RCU Magazine Review - Redcat Racing Shockwave and Tornado BB

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    Contributed by: Matt Gunn
    Redcat Racing Tornado BB & Shockwave

    Review by: Matt Gunn
    Photography by: Brad Kaye

    Tornado BB/Shockwave
    Distributed exclusively by:
    Redcat Racing
    3217 S. 38th Street
    Phoenix, Arizona 85040

    Website: www.redcatracing.com

    Shockwave and Tornado BB
    CLICK HERE to Watch

    Ease of Assembly

    Very affordable
    Chassis warranty
    Good looking graphics
    Aluminum shocks on Tornado
    Lifetime engine replacement program

    Aluminum shock towers
    bend easily
    Plastic shocks on Shockwave
    Could use a better airfilter

    "You gotta pay to play..." A statement that holds true in the world of nitro rc, and with most entry level vehicles costing upwards of 400 dollars, that leaves quite a few of them out of range of some hobbists. Fortunately, Redcat Racing has stepped up and offered what no other manufacturer has been able offer as of yet; a 1/10th scale buggy for under 100 dollars! How did they do it? Lets just say there's a finite balance between performance and peace-of-mind so you can enjoy the hobby and not worry about having enough money left over to pay the bills!

    Redcat's entry into the sub one-hundred dollar market goes by the name of the Shockwave, a 4WD single-speed buggy with a .16 engine. The Shockwave offers it's new owner a strong platform for ripping up the track, high speed passes in front of the house, or just plain having fun. Need a little more performance? For just a little more than the cost of the Shockwave, you can have the Tornado BB, an almost identical buggy with a number of upgrades including a .18 engine, 2-speed transmission, and aluminum shocks. The Tornado BB is packed with enough goodies to get you into racing at your local track or just bashing with your friends.

    This is a double review which details each vehicle and outlines their strong points and weaknesses. Aside from slightly different suspension setups and different drivetrains, the platforms are identical. Each test yeilded very similar ratings with the Tornado just edging out the Shockwave in performance. Now, lets see what Redcat has to offer in the way of 1/10th scale nitro buggies.

    Name: Redcat Racing Shockwave
    Price: $99 retail price
    Length: 15.75"
    Width: 8.5"
    Wheelbase: 10.5"
    Engine: Vertex VX 16
    Receiver battery used: 4 AA non-rechargable
    Radio equipment: (Included) 2 Channel AM Radio, receiver, throttle servo, steering servo

    Name: Redcat Racing Tornado BB
    Price: $189 retail price
    Length: 15.75"
    Width: 8.5"
    Wheelbase: 10.5"
    Engine: Vertex VX 18
    Receiver battery used: 4 AA non-rechargable
    Radio equipment: (Included) 2 Channel AM Radio, receiver, throttle servo, steering servo

    • Air Filter Oil
    • Fuel Bottle
    • Glow Igniter
    • Phillips Screwdriver
    • 12 AA Batteries
    • Fuel (15%-20%)

    Other Helpful Items

    • Temperature Gauge
    • Threadlock Formula
    • After Run Oil
    • Fail Safe Unit
    • Rechargable Battery Pack (Receiver)

    Tornado BB .18
    Tornado chassis
    Tornado layout
    Shockwave .16
    Shockwave chassis
    Shockwave layout

    Both buggies are well packaged and 99% ready to run. All there is to do is install the wing and put eight AA batteries in the transmitter and four AAs in the receiver. Each body is painted well and the flames look great. All the holes are pre-cut for the antenna, engine, and the high-speed needle. With the body removed, the similarities between the Shockwave and the Tornado BB become apparent. They both share the same chassis, fuel tank, radio box, electronics, and a few other small items. The 2.5mm thick annodized aluminum chassis is strong enough to withstand what each buggy can dish out and I experienced no issues with it during the review. The upper plate attaches to the front and rear differentials and helps add rigidity to the chassis.

    The radio box lid snaps into place and two screws keep it tight. It does a good job of keeping out dirt and debris but the excess room within allows the batteries to move around a little. A small square of foam would keep them from moving. Battery longevity doesnt seeem to be a problem as I am still using the origional ones after a few weeks of average use. Both servos do their jobs as expected and were suprisingly quick. I had no issues with their operation during the review.

