Saturday, April 13, 2024

Project Time! The Losi Desert Buggy DBXL

Project Losi DBXL

Mark Himes of Red Arrow is a master of all things large scale. He has built some of the most unique HPI Baja and Losi 5IVE vehicles I have ever seen. He emailed me the other day with another project I just had to share. Check it out!

After a long wait for the release of the 1/5 Scale Losi Desert Buggy DBXL, modelers now have the interesting car in their hands and on the ground. The popularity of the DBXL has really started to take off, and with good reason. This car has proven to be a perfect introduction into large scale RC for many modelers. The car is simple in design but proves to be an enjoyable drive in just about any place you throw it down. The four-wheel drive system allows the DBXL to go places one may have never before considered going with a scale model.

Project Losi DBXL

Losi has done a great job of providing a vehicle that is fun to use, reasonably priced, and suprisingly durable. The entry level “feel” of the DBXL may play a large role in the durability the buggy demonstrates in stock form. Losi made a great decision to not “overpower” the car. The buggy allows the driver to enjoy the vehicle, but keeps the power level in a range where the buggy will be less likely to “destroy” itself. It is also great vehicle for a young enthusiast.

For the aftermarket and performance sector, the DBXL is a fantastic breeding ground for new products. The DBXL has the potential to be an ultra high performance vehicle for the modeler who is looking for that next big thrill. Here at Red Arrow, the arrival of the DBXL has almost been a “fantastic accident”. We were just beginning our Zenoah 34cc Revolver engine program right when we took delivery of our first DBXL.

Project Losi DBXL

We had been doing engine testing in the 5B Baja series vehicles. The new engines and the output they are capable of really turned out to be a shocker when put in the Baja. I’m a huge Baja fan, and I have to say in all honesty the new lines of hi power engines are very “violent” feeling in the two wheel drive Baja. Even at high speeds we were having trouble keeping the car controlled, as the tires we still breaking loose. In short, the Baja is a blast to drive with a modded 32cc+ engine, but it raises the required driver skill level a few notches after the first pull of the trigger.

We installed one of our 34cc Revolver engines in our new DBXL. I put Hostile 5T slicks on the car as I knew the stock tires would have little chance of staying on the factory wheels with this engine. The first few drives were a lot of fun, but I quickly decided the only way to get this car to handle the output was to put a locking center diff spool in it. Without the locker, the least loaded tires would always receive the most of the power distribution and I soon grew tired of dislodging tires from the wheels. The locker allowed the power to be distributed to all four tires.

Project Losi DBXL

Once I installed the diff locker, the car took on a whole new feel. The buggy took on the characteristics of a scary two wheel drive powerhouse, tempered with the added stability of an all wheel drive sports car. The car was thrilling.

Our 32 and 34cc engines were a perfect fit in the modded buggy. Driftting and throwing the car around on even tacky concrete was effortless. The buggy handled the power better than I expected, partly because the tires would spin so easily it helped keep the drivetrain from seeing the full wrath of the big engine. I went through a handful of axles, but that is small repair compared to the thrill factor the car was delivering.

Project Losi DBXL

The DBXL came from the factory with a very low gear ratio to let the 23cc engine power the car most efficiently, but the top speed of the buggy was very low compared to, say, a Baja 5B. A powerful engine will increase the speed of a vehicle, but speed is still limited by the gear ratio.

No other gear combinations were available for the car. After having the car on the bench for a few days, We decided the weak clutch assembly and the low gear ratio could be solved all at the same time. We started by removing the stock plastic clutch and bell assembly completely from the car.

Project Losi DBXL

We decided to design a billet clutch assembly that combined a billet engine side clutch housing with the clutch system as an entire unit. This allows the clutch system to mount direct to the engine without the need for purchasing a billet engine side clutch carrier.

The DBXL clutch bell and bearings are very small. With careful design, we managed to replace the DBXL clutch components with the larger Losi 5IVE clutch bell and bearings. An added bonus of this upgrade is that it allows the car to be fitted with higher gear ratios for much more speed. The little 23cc engine restrained the car to the mid 30MPH range.

For the first drive, we installed a Vertigo 22t pinion gear and clutch bell , scrapping the stock, weaker 20t stock pinion. I knew the big block would carry the car to higher speeds with the larger pinion and the massive torque on tap.

Project Losi DBXL

I was not prepared for how fast the car would turn out to be, and with the modded large CC engine, it didn’t give up any low end. The engine made the 23cc engine feel like a true entry level car. The center diff locker allowed the car to demonstrate tire punishing drift-style handling characteristics, without the “out of control” feeling the two wheel drive cars we exhibiting with the large CC modded engine.

I have to say in all honestly, the car may well be the most enjoyable car I have driven since my first 1/8 scale truggy. It has that heart stopping performance with amazing agility and stopping power, just like the DBXL’s little brother, the 8IGHT buggy/truggy.

The test car was set aside and a brand new DBXL was purchased. To add to the stability and appearance of the car, I called Todd Bishop at BRP, and added a set of BRP 4″ wide slicks to the rear of the car, and 3″ wide slicks up front. We installed custom 3D machined billet wheel inserts for added realism. We intend on releasing a line of these wheel inserts for various wheel configuration.

Project Losi DBXL

Roughly one half of our custom vehicles are painted here in house, but when I want a look that is off the charts, I call my good friend Bradley Farmer at Bradley Fine Line design. Bradley is nationally known as a painter for pro RC drivers and manufacturers. As usual, Bradley came thru with a body that was so perfect I didn’t even want to touch it!

We also added one of our Limited Edition F1 rear wings to the buggy, adding to the sabre-like appearance of the car.

Capping off the car, we installed our new billet head package on our Super Mod Revolver black engine. The engines now have a flair to match the thrilling power that the deliver to even the heaviest of vehicles.

We will soon be releasing a full durability and functionality kit for the buggy. I love the platform, and we are certain you will also.

Red Arrow USA Inc, markhimes@frontier.com, (330) 401-2117
Bishop Racing Products, http://www.bishopracingproducts.com/
Vertigo Performance, http://www.vertigoperformance.com/
Bradley Fine Line Design, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bradley-Fine-Line-Design/236047929753912


  1. What a great job with this modification, nice work!


  2. Michael Anthony Clark

    What pipe is being used on this beast

  3. That is easily one of the nicest builds I’ve ever seen! So badass looking!

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