RCU Review: XTM Racing XLB 1/7 Nitro

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    Contributed by: Eric Hege | Published: May 2005 | Views: 82197 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    XTM XLB Monster Buggy

    XTM Racing

    Distributed Exclusively By
    Global Hobby Distributors

    18480 Bandilier Circle
    Fountain Valley, CA 92708 USA

    Phone: (714) 963-0329
    Fax: (714) 964-6236
    Website: xtm.globalhobby.com

    See the XTM XLB in action!
    Resolution:  Low  Medium  High

    Assembly Ease

    Lots Of Power
    Easy To Tune
    Roomy Chassis Layout
    Large Fuel Tank
    Two Speed

    17mm Nut Wrench Not Supplied
    Needs Trapped Suspension Pins
    Shock Walls Are Thin
    "My God, that's a big ship."
    -Bones (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

    While there have been many large scale buggies produced through the years, they all lean towards gasoline powered weed-eater style motors. While there is nothing wrong with that approach, it doesn't provide you the same experience as a larger version of a 1/8 scale buggy would. That is until now, at least according to XTM Racing.

    XTM already had a 1/8 scale buggy, but wanted to offer a larger version and stick with the nitro-based approach. While the buggy's dimensions are more in line with a 1/6 scale buggy, 1/6 scale typically implies that the buggy is gasoline powered. To avoid giving potential buyers the wrong impression, XTM chose to dub their XLB (X-tra Large Buggy) a 1/7 scale buggy. Not just any powerplant could move a buggy of this nature around, XTM would need something that would rival the size of the buggy itself. So they chose to use a SH .28, which made perfect sense being that SH also produced the 24-7 that powers several other XTM models.

    While the XLB certainly looks fast, and appears to have the muscle to get moving quickly, sometimes you'll find that looks can fool the eye. So to see how well the XLB can run there's only one thing you can do, fuel it up and start tearing up the dirt. That's exactly the sort of thing I'm game for!

    Model Name: XTM XLB
    Part Number: 07301
    Price: $450.00 (Approx. Street Price)
    Type: 1/7 Scale Four Wheel Drive Buggy
    Width: 15.74" (400mm)
    Wheelbase: 16.42" (417mm)
    Weight: 10.6 lbs. (4.8 kg)
    Wheels: Black Plastic Spoke-Style 3.8x2.5" (95x65mm)
    Tires: Studded Pin 5.5x2.6" (140x65mm)
    Front Suspension: Independent C-Hub
    Rear Suspension: Independent Carrier-Based
    Shocks: Threaded Aluminum
    Drivetrain: Shaft Driven Dogbone-Style
    Axles: Shaft Driven CVD-Style
    Chassis: 3.0mm Anodized Aluminum
    Engine: SH .28 (4.6cc)
    Brakes: Crossdrilled Stainless Steel Discs/Fiber Pads
    Fuel Tank: 290cc with Stone Filter

    Additionally Required Items
    8 AA Batteries or Transmitter Pack
    4 AA Batteries or Receiver Pack
    Glow Igniter
    Air Filter Oil
    After-Run Oil
    Flathead Screwdriver
    17mm Socket or Four-Way Wrench
    Lexan Body
    Decals and Documentation

    The body that XTM supplies with the XLB is constructed with durability in mind, as the lexan is fairly thick for a stock body. The color scheme uses four colors, and while its not the most complex theme on a RTR body, it still boasts a sharp look and compliments the buggy well. The body is actually in two separate pieces. The bigger section covers the majority of the buggy, while there's a small section that covers the nose of the buggy. To round out the looks, XTM provides a rugged wing for the rear of the XTM as well.

    XTM provides a comprehensive set of documentation with the XLB. One manual completely lays out the break-in and operational procedures, as well as provide tips and detailed tuning information. This manual also contains exploded diagrams of the truck, which will be useful for maintenance and repair issues. You also get a similar manual for the SH .28 motor and the Hitec Aggressor radio as well. Rounding out the package is a nice set of stickers to dress up your buggy with. The sheet contains the window stickers as well as several others that you can use to fashion your buggy to suit your tastes.

