1/8th buggy shootoutOnly one walks away the winner.
By RC Car Staff
With three new 1/8-scale buggies on the market, it seemed the time was ripe for a full-out, competition-only buggy shootout. Being avid buggy racers, we jumped at the opportunity to build and race three of the top buggies on the market for a full week at KZ Speedway in Sun Valley, California. Same engines, same servos, same fuel, same everything except for the buggies themselves. Comparing and ranking the three best buggies on the market isn’t an easy task, and we already know that many of you won’t agree with our choices. Regardless, we ran these cars into the ground, changed setups, burned over eight gallons of fuel and spent a full week at the track to get our results.
We installed only the finest equipment we could find in our test buggies. Here’s what we used to outfit all three cars for our shootout.
1.) Pro-Line Crowd Pleazer 2.0 bodies,
#3214-00 (MP777 SP2); #3192-00 (Mugen); #3232-00 (Losi). $28/each
BODZ Custom Paintjobs; www.bodzrc.com
Pro-Line yellow Wabash 1/8 buggy wheel, #2671-02. $14/pair
Pro-Line yellow High Downforce buggy wing, #6032-02. $16/each
Pro-Line Crime Fighter M2 buggy tire, #9014-01. $23/pair
Pro-Line Hi-Flow fuel bottle, #6117-00. $13
2.) Sirio S21 Kanai EVO3 STI, $399/each
3.) Werks Racing Fuel, 30% nitro. #WRX6030. $30/gallon
Sirio Flanged Buggy Exhaust Evo3, #S21200102. $55/each
4.) JR Racing Digital Servos; Z9000T throttle & Z9000S steering. $115/each
5.) Spektrum Pro M11 & KO/Z1 module/receiver set,
#SPM1012 & SPM1013, $179.99
6.) Team Orion 5-cell Marathon
1600mAh pack, #12227. $25/each
7.) Sirio 3-chamber 2014 tuned pipe, #S21 200118. $69/each
HOW WE TESTED
We did everything we could to make this three-car shootout as fair and even as possible for each car. First, we outfitted each buggy with the exact same running gear (see Test Gear for all the details). We then took the cars out, broke them in and had a company rep come out and spend a full day helping us tune each buggy in to the track as perfectly as possible. The reps who participated were Kris Moore, President and racer for Mugen Seiki USA; Paul and Cody King, A-Team sponsored drivers for Kyosho America; and Travis Amezcua, TQ of the 2006 ROAR 1/8 Buggy Nationals and multi-national champion for Team Losi.
Next, we spent four days running as much fuel as possible from sun-up to sun-down through each car, with the three drivers rotating at regular intervals between cars. We kept notes after each session and each day, and made tuning changes to fit our specific driving styles as suggested by each company rep. We then set up a full day of timed “qualifier” runs where we recorded lap times and each driver raced each car a total of five times with recorded lap times.
We’re confident that we executed the most thorough shootout to date. Why? By the end of the shootout, each driver had driven just over one full gallon of fuel per car. That’s nine gallons of fuel burned over the week, with over 15 sets of tires used. Whew!
Team Losi 8ight
Broken parts None
Overall average lap time 47.4
for all drivers (seconds)
Average per driver
Fastest Lap 41.5
The 8ight is incredible on many levels. After reviewing the 8ight in our December 2006 issue, we said that it had “sent a shockwave through the 1/8 buggy world” and drivers “may need some time to get used to the 8ight’s softer suspension setup.” Our shootout confirmed both points. Overall, the Losi scored the highest (by far) in virtually every objective performance category. It out-accelerates all other buggies on the market. It jumps farther and easier than the other buggies. It has more steering than most racers know what to do with. It’s light, well balanced, and is a precision instrument on the track.
And yet, the precision with which the 8ight drives is one of its flaws when driven hard. We readily admit that we are not drivers of the Adam Drake or Travis Amezcua caliber, but between the three of us, we represent a very strong percentage of the “average club racers” out there. And in all three drivers’ hands, the Losi 8ight put down some of the fastest and slowest lap times of the entire week. Collin said several times, “Wow, this car is freaky fast!” only to follow up a few minutes later with, “Wow, I just crashed five times.” Stephen drove the fastest single five-minute run of the week with the Losi, yet two of his other runs were by far his slowest due to crashes and loose driving lines. Although Nick thought he was fastest with the 8ight, his lap times showed otherwise. Overall, the three drivers walked away from almost each run saying the car felt fast, but loose. The lap times proved we were right: the Losi turned a 41.5 second fastest lap of the week, while averaging 47.4 second laps. Even though the car felt incredibly fast, its lap times proved otherwise for the three drivers. The 8ight uses every square inch of lane width on the track as well, as it seems to drift more through corners and feel looser than the other two cars. It’s tough to get the 8ight upset, yet it always feels like it’s floating rather than holding a tight solid line unless you’re really on your game.
