The Team Orion CRF project is one of the few real innovations that has shaken up the engine market in the last decade, with the acronym “CRF” standing for “Concept Ramela Fabrice”. The CRF engines feature a unique crankshaft designed by Monsieur Ramela, and further developed by World Championship winning competitors and designers including Adrien Bertin.

The CRF RS ABI features a 3-port design, ceramic bearing, and is built to win races.

Bertin, a skillful driver in both onroad and offroad, is a Frenchman from Paris who has a rare talent to improve and refine engines. After moving to Italy, home of some of the largest engine companies in the industry, Bertin turned the Team Orion CRF concept from a “side job” at the company into one of the most successful lineups of engines to date.

With that being said, we decided it was time we get our hands on one of these race-winning engines for a product test and review of our own. We were fortunate enough to get the opportunity (thanks to TeamOrionShop.com) to try out the new “CRF RS Edition ABI” engine. This is a limited edition buggy engine based on that of the European Championship winning engine.

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Adrien Bertin’s dedication and passion for “the perfect engine” has landed Team Orion a stable full of world class competitors including Jared Tebo, Ryan Cavalieri, Dakotah Phend, David Ronnefalk, Reno Savoya, and many more.

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Initially we immediately noticed the box still sports the “Alpha” logo characteristic of the older line of Orion Engines, and inside includes a comforting Certificate of Authenticity. Team Orion is apparently “going green” as in an effort to save paper there is no printed manual included, only a link to an online version of the manual on the Team Orion website.

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Underneath the Certificate of Authenticity lies the engine itself, also including three total carb restrictors (one 6mm pre-installed in the carburetor, with a 6.5mm and 7mm separate), carburetor locking collars, a No.4 glow plug, and flywheel cone.

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Removing the engine out of the plastic bag provides a mix of emotions. Excitement builds knowing you are handling a top-end, high quality, well machined engine.

On the flip side, we were slighty disappointed as the engine head is beautifully machined and drilled for weight reduction, but its almost polished finish gives it a slighlty more RTR look. The laser engravings aren’t as white or bright as you might expect, and the carburetor’s anodized aluminum finish looks a bit rough right out of the box. Does any of this actual effect the engine’s performance, absolutely not, but we’re talking about overall appearance and first impressions at the moment.

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While the carburetor may not be as pleasing to the eye as we had hoped, it seems to be very well made, and precisely fit. It offers two tuning adjustment screws in addition to the traditional idle adjustment. The rubber boot seems to fit perfectly on the metal parts to almost guarantee isolation from dirt and debris.

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The cooling head is an eight fin design, machined from a bar of aluminum. It is drilled with holes to reduce weight all the way through the lower six fins.

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The head button features an Orion and ABI logo on the upper side, while the lower part is distinguished by a silicone ring.

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The stunning black aluminum crankcase houses the two bearings. The rear bearing is a Swiss made bearing with ceramic balls for maximum performance and durability. The amount of oil used during the engine assembly is spot on. Not too much, but more than enough to allow for lubrication and protection of the parts.

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Now comes the “masterpiece” of all the parts that make up this engine; the crankshaft. The CRF crankshaft is a unique design that is different from any other crankshaft on the market.

Instead of the usual big central hole from which the fuel is sucked up into the combustion chamber, here the central hole is smaller, and the flow of fresh charge is supported by four additional oblique holes, which are meant to exploit the g-force generated by crankshaft rotation to obtain more pressure.

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This in turn is intended to optimize the performance of the engine. The crankshaft also features a brass counterweight and a silicon slide to help the mixture flow at the exit of the venturi tube.

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The piston and sleeve are very simple, yet well machined featuring a very small exhaust port. The intake ports present a very linear scheme, but simpler is better (in Neo Stig’s opinion) when it comes to engines, so we are confident the simple 3-port system combined with the “supercharging” CRF crankshaft will work nicely together.

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It is now time to hook up the CRF RS Edition ABI engine to the chrome-a-licious polished CRF EFRA 2058 muffler and fix it on a buggy. This time our buggy of choice is the Kyosho MP9 to match the European Champion package of David Ronnefalk. We hope this allows us to see if the expectations we built up analyzing high quality components will be matched by the actual on track performance!

Join us in Part two of the review in the near future!

Thank you to TeamOrionShop.com for providing the engine for review.