    Fuel delivery is the same for both buggies; a 70cc tank with a sump pickup and a flip-top lid holds enough fuel to provide decent run times when the engine is tuned for performance. Theres also a nifty fuel spill guard on top of the tank to keep the chassis from getting oily in the event of an overfill. The fuel tubing is routed out of the way of any moving parts or heat sources.

    The hearts of these cars are the Vertex engines. The Shockwave is powered by a Vertex VX .16 with a pull start. It provides enough dirt slinging power to satisfy the majority of owners. The Tornado BB, on the other hand, is powered by a Vertex VX .18 and offers a noticable improvement in acceleration. The airfilter is composed of two disc-shaped foam filters stacked inside a rubber housing. After running for one day at the track, I noticed that dirt had made its way past both filters and was encroaching on the carburetor; the accumulation was between the foam filter and the rubber body. I found that putting some filter oil on the inside of the rubber housing helps to keep the dirt from slipping past the filters. Make sure to clean both filters and the rubber housing after playing in the dirt. The plastic tuned pipe is the same for both cars and it functions as designed. I had no issues with it being made of plastic versus aluminum. I will note that both cars are not overly loud and I had no complaints from the neighbors while running them around the yard. This is a plus for those without the means to travel to a track or local park often; you can get your nitro fix almost anywhere! Heres another bonus; lets say you are a little eager with the high-speed needle and cook your engine. Redcat offers a Lifetime Engine Replacement Program! Just send them the engine and they will replace it or upgrade it to the next size available for half the cost of the new engine, no questions asked. That means you could upgrade the Shockwave with the VX .18 if you were so inclined.

    Power is transferred from the Shockwave's engine to the wheels through a single-speed transmission. I had no issues with its operation during testing and with the correct gear mesh I experienced no stripped gears. The Tornado BB features a two-speed centrifugally shifted transmission with an adjustable shift point. I initially thought it's shift point was set a little too high from the factory but after adjusting it, I realized that setting it to shift at a high rpm utilizes the engines power better. Set it too too low and you will get a little engine lag on the 1-2 shift. Both buggies feature 2-shoe clutch design that seemed a little weak. Periodic maintanence is required to keep the clutch functioning; remove the clutch bell and clean the shoes and the inside of the bell with nitro cleaner. This will reduce any slipping that may occur when grease from the bearings begins to coat the clutch. The braking system consists of a vented steel disc attached to the back of the transmission case. I had no problems with its operation and it exhibited a progressive feel.

    Tornado shocks
    Shockwave shocks
    Tornado ball joint suspension
    Shockwave link pin suspension

    The Shockwave and Tornado BB have somewhat different suspension setups. The shockwave features a link pin hub assembly with an adjustable linkage for setting the camber. The Tornado features a ball joint suspension; camber is adjusted by turning the ball screws. Both designs seemed sturdy and I suffered no broken suspension components during testing. The shocks on the Shockwave are plastic oil-filled coilovers with clips used to adjust ride height. They seemed a bit bouncy and compression and rebound damping was almost non-existent. The Tornado BB shocks are aluminum bodied oil-filled coilovers with ride height adjusters. They provided exceptional damping and overall good performance for this entry level buggy. One area worth mentioning on both buggies is the aluminum shock towers. I noticed that after a few hard flips on their lids, the towers bent noticeably. A quick remedy is to gently bend them straight with a set of pliers. The steering setup on both buggies is identical and functioned well and includes a servo saver built into the left bellcrank. I noticed the steering was quick and strong enough to turn the wheels under any condition. The turnbuckles stood up to repeated hits and didnt bend or break.

    2 channel AM receiver
    Shock spacers for Shockwave
    Both buggies come with your standard radio and receiver. With the transmitter, you get servo reversing, trim knobs, and a pretty descent range of operation. I took each buggy over fifty yards before loosing control. Theres a 3 led battery life indicator on the radio so you'll know when it's time to change them.