The 8ight is an amazing car. It sets the bar in 1/8 buggy racing on many levels. Its acceleration, jumping, balance and overall driving feel is unparalleled, and it’s a very durable car. Generally speaking, however, we could not get it to drive lap after lap with the same consistency as the other cars in this test. It’s an excellent value at $599, but when it’s all said and done, consistency is what racing is all about, from qualifying to long mains. The other two buggies are simply more “dumb-proof” than the 8ight, which means they can be driven harder without getting loose. On certain tracks with high traction, we’d choose the Losi, but when compared with the others in this group, the 8ight simply isn’t as consistent or as easy to drive for the average guy (like us) as the others are across all track surfaces. We love the 8ight’s design and its incredible performance aspects, but in the end we just weren’t consistent enough with the car.
Kyosho Inferno 777WC
Broken parts Front steering knuckle,
front caster block, rear toe
block, clutch bell bearing
Overall average lap time 48.0
for all drivers (seconds)
Average per driver
Fastest Lap 40.90
So how do you rank the current IFMAR World Champion second place? It’s tough, because the 777WC is a proven winner and an excellent performer as shown by our testing. As our test lap times prove, the 777WC was easy for all three test drivers to drive, and all three drivers felt confident with the car from day one all the way until the end. After Kyosho’s Paul King tore down our car, rebuilt it to his specs and put a pro-level setup on the car, our 777WC car was dialed. All of us liked the confidence with which it drove.
The Kyosho does everything well, even though it doesn’t have one particular performance advantage that clearly stands out above the others. On the large Sun Valley test track, the Kyosho holds its lines and steers smoothly off power. We felt that the car pushed slightly on-power, but this push also allowed us to get harder on the throttle without spinning out. Collin and Nick liked the three-degree rear toe plate on the Kyosho because of the extra traction it provided, while Stephen liked the 2.5-degree rear plate because it allowed the car to turn better and feel less twitchy through bumps and ruts. The Kyosho flies well and lands with security, though it doesn’t have the rocket-ship acceleration or jumping distance of the 8ight. Our lap times were very solid, but not quite as fast across the board as we were with the Mugen. Only Nick had a faster single run with the Kyosho than the other cars. Generally speaking, the WC was a tick off the pace compared to the Mugen, as proven by its statistics: a 40.9-second fastest lap of the week, with an average of 48.0 seconds due to a very bad single run that bumped its times down.
Both Collin and Stephen have raced Kyosho cars for a long time, and had never experienced the kind of durability problems they did in the shootout. Before the shootout, we’d have ranked the Kyosho as one of the most durable cars on the market. However, quite a few parts broke or had issues during testing (see list below). To be fair, our test car did have two nights of club racing on it at Hot Rods, but it was in perfect shape and was completely rebuilt by Paul King before our testing began, so it’s tough to pin-point the reasons behind the breakage. The three test drivers drove all three buggies equally as hard, but the Kyosho definitely suffered the worst fate in terms of breakage.
Finally, we must point out that the Kyosho does include a slew of high quality parts, but falls short in comparison to the Mugen buggy’s list of features. The WC’s ACRE brake pads are incredible (we gave them a ten out of ten in braking), and although the WC’s cast steering knuckles, titanium/steel Phillips head screws, turnbuckle-style chassis braces, E-clip style hinge pins and solid center diff mount are all perfectly functional on the racetrack, they don’t have the factory bling or functionality of the Mugen’s CNC braces and rear hubs, full hex-head steel screw kit, captured hinge-pins, split center diff mount, included Pro-Line tires or carrying bag the X5R arrives packaged inside of. Kyosho’s WC kit builds perfectly and includes high quality parts, but it just doesn’t match the Mugen X5R’s standard list of features. Kyosho has its reasons for including these items, but the average RC guy wants more bling than the WC includes.
Mugen Seiki MBX-5R
Broken parts Stripped front lower
arm pivot ball threads.
Overall average lap time 45.7
for all drivers (seconds)
Average per driver
Fastest Lap 40.1
Price wise, the MBX-5R takes the cake for most expensive in this shootout. At an average street price of around $670, the Mugen comes in at around $70 more than the Losi, which is the least expensive of the group. You get a lot for that extra dough, though; the Mugen’s features list is bursting with race-quality items. CNC rear hubs, CNC chassis braces, a full metric screw kit, carbon fiber radio tray and steering plate, titanium turnbuckle linkages, captured hinge-pins, machined diff gears, Pro-Line tires, a Mugen carrying bag and a split center diff mount (which makes maintenance a breeze) all add up to several hundred dollars worth of hop-ups that come stock in the bag. Value wise, the Mugen isn’t the cheapest but it is clearly the best-equipped buggy you can buy for the dollar.