    XTM provides some accessories as well as a small assortment of tools as well. You'll probably recognize the antenna tube for the receiver, as its standard fare in most models. However you'll also receive a set of hex wrenches as well, in the following sizes: 1.5mm, 2.0mm, 2.5mm, and 3.0mm. Other tools you'll receive are an open end wrench, and a small four-way socket style wrench. While these tools are basic, they serve the purpose and will work well until you wish to upgrade to something better. There's also a couple of other items as well, that you may not recognize. These are additional servo linkage parts for aftermarket servos, and toe angle blocks for the suspension pins.

    Wheels and Tires
    Left Side
    Right Side

    The wheels and tires for the XLB are glued onto the rims, but not installed on the buggy. They are banded in pairs by zip ties and tucked into the box. So before you run you'll need to set aside some time to install them. You'll also find two pair of 17mm nuts as well, as they are used to hold the wheels in place. You'll want to make sure you have a compatible four-way or socket wrench handy though, as one is not provided with the buggy. I think with this being a RTR XTM should have provided a wrench to use, especially since the wheels do not come installed on the XLB.

    Looking down from above the XLB one thing stands out, at least it did to me. That would be lots of room. The chassis has plenty of space and the rear seems devoid of practically anything. In fact even the huge fuel tank barely takes any room on the chassis, while the motor sits closer to the middle of the chassis than it does the rear. The large tuned pipe hangs on the left-hand side, while the large receiver box sits opposite of it on the other side of the chassis. The suspension arms should look familiar to anyone who has spent any time driving the XTM Mammoth as they are the exact same parts.

    Chassis Bottom
    Fuel Tank
    Steering Linkage

    The underside of the 3mm black anodized chassis shows attention to detail on the part of XTM. You'll quickly notice the countersunk screw holes throughout the chassis, keeping them from being snagged on the ground. There's an opening to provide access for a starter box under the flywheel, while beside the opening is a plastic skid plate that covers an opening that allows the two-speed assembly to sit low on the chassis. If you look closely where the mud guard meets the chassis, near the exhaust stinger, you can see the point where spilled fuel is routed away from the chassis.

    XTM supplies the XLB with a huge 290cc fuel tank. This provides for long run times, even with the large .28 motor that powers the XLB. The tank is designed to channel any spilt fuel down the fuel tubing found at the front of the tank. The tubing routes the fuel down beside the tank, and through the chassis at the point I mentioned that you could see from the bottom.

    The steering linkage makes use of a built-in servo saver that's adjustable via a thumbwheel. If there's one advantage to the large chassis format, it's the fact that the servo saver can be adjusted very easily. This is rarely the case with most 1/8 scale buggies, as the adjuster is usually too close to something else to facilitate easy adjustment. The upper brace for the linkage is a beefy 2mm, and is anodized black to match the XLB's chassis. The bar that ties the halves of the linkage together is anodized black aluminum as well, and specs out at 3mm thick. You are provided several mounting options so you can adjust the steering angle if you would desire to.

    Front Suspension
    Axle Assembly

    The front of the XLB is protected by a large plastic bumper with XTM molded into its front side. This bumper offers some protection in the event of a head-on collision. However I'm concerned that, due to the fact it sticks out so far from the chassis and isn't braced at the top, it may break too easily and not offer the protection I'd like to see. If that's the case, I'm sure I'll manage to give it a few hard hits during the driving phase of the review and bring that information to light. The bumper makes a great carrying handle as well. That might seem to be a strange comment at first, but due to the XLB's large size, an easy way to carry it is certainly welcome.

    The 4mm suspension pins that secure the arms to the bulkhead are captured behind a 3mm thick aluminum brace at the front of the bulkhead, and a 7.5mm thick plastic toe block at the rear. These braces hold them into place, and are fastened to the bulkheads by a couple screws. Above that, you'll see the dual body posts that hold the front body nose in place. To keep the lexan nose from bouncing around while the XLB is being driven, XTM has used a form-fitted section of foam that sits between the body posts and the shock tower.

    When it comes to the shock tower, XTM has definitely considered that the XLB will be abused. The shock tower is 4mm thick, and anodized in black. There are nine positions available for the upper shocks to mount into, which provides a very diverse set of handling possibilities. As a side note, the rear shock tower offers a total of 10 positions for each shock. The lower half of the shock is given a single mounting possibility on the lower suspension arms.

