RCU Review: Academy SB Sport V2 Buggy Pro

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    Contributed by: Eric Hege | Published: May 2007 | Views: 52767 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    SB V2 Pro Electric Buggy Kit

    Model Rectifier Corporation

    80 Newfield Avenue
    Edison, NJ 08837 USA

    Phone: (732) 225-6144
    Website: www.modelrectifier.com

    See the SB V2 Pro in action!
    Resolution: Low Medium High

    Assembly Ease*
    * This reflects it's score as a kit, and takes into account quality of instructions and parts fit. This model will be more difficult to take from the box to the field than a RTR version however.

    Lots of Carbon-Fiber
    Aluminum Motor Mount
    Aluminum Center Brace
    Plenty of Adjustability

    Springs Light For 6-Cell NiMH

    Electric four-wheel drive buggies used to be a very popular class, and lately they've been making a comeback at many tracks thanks to new brushless motor technology. While Academy isn't one of the most widely known players in the electric buggy genre, it's a name known well enough to anyone who has followed the class. Providing just as much high-tech hardware as you'd expect from the lightweight buggy class, Academy has staked the SB V2 Pro as a real winner.

    Under the hood you'll see lots of carbon-fiber to reduce weight. Of course there's plenty of purple anodized aluminum to drool over as well. Then, when you take into account the front one-way bearing and adjustable vertical chassis support, as well as the new carbon-plastic material used in the suspension arms and caster blocks, you really start to see exactly how much thought has really went into this buggy.

    Of course the SB V2 Pro arrives as a kit. So you'll get to put it together and use the electronics you want to. So, without further delay, let's get this buggy assembled and hit the track!

    Model Name: MRC/Academy SB V2 Pro Carbon Kit
    Manufacturer Part Number: 15103
    Price: $350.00 (Approx. Street Price)
    Type: 1/10 Scale Four Wheel Drive Electric Buggy
    Width: 9.63" (245mm)
    Wheelbase: 10.44" (265mm)
    Height: 7.0" (178mm)
    Wheels: Yellow Dish-Style
    Tires: Pinned With Inserts
    Front Suspension: Independent C-Hub
    Rear Suspension: Independent Bearing Carriers
    Shocks: Aluminum With Plastic Preload Spacers
    Center Driveshaft: Aluminum
    Axles: CVD-Style
    Chassis: 2.5mm Carbon-Fiber

    Additionally Required Items
    Radio and Receiver
    8 AA Batteries (or Transmitter Pack With Charger)
    Electronic Speed Control
    Standard Battery Pack
    Peak Charger Capable of Charging Battery Pack
    Paint (For Body)
    CA Glue
    Needle Nose Pliers
    Differential Parts
    Assembled Differentials
    Gear Box Parts

    Many aspects of the Academy SB V2 Pro buggy kit are the same as the SB SBV2 I assembled in a previous review over a year ago. So as a compliment to this review, you may want to give that article a quick read-through as well. Not only will it help you to see some of the differences between the two vehicles, but you'll also be exposed to more building pictures and examples that may help you as well.

    To start off with, I opened the first bag of parts, which contained the items need to build the ball differentials. I laid out all of the parts and checked to make sure I had everything I needed. Then I assembled the differentials as shown in the manual. Assembly isn't difficult, but does require some degree of patience due to the small steel balls it uses. Make sure you apply grease to the thrust balls before trying to place them onto the thrust washer. Not only is the grease necessary for some lubrication, but it will help hold the balls in place as you work with them.

    Once the differentials are assembled, tighten them as indicated in the manual. You don't want the differential to slip, but action should still be smooth. The manual shows the use of a u-shaped ball differential tool, however you can probably easily find a scrap piece of aluminum or steel that'll accomplish the task at hand.

    I skipped ahead in the manual slightly at this point, looking to start the gear box assembly before building the slipper clutch assembly. As the whole gear box assemblies are related, the exact order of these steps isn't that important. The main thing is to end up with two completed gear boxes before you start to install anything on the chassis. So I opened the bag containing the gear box housings and checked the items over before assembling them.

    Front Gear Box
    Spur and Slipper Parts
    Spur Assembly

    I started out by putting together the front gear box assembly first. For this step, you'll need to refer to the addendum sheet packaged along with the SB V2 Pro, as it reflects a change with kit. That difference would be the inclusion of a optional one-way bearing for the front of the buggy. Of course Academy also provides a standard joint as well, should you not want to use the one-way. However, in most cases the additional entry steering will be very welcomed. The addendum sheet shows you the correct order to slide the parts onto the pinion shaft for either option. Then shim as needed. I didn't need to shim, and simply threw the shims aside for later use once the differential had broken in.

