Seen the photos? Wondered just what the deal was? Ponder no more, for rc-mini.net have the first full test of the astonishing new M chassis conversion from Xevo. It’s an adventure and a half as rc-minis own Tim K gives you the run-down on what we think is probably the most interesting M chassis for years. Over to you Tim….
See this car below? It’s a Yokomo YRF2. Most of you have probably never heard of one, and you’ve almost certainly never seen one. Way back when the legend himself Masami only had to turn up to a race meeting to win it, Yokomo came out with this amazing FWD beauty. Legend has it that it was so good that it was pretty much banned instantly. Remember, we’re talking around about the time that Tamiya’s only competition was the FF01 (TA02 FWD).Anyway…as it happens, the rc-mini crew is very fond of the Yokomo. To us it represented what the ultimate incarnation of a FWD rc car should be. Indeed many hours have been spent discussing building a ‘Mini’ version of that car. We never thought anyone would ever build anything like it, then we saw the Xevo…
The official name for this kit is: the X evolution Chariot Pro conversion kit. A bit of a mouthful right? We’ll dispense with that and call it simply the Xevo. Now it’s NOT a complete car in itself. This is a conversion kit that utilises bits from your M03 or M05 to make into a thoroughbred full-on FWD M chassis racer.
When I first saw the pictures of the Xevo I was impressed, lots of blue alloy bits, servo low down, battery down the centre, lay down shocks. Where can I get one? How soon? And why isn’t it here taking up space on my desk now?
No studio shots this time – we’re at the track and covered in dust…
Tony G did some asking around and the rc-mini network soon came up with the goods, and our mate Ismail from Malaysia helped us out with 3 of these conversion kits. Sure we could have waited, but that’s not the way we do things. We want it, and we want it NOW.
Are we not men? We are Xevo! Lean, mean, M chassis machine
When Tony dropped the Xevo around I was very impressed with the quality and finish of the parts. The FRP chassis and blue alloy bulkheads really look the business. I half expected some slightly dodgy backyard effort with this kit but to be honest the quality of the components is not far off that which Tamiya themselves provide. It all comes very simply packaged, just an unassuming clear plastic bag with all the parts individually bagged and then taped to the main chassis plate. And a couple of what appear to be photocopied instruction sheets. The instructions do however, leave a lot to be desired. The Black and white photos are handy, but it’s hard to make out the details on the poor quality reproduction. There are also some exploded CAD drawings, but they list screws which are the wrong size and some of the instructions are very vague. I wouldn’t want to be building this if it was my first ever kit. But this is rc-mini, and I can almost build an M03 in my sleep (Sometimes I suspect you DO just that Tim – Tony G) so getting my head around the Xevo wasn’t too hard.
If you happen to have one of these kits and it just didn’t turn out right, we’ve got some tips later on in the story to help ease your pain.
Tamiya-wise, there actually aren’t a whole lot of genuine parts that you need to complete the Xevo. A quick roll call shows up with – transmission, diff, complete suspension front and rear, and that’s about it. To be honest a lot of people would have most of this as spares. They do add a list of some extra parts as well.These are SP797 – 5mm adjuster, OP640 – 5mm Aluminium ball nut, and OP642 – 5mm Aluminium ball connector. If you’re like me, you’ll have some things lying around that will do the job of these extra parts, but they aren’t expensive to buy so you might want to factor these in if you want to use all new parts.
One thing that really had me worried was something that Tony G had brought to my attention very early on – Bodyshells. He’d done some measuring off photos and worked out that the Xevo chassis required another 20+mm extra room in front of the furthest point of a standard M03 bumper. And he’d also pointed out that you also needed a bit of height too in order to clear the upper edges of the motor mount.The official body list for this car is: HPI Civic 225mm, Tamiya Swift 225mm, Atlas Civic Type R 210mm and the Xevo Type R (coming soon). Well, the Atlas is really hard to get hold of and I’m not really a big fan of either of the others anyway. So, what to do? Xevo even specify that SWB Mini Cooper shells will not fit at all and they’re right. You’d have nearly an inch of chassis sticking out the front!
