xb9_reviewed

Review Links: Part 1 – Introduction | Part 2 – The Build / Build Photo Gallery

After Part 1’s introduction, we get down to the nuts and bolts of the XB9 review with the all important bonding session between man and car – the build.

Building the XRAY XB9

From the first moment of unboxing XRAY’s XB9 buggy, impressions are that they have put a lot of thought and effort into their product – perhaps one of the absolute best on the market. Whilst XRAY are well known for their marketing abilities, a trait translated into the packaging, only once the lid is off is the real quality from the renowned Slovakian manufacturer revealed.

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Whilst opening parts bags you begin to appreciate the unrivaled quality of the parts, design and attention to detail – the small cards showing the name of the employee responsible for packing the individual bags – a nice personal ‘human’ touch in an otherwise largely mechanical process of building a kit.

The cards aren’t simply there for decoration however, serving an important purpose should there be a missing part to report. Unnecessary in our case as every screw and part was accounted for! No Ikea-style stories of missing legs to report here!

Click ‘More’ to continue part 2 of the review…

The kit assembly gets underway with the differentials, thanks to a manual that puts many competitors’ attempts to shame, back to the diffs and here we have a suggestion from our in house ‘Neo-Stig’- check the gear mesh of the conical gears in the front and rear gearboxes before building your differentials: to do so just assemble the 40T bevel gear on the diff case and fully tighten it, then insert the two 8x16x5 bearings and, after assembling the 12T bevel drive gear on the bulkheads you’ll be able to adjust the gear mesh without the need to disassemble anything, simply adding the provided spacers.

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Once you’ve found the right compromise (the gears should have a tiny bit of play and above all move freely) you can remove the 40T bevel gear and start building your differentials. We chose not to forget to use a healthy amount of the provided black grease on the outdrives – to avoid friction.

As mentioned previously the quality of the parts is second to none here and so it was simply a case of following the instructions and fill the diffs with the indicated oils. The center CVDs are also of the highest standard well made and spin freely from the first moment of installation; two rubber boots are of course provided to prevent any dirt from sticking to the grease compromising the free movement.

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Before assembling the carbon fibre shock towers on the gearboxes, the manual suggests to seal the edges with some CA glue to protect these carbon/graphite parts, and we totally agree with that.

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Continuing with the assembly, we noticed that the suggested arm reamer wasn’t enough to achieve free movement of the hinge pin inside the lower arms, so we opted to utilise a body reamer to widen the entries of the pin, and that actually worked out quite well. Not a huge deal for sure, but something you should consider if you want your suspension to move freely – one of the main cornerstones of getting your buggy to work well.

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We found the turnbuckles quite difficult to assemble, however from experience that means top notch plastic quality and something that will be appreciated later on by the owner. Every ball joint moves is free and doesn’t show any play, meaning a perfect study & manufacture of tolerances, really impressive.

The rear suspension setup is quite traditional, the assembly of the rear end went flawlessly. An interesting feature is the double body post on the rear, something unique in the market, that likely ensures a longer life of the body and more security (one is better than two!) especially as the body is one of the areas on the car that twists, distorts and flexs the most, not always visible though.

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 The lower arm suspension plates use an eccentric bushings system to adjust toe, anti-squat, track width and roll centers on the rear end and kick-up/total caster, roll centers and track width on the front end. Once the rear end was built, our attention turned to the front of the XB9: every part is made from the same high quality plastic, but the details are very precise.

The steering system uses the tried and tested C hub system – as used successfully on many other cars, and on the XB9’s predecessor, the XB808 – XRAY use some pretty clever knuckles – despite being plastic sport some interesting aluminum inserts to help the user to ensure the screw is straight and true during installation – precision is the name of the game and everything bar the body reamer required for the arms went according to plan.

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Time now to focus on the center diff and the brakes, which at first we weren’t all that impressed with – unusual to have plastic plates on top end cars, and the brake discs are anything but luxury. We are confident XRAY have done their homework and they’ll work well, but the look & feel is just not in line with the rest of the production.

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The brake pads need to be glued and we suggest you sandpaper the steel pads before applying the CA glue. We also recommend you to drill the pads holes with a 3.1mm bit in order to remove any glue residue that would compromise the free movement of the pads on the screws that, unfortunately, are fully threaded which doesn’t help. The lack of ball bearings in the brake cam assembly was a bit concerning, however in the XB9’s case the movement is so precise that bearings aren’t required.

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The suggested gap of 0.5mm between the disc and the pads is a bit too tight in Neo-Stig’s opinion, rather  opting for 0.7mm instead. The ackermann steering plate is ideal: the graphite plate has the right look and three different holes to adjust the Ackermann angle, and once assembled on the chassis moves flawless with no friction at all.

We mentioned the chassis, which at first looks very narrow, machined from the best 7075 T6 Ergal aluminium, at 3mm thick its quite flexible, though strenghtened by the front and rear braces and the two sigeguards through the Multi-Flex® system, which allows to adjust the flexibility of the chassis by simply adding or removing screws from the sideguards.

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The shocks that come with the XB9 are completely new, black anodized and beautifully manufactured. The red o-rings provided guarantee a good seal and preserve the free movement of the shaft into the shocks. The pistons are also very precise, no need for any sandpaper to alleviate  sliding friction.

We built the shocks according to the manual and the basic setup, using the oils that came in the box, and the result felt pretty good on the pit table, always remember the track has the final word though. The shock boots are small works of art, made with very soft silicon rubber and pierced to let the air flow in and out according to the shaft’s movement.

When installing the shocks on the car, take care to the silver screws: they are to be used on the front right and on the rear left arms, as they are left threaded in order to prevent unscrewing whilst running on track.

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After the shocks we installed the fuel tank, which feels well made with a moulded side splash guard and smart fuel tube links to be securely screwed on the outer side.

The XB9 is now built, and ready to hit the track for it’s first taste of the dirt, overall we were content with the assembly and the build experience. Credit to the manufacturer for the parts precision – something many manufacturers should aspire and aim for, the only minor let down was the hinge pin holes in the lower arms, and look of the brake discs, but at this point we’re scrutinising the XB9 under a fine microscope and it passes the first test with flying colours.

Now we just need to complete the car – install the engine, electrics and linkages, stay tuned for that in the next article as we bring you the track test of the XRAY XB9 review.

XB9 Build Photo Gallery | Part 1 – Introduction

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