    Before beginning the rear assembly, you'll want to assemble the pinion shaft for it as well. This shaft makes use of a slipper clutch assembly. You'll see the components for this as you pull them out of the bag. A bearing sits inside the spur gear, taking the place of the small adapters that would be used otherwise. I used the 76-tooth spur gear, and adjusted the slipper clutch to a medium position, knowing that once I had it on the track I could further dial it in.

    Once completed, you'll have a slipper and pinion shaft that is complete with bearings. Since this is their Pro kit, the moving components of the buggy utilize bearings instead of bushings for minimal friction and drag. The use of bearings extends through the chassis, as well as to the gear box components we're working with currently.

    Assembled Gear Boxes
    Chassis Parts
    Front Suspension

    With the slipper shaft completed, you can focus on the rear gear box. It assembles in a similar fashion as the front, with the slipper shaft replacing the pinion shaft that is used on the front. At this point both gear boxes are assembled and ready for installation. However, you'll need to assemble some other components of the chassis first.

    The Academy SB V2 Electric buggy sports a whole host of carbon-fiber parts, which keeps the vehicle's weight to an absolute minimum. It's unreal how little the assembled buggy weighs without the motor, batteries and electronics. Once all the parts for the chassis are spread out, it's time to begin assembly. Start with the front suspension assembly. The stainless steel pins connect the suspension arms to the single front plate. An aluminum tie bar holds the pins together in a reinforcing manner.

    This would also be a good time to further discuss the redesigned suspension arms, since they are a significant improvement over the previous form of the buggy. They are made from a special blend of carbon-plastic, with the intention of providing a super-tough and rigid part. The rear arms also feature an extra hole in them, to enhance the suspension geometry capabilities of the buggy. The caster blocks receive the carbon-plastic treatment as well, which is especially nice since they often see the brunt-force of an impact.

    Front Gear Box
    Pin Brace
    Rear Suspension

    With the front suspension assembly in place, you'll find that the gear box merely drops into place on it. Two screws at the rear of the box hold it in place. At first glance you may be tempted to go ahead and install the screws that secure the front of the box to the chassis. However, you'll want to do that later when you start working with the lexan body and install the front bumper.

    Now attention shifts to the rear. For the rear, you'll use suspension pin blocks. Press the plastic hinge pin balls into place. It takes a little effort, but when you have them properly positioned, you'll feel them snap into place. You'll repeat the process for the rear pin brace as well.

    Once the blocks are finished, secure the front block into place. Then install the suspension arms, pins, and rear pin block. Academy put in an extra tuning feature which will allow you to use a short arm suspension or a long arm suspension without having to change out any parts of the car, simply remove the hingepin and move it over to the appropriate location, its that simple. Once you drop the rear gear box into place, you can use the supplied screws to hold the gear box and suspension pin into place.

    Rear Gear Box
    Steering Components

    After the rear assembly is mounted, you can then slide the motor mount into place. Secure it from the underside after ensuring the bearing is properly positioned between the output yoke and the mount. The bearing supports the driveshaft assembly and keeps friction away, unlike a bushing would. Slide the plastic bearing cap into place over the bearing, locking it into place. You can install the driveshaft between the front and rear gearboxes by bending the chassis gently and dropping the shaft into place.

    The next area to focus on is the steering assembly. Open the package that contains all of the components, and lay them out so you can easily see what you're working with. Then, start to assemble the turnbuckles and rod ends as shown in the manual. The actual size illustrations in the manual make this easy, and you're also given the actual measurements, in the event you want to verify them with a caliper. Keep in mind that not all of these will be used with the steering assembly, as part of these turnbuckles are intended for the suspension assemblies.

    Steering Link
    Steering Assembly
    Installed Assembly

    The addendum sheet covers the center draglink length. The manual simply shows a basic non-adjustable link, while the addendum sheet covers the upgraded item included with the SB V2. So you'll want to follow the additional instructions when setting the length of the steering draglink.

    Once you have finished assembling the turnbuckles, you can use the ones that are needed to assemble the steering linkage as shown in the manual. Take special care that you orient the steering arms as indicated; it's extremely easy to not pay close enough attention and reverse them. Once the assembly is complete, drop it onto the chassis.

    Upper Deck Rear
    Upper Deck Front
    Shock Towers

    With the core sections of the chassis complete, it's time to drop the carbon-fiber upper deck in place. Plastic caps are used to cover the steering posts at the front, while screws at the front and back secure the carbon-fiber plate onto the chassis. I did find that I was short a 3x10 screw for this step. However, I had plenty on hand, so it didn't hold me back from forging ahead with the assembly of the SB V2 Pro.

