Friday, July 19, 2024

RC Stadium Truck Review: The Team Associated T5M

Unparalled performance in this amazing ST

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

Photos: Walter Sidas

For years now, Stadium Trucks have taken a back seat to the monstrous short course fad. While basically the same platform, many prefer the closed body type of the short course truck and the ability to rub fenders on the track without the fear of tangling tires. That is slowly changing, however, with the Stadium Truck class becoming more prominent at both the local and National level. Team Associated’s T5M is a perfect example of the trend changing; this 2WD Stadium Truck became available before any of the A-Team’s SC offerings were revamped. Based on the excellent B5M, this truck is probably one of the best ST platforms I’ve ever driven. It’s got it all – steering, stability, jumping, cornering … oh, and it looks cool, too! It’s time to dig into the details of this beautiful Stadium Truck.

WHO MAKES IT: Team Associated
WHO IT’S FOR: Any racer that wants to win
HOW MUCH: $279.99

• Based on the award-winning, race-winning and everyone-loving B5M design
• Mid-motor layout helps center the weight for high-grip tracks
• New HD ball ends that are super tough Minimal screws installed through the bottom of the aluminum chassis
• Battery tray accepts saddle, shorty or brick LiPo packs
• Cool channel under the battery for the Hall Sensor wire
• Lots of blue aluminum, including the rear ballstud mount
• Extremely smooth Factory Team V2 12mm Big Bore shocks
• Extra parts included to adjust caster, toe and kickup
• Pro-Line body looks fantastic Exceptional handling, jumping, acceleration and steering

• I can understand no tires being included, but no wheels?

The T5M is hands-down one of the best Stadium Trucks I’ve ever driven. It’s like a plushy version of the B5M. It has excellent track manners while the longer length and bigger wheels/tires allow it to be a little more forgiving. It handles, jumps and corners like a 2WD buggy and the mid-motor design makes it feel very balanced! If you can’t tell, I’m a bit excited about this truck; I can’t wait to get back out on the track with it!

• Turnbuckle wrench, L wrenches, Molded tools

• Servo, Electronic Speed Control,Brushless Motor, Transmitter, Battery, Wheels, Tires, Paint

• Reedy RS1508 Digital HV Servo. Reedy’s new RS1508 digital HV servo is a powerhouse in the T5M. Boasting a mighty 212oz./in. of torque, this servo can easily swing the front tires of any stadium or short course truck you might have. But don’t let that torque number fool you; it also offers a .08 speed rating! Yah, that’s typically a number you see reserved only for on-road applications.
• Reedy Blackbox 410R Competition ESC. This ESC is one mean piece of hardware. Encapsulated in a black-anodized aluminum case, this ESC features eight custom profiles, adjustable throttle, brake and power functions as well as a ROAR-approved ‘blinky’ mode. Combined with the Blackbox PROgrammer, you have access to data logging as well as the ability to update the 410R software. It’s also very smooth in the power delivery department.
• Futaba 4PX Transmitter. The Futaba 4PX is the flagship of my transmitter collection. I love the fantastic menu system, excellent ergonomics and, of course, the huge color LCD display. It makes me feel faster than I probably am so it’s well worth it to me to have it!

• Reedy Sonic 540 Mach 2 7.0 Brushless Motor
• Reedy 5800mAh 65C 7.4V LiPo
• Team Associated 2.2” Truck Wheels
• Pro-Line ION T 2.2” Truck Tires
• Paint by Kustom RC Graphics

• It’s a pretty complete kit as is, but if you need to up it’s cool factor, I might suggest picking up a set of #1408 Titanium turnbuckles (you’ll need six altogether), a #91600 Titanium Screw Set and perhaps a #91545 Carbon Fiber Battery Strap. All three of these items will help lighten up the T5M and push it one step closer to full Factory Team. If you’re looking for some tuning aids, check out the #91341-#91344 spring sets, the #91365 brass 25° front bulkhead or the #91523/#91525 C/D brass arm mounts. These can add a little weight over the stock parts resulting it a little added traction to that end of the car.

