Hot Bodies TCX Build Review

One of the best touring cars I ever had was the HPI Pro 4 – I had some of mybest results with it many years ago but shaft drive cars fell out of favour as motors, including stock motors, became too fast for shaft drive. I have, most recently, been driving the Schumacher Mi4CX and really liked it but I have now got the opportunity to drive the new Hot Bodies TCX.

The TCX is an evolution of Hot Bodies World championship winning Cyclone platform. Atsushi Hara and Andy Moore have had a hand in the design and build of the car so you know it has got to be good! I spoke to Ben Cosgrove from HPI Racing Europe and he had a lot of good things to say about the kit so I had to try one.

The review… upon opening the box you are presented with a couple of bags containing the parts to build the car, manual, decals and a very light looking chassis.

The complete car;

The other noticeable thing is the top deck which is now the full length of the chassis;

As usual I started the build by sanding and gluing the edges of the 2.5mm chassis… I do this more for carpet racing and to save the chassis edges catching on the carpet rather than because the chassis will delaminate;

Next up are some very nice purple alloy bulkheads;

The nice thing here is that the front and rear bulkheads are all identical you carrying spares means carrying one bulkhead instead of two or four like some other manufacturers – it is nice that, in the current financial climate even RC manufacturers are doing their bit. The bulkheads are placed closer to the centre line of the chassis by some 3mm and this allows for longer top links, which is supposed to make the car easier to drive faster through the turns.

The first main part of the build is the layshaft, front spool and rear diff. The spur gear in the kit is a 115 tooth 64 pitch gear and it is built with a pulley to either side of it;

The spool is also a simple build with the purple alloy main shaft coupled to steel axle cups. The bearings are put on the axle cups and are covered with ‘squarish’ holders that allow the tension to be set when the unit is put into the bulkheads. At this point be very careful that you use the number 2 parts on the 61237 plastic spruce otherwise the belts will be very tight – there are other parts numbered 1 on the spruce.

Next up comes the rear diff;

I sanded the diff plates to ensure that they were flat and cleaned them with motor spray. I also cleaned the thrust and diff balls with motor spray to take any oil of them. I always use Schumacher diff grease and Associated black grease on the thrust balls and I did this with the TCX diff – Hot Bodies do supply their own versions and it is purely personal preference. The diff outdrives also come with rings that go on the outside of the outdrive to stop them from splaying apart under acceleration.

The completed parts;

The belts, spool, layshaft and rear diff are all fitted – at this point make sure that the notches on the bearing holders are pointing in the right direction as per the manual… for the front the notch is towards the front and at the rear the notch points towards the rear. Doing this will mean that your front and rear belts will have good tension out of the box;

Next up are the front and rear shock towers which are attached to upper bulkheads using four screws. The upper bulkheads are then attached with four screws to the lower bulkheads;

And the rear;

Before putting the top deck in place the new twin-crank steering system needs to be put in place. The twin crank steering is supposed to give a better feel to your steering and I will say that once built it feels very smooth on its bearings. The steering Ackerman angle is also easily adjustable with shims under the rack ball studs.

And the steering built up and in place;

The picture above also shows the front belt tensioner that is included in the kit and is attached to the top deck before the top deck is attached to the car.

The front;

And the rear;

There are 13 (yes 13) screws that attach the top deck to the car. This may seem extreme but but putting in between 8 and 13 screws you can vary the stiffness of the chassis and this is a great tuning aid depending on your track.

Next up is the four corners of the car and you tackle the front first.

The TCX uses nearly all of the same suspension parts that the Cyclone kit used, with reversible lower arms for extra shock positions, droop screws, turnbuckles, plus easily adjustable wheelbase, track width, anti-squat, toe-in and roll centre for complete adjustability.

They attach to the chassis using the same blocks that the Cyclone used;

The front which uses 2.5mm front sweep;

And the rear with 3mm toe in;

The driveshafts are very nice looking purple alloy parts with the front being 46mm and the rear 44mm. You can see the front ones in the picture below with the very nice Hot Bodies engraving;

Building all of this up produces some very nice suspension assembies;

For those of you who have never built an HPI/Hot Bodies car like this before the plastics are very nice and feel hard.

The TCX comes with a full set of roll bars for the front and rear of the car ranging from 1.2 to 1.4mm. You can see them in the picture below;

You can also see in the picture the roll bar holders – I picked the wrong ones in the picture above and only realised when I went to fit the roll bars to the car that I had picked the wrong ones. You can see the right ones in the picture below in a blacker material;

And them fitted to the car;

The Hot Bodies shocks are some of the best out there although there are a lot of parts for building them up;

The one thing to note here is that the shocks that are used by most of the team drivers are the 1.1mm 3 hole pistons rather than the 1.2mm 2 hole ones included in the kit. So when buying my kit I had bought the 3 hole ones and decided to build my shocks using them;

The shocks build up easily and it is very easy to get the rebound set to be the same all round (I like 25% for indoor carpet racing);

The kit includes Silver and Gold springs but are HPI black with a dab of coloured paint on them – good for hiding from other racers!

And attached to the car;

And rear;

Heading towards the end of the build at this stage… just the bumper, lipo holder and electrics to go.

For the lipo holder I took the lipo holder in the kit and basically cut the ends of;

Before;

After;

And then the bumper is added;

And now some pictures of my electrics added as well as the completed car;

Electrics;

The great thing is because the servo is mounted across the chassis there is plenty of room for the rest of your electrics;

Which allows me to fit the rest of the electrics with ease;

And the car is now complete;

Front

Rear

Top (you can also see the cut lipo holder in place);

And finally with the shell on;

Overall the build was flawless from start to finish.  The quality of the parts if very good and as this car has been designed by two world champions you just know that it is going to be good on the track.

First Run

I took the TCX out for it’s first run at the final round of the UMCC’s indoor carpet series.  I had been given the UK Team’s Ardent setup and used that as a base setup.  I ran the car and immediately it was on the pace that I had been running with my Mi4CX.  I qualified poling the B final which I was really pleased with as a first outing so the car had proved itself to me.

Thanks to Ben Cosgrove and Hot Bodies UK for the car and the help with the review.