    The business ends of the front suspension arms use a c-hub approach. The plastic c-hub is thick and held onto the suspension arms by screw pins with locking nuts. When it comes to the bearing carrier, XTM wasn't playing around. They dipped straight into the aluminum parts bin, and pulled out some aluminum carriers. The carriers are held into place by a pair of screws at both their upper and lower end. These screws fit into a metal insert dropped into place in the c-hub, offering increased strength. The aluminum carrier houses a pair of 16x8x5 bearings, which support a CVD-style axle. The axle shaft is 4.5mm in diameter, while the axle stub that passes through the bearings is 8mm thick.

    The hex adapter on the XLB is typical buggy fare. Its aluminum and held into place by a 2.5mm pin, that's held in position by a grub screw that's accessed through the end of the axle. This is a very secure method of transferring the axle's motion to the wheels, and therefore should prove itself to be nearly bulletproof.

    Differential Removal
    Inside The Differential

    It's obvious that differential access was important to XTM when they developed the XLB. In the case of the front differential once the bumper is removed, and out of the way, all that's needed to do is to remove a few screws that secure the halves of the bulkheads together. Once these screws are removed, the front bulkhead can be pulled out of the way allowing access to the differential. With the bulkhead designed in this manner, you'll find that differential access certainly doesn't get any easier than this.

    The differential unit itself is housed in a plastic case that protects the ring and pinion gears from the dirt and debris that will be stirred up while the XLB is being driven. Once you pull the actual differential out of the plastic case, you can get a glimpse of the housing and ring gear assembly. The differential housing itself is held tight to the ring gear by a set of stainless steel self-tapping screws.

    The differential is filled with grease to prevent premature wearing of the gears. When looking in the differential I was surprised to find XTM avoided the use of a spider gear approach, and instead used sun and planet gears inside the differential. A spider gear setup is typically use for 1/8 scale buggies, so I was a little surprised to see that XTM went this less-traveled route instead.

    Rear Suspension
    Wing Mount

    The rear of the XLB hosts several noteworthy features. First and foremost is the bulkhead halves that support and hold the differential assembly. At the top and bottom of the bulkheads, suspension pins hold the suspension arms in place. These suspension pins are captured by an aluminum suspension pin plate on the front, and a plastic toe bar on the rear of the bulkheads. This is the same setup as the front. The suspension pin plate and toe bar also tie the pairs of suspension arms together, which adds strength.

    Right above the suspension pin plate, and about halfway up the backside of the differential housing, you'll see a sway bar that helps to stabilize the roll center of the rear of the XLB. The sway bar has a diameter of 3.5mm, and is tied to the front halves of the lower suspension arms via rod end assemblies.

    The rear wing mount is tied to the rear shock tower, about halfway down the mount. The lower end of the mount extends down to a plastic mounting bracket on the 3mm chassis plate. The wing mount has aluminum braces that tie the halves together, and they provide more strength than plastic alone. The wing itself sits on the wing mount and is secured in place by a single long body clip, similar to what's used to hold the body in place. The wing mount and wing itself is fashioned after some of the tougher wing setups I've come across, and the wing itself is thick and fairly flexible. The rear wing assembly will certainly take its fair share of abuse.

    Shock Shaft
    Wheels and Tires

    The XLB is equipped with thread aluminum shocks anodized in black. The threading on the bodies nearly extends all the way down the body of the shock, providing a wide adjustment range. The shock shafts are equipped with silicone bump stops that provide some progressive action to the shock travel, and help cushion the shock if it happens to bottom out. A heavy duty rod end is fitted to the lower end of the shock. The walls of the shock itself are fairly thin though, considering that they are paired up with a large buggy such as the XLB.

    A big buggy needs big wheels and XTM certainly provides them. Studded rubber tires with foam inserts are mounted to five-spoke rims. The rims are molded from black plastic and look very sharp. The tires are pre-glued to the rim so no glue is necessary for installation. However you will need to supply a 17mm socket wrench to tighten the nuts that hold the wheels down.

    Front Braces
    Rear Braces
    Mud Guard

    The XTM XLB uses a large chassis to achieve its big 1/7 scale size. However, with an increase in size, you'll see an increase in forces acting against the buggy itself. To combat this XTM utilizes braces typical to what many 1/8 scale buggies use. However most 1/8 scale buggies use a single brace at each end, while the XLB doubles that with a pair at each end. Heavy duty rod ends grace each end of the bracing rods, while hardened steel screw and brace studs tie the rod to the 3mm chassis plate. The dual-brace configuration is a welcome sight, as I feel like the XLB will need all the bracing it can get with its large footprint.

