xb9_reviewed

Review Links:
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – The BuildBuild Photos 
Part 3 – The Track test…
/ Photo Gallery

Having bonded a bit with the XB9 during the build, ‘Neo-Stig’ finally gets to flex his finger muscles by taking the car to the track as he completes the final touches and puts XRAY’s flagship model through it’s paces.

The Final Touches before the track…

Our previous article concluded with the installation of the fuel tank, but we still need to add many of the items not included in the XB9 kit. First off, all the electronics: the radio tray is smartly designed and precise that installing your servos, receiver and batteries is a pleasant way to spend less than half an hour. The cables have their routing and pass through a tunnel in the moulded tray, so that they aren’t visible after the whole part has been installed on the car. Actually, everything looks neat and tidy that to more experienced builders it might seem as if there were some missing parts, but not to worry, everything is there.

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We can say the same about the steering and throttle/brake linkages: everything is simple and functional, even if we had to add a collar to increase the throttle spring tension. Once finished with electronics we continued by preparing the air filter for our incoming engine. The cells of the water-cut foams looked ideal to ensure good airflow whilst keeping your engine clean and protected, the provided airfilter oil proved to work very well. The only thing we suggest is to cut a couple millimeters from the outer foam, as it’s slightly too long and will bend as you assemble the filter.

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

It’s now time to install the engine: for this review we are using the brand new Novarossi-based Ultimate engine, that will be the subjects of a seperate review, we decided to try the M5 (5 ports) version of the brand new powerplant. Installing the clutch was easy and the engine fit perfectly in the car (we didn’t need to remove any material from the engine mount as described into the manual), once the gear mesh had been set, we are ready to head to the track for the first part of the test.

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In this first part we will break in the engine and carry on a shakedown that will be followed by a 2 hours endurance test, sticking with the basic setup without changing anything but tyres. In the final and conclusive article we will focus more on pure performance, working to find the perfect compromise between speed and consistency and will also upgrade the car to new 2013 spec to point out the main static and dynamic differences.

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BittyDesign kindly painted up the stock body in team colours!

The Track test…

Now, back to the track: after trying several tyres, our choice for the 2 hour test was a set of supersoft cityblocks by AKA. They provided good traction on the slightly damp dirt track and a very good side bite, without making the car edgy. The car handled good early on and felt easy to drive. A bit too easy, maybe, as we struggled a bit to find a good speed.

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After the initial shakedown we noticed that, as is quite normal, the ride height dropped significantly, so the suggestion is to restore the right height increasing the spring preload. That helped with corner speed and traction, but the more we ran the car the more it felt as if the stock springs were too soft, at least for our test track.

It was the lack of steering entering the tighter corners and a slight lack of traction that made the car a bit too slow to be on a decent race pace (and by decent we mean a good competition level i.e. nationals). We blame the stock springs as, even from above the drivers stand, that the car’s nose dove too much entering the corners and sat back on its rear end when on power.

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The rolling was very good though, so we didn’t experience any loss in lateral grip. We were compelled to force the car inside the corners anticipating the steering imput and trying not to lose speed so that we didn’t need that much traction coming out from lowspeed sections. The car is pretty well balanced though, so we think that improving the traction by using stiffer springs, playing with brake bias to improve the corner entry speed and limiting the suspension travel may be enough to make the car faster. This was not the aim of this first test, so we had to “holster our tools” and just focus on driving the throughout the endurance test.

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If you’re looking for a relaxing Sunday practice runaround, then the basic setup is exactly what you’re looking for, the car is very well balanced, very smooth on the bumps and jumps perfectly.

As mentioned above, we will stick with the suggested stock setup for this first “endurance” test, and being honest “Neo-Stig” didn’t tire of driving the XB9 after the 2 hour mark. The materials proved to be as good as they seemed to be during the assembly, and everything on the buggy worked perfectly, and not a single screw came loose. As the pictures demonstrate, the only broken detail on the Xray was a wing decal!!

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The XB9 handled the first shakedown and two hour test with consumate ease with no parts breaking or vibrating lose, however the nature of the XB9 is to go fast however the stock setup is a general ‘all-rounder’ – developed to suit many different surfaces whilst not excelling on a particular one. Credit to XRAY, out of the box the car does exactly what it should do, in the next article we’ll focus on setup, the 2013 edition and with the objective of pure performance.

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