RCU Review: Sportwerks Chaos Nitro 4WD RTR

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    Contributed by: Eric Hege | Published: August 2006 | Views: 89250 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Sportwerks Chaos 1/16 4WD Nitro Buggy RTR


    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

    See the Chaos in action!
    Resolution: Low Medium High

    Assembly Ease

    Easily Tuned
    Stunning Looks
    Well Designed Receiver Box
    Radio Has Dual-Rate Function

    Front Dogbones Can Pop Loose
    Fuel Line Interferes With Throttle
    Screw-Type Fuel Tank Lid
    Nickel-Plated Sleeve

    Up until recently the mini-scene has been ruled solely by electric-powered models. However, that trend has been broken recently by several models that are being released by various manufacturers. Mini four-wheel drive buggies in one offshoot of the mini-market that is now being invaded by nitro-powered vehicles, and is now offering off-roaders serious fun in a lightweight package!

    The Sportwerks Chaos is one of the mini-sized buggies. At a scale size of 1/16, it is easily much smaller than the 1/8 scale buggies it imitates but still manages to conquer much of the same style of terrain. On top of that, Sportwerks has a very outstanding reputation in the industry having brought forth what I consider one of the best beginner/midrange buggy platforms available, the Mayhem.

    The first thing that appealed to me about the Chaos is simply its looks. Its factory themed lexan body is sure to garner you plenty of attention at your local track. It's easy to see while on the track, and it will simply look good doing it. Let's dive into this pint-sized terror and see exactly what all we can find under the hood!

    Model Name: Sportwerks Chaos 1/16 4WD Nitro Buggy RTR
    Part Number: SWK1400
    Price: $260.00 (Approx. Street Price)
    Type: 1/16 Nitro 4WD Buggy
    Length: 10.2" (259mm)
    Width: 7.1" (180mm)
    Wheelbase: 6.7" (170mm)
    Drivetrain: Center Shaft Drive With Three Differentials
    Brakes: Fiberglass Disk and Stainless Steel Calipers
    Shocks: Plastic Oil-Filled Coil-Over
    Wheels: 0.8x1.6" (21x40mm) Dish-Styled Plastic
    Tires: 0.9x2.4" (24x60mm) Micro-Pin All Terrain
    Chassis: 2mm Aluminum
    Motor: Toki .8cc/.05ci Side Exhaust w/Recoil Starter
    Fuel Tank: 40cc

    Additionally Required Items
    8 AA Batteries For Radio
    4 AAA Batteries For Receiver
    Glow Plug Igniter
    30% Nitro Car Fuel
    Fuel Bottle
    After-Run Oil
    Air Filter Oil
    Flathead Screwdriver
    Manuals and Documentation

    The Sportwerks Chaos is like any other RTR (Ready to Run) nitro you'll find, so there's no surprise that the body arrives screen-printed which eliminates the need to paint it before you run the 1/16 scale buggy. The body is brightly colored in fluorescent shades of red and yellow, with a base color of blue.

    Sportwerks includes a sheet of decals along with the Chaos, leaving you the option of applying them as you desire. To round out the body, and to make it less work for the eventual owner, Sportwerks has already placed all of the necessary body holes and cutouts in the included lexan body.

    A good nitro-powered model needs good documentation, and the Chaos has that covered. While some veterans may not need to know some of the operational procedures of running a model such as the Chaos, novices certainly will. The manual covers the basics while also supplying you with assembly instructions should the need arise to take the model apart.

    The Chaos doesn't arrive with much in the way of accessories, but then again it really doesn't need much to get it up and running either. An antenna for the radio, as well as an antenna tube for the receiver if found in the box. These are standard fare for most models on the market. You'll also find a 1/16 scaled rear wing and a four-way wrench.

    Left Side
    Right Side

    The layout of a 1/16 scale buggy like the Sportwerks Chaos differs somewhat from its larger 1/8 scale brethren. This is due to the limited space on the smaller platform. The .05 cubic inch engine can be found on the right-hand side of the buggy with the fuel tank directly in front of it. The electronics that power the buggy can be found on the opposite side of the chassis, with the receiver and battery box to the rear and the servos up front.

