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Team Associated Reflex RC14B Review

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    Team Associated Reflex RC14B Review

    As I write this review, mid way through June 2020, we are still in a partial lockdown here in the UK. Covid-19 has ravaged the indoor RC racing scene and I currently have no where to use this car on racing carpet.

    This car has been bought and paid for by myself, and because of that I am reluctant to throw my next indoor racing weapon onto the local dusty BMX track! However, once clubs start to open back up and I can safely get myself back into a club environment I will update the review.

    Let me introduce you to the Team Associated Reflex 14B.

    In 2001 Bill Gates introduced Microsoft’s first attempt at a tablet PC, called “Microsoft Tablet PC”. He was adamant that tablets would be the next big thing within the next 5 years, but he was wrong and the Tablet PC quickly fizzled out into nothing. It wasn’t until 2010, and the release of the Apple iPad, that the tablet boom really started - the Tablet PC was just a victim of being released at the wrong time.

    Whilst taking a sip from your half empty glass you might look at the November 2018 release of the Team Associated Reflex 14B as being a few years too late. Globally the micro RC scene has slowed down, here in the UK we haven’t seen a significant chassis release since 2013, and the National Championship has been on hiatus since 2015.

    My glass is always half full; it was half full when people told me that a micro RC forum was pointless, it was half full when people said that no one would attend micro RC only race events, and it was certainly half full when people said that we wouldn’t get international drivers to come and race alongside us.

    The release of the Reflex 14B signifies the start of the new wave of micro RC and will be remembered as such. Whereas the original RC18T is still seen by many as the car that really kickstarted the newly formed micro RC scene when it was released in 2005, the Reflex 14B sets the standard that all new micro RC chassis releases have to aim for.

    If we are to judge a car based on looks alone then any new release has its work cut out. The Reflex 14B is a testament to its designer who has created a car that seems to take its visual influence primarily from the Team Associated RC8 1:8th off-road range of vehicles. It is more than just two gearboxes on top of a flat chassis with some wishbones hanging out the side. In my opinion the Reflex 14B rolling chassis is beautiful - it has soul.

    The Reflex 14 comes in two variants; the Reflex 14B buggy, and the Reflex 14T truggy. The only differences between the two are shells, body mounts and front wheels.

    Included in the box is the Team Associated XP120S 2.4Ghz 2-channel transmitter, a 70 tooth spur to compliment the installed 58 tooth spur, some accessory plastics, including additional caster tuning inserts for the front hubs, and a fully described build manual - all standard fare for anyone who has previously owned a Team Associated model.

    The standard tyres that come with the car are of a tread pattern more recognisable to anyone with experience racing on American clay tracks. The tyre compound is quite hard - perfectly suited to the RTR market, but less so to anyone (like myself) who wants to expose this car to a carpet race track. Talk online however suggests that the standard Reflex 14B tyres bought aftermarket are of a softer compound which is something I will look into as spare parts start to make their way back into UK model shops.

    The chassis reminds me of the popular tub chassis style of most Tamiya kits on the market; high edges that fully contain the electronics from the outside once the shell is mounted, a deep black colour to the plastic that almost screams out “solid”, but surprisingly the chassis flexes more than I had expected.

    With my practical/micro racer hat on I do feel that the chassis flex could potentially cause problems for me in the future. There is a well documented issue raised on an American forums micro RC board where people are seeing failure of the centre diff bearing closest to the centre of the car, and melting of the plastic near this bearing.

    From investigating this further I am 100% sure this is due to the flex in the chassis - on landing the chassis will flex inwards which in turn pushes the centre shaft cover end into the top of that same centre diff bearing. The bearing is only held in place by the chassis, effectively holding only the bottom 50% of the bearing in position - the spur gear cover merely lays on top of the bearing - there is no channel within the spur gear cover for the bearing to locate and therefore any movement from the centre shaft cover along its length towards the exposed top half of the bearing pushes the top of the bearing towards the centre diff at an angle. It’s harder to detail in words than it is to show visually but it is noticeable enough that I wanted to mention it here.

    I emailed Team Associated a few days about this issue, and offered a potential solution to help fix the issue long term that included a slight redesign to the spur cover - however for the short term I have opted to remove the centre shaft cover from my car whilst I look into options to stiffen the chassis.

    If I could make one request to Team Associated it would be for a graphite reinforced plastic chassis (and maybe wishbones) for the Reflex 14B, using the same material as Associated have previously released reinforced chassis and wishbones for the RC10B4 line of 2WD 1:10th buggies.

    The front and rear of the chassis utilise an interesting approach to mounting the AB/CD hinge pin holders and wishbones. As a unit (two wishbones and two hinge pin holders, joined together with hinge pins) they are mounted to the underside of the chassis and secured in place with what is basically a chassis skid plate.

    It’s a clever idea and means that you can remove the B and C hinge pin holders easily without needing to remove the gearbox cases - I applaud whoever it was at Team Associated who designed this chassis!

