to this brand in motion? Some wheel time might tell.


WHO IT’S FOR: Intermediate to Advanced Driver
HOW MUCH: $569.99

• Quality materials used throughout
• Shocks are ultra smooth and consistent on the track
• Included aluminum must-haves like A/C pivot blocks, servo saver arm and throttle support.
• Angled engine transfers weight towards the CG
• Lightweight driveline

• Few hardware issues during build
• Parts may not be available at most tracks


The quality that SWorkz puts into their kits is quite impressive. The composite parts like arms and hubs are bulky yet light, the milled chassis is true hard anodized, and even the brakes have been powder coated red for extra detail. The Evo II not only looks like the race buggy a driver wants, but it handles like one too.

• Diff Oils, Shock Oil

• .21 Nitro Engine, Tuned Pipe, Fuel, Starter Box, Radio System, High Torque Servos, Receiver battery and switch, Tires and rims, Paint

• ProTek RC 321B Samurai engine and pipe combo, PTK-2500-COMBO- This is one potent engine combo that is designed offer plenty of power and fuel economy in a racing buggy. The engine’s quality construction translates to an engine that can unleash power on demand and the 2060 pipe gives your racing machine that true nitro competition grunt.

• ProTek RC 7.4V LiPo receiver pack, PTK-LP-RX2300-L-2S- Since the servos are HV, it only made sense to install a LiPo pack to power them and ProTek offers plenty of LiPo receiver packs to fit many popular battery trays.

• ProTek RC 150T Servo, PTK-150T- For their price tag, these servos pump out a lot of performance backed by quality. The speed and torque of these servos is amazing and the cases are aluminum.

• AKA Yellow EVO rims
• AKA Wishbone tires
• Kustom RC Graphics Paint Job

• ProTek RC Starter Box
• ProTek RC Engine Heater
• AKA Impact Tires

SWorkz started the Evo II with a hard black anodized flat aluminum plate chassis. There is a lot of mill work on the chassis to reduce its weight and it features some etching with buzz words like “Hard Coated” and “Flat Chassis System Set.” Doesn’t it sound fast already? What I like is that the mud guards are secured with screws that secure the guards to the chassis from the top. Sworkz includes a carbon fiber front top plate that mates up with a composite chassis brace while in the rear, a similar brace mounts to a machined aluminum mount on top of the gear case. The electronics tray spans the passenger side of the buggy with the steering servo mounted far forward, the receiver pack toward the front of the side pod, the throttle servo across from the engine and the receiver out back. SWorkz includes an aluminum brace plate to keep the throttle crank well supported.

The suspension arms on the buggy are the latest arms designed by SWorkz that are well braced both front and rear to be both lightweight and strong. The front suspension is a pivot ball style setup which is thought to be more consistent on a wider range of tracks. The steering knuckles now pivot on one-piece hard-coated pivot balls. The arms mount to hinge pin blocks with inserts that allow you to tune anti-dive, anti-squat, rear toe and front roll as well as caster. The adjustability options on this buggy are pretty intense and certainly for the hardcore driver. The shock towers really stand out with their well machined, lightweight design. Then you get to the shocks, these dampers build beautifully and feel so plush when bench testing the buggy. They are dual O-ring sealed with Teflon pistons, high wall lower perches and an aluminum shock pivot, all top-end stuff here.

The driveline may be considered the most impressive part of the buggy. All of the driveshafts are super thin to reduce rotating mass. All of the differential components are as light as possible; lightened ring gears, lightened spur and lightened outdrives. Even the bearings in the gear cases for the bevel pinion are a smaller 5x11mm size to reduce weight. Stopping power comes from professional brakes. No really, it says so right on the brake plate, “Professional.” The brake plate features a fiber pad to clamp the steel discs. On the clutch side, the aluminum flywheel has three steel posts for the three-shoe clutch setup. The clutch shoes have a unique red coating on them and grab a standard style clutchbell.

No worries about steering durability on this buggy, SWorkz included an aluminum servo saver arm to beef up the equipment. The lower half of the servo saver is composite plastic as is the other steering crank. The drag link is aluminum, too, with three Ackermann positions. Of course the cranks ride on ball bearings for super smooth operation.

SWorkz is know for details so let’s talk all the little things that set this buggy apart from the rest. The buggy comes with a skid style front bumper that protects the front of the chassis, too. The steering link pivot balls have flanges to prevent the ball end from popping off. Inside the tank is a clunk attached to an aluminum barb with a quick-fill pull tab on the tank lid. Angled engine mounts not every car has these and the swaybars are held in place by swing-away plastic plates on the gear case.

A stylish Falcon II cab-forward body provides downforce with a low-cut back section so plenty of cooling head on the engine is out in clean air. A swoop double deck wing provides downforce in the rear and the wing stay offers two position angles for the wing. Another neat note is the spring type rear body mount that flexes as the chassis flexes. No rims or tires are included in the kit, but as a racer I bet you wanted to pick your own anyway.