    The XLB doesn't come without mud guards, which are a common sight in the buggy genre. Mud guards help reduce some of the dirt from finding it way onto the chassis, due to the low stance of the buggy. The sides of the mud guards are curved upward to help facilitate shielding the chassis from dirt and debris. At the point where the exhaust stinger resides, a small cutout is provided to prevent any contact between the pipe and the plastic mud guard.

    Two Speed Assembly
    Throttle/Braking Linkage

    The heart of the XLB is the .28 cubic inch motor made by SH Engines. If you know anything about nitro powerplants, you may recall that SH also developed the 24-7 that graces the several other XTM platforms. The motor is equipped with a pullstart to get the motor running, while an aluminum carburetor provides the air and fuel to keep it going. The carburetor needles are easily reached when the motor is on the XLB's chassis. The spent gases exit through an aluminum header and large tuned pipe, once the combustion process is finished.

    The motor spins a dual-geared clutch bell with three clutch shoes hidden under it. The motor is topped off with a sharp looking aluminum head anodized black on the top of the motor's block. On the lower end of the block, the motor is held firm by aluminum mounts that facilitate the removal of the motor without having to reset the clutch bell and spur gap. This makes removal and reinstallation a snap.

    The SH .28 motor drives an adjustable two speed hub. The hub is held in place by plastic braces, and pokes up through the aluminum upper chassis plate that braces the upper ends of the hub's braces. The two-speed assembly features front and rear braking, and both are capable of being adjusted separately. The front brake utilizes dual disks, while the rear brake uses a single disk to help bring the buggy to a halt. Fiber pads reside between the stainless steel calipers and the cross-drilled stainless steel disks.

    Receiver Box

    XTM provides a nice and roomy receiver box to house the receiver and battery. The top of the box swings open on a hinge once the rear latch is pressed. Inside the receiver box you'll see the receiver positioned close to the top, while underneath it is the stock AA battery holder. A standard 5-cell receiver pack can easily be housed here as well.

    Also take note of the factory installed failsafe. The XTM failsafe is one of the smallest failsafe units I've ever seen, and should be easy to set if the need arises, thanks to its single button setup. The procedure to set the failsafe is well documented in the manual, in case the need arises. I have to give some serious props to XTM for including a failsafe, as it is an item that is very rarely seen on any RC vehicle straight from the factory.

    The radio that comes with the XLB is provided by Hitec. The AM Aggressor radio is a basic radio, but will get the job done until you decide you may want to move to a radio with more features, or that uses a FM signal. The foam wheel provides a nice comfortable grip for your fingers while you drive. Just below the steering wheel you'll see an adjustment wheel that controls the dual-rate feature in case you feel the need to dial some of the steering out of the radio. On the right side of the controller, you are provided adjustment knobs for the steering and throttle trims.

    Protective Film
    Receiver Antenna

    You may notice that, out of the box, the XLB's body colors appear dull. This is because the lexan body comes with a protective film that must be peeled off before any stickers are applied. Using your fingernail, peel away a small piece of the protective film along the edge of the body. Then you'll easily be able to grasp the film and pull it completely off. Once the film is removed, the body's colors will more closely resemble the shiny look which we've all grown accustomed to. You should take note that the protective film is also in place on the XLB's nose section as well, so you'll need to remove it also.

    The wheels, unlike most RTR models, do not come preinstalled on the buggy's chassis. However they are pre-glued, so installation is not a huge issue. Simply cut the ties that hold the wheels together, and then install them onto the buggy's axles. Then thread the supplied 17mm nuts on, to hold the wheels in place. The only difficulty will come when it's time to tighten the nuts down, because XTM doesn't supply you with a tool to do this with. So if you don't already have something you can use, or didn't pick one up when you purchased the XLB, as you won't be running your buggy until you pick up a tool that will allow you to tighten these nuts. Again, I really feel that XTM should have dropped something in the box to handle the installation of the wheels. I think most people would have expected it.