RC-Stadium-Truck-Review--The-Team-Associated-T5M-52FEATURE BREAKDOWN
The chassis on the T5M is basically a longer version of what’s found on the B5M. It’s a 2.5mm hard-anodized aluminum plate that incorporates a plastic top ‘cradle’. This cradle keys to the front clip to form a very rigid setup. It sections off space for the servo, electronics and battery as well as keying to the transmission. One thing you’ll notice is that the servo now mounts from the top instead of the bottom of the chassis. In fact, AE has reduced the number of screw holes in the bottom altogether. This factor is helpful when it’s time for cleaning or maintenance; you don’t have to spend extra time picking all the dirt out of the screw heads. For those of you that like tidy wiring, you’ll be happy to see that AE has also cut openings in the bottom edge of the cradle. This allows you to feed the servo and ESC wires under the cradle instead of over. In fact, AE has added an additional tunnel from the ESC section to the motor, allowing you to feed the Hall Sensor wire under the battery. Pretty slick idea!

The suspension on the T5M is five-star. The front features interchangeable front arms, meaning you can buy one set and use them on either side. One major sore spot of mine on AE’s previous trucks were the wimpy ballcups. Thankfully this has been addressed with the addition of these huge and heavy duty replacements! Updating these adds to the durability and makes you less likely to drop out of a race due to a ballcup failure. For tuning, there are a bunch of included inserts to change caster, axle location (inline to trailing), toe and rear camber link spacing. There is even an additional bulkhead to change the front kickup. Finally, we get to AE’s sensational V2 12mm Big Bore shocks. These are some of the best racing shocks in the business, featuring a bottom-load design, bleeder cap, threaded aluminum bodies and optional offset spring cups. This suspension is about as good as it gets.

The steering on the T5M features a dual bellcrank system that rolls on a set of quality, precision bearings. Adjustments include Ackermann (via shims), toe and bumpsteer. Red O-rings are placed over the steering rack ballstud to help take up any slop and a solid drag link is now found in place of traditional, threaded rod link. The servo is attached to the chassis from the top, using an effective ‘T’-type aluminum mount system. Typically, when mounting a servo, you need to do a few test-fits to make sure the servo mounts and the chassis mounts line up (before tightening everything down), but I didn’t have any issue getting the Reedy HV servo installed on the first time. Out on the steering knuckles, the new HD ballcups are angled and ‘cut’ so you can achieve full steering lock without them interfering with the wheels. It’s the small things like this that let you know you have a race-bred track truck sitting in front of you.

The transmission in the truck sits in front of the rear shock tower, thus designating it as a mid-motor (MM, or T5M) design. Internally, there are four gears; the V2 aluminum top shaft, a pair of idler gears and the differential. The T5M comes with a ball diff (YES – I love me some ball diffs!) that includes 14 carbide balls and a pair of precision bearings. Once built, it’s an extremely smooth unit that is fully adjustable from outside the vehicle. The transmission also features the full-bearing treatment as well as a blue aluminum motor plate and Factory
Team V2 slipper clutch. Transferring the monstrous power of Reedy’s Sonic 540 Mach 2 7.0T brushless motor to the rear wheels is a set of heavy duty CVA axles.

AE has designed the battery tray to accept three different types of LiPo packs; saddle, shorty or brick packs. Saddle packs can be installed side by side and includes a thin foam battery spacer to adjust weight bias front to back. A shorty LiPo can be installed sideways and includes three foam battery spacers. This will most likely be the preferred layout as it allows the most adjustment. Finally, a brick LiPo pack can be installed as shown here and, as you can see, it takes up the whole space!

I’d like to also touch on the body, wheels and tires. Pro- Line’s T5M body is included and features a cab-forward design as well as a pretty substantial wing. Painted and mounted, this combo looks fantastic. The T5M doesn’t include tires, which is becoming typical for most racer rides, but I found it a bit odd that wheels weren’t included either. I know new wheel designs like Pro-Line’s VTR and AKA’s EVO wheels are becoming popular, but that trend hasn’t filtered its way to Stadium Trucks yet. I just feel the omission of wheels with this kit won’t be a popular decision.


We headed to Wolcott Raceway’s indoor track for the T5M test session. Since it’s getting quite nice out (finally), most of the drivers have headed outside and into the spring sun, leaving us a wide open track to tear things up. The track has a nice sweeper (on and off the straight), an off-camber entry into turn one, a couple hairpins and a few jumps. Traction was also pretty good so the Pro-Line IONs would definitely be the right tire to lay down some fast laps. I charged up the Reedy brick pack, installed it and hit the track.