That’s a LOT of overhang Yeah, we were worried about the gears too
A quick glance around the available bodies in the garage and my eye hit the LWB New Mini. Hmmm, I already knew that it had a fairly substantial front overhang because we actually use TL01 bumpers on them, maybe that would work if I could make a 239mm chassis? In the end, it turned out easier than I thought.
For those of you who would like to run an M03L New mini Cooper body or Cooper S body, here’s how I did it. First off you need to build the car as per the 225mm wheelbase instructions. When you put the rear lower arms on you need to flip them 180 degrees (see photo). You also need to move the upper camber link ball stud 180 degrees as well (see photo).
No shock mount now, so how do I mount my shock to the lower arm? Easy, take the long screw and spacers from an M03 sway bar kit and use that as your mount. You won’t be able to clip your shocks on and off in a hurry, but then you don’t want to run anything other than a mini body – right? And that’s the whole point of this for me. It’s an M chassis car so I want to be able to run a MINI body shell. It would be great if I could run a classic mini body, but it would require a major redesign … I’m happy that I can at least run the new mini.
Drilling new holes for the M03L body is easy too as the Xevo body posts have the same spacing width as the M03L, you just need to move the holes forward. The rear holes will now be drilled 20mm forward, and the front holes will be drilled 32.5mm forward.So, the unofficial list of usable bodies sees the New Mini Cooper and New Mini Cooper S added on as well. There could be more bodies that fit but I don’t have every body hanging around at the moment.
OK then, we’re building the car in its ‘official’ 225mm guise, and in this configuration there is enough room to run the battery pack straight down the middle of the car (In 210mm form the battery runs ACROSS the chassis just like normal) And here comes one of the things I don’t like about this kit, the lack of a battery holder. I’m sure I have enough old parts to make up something but in the meantime, if you mount your ESC one side and your receiver the other, you can use them (and the servo) as a battery location device. Then you only need to tape the pack at the rear of the chassis. Considering the time and thought that obviously went into the rest of the cars design, you’d think someone could have stayed back to do an hours overtime to finish off something to hold the battery in?On the plus side of the equation, the freedom of this configuration means that pretty much any battery pack can be adapted to fit. You could probably glue in a 5000 mah Lipo and run for an hour each time and only have to charge once a week!
Ever seen a Mini that looks like THIS from underneath? The rear end is so clean, hardly anything there.
With the assembled rolling chassis now done I could sit back and admire my handywork. You know how some things look ‘right? Somehow this did. There were some questions about it for sure. The front suspension seemed to be a dodgy setup for a start with none of the silky smooth action that we all prefer.And I couldn’t help but be concerned about the fact that ALL the gears were exposed. How long would they last?
The first test drive
After the strangeness of the whole M05 saga I was worried that the Xevo might also suffer from some strange handling problems as well, thankfully I was wrong.I tested the Xevo at the dusty Keilor track with the standard M03 20 tooth pinion and the Hobbywing 13 turn brushless motor and ESC combo. I used my standard tyre setup of Spice 36 front and Spice 28 rear.I was amazed. With very little setup this car was already dialed! On some corners there was a very controllable little rear end slide, similar to how the M03 used to be on X-Patterns. And on other corners there was a hint of understeer. I’d say for most people (including me) this setup would be ideal but for some you might want for a little more steering. This could be achieved by running a different tyre combination or a little more toe out on the front (I had zero degrees toe).
I also tested another favourite tyre choice of mine – S-Grips up front and Spice 32 rear. This provides a very stable car, with a bit more understeer, but this felt better to me than the 36/28 combo. So out of the box this kit felt as good as my best M03R to drive. I’m amazed it was so good. I ran 2 packs through it (30 minutes worth) and didn’t have any problems at all. No unexpected steering adventures (like the M05), no traction rolls, no chassis hopping, it was almost perfect. And remember this was straight out of the box with no attention paid to set-up on any level.
The Xevo should definitely be faster than the M03 with the different gear ratio options you can use, anything from a 19 tooth to a 26 tooth, you will have superior top speed. But who will be faster out of the Xevo on a 20 tooth versus the M03 on a 20 tooth versus an M05 on a 20 tooth? Stay tuned for more in depth testing and lap time comparisons from various tracks. Incidentally, the M03 has a final drive ratio of 5.8:1 with a 20 tooth pinion, the Xevo with a 26 tooth will give you a whopping 4.46:1 !!!