    To prepare the buggies for break-in, I oiled the filters, checked servo throws, and made sure all screws were tight. Its important not to skip this step as I found the screws that hold the transmission down were loose enough to affect the gear mesh when the brake was applied. The front wheels had considerable toe-out so I adjusted the turnbuckles to make them parallel. After adjusting the needles for break-in and applying a little thread locking compound to the screws, I was ready to fire them up. A quick start guide is included with each buggy and outlines every step of the break-in process. This is especially helpful for newcomers because the guide covers what you'll need to get started, how to set the gear mesh, how to prime the engine, and the break-in.

    Break-in was uneventful with the tried and true heat-cycle method being used. The quick start guide suggests a final high-speed needle setting of 1.5 to 2 turns out from closed and this setting worked well for both engines.The driving portion of the review was done at Loganville R/C Speedway near Atlanta, Ga.


    My first impression of the Shockwave was one of suprise. The buggy handled pretty well despite its bouncy ride due to the plastic shocks not providing much damping. The .16 engine had more than enough power to take a technical double right after a 180 degree turn. The back straight speed was up to par with what I would expect from a 1/10th scale buggy and the brakes did their job well. I noticed a little bit of understeer but that was probally a result of using no toe-in on the front. Where the Shockwave fell short was the short bumpy sections of the track. The stock shocks just couldnt get through it. As stated before, the Shockwave is quiet for a nitro and I had trouble hearing it on the far end of the track. The stock tires slung the dirt around as they were designed to do. My overall experience with the Shockwave was good but its more of a fun car than a track car. I think its more at home at a local bashing spot or your backyard. Even driving it on asphault had good results; it was hard to get it to flip over even if I jammed the brakes at full throttle and turned the wheels.

    Tornado BB

    The Tornado BB is a little more at home on the track. Its dampers did a great job of soaking up the rough sections and the .18 had more than enough power to negotiate every jump. The suspension is tunable so you can dial it in for better cornering. Jumping was predictable and the Tornado BB sailed level through the air with minimal throttle/brake input. Having the two-speed transmission set to shift high, I couldnt get it to shift to second gear on the back straight. This is good as I feel second gear is not needed for most tracks. On the street, short grass, or any wide open area is where the two-speed transmission does its thing. Punch it from a dead stop and the Tornado BB tachs up quickly to to near redline before shifting to second gear, followed by a long climb back to top rpm. In second gear, topped out, your running near 40mph and that plenty fast for this buggy. I found myself driving around, looking for empty streets just to make some high speed passes. If your looking for a true entry level buggy to get into weekend racing or a fun basher, the Tornado BB would be a good choice.

    Shockwave and Tornado BB
    CLICK HERE to Watch

    The Shockwave is Redcat Racing's answer to the sub one-hundred dollar nitro market and its a great start. The fun factor is a definate five stars because theres no cheaper way to get into the hobby than with the Shockwave. The Tornado BB is a hopped up Shockwave that offers better handling and a larger engine. Both are great platforms to bash with and can take some hard hits without going down. While both buggies do have their flaws, they definately dont outweigh the benefits. Plus, the Lifetime engine Replacement Program keeps you in the game if your engine decides it doesnt want to play anymore. I would recommend either of these cars to the beginner looking for a route into the hobby or anyone just looking to have fun with a nitro rc.

    Tornado BB & Shockwave
    Distributed exclusively by:
    Redcat Racing
    3217 S. 38th Street
    Phoenix, Arizona 85040
    Support Phone: 602.454.6445
    Website: www.redcatracing.com

    Horizon Hobby
    4105 Fieldstone Rd.
    Champaign, IL 61822
    Support Phone: 877.504.0233
    Web Site: www.dynamiterc.com
    product used: Blue Thunder Sport Fuel 20%

    Loganville R/C Speedway
    1441 Highway 81
    Loganville, GA 30052
    Web Site: www.loganvillerc.com

    Special thanks to Brad Kaye for the great photography in my reviews!

    Brad Kaye Photography
    Web site: www.bradkayephotography.com

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    RCU4 | | 0 | 1 | 04:52:49 AM EST | NC