    Just like larger 1/8 scale buggies, the underside of the buggy is smooth and features countersunk hardware. A cutout in the center of the chassis allows the differential to sit nice and low on the chassis, while another cutout allows flywheel access. 1/16 scale nitro vehicles are in their infancy, but as they gain the popularity as they're certain to, we'll likely start seeing several starter box options for these vehicles. Flywheel access will allow them to be used to start the Chaos.

    Front End
    Front Suspension

    The front suspension shares many traits found on larger scale vehicles. Oil-filled shocks control the dampening action of the suspension. The shock tower provides some adjustability for the shock, with two possible mounting locations for the upper end of the shock. The lower end of the shock is only given one point for the shock to utilize.

    The front bumper for the Chaos serves multiple purposes. First it offers some protection during jumping, and prevents the front of the chassis from digging into the dirt. However the front bumper also serves the purpose of keeping the 3mm screw-style suspension pins held in place and braced at the front. Holes in the front of the bumper allow you to easily remove the pins as needed.

    The front suspension of the Chaos uses a c-hub approach to give the front of the vehicle the capability to steer. Fixed camber and steering links are used to connect the suspension to the rest of the vehicle's chassis. This means that camber and toe angle is non-adjustable out of the box.

    Suspension Arms
    Suspension Components

    The various components of the suspension are basic, but they have been proven very effective throughout the years. The screw-style pins hold the suspension arm to the chassis, and the c-hub to the outer end of the suspension arm. Screws keep the steering hub held inside of the c-hub. Inside the steering block, the 4mm axle stub rides on a 4x8mm inner bearing and an 12x8x3.5mm outer bearing. A 8mm plastic hex adapter and 2mm axle pin allows the axles to turn the wheels when the vehicle is under power.

    The Chaos uses dogbone-styled axles throughout the entire chassis. The axles, and front driveshaft, use a 31mm long dogbone. The rear driveshaft is the different item of the bunch, and uses a 53mm long dogbone instead. All of the dogbones have a center thickness of 2.5mm ensuring they are capable of handling whatever the .05 cubic inch powerplant can dish out.

    Bulkhead Assembly
    Open Bottom
    Differential Access

    The bulkheads/differential housings are modular, which makes it easy to remove the whole front or rear assembly in one piece for maintenance. This can be done with or without the suspension arms intact. The undersides of the differential units are open, once they are pulled away from the chassis, and this allows for easy inspection and re-lubing.

    At the lower inner side of the bulkhead, you'll find a 2mm aluminum brace for the suspension pins. This prevents the pins from being pulled away in a collision, and strengthens the front end of the buggy tremendously. Up above this, you'll find the single front body post. The bulkheads are split into front and rear halves, and separate easily to allow the differential to be removed. 12x8x3.5mm bearings allow the differential to spin smoothly inside the housing for a more efficient drivetrain.

    Inside the Differential

    Further inside the housing you'll find the plastic pinion gear that spins the plastic ring gear. The pinion's shaft rides on a pair of 10x6x4mm bearings, keeping with the theme of a freely rotating drivetrain.

    The differential has a full set of six gears just like a standard 1/8 scale differential would. However, the gears, just like the ring and pinion, are plastic. While all of these gears being plastic still works with the smaller mini-sized powerplant, in the long term I think some metal in the differential would still be beneficial.

    Body Post
    Steering Linkage
    Wheels and Tires

    Just like the front bulkhead/diff housing assembly, the rear assembly provides a single post for the body as well. This is typical of full size 1/8 scale buggies as well. The rear of the Chaos also provides the same basic suspension capabilities as the front. The upper ends of the shocks are still given two adjustment points, and static camber links connect the axle carriers to the shock tower.

    The steering linkage for the Chaos uses a familiar bellcrank with draglink setup. However, the assembly is laid over 90° when compared to an 1/8 scale buggy. To conserve space, the servo saver is mounted onto the steering servo instead of being incorporated into the steering assembly. Non-adjustable plastic steering links connect the assembly to the steering hubs.