So just how good is this kit? Good enough that I stayed up past midnight to finish it, and then take it to the track the next day and then write this report the same night … the M05 took me 2 months to do all that. This kit just had something special about it, this kit is everything the M05 should have been, but wasn’t … I’d go so far as to say that this is the only worthy successor to the M03.
So, in the great scheme of things, just where does the Xevo fit? For those of us running to Tamiya Cup rules this kit will not be eligible. If your local rules only allow M03 or M05 chassis, then again this kit will not be for you. If you’re a big fan of Front Wheel Drive cars, or you just like to have something a bit different, then this definitely is for you.
Can it run against M05/05? Sure it can, but based on what we’ve seen so far they may not have a chance. The Xevo is a purpose designed race car, the Tamiya M chassis cars are fun cars that we choose to race – and there’s a big difference. So what do we do with them? Well, I can’t help thinking that it would fit better against the 4WD Minis maybe? It has better grip than an M03/05, variable gearing, and the light weight as well would almost make it a perfect fit against an A210 or Genetic. Food for thought indeed.
Either way the people at Xevo have to be commended for thinking outside the square. They’ve come up with something truly unique and it shall remain a firm favourite with the rc-mini crew.
Things to watch out for….
Instruction No.1: the M3x6 going into the bulkhead attaching the spur gear shaft should be a countersunk screw. The M3x10 screws that hold the blocks for the lower arms should be M3x6, there isn’t enough thread in the blocks for the M3x10 to actually tighten up.
Instruction No.2: again, the M3x10 screws that hold the blocks for the lower arms should be M3x6. Also, refer to the other instruction sheet with the plan (overhead) view of the chassis. This shows you that there are 3 holes on the rear bulkheads, you use different holes depending on the wheelbase you require. If you want to run this as an M03L chassis then use the holes for the 225mm.
Instruction No.3: The 2 alloy tubes shown screwing to the chassis, these are only needed if you plan to mount your steering servo vertical (like an M05 servo mount). If you want to mount your servo horizontal like on the M03 or various touring cars then you don’t need these tubes. Instruction No.7: This is about the time you should be putting in 2x 1150 bearings and a diff of your choice – I used the TA03 ball diff.
Instruction No.8: See the alloy shaft that holds the long idler gear? Well there is a spacer (supplied) that needs to go on that shaft between the idler gear and the blue alloy bulkhead, otherwise your idler gear will have 5mm of side to side movement.
Instructions No.9 & 10: It can be difficult to hold the body posts while screwing them, put a body clip (body pin) into one of the holes in the body posts, then grip that and the post with your pliers, it makes it much easier.
Instruction No.11: WTF? This is a view from overhead looking onto the top of the C-hub (the C-hub holds the knuckle). If you don’t trim this off then the right angle FRP plates in step 12 won’t sit nicely against the C-hub.
Instruction No.12: There is nothing wrong with this picture. But, the right angle FRP plates need to have the edges trimmed down if you plan on using 4mm thick wheel hexes to narrow your front track, otherwise the inside edges of your tyre will rub on these FRP plates when you use full steering lock. You can always just assemble your car first then check if the tyres rub, if they do – get sanding!
Instruction No.13: Okay, I ignored this altogether. Instead I took a pair of TRF- M chassis shocks with short yellow springs and lots of preload and whacked them on there. For the rears I used TRF touring car shocks with no internal spacers and long yellow springs … it worked for me.
Instruction No.14: Shouldn’t this be part of instruction No.2? it would have made more sense.
Instruction No.15: I used the rear adjustable arms from an M03R, but I had to shave the inner edge of the ball cup by 1 or 2mm so I could get the 19mm dimension.For the 26mm, I ignored this and took another set of arms from an M03R and adjusted them until I had 2 degrees of negative camber … for those of you who don’t have a camber gauge the measurement is 22.5mm from centre of hole to centre of hole.