If you are a regular reader, you know what I’m about to say next. We set up camp at Wolcott Hobby and Raceway to test the new Evo II. On-hand we had all of ProTek RC’s support equipment to make testing easier. The buggy was set up on a ProTek starter box and their engine heater was also used to get the engine temps up before starting. Once the engine was fired up and tuned, I spent the next hour running the buggy hard and that was just the start of the test. Here’s what went down.

ACCELERATION/ BRAKING Wolcott’s track can groove up so the AKA Typo’s would be a good qualifying tire, but since testing was on an off day and the track had some loam on it I instantly noticed too much wheel spin on acceleration so I switched to an AKA Impact. The blocky Impact tread would provide better grip. Now with the traction bumped up, I could see that the Evo II has awesome bite and forward acceleration. The red shoe clutch setup with 1.0 springs gives the buggy a lot of snap out of the corners and on the straight the buggy plants itself and flat-out hauls. Under braking, those Professional pads and discs work hard to slow up the EII. I set up the buggy with more rear brake bias to pivot the buggy around corners; it squared up well and provides a smooth range of braking that ran consistently over the length of testing.

STEERING There is a lot of physical steering throw on the Evo II and that translates into excellent cornering on the track. When blasting the buggy through the corners on power, the feel is just on point with the right amount of rotation, pull and bite. Off power the buggy just darts around the corner as the front wheels plant themselves and carve the turn. I am impressed with how the ProTek servo just muscles the steering and holds the wheels cranked even through some nasty terrain.

JUMPING/ HANDLING There is a serious nature to driving a race buggy like this on the track, you concentrate on laying down fast laps, but somewhere deep inside when driving this buggy, I was truly having fun with what it could do and that’s what racing is about. This buggy loves to take to the air off of jumps and its in-air maneuverability is exceptional. A few key wheel flicks would help set the car up for a smooth landing, positioned for the turn or jump coming up. There were several times I overshot landings and flat-landed the buggy and instead of a slap and bounce, the buggy plants itself and is in full settled mode, ready to keep going. This smooth suspension feel translated right over to the rough sections of the track. A few blown out areas were not a challenge for the buggy, bucking through the rough was minimal and it didn’t veer and cause me to fight the wheel for control. When I race 1/8-scale buggy, I tend to favor heavier buggies for more nimble performance, but this lightweight machine impressed me with how stable it was on all areas of our test track. SWorkz did it right.

DURABILITY After hours of testing, I went through some clutch shoes, air filters, several sets of tires and lots of fuel. As far as breakage, there was none to report. I did inspect the buggy for wear and there were minimal signs of wear on the outdrives and driveshaft pins. The chassis also looked like it wasn’t wearing as fast as some other vehicles I’ve driven. There were no gouges on the droop screw chassis tabs and the brakes were still in great condition. I am going to have to hit the bench and adjust gear lash in the diffs, but other than that, the buggy held up to our testing with flying colors.

The sleek hard anodized chassis plate has an opening under the clutchbell to eject any debris that may make its way under the bell. The etched logo on the plate is a nice touch.


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LENGTH: 21 in. (530mm)
WIDTH: 12.13 in. (308mm)
WHEELBASE: 12.75 (324mm)
WEIGHT: 3300g

BODY: Cab forward Falcon II Buggy

TYPE: Pivot ball front, H-arm rear
SHOCK POSITIONS: 5-tower, 4-arm
CAMBER: Front pivot ball, rear camber link
ROLL: Multiple link locations
WHEELBASE: Adjustable
RIDE HEIGHT: Adjustable shock preload
MISC: Adjustable anti-squat, anti-dive and rear toe

TYPE: Dual crank
TOE: Adjustable turnbuckles

TYPE: Flat plate
MATERIAL: Aluminum

DIFFERENTIAL: Fluid filled gear diff
GEAR RATIO: Center 46/13T
BEARINGS: Rubber shielded

Opinion: 9
Performance – Acceleration: 9
Performance – Steering: 9
Performance – Handling: 9
Performance – Durability: 9
Feature Breakdown: 9
Overall Value: 9

Nitro-Buggy-Reivew-Sworkz-S350-EVO-II-3WRAP UP
SWorkz has a real focus on racing and the S350 Evo II has everything I would expect to see in a 2015 competition race buggy. Hard anodized chassis plate with narrow rear for flex, large 16mm bore shocks, weight forward electronics tray and a slew of aluminum parts for better durability in the key areas where you would expect to see them. The Evo II turns all that and more into an incredible handling race machine that I was able to put anywhere I wanted to on the track and in the air over jumps. SWorkz obviously has a mission to win as a manufacturer and provides racing platforms to give you the tools to win, too.


AKA Products, Inc., raceaka.com, 951-677-2500
Amain.com, amain.com, 800-705-2215
Hitec, hitecrcd.com, 858-748-6948
SWorkz, dist by amain.com, 800-705-2215


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