    The next thing that needs attention is the receiver antenna. You'll want to find the antenna tube in the bag of extra parts, and then thread the antenna wire through the tube. The antenna wire should be coiled up near the receiver box. Be careful when pushing the antenna wire through the tube, you don't want to bend or damage it. If you find it difficult to feed the wire through the tube, sprinkle some baby powder on the wire before pushing it through. Another method that works well is to place a couple of drops of bearing oil in the tube before pushing the antenna through.

    Receiver Batteries
    Body and Wing
    Radio Batteries

    To ready the receiver for action, you need to install four AA batteries into the battery holder, which is located in the receiver box. Alternatively, you could also replace the battery holder with a receiver pack. In that case the receiver pack would plug straight into the receiver itself, unless you wanted to do some plug swapping so that you could utilize the stock switch on the box. Over the long term, a receiver pack would be a much more reliable route than using AA batteries, not to mention cheaper as well.

    After the body's protective film has been removed and the stickers applied, you'll want to install the body on the buggy. Both the nose piece and the body drop into place easily, and are secured by body clips that may be longer than what you are accustomed to. However these long body clips work very well for their purpose, and are easily installed and removed. The rear wing attaches to its mount in the same fashions as well.

    The Hitec Aggressor radio will also need to have AA batteries installed in it. For the radio, you'll need eight AA batteries. You could also purchase a rechargeable radio pack. However if you plan on replacing the radio later, you may be better off to just save your money and buy a rechargeable pack that fits the new radio you will buy later on down the road. After all, once you spend some time with the buggy, you might find yourself wanting some features that aren't available on the Aggressor.

    The XLB is powered by a massive .28 cubic inch motor, and the break-in procedure for it is similar to most other break-in procedures you may run across in the hobby. The first thing I did was to familiarize myself with the exact procedure as laid out by XTM in the manual. I cannot stress how important it is to read the manual and understand the manufacturer's instructions before you begin. Even though many break-in procedures are very similar, some of the exact specifics can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

    The break-in procedure laid out by XTM is explained well in the manual, and consists of running the buggy for a few minutes at a rich setting, and then allowing it to cool down. You'll do this several times, and lean the motor slightly between each tank. So with this in mind I set out to run through the break-in procedure, and get ready to tear up the dirt. So I plugged my charged Dynamite igniter onto the glow plug, after I filled the tank with fuel, and pulled the starter cord a few times. The SH motor fired right up and continued to idle, although the idle sounded pretty rough due to the rich setting. This is par for the course, as rich is preferred for breaking in a new motor.

    However the super rich setting worked against me with the tight piston and sleeve fit of the SH motor. As soon as I started to apply some throttle the motor choked on the fuel being sent to it and stalled. I fired the motor back up, but received the same result once I started to apply the throttle again. Once again, this is often typical behavior exhibited by a new motor with tight tolerances. So I turned the high speed needle about 1/4 of a turn clockwise, which leaned the motor out some to allow it to withstand the throttle being opened before the motor was warmed up.

    The leaning of the high speed needle worked well, and soon after firing the motor up again I was underway. I started running through my first 2-3 minute segment, and then shut it down to cool. I had watched the motor closely to ensure that it was running with sufficient lubrication for break-in. However care did need to be taken to ensure that the motor didn't stall as it wouldn't hold an idle for long. This was due to the high speed needle still being very rich.

    I will confess that, against the manual's wishes, I didn't lean the motor any until I had went through a few cooldown periods. I simply felt that this was best for the motor, as the 2-3 minutes of running they suggested didn't warrant leaning until I had first performed a few cycles and gotten the motor to run well at the stock setting. After several cycles, I started to slowly lean out the high speed needle, but instead of using 1/8 turn increments I went with increments of 1/12 of a turn. I felt it was best to err on the conservative side. During the break-in procedure I had no difficulties at all, other than the fact the motor would not hold an idle very well with the rich settings.

    Once break-in was behind me it was time to start tuning the motor to get it headed in the direction of holding an idle and performing well. It was already apparent that this motor was not going to have any problem pushing this buggy around at all. A little tuning would easily turn it into more of a powerhouse. I was eagerly looking forward to seeing this motor demonstrate its capabilities.

    After several adjustments, I ended up with the high speed needle being set around 2-1/4 turns, while the low speed needle ended up with a setting of around 2 turns out. From that point I adjusted the idle to a point that kept it running reliably, but as low of an RPM as possible. With the adjustments made, I started driving the XLB around and getting used to the way it handled.