    After installing the upper deck, I emptied the contents of another parts bag, the one that contained the shock tower and rear wing components. This package also contains the battery trays and posts, as well as an aluminum chassis brace that is specifically for this version of Academy's buggy.

    Front Tower
    Wing Mounts
    Rear Tower

    You'll mount both the front and rear shock tower into their respective places on the front or rear of the buggy. Pay close attention when assembling the ball studs, and make sure that you place them on the correct side of the tower. Then pop the proper length turnbuckles into place onto the shock towers. The shock tower mounts onto the chassis with a specific side facing inward, so ensure you have installed them correctly.

    The rear shock tower is also home to the SB V2 Pro's rear wing as well. So before installing the rear shock tower onto the chassis, ensure that you properly mount it as well. The rear wing will be installed later, as it arrives unpainted, just as the rest of the buggy's lexan does.

    Battery Trays
    Axle Components
    Assembled Shafts

    The next order of business is the battery trays and posts. You have a choice with the tray, as the SB V2 Pro supports several battery configurations. So install them as appropriate for your needs. In my case, I installed both sections on the left-hand side of the chassis. I placed the anodized aluminum posts at the front and the rear of the buggy.

    The axles may seem intimidating at first, but are actually very easy to assemble. Since the axles are open, making it easy for dirt and dust to enter, I recommend avoiding the use of grease as indicated in the directions. Instead use powered graphite, or the ultimate solution that I've found would be Sullivan Products Dry Ice. The main axle shaft assemblies are put together in much the same fashion as any CVD-styled axle. The manual also does and excellent job of showing you the assembly process as well.

    Bearing Carriers
    Axle Assemblies
    Front Axles

    After the main axle shafts are assembled, place bearings into the carriers, and then slide the axles into them. The front axles carriers are actually steering blocks, so the blocks will sit down inside of c-hubs. Screws are used, at the top and bottom of the c-hub, to hold the steering blocks in place.

    The completed front assemblies drop into place at the front of the vehicle. Connect the steering links to the steering hubs. Then connect the camber links from the shock tower to the c-hub. The steering assembly should rotate smoothly when turned from side to side.

    Rear Axles
    Shock Parts
    Piston Head

    The rear axles drop into place in a similar fashion as the front, however they just don't use c-hubs. Instead, the carriers are secured straight to the suspension arm with the supplied pin. With all of the axles in place, it's now time to assemble the shocks.

    The shocks are packaged in their own bag, which contains quite a few parts. Academy does make things easier however, as they already have the lower o-rings and retaining clips already installed onto the shock body. So you'll start by sliding the shock shaft through the lower end of the shock body. Never slide the threaded portion of the shaft through the o-rings, as it could damage them. I also recommend the use of some Associated Green Slime to lubricate the shaft, or at the very least some shock oil. Once the shaft is in place, you'll sandwich a plastic piston head in between two e-clips. Make sure you match the proper components up together. The short shocks will be the front ones.

    Shock Oil
    Rod Ends
    Assembled Shocks

    One of the most agonizing aspects of building shocks is allowing the air in the fluid to escape. The easiest way to accomplish this is to fill the body close to the top, and then pump the shaft up and down a few times. You'll probably see some small air bubbles in the shock oil, and this is what you want to get rid of. Simply allow the shock to sit for a few minutes, giving the bubbles time to rise and disappear. I usually set my shocks off to the side using my 23mm Pro-Line wrench to hold them. However, you can easily use a simple block of wood with some holes drilled in it. You'll want to repeat this step several times, until no bubbles appear after you work the shock shaft up and down.

    Once the air is bled from the shock oil, top off the oil level if needed. You want to bring the level completely to the top. Then install the cap. You will probably have some shock run down the side of the shock as you tighten the cap. That's simply excess, and there's no need to worry about it. Finally, install the shock ends, springs, and retainers. There's no reason to install preload spacers yet, wait until the buggy is finished to do that. As you add the electronics to the buggy, the spring preload will change anyway.

    Installed Shocks
    Painted Body

    With the shocks assembled, all that remains is to install them onto the buggy. Remember, the shocks are sized for each end of the buggy. You'll snap pivot balls into the ends of the shocks as shown in the directions, and this is shown very clearly in the colored diagram. So you should have no problems at all.

    Next I painted the included lexan body. Due to the fact my air compressor needed servicing, it was unavailable. So I resorted to using spray cans instead. With merely two colors, I still ended up with a very nice looking shell for the SB V2 Pro, which shows that you don't have to spend a ton of time or money to get a nice looking vehicle.