    The pin-styled tires for the Chaos are pre-glued onto white dish-style wheels. The thread pattern should work well on most dirt surfaces, although the lack of inserts may cause the tires to compress a little too easily when jumping, and exhibit tire rolling when the Chaos corners.

    Center Differential
    Shock Components

    The Sportwerks Chaos features a center differential, but not split braking. Instead a single brake at the front of the differential handles the braking duties. The center differential is setup just like the front and rear differentials with the exception of the fact that it has a spur gear mounted onto one end. The spur gear takes the place of the ring gear on the other differentials.

    Braking duties are handled by a stainless steel calipers which clamp down on a fiberglass brake disk. The disk fits onto the output yoke of the differential, and is keyed to it. The braking linkage is adjustable, but only features linkage collars instead of both thumb screws and collars.

    The shocks found on the Chaos utilize plastic construction, and are oil-filled. A 2mm stainless steel shock shaft sits inside the stock spring to regulate the dampening. Plastic clip-on spacers are used to adjust the vehicle's ride height.

    Motor Front View
    Motor Rear View
    Fuel Lines

    The motor that powers the Sportwerks Chaos is much smaller than most hobbyists may be used to. However with the smaller 1/16 scale size there's neither the room nor the need to mount a big block 1/8 scale motor onto the chassis. So Sportwerks uses a .05 cubic inch (.8cc) nitro powerplant.

    The engine uses a standard glow plug, and should be very familiar to anyone who has used nitro-powered engines in the past. The engine is equipped with a pullstart to get it fired up, and a box-style air filter keeps the incoming air clean. On the exhaust side of the motor, you'll find an aluminum tuned pipe and header connected by a silicone coupler. The .05 cubic inch engine uses a side exhaust configuration for the block, with a typical oval/rectangular shaped exhaust port.

    One nice touch that Sportwerks added to the engine in the Chaos is the fuel and pressure tubing routing. When the engine is installed, tubing clips keep the fuel tubing neatly organized as they wrap around the rear of the motor's head.

    Clutch Bell

    To keep things simple for the novice, Sportwerks equips the motor with a single needle rotary carburetor. The aluminum-bodied carburetor also features an idle adjustment as well. Both of these adjustment items are easily reached when the motor is installed, making tuning adjustments easy.

    The clutch found on the Chaos is pretty unique in my experiences. It uses three nylon clutch shoes which are kept in check by a single wraparound spring. The result of the configuration is a lot of open area between the shoes and the flywheel nut. The nylon should also provide plenty of use before the shoes become worn and need replacement.

    Following the theme of being off the beaten path is the clutch bell. Most nitro veterans are used to seeing standard sealed bearings used on the clutch bell, but Sportwerks has decided to stray from this approach. Instead, they use a roller-style bearing instead. This approach helps them provide a small tooth pattern and still maintain the smooth rotation you'd expect to see from a clutch bell.

    Engine Block
    Aluminum Head

    The engine block for the Sportwerks Chaos is cast. Cooling fins are molded into its sides to help with heat dissipation. The sleeve is pressed into the machined center, and matches up with the ports in the block. The engine mount allow the motor to be removed without altering the clutch bell and spur gap. However, the side exhaust configuration of the motor makes it necessary to pull the header off before you can remove the motor in that manner.

    The biggest disappointment from the mini-market for me is the fact that the technology used in the engines seems to still be a little behind that found in the larger motors. My case in point, is that the .05 cubic inch powerplant used in the Chaos uses a nickel plated sleeve. I'd like to see this aspect change as the mini-nitro market matures, but for now this is a common trait with all of the mini-nitro motors.

    The aluminum engine head is anodized in blue to match the chassis. The head is a single piece unit, and uses four screws to secure it to the engine block. A total of eight fins help to keep the engine cool as it is tearing up the dirt of your favorite stomping grounds.

    air Filter
    Fuel Tank
    Receiver Box

    I briefly mentioned the box-style air filter earlier, but a closer look really details what I'm talking about a little better. The rubber-style neck is utilized by nearly all air filters and is very common. However, the box housing is much different than what you'll normally find on a nitro-powered vehicle. It houses a foam element. A plastic front guard holds the filter in place, while a rubber o-ring holds the whole assembly tightly together.