    The buggy's exhaust tone was pretty loud with the tuned pipe it was coupled with, but the exhaust note had a good distinct sound that commanded authority. I had a blast just watching it power itself away from me in a blast of exhaust smoke and flying dirt. On more than one occasion I turned the buggy away from me to head it in the opposite direction, and covered myself in dirt and small rocks. This buggy can move dirt with more ease than most construction equipment can!

    Even though I was having a blast simply driving the buggy around and turning the ground over, I knew that I would need to start putting the buggy through some off-road action. So with break-in complete I took the XLB to nearby Hobby Park to hit a more open area with the power the XLB's SH .28 offered.

    Once I arrived at Hobby Park I fueled the XLB up, plugged the igniter onto the glow plug, and pulled the starter cord. After a few tugs the motor fired up, and I was underway. I started by running the buggy back and forth in the open area to warm it up and see how well the tuning was holding up. The tune didn't need any adjustment, and the buggy was making the shift from first to second gear perfectly. With the basics behind me, I set off for the doubles to see how the buggy would fare.

    The XLB laughed boldly at the doubles, as it could clear both easily without even breaking a sweat. After hitting this area a few times it became apparent that it posed no challenge at all. So I zipped back across the open area with the intention of heading towards the quadruple jumps. As I was zipping across the grassy area the XLB struck a wooden board that wasn't immediately visible in the thick grass. I heard a snap, and once I arrived at the buggy's side I saw that the front bumper had been broken off the XLB completely in the collision.

    After examining the buggy, I could see no issues aside from the broken bumper. So I decided to continue driving. Also, considering the long suspension arms of the XLB, I didn't see where the bumper would be adding a large amount of protection anyway.

    I arrived at the quadruple jumps and proceeded to drive through this area. However I soon found out this type of scenario was out of character for the XLB. Its larger size made it fairly hard to land between the humps, even though it was capable of doubling the first two. In fact, it could have easily tripled three of them, but trying to land and set myself up for the fourth was extremely tough. While a standard 1/8 scale buggy would be more at home in this sort of environment, the XLB's size played against itself and killed some of the control in this sort of setting. It was obvious that this buggy wanted bigger jumps and a more open environment.

    However, before I finished playing on the quads, I ended up pulling off a poorly executed jump that resulted in the buggy rolling end over end across two of the jumps. The result was a rear suspension pin popping loose, which in turn threw out an axle dogbone. The cause was the aluminum suspension pin plate had bent forward and gave the suspension pin enough room to free itself. So with that I decided to pack it in for the day.

    Once the buggy was repaired, with new suspension pin plates, I decided to head back out and try my luck again. This time around, I opted to focus more on all-out jumping, as that seemed to be what the XTM XLB enjoyed the most. With the raw power produced by the SH .28, it should be easily capable of flinging itself into the air well. Even though it was still early in my XLB experience, one fact was becoming established. That was that I absolutely loved the motor that resided on the chassis. So far it delivered everything a good motor should. It was easy to tune, easy to start, and provided gobs of power. I expect this motor will become a favorite for anyone looking to replace a worn out stocker in many big block-based 1/8 scale buggies and monster trucks.

    I started out by warming the XLB with some back and forth driving across the backyard. Obviously my area was a little smaller than at Hobby Park, but I had some good ideas in store in regards to single jumps of the bashing variety. This would be more of a stark contrast to the technical jumps and berms seen at my other stomping grounds I often use for testing purposes. However, before I hit the jumps, I did take a detour for a little speed testing.

    Since I previously seen the speeds the XTM was capable of, I opted to leave the dirt-based area, and head to an large open area in the backyard. I would be running the buggy in grass, which would likely affect the speed some. However when faced with risking contact with an inanimate object or losing a few MPH in a speed test, I chose the latter. So with my son in the driver's seat, I grabbed my radar gun and prepared myself for the task at hand.

    He made several passes, and I clocked the buggy from head-on and behind. Readings from behind proved to be more consistent, and safe, as a buggy headed straight towards you is a little unnerving to the person behind the radar gun, and the person behind the wheel. If you both dodge the same way, your shin will never forgive you. The best reading I read, was 47 MPH which is just slightly under 50 MPH. I have no doubt, based on how well the buggy runs, that it could easily have surpassed 50 MPH in a dirt environment. With the speeds I was running at confirmed, it was time to get to a task which I enjoy most of all, airtime!

