One thing you can be confident of in on-road RC racing is that every 6 months a new class will be grabbing everyone’s attention…
The latest example is “Frontie” – front-wheel drive 10th scale touring cars. Not a new class, but one that has had a new lease of life thanks to the introduction of the XRAY T4F and the announcement that the ETS series will run it.
Often these classes don’t last – but I hope this one will. The aim is to bring a bit of fun back to the touring car class, which has gone firmly down the route of premium chassis, high grip and unrealistic bodies over the last few years. Frontie’s are something of an antidote to that – the bodies are much closer to scale, and traction is limited. They aren’t necessarily that cheap though…
Since I am a bit of a Tamiya fan (which can be a painful obsession at times), I’ve decided to start my journey with one of their chassis. An FF-04 EVO Black Edition, to be precise.
These are a few years old now, and pretty hard to find. I got lucky when a few appeared in stock at one of the larger Hong Kong RC shops. They hadn’t been there a week earlier so I can only assume they found a case of kits in the warehouse!
There is not much to say about this car that hasn’t already been said (Kentech’s excellent blog is always worth looking at), so I’ll try and keep my observations brief:
- Very straightforward build, as usual with Tamiya
- Only tweaks I made were to trim the front suspension ball ends to clear the caster blocks at full compression and add an o-ring on the front shocks as a bump stop
- XV-01 gearbox/bumper combination means the motor is quite high, but also very close to the diff case for a short overhang and limited chassis rub compared to some of the other cars on the market
- Easy to fit aftermarket gears for a high ratio (below 4.0:1 is no problem), all I did was change the motor mounting screws to a button head to give more clearance for the pinion
- The plastic 1XD arm mounts from the TB-03D make the car very narrow out of the box (180mm on the front, 184 on the rear)
- No provision for a shorty battery
- Weight is about 1325g ready to run, so some way above the class weight limit
- Weight distribution is pretty even left/right, and 65/35 front/rear
I decided to start off with the Bittydesign Civic body. I’d heard a few good reviews of the handing, and it is also one of the easiest Frontie shells to find in the shops.
I made a few mistakes but the inspiration was the JAS Motorsport TCR show car. Simply because it doesn’t involve many colours!
This is my first Bittydesign shell and I have to say I have been impressed so far. It’s a very crisp moulding with plenty of detailing – very close to Tamiya standards in fact. It also comes with some very sticky pre-cut decals and decent window masks.
There are a couple of trim lines on the shell – I tried the lower trim line at first but prefer the more slammed look you get with the upper trim line (and there is just enough tyre clearance).
Be careful though – Bittydesign don’t provide a front grille or window frames on the sticker sheet. I strongly suggest you paint these parts black (as well as the boot lid and wing mounts). I’ve seen a few examples of this shell that look really dodgy because those parts were left body colour.
The first run
The good news is – nothing broke!
I took the car for it’s first shakedown run at Bristol Model Car Club, which is a small-ish and occasionally bumpy carpet track. This week’s layout was very fast, with one chicane and a series of fast corners.
The car overall was very good. This was my first time running the Ride 24025 pre-mounts, and I got my tyre prep wrong at first, but once I had realised my mistake, I had a very smooth and stable car – too stable, if anything. But quite a contrast to a Mini, which is always much closer to the edge.
The Bitty body survived well despite a few big impacts, most of which were with 4wd cars catching me on corner exit. That’s where the Frontie loses time. But overall, the car is very satisfying to drive.
If you are interested, my setup by the end of the night is here – FF04Evo_Bristol_19_9_19 – although there is a lot more to try.
Roll on the Frontie class at the CWIC!