    The Chaos boasts a 40cc fuel tank, which is capable of keeping the buggy running for around 8-10 minutes at a time. The tank uses a screw-on lid, which makes refueling a little more troublesome than if the lid were simply a spring-loaded very like you'll find with most vehicles. However, it easily serves the purpose of keeping the fuel from spilling out of the tank.

    The receiver box is one item on the Chaos that really stands out. It's well designed, making access to the components housed within very easy. The whole box is easily removed from the vehicle's chassis by simply removing a few screws from the underside of the chassis.

    Battery Access
    Receiver Access

    The inside of the receiver box hinges open after the two body clips are removed. This allows you easy access to the AAA battery holder housed within. That's right, I said AAA, as the smaller size of the vehicle necessitates the use of the small battery cells. To the left of the battery box you'll find a power switch to turn the onboard electronics on and off.

    The receiver is housed in a separate component of the receiver box, and is accessed by removing a couple of screws, followed by the cover. The receiver's antenna routes out of the right-hand side of the box. The receiver is a 27MHz AM unit that provides two channels of operation. The plug locations are plainly marked; making it easy to connect the receiver back should you find the need to remove it at some point in time.

    Trim Knobs
    Rear Panel

    We've covered the receiver, so now its time to take a look at the radio. It is an AM unit as well, featuring a foam steering knob, analog trim knobs, and dual-rate capability. The back of the radio sports a panel that allows you access to the servo reversing switches, as well as the power switch and charging jack.

    The radio serves its purpose well, as it will give you plenty of control over the Chaos. Its feel took me a little to get used to though, as the rectangular grip and location of the trigger is somewhat awkward feeling from the radios I'm used to using. However, that relates more to personal preference than anything else.

    Rear Wing
    Antenna Wire
    Antenna Tube

    The Sportwerks Chaos arrives nearly complete right out of the box. However, there are a few minor tasks to accomplish before you set out to run it. The first thing I did was to attach the rear wing onto the wing mounts at the back of the buggy. Then I secured them with the supplied body clips.

    Next, run the antenna wire through the supplied antenna tube. It should slide through the tube easily, but it you encounter any difficulty, sprinkling a little baby powder on the wire will help get it through. Once the wire was on the tube, I used a Dubro antenna cap (part #2342) to hold the wire in place. Then I pushed the antenna tube into its resting spot on the receiver box lid.

    Receiver Batteries
    Air Filter
    Body Installed

    The onboard electronics need to be powered with four AAA batteries. Place the batteries into the plastic holder, and then close the compartment back up and secure it with the stainless steel body clips. The air filter for the Chaos does not arrive pre-oiled. So make sure to remove it and apply some air filter oil to it. This will allow it to trap the dirt ad dust as effectively as possible. Once the air filter is oiled, reinstall it.

    Use the supplied decals to decorate the body however you wish. Then install the body onto the buggy. Sportwerks has made installation easy, as you'll find most of the cutouts are already made for you. The only exception to this is a cooling hole to allow airflow to the motor's head. I used my Dremel to cut an elongated hole in front of the motor to supply it with proper airflow.

    As a final step, you need to address power concerns for the radio transmitter. Place eight AA batteries in the radio, ensuring they are oriented correctly. For the best range and longevity, use a fresh set of brand name batteries. Then replace the battery cover.

    Once the Sportwerks Chaos made it through the pictorial walkthrough, I gathered all the items I needed to run it and headed out to the backyard for break-in. Seeing as how the motor is smaller than 1/10 and 1/8 scale vehicles, and due to the fact the sleeve is nickel-plated, I opted to avoid a heat-cycle break-in. The heat-cycle procedure was really developed with chrome plated sleeves in mind, so I decided using the instructions in the manual would be the wiser course of action this time around.