    I started off by hitting my smaller dirt jump and getting used to getting the XLB airborne off of a single jump. The buggy tended to fly nice and straight off of this jump needing very little correction most of the time. I pushed my speeds a little higher and the nose would try to push towards the sky a little bit, but nothing that couldn't be easily corrected with a little braking action. When hitting the jump in reverse, it was easy to power the buggy over the steeper surface of the jump with a good dose of the throttle, as the tires bit down good into the dirt and transferred the power from the motor to the ground very well with their studded design. Softer tires would certainly extend their performance, but the stock tires certainly were performing well compared to many stock solutions I've encountered.

    After a little jumping, I ran the entire area as if it were a small oval-shaped track. I would hit the jump, and upon landing break to the right while getting back on the throttle. The buggy would push some to the right due to the power of the motor and all four tires ripping at the ground. Once it approached the opposite side of the jump, I cut the wheels again and would power slide the buggy into a run for the ramp once again.

    After running in this manner several times, I started pushing the buggy a little harder each time around. After landing from the jump, the increasing throttle amounts pushed the XLB a little further out due to the speed I was trying to carry. At the same time, I was trying to cut a wider arc as I lined myself up to the jump to carry more speed onto the jump as well. Eventually I reached a point where the buggy pushed too much, and I went a little too wide and struck a wooden barrier separating the areas of the backyard. I knew that eventually I was going to swing just a little too wide, but couldn't help but push the buggy farther with the fun I was having. Leave it to me to see the obvious but ignore it!

    I shut the buggy off, as it was obvious that the contact did some damage. I carried it back over to my pit box and pulled the lexan body off to survey my handiwork. Once again, I had managed to break another bumper. However, this time around, I managed to take out a few other items as well. The first of these was the suspension pin plate again. Just as before, it had bent and allowed the suspension pin to pop out. While as a temporary fix I could bent the plate back, it would force me to stop and do some repair work.

    The last item was a broken shock, and was the show-stopper however. At first I thought I had just popped the cap off, until I looked closer. Once I examined it closely, I noticed that a portion of the shock's body was still embedded in the cap. With that being noticed, I was done for the day. Repairs would be the next order of business.

    Once replacements items were acquired, and the XLB repaired, I set out to handle one more task that I yet to put the buggy through. That was putting it through some much bigger jumps than I had previously. For that task I looked towards my curved ramp, and soon had it setup and ready to go. From my previous experiences with the XLB, I anticipated that I might pop the suspension pins loose yet again, but I wasn't about to make any assumptions and let the chance to get some major air pass me by.

    The first thing that became obvious was that some serious throttle control was needed. I tried pushing the buggy a little too hard initially and ended up hitting the edges of the ramp on my first few attempts. I was barely hanging onto control of the buggy as I made my approaches, and that made hitting the ramp is rather tough. So I backed off the throttle some and made a few more runs at the ramp with a much better success rate.

    Even with some throttle control, I was hitting the ramp with a fair amount of speed. That speed, combined with the curved nature of the ramp, ended up giving the XLB a tendency to perform a nose-up launch from the ramp. This was easily corrected with some braking and after a few attempts I had the routine down well and was landing nice and flat. I found that once I was used to the XLB, keeping level was pretty easy, and on par with most 1/8 scale buggies I've driven.

    Despite my initial worries regarding the suspension pins, I didn't have any problems from them while jumping. While it's true the landing plays a large role in any damage you may, or may not receive, I did have a few rough landings at times. After I was finished with the ramp jumping, and hitting peaks of 10 feet or more at times, I did inspect the suspension pins to find that the pin plates were bent slightly. However they still retained the suspension pins in their proper places.

    I did encounter one issue from the ramp however. I knew that I was landing pretty hard once the buggy was reaching heights of around 10 feet. After one landing the XLB just sat in its resting spot. The motor responded to my trigger finger, but the buggy wouldn't budge at all. The good news is that the problem was only a minor one, as what had stopped the buggy was the fuel tubing for the pressure line. Evidently the landing had caused the fuel tubing to move around enough that it became caught between the clutch bell and spur gears. Once the tubing was trapped, the buggy's clutch shoes could no longer turn the clutch bell against the bound up gear mechanism. I backed the fuel tubing out of the gears, and inspected it for damage. There was none to be found, so I readjusted the tubing clips, and started the buggy right back up. I had no further issues out of the tubing.