Our lap times prove beyond doubt what we felt during testing—that the X5R is consistent, easy to drive and confidence-inspiring. The Mugen’s lap times smoked the other two cars, in every category possible: its fastest single lap of 40.1 seconds and average lap time of 45.7 are both tops in the shootout. Once Kris Moore had set up the X5R to our tastes, which by the way required only a slight ride height and downtravel adjustment compared to the box stock setup, we simply ran the car tank after tank after tank. We did strip a lower front arm on the X5R once, due to a high-speed off-camber landing that popped the lower pivot ball out of the arm. That was the lone casualty, however, and the car held up well from that point onward.
Like the Kyosho, the X5R doesn’t have a long list of performance traits that are class leaders like the Losi. The Mugen steers well, has plenty of stability and jumps well, but it does require considerably more throttle to clear large jump sections compared to the 8ight. The Mugen did, however, have the highest rough-track score during our testing due to its absurd down travel suspension throw and long shocks. It shoots through rough sections smoothly and keeps its composure unless you really geek-up the throttle inputs. We also scored the X5R highest in “confidence factor,” because we all agreed that driving the Mugen felt easier, more predictable and less twitchy than the other buggies. Finally, it scored highest on jumping/landing stability because it soaked up gnarly landings like a sponge and didn’t get tossed around when you miffed the landing jump. Unlike the Losi, the Mugen is the most “dumb-proof” car in this test, which is probably why all three of our drivers did so well with it. With the Mugen, you grip it and rip it.
The Mugen is simply the best overall car of this group. It’s just slightly the most expensive, but it includes by far the most option parts of the three cars. The X5R carries lots of corner speed, it jumps well, accelerates well and was the most consistent car in all three drivers’ hands over five days of testing and during our timed lap day. If that kind of performance and driver confidence doesn’t seal the deal, we don’t know what does. We’re sure that some of you will disagree, but according to a full week of testing, wrenching, building and driving, we confidently pick the Mugen MBX-5R as R/C Car’s choice for the best overall buggy on the market.
Where’s the other buggy?
You’re probably wondering why the Jammin’ X1CR FT buggy didn’t duke it out with the other buggies in this shootout. We originally planned to have a four-buggy shootout, but when we offered Jammin’ a spot to compete in our shootout, they declined. Simple as that
The three test drivers scored each car based on eight subjective factors and two objective lap-time based factors, with a total of 100 points. The objective lap time scores were weighted, with the fastest car receiving full points, and the other two cars scored based upon their lap times compared the fastest time. All three driver scorecards were added and averaged, for the final score sheet listed below.
8ight 777WC MBX-5R
Stephen Average: 45.3- 45.9 -43.9
Collin Average: 46.9- 51.68 -45.7
Nick Average 50.2- 46.75 -47.7
Overall average all drivers: 47.4 -48.0- 45.7
Shootout SCORE CARD
Losi -Kyosho- Mugen
Acceleration (10)- 9.7- 8 8
Braking (10) 9- 9.8 -8.8
On-power steering (5) 4.6- 4 -4.3
Off-power steering (5) 4.9- 4- 4
Jumping ability (5) 5- 4.5- 4
Jump/land stability (5) 3.8- 4.4- 4.6
Bumpy track performance (5) 4 -4.3 -4.9
Confidence factor (10) 6 -8.7- 9.5
Ease of maintenance (5) 3.5- 4.5 -4.9
Durability (10) 10 -8 -9
Average Lap Time (20) 18.3- 17.7 -20
Fastest Lap Time (10) 8.2- 9.4- 10
Total Score (100) 87- 87.3- 92
We’d like to thank all of the companies who helped us put our shootout together. Kyosho America, Paul and Cody King, Sirio Engines, Mugen Seiki USA, Kris Moore, Team Losi, Travis Amezcua, JR Racing servos, Doug Summers at BODZ Custom Paintjobs,Werks Racing Fuel, Spektrum, Pro-Line bodies and tires, Jimmy Babcock of Hot Rod Hobbies for running our timed practice runs, and Richard at KZ Speedway in Sun Valley, California for track use. Ranking the three best 1/8 buggies is like ranking the three best sports cars in the world, or the three best episodes of South Park; there will never be a public consensus, and all three can win on any given day. We don’t expect everyone to agree with us, but after a full week of testing, nine gallons of fuel burned, dozens of sets of tires and countless track hours, it’s our confident opinion that the Mugen MBX-5R is the best overall buggy on the market. o
Kyosho 777 WC
Street Price $660
Length 19.68 in (500mm)
Width 12.09 in (307mm)
Height 7.45 in (189mm)
Wheelbase 13.78 in (350mm)
Street Price: $679
Wheel Base 324-330mm
Team Losi 8ight
Street Price $599
Width 12.13 in (308mm.)
Wheelbase 12.64-12.8 in (321-325mm.)
Length 19.5 in (495mm.)
Weight 7.62 lb (3458g)