In my experience, Team Associated vehicles have never been lacking in the steering department.
At higher speeds, very little input is needed to get the T5M to complete the turn. Along with throttle control, I was able to keep the truck tight against the pipes coming on and off the straight. In the hairpins, I could use all the steering the T5M had to offer. It has excellent rotation at lower speeds and, as long as I didn’t overdrive it, I could get back in the throttle quickly on corner exit. I played with the rear of the truck a bit and was able to tune a little more traction into it, allowing me to drive it much harder off the corners. Feeling dialed!

As I was working on the rear of the truck to find a little extra traction, I found that my changes had increased forward bite overall. Coming off the sweeper and onto the straight, there was a pretty fine line where I could mash the throttle to get the truck flying down the straight in a controlled manner, especially with all that Reedy power flowing through it. There were a couple of times where I was able to get the front tires off the ground for a split second, further proving that my changes were adding some definite rear grip. The sticky Pro-Line tires help this truck pull pretty hard, especially for a RWD platform. Braking into corners, however, required a little more control. Because AE trucks are pretty front-aggressive, heavy braking ended up in sideways slides. I turned the brakes down on my 4PX which helped, but I still needed to be a little tender on the brakes.

Handling on the T5M is as you would expect from a high-end Stadium Truck. Cornering is smooth and predictable with only a slight hint of understeer going in. Though there weren’t many rough sections of track, I did encounter a few footprints at the apex of a couple drive-hard corners. At first I was trying to pick a good line, weaving my way around the divots to avoid upsetting the truck. This wasn’t the fast line though and soon found myself just bombing the corner all willy-nilly. The T5M did deflect a bit when I hit the deeper ruts, but if I slowed down a tad it would easily keep its composure and simply rotate through the turns. Moving on to the jumps, one thing you might know about stadium trucks is that they jump like 2WD buggies; you don’t have to worry about air getting up under the bodies like short course trucks. This allows you to attack jumps without fear of kiting, giving the T5M a pretty aggressive presence in the air. I had to adjust the trucks attitude prior to lift off for a perfect flight (a slight increase or decrease of the throttle), but other than that it jumped like a pro. Landings ended with a solid thump before I was back in the throttle and powering to the next corner.

I’d love to say that the test was uneventful in the crash department, but once I got in the zone, I felt like I could push the truck harder and harder each lap. I can say, however, that even after a few rough- and-tumbles the T5M came away with nothing but a scratched body and slightly creased wing (that’s a big piece of Lexan hanging off the back). The aluminum chassis is a sturdy backbone and, being mid-motor, nothing hangs off of it anymore save for the suspension bits. Did I mention that the new HD ballcups are impressive? You’re going to love these things!


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LENGTH: 15.9 in. (406mm)
WIDTH: Varies
WHEELBASE: 11.3 in. (289mm)

BODY: Clear Lexan Proline T5M body
WHEELS: Not included
TIRES: Not included

TYPE: 4-wheel independent
SHOCK POSITIONS: (F) 3-tower, 2-arm, (R) 3-tower, 3-arm
CAMBER: Adjustable turnbuckles
ROLL: Adjustable ball heights
WHEELBASE: Adjustable with shims
RIDE HEIGHT: Threaded shocks

TYPE: Dual bellcrank TOE: Turnbuckles

TYPE: Flat, narrow mid-motor design
MATERIAL: Hard-anodized aluminum

TRANSMISSION: Four gear, centrally- mounted
GEAR RATIO: Optional pinion gears
BEARINGS: Full shielded
CLUTCH TYPE: Adjustable Factory Team V2 slipper clutch

Opinion: 9
Performance – Acceleration: 9
Performance – Steering: 10
Performance – Handling: 10
Performance – Durability: 10
Feature Breakdown: 10
Overall Value: 9

Team Associated’s T5M is a brilliant piece of machinery. It’s a proven platform (thanks to the B5M) that translates well to the ST version. The handling is there. The jumping is there. The cornering and power-delivery are both top notch. I can honestly say that if you’re going to get back into the growing Stadium Truck market, this is how you do it! Excellent job, AE!

Futaba, futaba-rc.com, (217) 398-8970
Kustom RC Graphics, kustomrcgraphics. com, kustomrcgraphics@aol.com
Pro-Line, prolineracing.com, (800) 899-7223
Reedy, reedypower.com, (949) 544-7500
Team Associated, rc10.com, (949) 544-7500

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