    I fueled the motor up with some O'Donnell 30% racing fuel, and then placed my finger over the pipe's stinger as I pulled the starter cord a few times. Then it was simply a matter a placing the igniter on the plug and pulling the starter plug a few times before the engine was running. The motor was running extremely rich to begin with, so I had to lean the high speed needle some to get the Chaos to pull away from me. However, this wasn't a big deal, and soon I was running my first tank of the break-in process. So far, things were going smoothly!

    I allowed the motor to cool in between tanks, and then once it was I fired it back up and prepared to run the next leg of the break-in procedure. Soon, the entire process was behind me. I took a few moments to pilot the Chaos around the backyard, optimizing the high speed needle setting, as well as the idle speed. The single needle made tuning easy, and a novice would certainly appreciate this. However, I found myself wishing I could tweak the low-end a little more, for a small increase in low-end punch. Most beginners wouldn't miss this ability though.

    I hit a few jumps in the backyard before packing the Sportwerks Chaos up, because if I already have it out and running I should go ahead have a little fun, right? The power provided by the .05 cubic inch motor seemed well-matched for the 1/16 scale buggy platform. I had plenty of speed for the backyard area I was running in, too much for some of the tighter areas in fact. The Chaos seemed to enjoy the smaller jumps I had available to me. In the backyard, the Chaos seemed to handle its own very well!

    Several days later I headed to my local track Monkey Bottom Raceway, with the Chaos along for the ride. The day was hot and humid, with the heat index predicted to be over 100°. I arrived mid-morning hoping to get most of my driving in before the weather became too miserable although, like always, my trips to the track tend to stretch out longer than anticipated. Time simply seems to move faster at the track than it does anywhere else!

    I soon had some portable shade set up, and then quickly set about preparing the Chaos for its first run on the track. Soon after it was fueled, I had it purring away from me on the front stretch working on getting it tuned for the conditions. The needles didn't need much tweaking, although I knew that hot and humid days like this one simply makes it tough to get optimum power of out a nitro-powered vehicle. In fact on days like this, with their super high does of heat and humidity, sometimes it's enough of a chore just to keep the engine running at all!

    The Sportwerks Chaos didn't have a problem with keeping its engine running though, and performed like a champ the whole day. The .05 cubic inch motor could over power the tires in some of the looser sections of the track, due to the large amount of silt in those corners. However, on most areas of the track there was sufficient tire bite.

    The Chaos hit the jumps well, although the smaller size of the mini made trying to double any of the large jumps unpractical. Hitting the faces of the jumps lightly, and then hopping over them for a quick run down the backside made for a fast controllable line that the Chaos seemed to like very well. When larger amounts of air were sought, the Chaos was controllable. However the smaller size and wheelbase made it feel a little twitchy in the air, so care was needed in exactly how much throttle or brake was applied.

    The buggy felt a little under-dampened, needing slightly thicker oil and possibly a slightly stiffer spring. However, after driving the buggy throughout the day, I came to the conclusion that a set of tires with inserts may make enough of a difference. A somewhat stiffer tire setup will give more of the grunt work back to the suspension, where it belongs. The rubber compound on the tires seemed to have worn pretty well by the time I was finished for the day, as the hard-packed track really took its toll on them. If Sportwerks had included foam inserts in the tires, tire wear would have likely been substantially less.

    The Sportwerks Chaos seemed to still perform well in regards to power, especially considering the track required it to work harder than a backyard environment did. The front stretch gave me a very sizeable place to open the Chaos up and see it run for a longer timeframe than the backyard would. I knew that the hot and humid conditions affected the power output somewhat so, as summer starts to wind down, the cooler temperatures of the fall season will likely provide a noticeable power boost to what I was seeing.

    The Sportwerks Chaos held its own pretty well in cornering, although the limited adjustability it offers doesn't leave much room for tailoring its handling characteristics. If you seek to tweak the suspension a little more, some adjustable camper and steering links would help the buggy dramatically. A touch of front toe-out and negative camber would add a little more stability in the corners and make the buggy more stable overall. However, considering the small footprint of the buggy, it performed throughout the track very well. The biggest hindrance to the handling though, is the braking system. With the brake mounted in front of the differential, braking tended to lead to heavy understeer when braking and cornering. Split braking, or a rear-mounted, brake would have suited the buggy much better.