    The XTM XLB is a big buggy, and the driving phase of this review has highlighted one fact. The bigger size of the buggy provides leverage against the components of the buggy itself. A good example is in the issues I had with the suspension pins. The times when the pins fell out, the action wasn't always something I would deem intense. It was simply just as matter of being hit at the right angle, which would utilize the leverage of the long suspension arms against the suspension pin plates. I think something other than a captured suspension pin approach would have been a better solution here. With the outer end of the pin being able to be pulled loose by force from the suspension arm, it was easy for the aluminum plate to bend which would allow the pins to pop out. I think a long screw pin with a locknut on the end, or even a pin with e-clips would fare much better. That type of approach would trap the pin, and the plates, in place. This would add to the strength of that area tremendously.

    Along those same lines, the bumper could use some reinforcement as well. Even simply using a foam block inside of the bumper, would prevent it from being able to be damaged in the manner I saw, while still allowing it to absorb an impact. With the bumper being open towards the top, and with it being as large as it was, it sacrifices itself for the buggy too prematurely.

    The shocks themselves need thicker walls when used with a buggy like this. I will say though that if the suspension pins were trapped, this may have never been an issue. As once the suspension pin pulled loose, the only thing left connected to the lower suspension arm was the shock. However, in most circumstances, the shock rod will break before the shock's body does. So a thicker shock body would certainly be a good enhancement to the XLB.

    Despite these few things, I still had a complete blast with the XLB. While it offers a larger format, serious power and attitude was certainly present. So don't be fooled into thinking that it's large size means it's going to be slow and sluggish, because that is certainly not the case. The SH .28 motor is an absolute beast, and whoever decided that it needed to be placed in the XLB should be commended. It's the highlight of the whole truck, and now is on my list of favorite big block motors.

    See the XTM XLB in action!
    Resolution:  Low  Medium  High

    The XTM XLB has been an absolute blast to drive, thanks to the SH motor and the two speed setup. While it handles well, it's most comfortable when given ample room to stretch its legs and soar high off of a good jump. The buggy isn't as comfortable in a more technical environment, but seeing as it isn't targeted towards track use I don't expect that to be an issue. This truck has one primary goal, and that's straight-up bashing.

    A larger vehicle such as this places increased demands on itself. The XLB is no exception, and XTM left a little room for improvement in this department. I would certainly look at replacing the suspension pins with something like a long screw pin and locking nut, as that would cure most of the ills I encountered. As far as upgrades go it would be cheap, but very effective in regards to increasing durability.

    If you're into the larger-size vehicle scene, the XLB may fit your needs very well. It offers the same power and fun of the smaller 1/8 scale buggies, but gives it to you in a larger platform which will certainly get you noticed if you run with others often. Without hesitation, I can honestly say that XTM definitely maxxed out the fun factor, as beating on a RC car doesn't get any more fun than this!

    XTM Racing
    Distributed Exclusively By
    Global Hobby Distributors
    18480 Bandilier Circle
    Fountain Valley, CA 92708 USA
    Phone: (714) 963-0329
    Fax: (714) 964-6236
    Website: xtm.globalhobby.com

    3585 Cadillac Avenue
    Costa Mesa, CA 92626
    Phone: (714) 850-9342
    Website: www.teamassociated.com
    Products used: Air Filter Oil

    Dynamite RC Products
    Distributed Exclusively By
    Horizon Hobby, Inc.
    4105 Fieldstone Road
    Champaign, IL 61822 USA
    Phone: (877) 504-0233
    Fax: (217) 352-6799
    Website: www.horizonhobby.com
    Products used: Glow Igniter

    Trinity Products, Inc.
    36 Meridian Road
    Edison, NJ 08820 USA
    Phone: (800) 848-9411
    Fax: (732) 635-1640
    Website: www.teamtrinity.com
    Products used: Monster Horsepower Fuel (20%), After Run Oil

    Comments on RCU Review: XTM Racing XLB 1/7 Nitro

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    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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