    I taped up the windows with a little masking tape, then I painted the inside of the lexan shells. Once painted, I removed the plastic overspray film from the body parts, and then trimmed them. Then I applied decals as desired.

    Underside Front
    Underside Rear

    The bottom of the buggy will be protected by one of the parts we just painted. The front of the underside is held in place by the front bumper, while you'll need to make holes for the screws in the rear to pass through. Then, you'll use some of the supplied Velcro on both the inside of the upper body, and the outer side of the lower half of the body. Once you put the two halves together, the Velcro will hold the two halves securely and help keep dirt and dust from getting onto the chassis.

    Installed Electronics
    Chassis Brace
    Vented Wheel

    Next I installed the electronics onto the chassis. I used a Castle Creations Mamba brushless motor and ESC. For the receiver, I grabbed a spare JR synthesized FM unit I had on hand. I secured the components to the chassis with the supplied double-sided tape, but also used zipties as well. I did want to lose any of the electronics while I was hammering the buggy around the track. Of course you're installation may vary at this stage, depending upon what you're using. I used a Hitec servo for the steering, and matched it up with the proper servo horn from the kit.

    To start off with, I installed the aluminum center roll block in the center position. I felt that would give me the option of moving the block in either direction should I feel the need after driving the Academy SB V2 Pro.

    I then focused on the wheels and tires. I started out by venting the wheels with a small drill bit. This would allow air to flow in and out of the tire once I had the tire glued to the wheel.

    Glue Tires
    Installed Body
    Installed Wheels

    After venting the wheels, I dry-fitted the tires onto the wheels and then prepared to glue them. For this task, I enlisted the help of a few products from Frank Tiano Enterprises. First and foremost was the super-thin Zap CA glue, which I applied using one of their micro tubing ends. The applicator ends are sold separately, in a container that holds a large assortment in various sizes. They really do the trick though when it comes to a trouble-free gluing process, unless you really enjoy gluing your fingers together.

    If you're looking for quick results, as I often am, a bottle of Zip Kicker will also come in very handy. The Zap thin CA glue dries fairly fast, but Kicker is an accelerator that speeds the curing time up to nearly instantaneous. You simply spray it on the CA glue, and it cures it on the spot. The result is a strong hold that doesn't require you to hold the tire in place while curing. It also eliminates the need for the tire rings which some people use to hold the tires securely against the rims during the CA glue's curing process.

    At this point, all that was left was for me to install the body, wing, and wheels. I made a hole in the body specifically for the antenna tube. Academy has this spot marked, so guesswork is eliminated. I made sure the Velcro was holding the body together after placing it on the buggy. The hole locations for the rear wing is marked as well, so it's installs just as easily. At that point, it's simply a matter of securing the wheels and tires and I was ready to go.

    Before heading out to Monkey Bottom Raceway, I charged up a few of my packs in preparation. I planned on taking a charger with me of course, but I didn't want to have to wait to run once I was there. The temperature was nice and warm, and soon after my arrival I had a pack installed in the SB V2 Pro, ready to go!

    I had been very impressed with how light the SB V2 Pro was, although it was much heavier with a set of six 3800 NiMH battery cells on board. For the ultimate setup, a lighter Lithium battery setup would really compliment the buggy well. This was evidenced by the fact that the buggy landed a little hard off of the jumps. At first, I simply though it needed further ride height adjustment, and inserted more spacers as I deemed appropriate. However, it was easy to see later on that the springs and oil were simply too light for the heavy pack.

    Despite that, the Castle Creations brushless setup had no problem at all in pushing the buggy quickly down the straightaway and around the corners. It had more than ample power, and the buggy's chassis seemed to handle fairly well. The buggy had a little too much bite in the corners it seemed, which was likely due to the heavy layout I was using. However, an adjustment of the chassis brace allowed me to take some chassis flex away to combat this characteristic.

    One of the most notable traits of the SB V2 Pro was the insane amount of turning ability I had entering a corner. The buggy dived sharply into the corners when I coasted through them, thanks to the front one-way bearing. In fact, I soon found myself readjusting the dual-rate control on my radio to make the vehicle's turning ability match the track better, preventing me from trying to oversteer. Too much turning ability for a vehicle is never a bad thing, as you can always use the radio to tailor it as needed. This is exactly what I did in this case.

    Soon after taking to the track I felt as if the drivetrain was slipping a little excessively. So I brought it in for a quick check. At first, out on the track, I though one of the ball differentials has loosened up some as it broke in. However, after checking out the vehicle in the pits, it was apparent that wasn't the case. Instead, the slipper clutch was a little loose. So I tightened it up, and headed back out to the track with a fresh battery pack.