    I did run into a couple of snags on the Chaos throughout the afternoon though. One of these involved the front dogbones. At times, when the front wheels where were forced to turn to their limits, the outer end of the dogbone would pop loose from the axle stub. This was usually a result of hitting a side rail with the wheels turned, or even landing a jump with the wheels turned. The dogbone could be popped back into place fairly easily, but after this happened a few times it became a little annoying. The use of CVD-style axles, instead of the dogbones, or having steering stops molded into the c-hubs would likely prevent this from happening.

    I also had some initial problems with the idle and brake being somewhat inconsistent. I traced this down to the throttle and braking linkage collars being up against the fuel tubing. The force of the tubing would act against the linkage and carburetor slide, making the vehicle seem less responsive at times. I played around and re-routed the fuel line, and soon this issue was nixed, although the understeer tendencies of the single front brake remained.

    All in all, the Sportwerks Chaos ran well that day and provided me several hours of fun while at the track. In one thing stood out above all others it would have to be the engine though. Given the conditions, keeping a nitro powerplant running well isn't easy. After I initially tuned the Chaos at the track it never once gave me any difficulty at all, being less temperamental than many more common motors would have been on such a day. I do wish the fuel tank would have been a little easier to work with however. A flip-top lid would have allowed for easier, and quicker, fuel stops. However with the ease of tuning and running the motor offered, I couldn't complain much. The Chaos simply should make Sportwerks proud in that regard!

    See the Chaos in action!
    Resolution: Low Medium High

    Driving the Sportwerks Chaos at the local track has been a blast. Despite the grueling conditions the local weather provided, the engine didn't skip a beat and was still easy to work with. The Chaos simply showed itself to be a very fun and nimble platform, even though it lacks some of the adjustability option the larger 1/8 scales provide.

    Despite the minor annoyances I found with the front dogbones, the rest of the vehicle fared well and never gave me any issues. I would like to see Sportwerks reconsider their use of a screw-type lid on the fuel tank though. A flip-open lid would make refueling on the go much easier, giving you more time to run without having to replace the body and re-fire the motor.

    As the mini-nitro market starts to become more popular, the Chaos will undoubtedly gain much more competition. Some of the platforms may offer more adjustability, focusing on track performance. However, it would be hard to offer any more fun. Because, if your simply looking for fun, the Chaos is certainly the ticket!

    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

    Dubro, Inc.
    480 Bonner Road
    Wauconda, IL 60084 USA
    Phone: (732) 635-1600
    Website: www.dubro.com
    Products used: Antenna Cap, Fuel Bottle, Fuel Filter, Glow Igniter

    Distributed Exclusively By
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021 USA
    Phone: (800) 637-6050
    Website: www.duratrax.com
    Products used: Air Filter Oil

    Frank Tiano Enterprises
    3607 Ventura Drive E.
    Lakeland, Florida 33811 USA
    Phone: (863) 607-6611
    Fax: (863) 607-6602
    Website: www.franktiano.com
    Products used: After Run Oil

    Distributed Exclusively By
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021 USA
    Phone: (800) 637-6050
    Website: www.hobbico.com
    Products used: After Run Oil

    Distributed Exclusively By
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021 USA
    Phone: (800) 637-7660
    Website: www.odonnellracing.com
    Products used: 30% Racing Fuel

    Comments on RCU Review: Sportwerks Chaos Nitro 4WD RTR

    Posted by: 1basher on 04/23/2008
    Posted by: maxxdout on 05/28/2008
    Great review! I am thinking of getting one of these now since they run about $90 on amain. How long did your diffs last? Thanks!
    Posted by: blue_twisted_steel on 09/25/2009
    Bought a few on A Main for $59.99 each. They run great, but differentials are failing.
    Page: 1
    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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