    The layout of my local track has changed considerably over the winter. Not only in the aspect of turns or jumps, but in the fact that the direction it's run is opposite from last year as well. So I know I wasn't the smoothest driver out there, as I'm still learning the best routes through the various sections of the track. However, the Academy SB V2 Pro seemed to be taking the corners very well, especially considering that it was in the middle of its initial outing.

    While the Academy SB V2 Pro handled the air well, its forte seemed to be more in line with a low-flying stealth fighter. By that I mean that the buggy seemed to thrive upon staying close to the ground, as larger amounts of air seemed to slow it down after landing. This is typical of most RC vehicles, as obtaining large amounts of air over jumps simply isn't the fastest way around most tracks. You want just enough air to clear the jump while keeping your momentum up after you land. The SB V2 Pro simply thrived being driven in this manner.

    The front one-way bearing shone in the tighter corners, and especially in back to back corners. On throttle, a little understeer was present. However, when coasting as I entered a corner, it was easy to point the front end as tight as I needed to set myself up for the next corner. The stock tires Academy equipped the buggy with did an excellent job of providing both forward and side grip for the buggy. This made the corners of the buggy feel stable on most areas of the track.

    The only place that the buggy seemed to have major traction problems with, was the straightaway. However, this is the one area of the track where the power of the brushless motor was really used to put down nearly all of its power. So it really required you to make sure you had the buggy under control and you started to speed down the straightaway. One slip of a tire on the dusty hard-packed surface could easily cause the power motor to break the rear end of the buggy loose.

    All in all, as the day wore on, the SB V2 Pro handled itself well. I continued to tweak a little on the chassis, and soon had it running very well around the track. I just wish I would have had a few other spring options to play with, as that would have enabled me to really dial in the electric buggy.

    I did end up cutting a hole in the front windshield to provide some airflow to the brushless ESC inside the body. After several back to back runs, the electronics were getting warm and I didn't care to thermal the components I'd installed. I'd be surprised if anyone didn't have to take this step, as the SB V2 Pro's body seals up extremely well. While this is good for keeping dirt and dust out, it also doesn't let much cool air in, or warm air out. Regardless, the SB V2 Pro is simply a very solid performer!

    Desktop Wallpaper
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    See the SB V2 Pro in action!
    Resolution: Low Medium High

    The Academy SB V2 Pro has shown it still has the strengths of the previous version of the buggy that I tested. Of course, at the same time, it is a more refined version that has been improved as well. If charged with the task of naming my favorite change, it would have to be the front one-way bearing. It simply enhances the cornering capabilities of the buggy so much over what it would be otherwise.

    As with all kits, how well the Academy SB V2 Pro performs depends a lot upon what you equip it with. A lithium-based battery setup would work much better with the lightly sprung platform. When using NiMH cells, the vehicle is a little too heavy for the stock springs, as evidenced when landing from jumps. Aside from that however, it's simply a matter of choosing your setup.

    The SB V2 Pro is simply an excellent looking buggy that packs a ton of high tech gear on board. The end result is a platform that can easily conquer at the track. All you need is the skill!

    Model Rectifier Corporation
    80 Newfield Avenue
    Edison, NJ 08837 USA
    Phone: (732) 225-6144
    Website: www.modelrectifier.com
    Additional Products used: Super Brain 989

    Boom Boom Batteries
    154 East End Avenue
    New York, NY 10028 USA
    Phone: (718) 715-0324
    Website: www.boomboombatteries.com
    Products used: Assembled IB3800 NiMH 6-Cell

    Castle Creations
    235 South Kansas Avenue
    Olathe, Kansas 66061 USA
    Phone: (913) 390-6939
    Fax: (913) 390-6164
    Website: www.castlecreations.com
    Products used: Mamba Brushless Motor and ESC

    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: Zap Z-42 Threadlocker

    Hitec RCD
    12115 Paine St.
    Poway CA, 92064 USA
    Phone: (858) 748-6948
    Fax: (858) 748-1767
    Website: www.hitecrcd.com
    Products used: 5645MG Servo

    JR Radios
    Distributed Exclusively By
    Horizon Hobby, Inc.
    4105 Fieldstone Road
    Champaign, IL 61822 USA
    Phone: (877) 504-0233
    Fax: (217) 352-6799
    Website: http://www.jrradios.com/
    Products used: Radio, Receiver

    W.S. Deans
    10875 Portal Drive
    Los Alamitos, CA 90720 USA
    Phone: (714) 828-6494
    Website: www.wsdeans.com
    Products used: Two-Pin Ultra Plugs

    Comments on RCU Review: Academy SB Sport V2 Buggy Pro

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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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