    This allows for quick tuning of the front kickup and rear anti-squat by way of individual inserts that slide into the hinge pin holders - a tuning aid that has been commonplace on the larger 1:10th and 1:8th scale Associated buggies for many years now.

    The front and rear wishbones offer a single mounting hole for the lower shock eyelet, and tabs on the end of each wishbone allows for the droop to be set via the neatly placed droop screws next to the gearbox housings in the main chassis itself. Wheelbase adjustment is also available by moving the position of the washer on the wishbone inner hinge pins.

    Whereas on most RC cars the droop screws are located in the wishbones themselves, with any wear from the droop screw being transferred the chassis plate the Reflex 14B droop screws are contained within the chassis so that all wear is placed upon the wishbones.

    On the front end a castor and steering block arrangement with changeable inserts allows for caster angle tuning, and two shock tower upper mounting locations allow for shock position variations.

    The front drivetrain of the car also sports a pair of universal joint driveshafts, compared to the standard dogbone driveshafts in the rear. As much as I can appreciate why the car comes as standard with rear dogbones I will be replacing these for a set of universal joint driveshafts - there is nothing worse than searching on carpet for a missing dogbone driveshaft after a crash!

    The rear end of the car offers three available ball stud holes on the rear hub for varied lengths of the rear turnbuckles for those looking for roll height adjustment, and three shock tower upper mounting locations.

    All three diffs in the car consist of three plastic internal gears lightly coated in black grease. The front and rear diffs only require the removal of six screws each to gain access (four gearbox cover screws and two bracing screws) whereas unfortunately the centre diff (which contains the spur gear) cannot be taken out without the rear gearbox cover being removed first - the centre diff pinion is contained within the rear gearbox unlike the RC8B3.2e or RC10 B74 whose centre diffs are centrally located within their respective chassis’.

    The geared diffs lend themselves to being tuneable with diff oils - the drive cup inputs are sealed using a standard o-ring and washer approach, and with electric micro races normally taking only 5 minutes at a time compared the hour long A-finals seen in nitro buggy finals there should be no real issues with oil leakage as the oil heats up from continued use.

    As we move into the main body of the chassis the first thing that immediately draws the eye is the servo - it being vertically mounted (as is common in most 1:8th off-road buggies now), but rare to the micro RC world.

    The plastic geared D115F servo measures 32.3mm x 15mm x 28.1mm and comes with a servo saver attached to the gear splines. With 0.10sec/60deg speed and 4.0kg/cm torque specs from a 6v input the servo is plenty fast enough, and strong enough, for my needs!

    The waterproof Reedy SC300-BL brushless ESC comes with a single throttle profile and is not editable with any of the aftermarket tuning cards on the market. This connects to a Reedy 280-SL4 sensorless motor with 2.3mm shaft. The pinion, as was the case with the previous RC18T, has a pitch of 0.5 mod.

    You'll notice in the photo above that the pinion mesh is adjusted via a toothed cam system. I can see why the designer chose to use this approach, however care needs to be taken when setting the gearing mesh as any rotational force from twisting of the motor wires can rotate the motor cam prior to you replacing the spur gear cover without you actually realising, before your spur gear shreds on its first run since being re-meshed.

    The battery end plates can be moved within different locating positions within the chassis to accommodate three different widths of micro sized drive battery.

    As standard the car comes with o-ring sealed plastic shocks, although factory team aluminium options are available to buy. The shock caps do not offer a bleed screw, but detailed instructions are within the manual to explain how to best set the rebound on the shocks when rebuilding and refilling with your preferred weight of shock oil.

    Associated offer a range of Factory Team options to compliment the Reflex 14B including anti-roll bars, aluminium shock bodies and shock towers. The wishbones come as standard with the associated locating points to connect the anti-roll bars too, and these will no doubt be an important tuning option for all high grip track racers.

    As I mentioned at the beginning of this review I haven't yet been able to take this car out on the carpet yet, although I am hoping this will change soon. Any of you who remember the old version of this forum will know that I love posting updates about my race cars and will no doubt do the same with the Reflex 14B once we are allowed back racing.

    Until then this is as far as this review is able to go. I plan on getting the anti-roll bars for the car, replacing the standard ESC with something tuneable, and seeing how the standard servo and motor hold up under racing conditions.

    I'm looking to start with 5/5/3 weight diff oils ready for the cars first outing with a starting weight of 35wt shock oil in the front and 30wt oil in the rear - all standard approaches for most race cars when starting out. At some point I'll be able to start looking into things like piston hole sizes and Factory Team shock spring options too.

    I am very excited to get racing with this car though. If there is one thing that we do very well here in the UK it is taking a chassis that was never intended to be raced, and turning it into a racing weapon - FTX Blaze anyone?

    The Reflex 14B is not a thoroughbred racer. It is a RTR car with bags of potential. You can see from its DNA that is has been designed by someone who truly cared about what they were releasing to the public, and it's up to us to do that vision justice...

    I haven't written a review in over 10 years - I even went out and bought a fairly professional photo light-box to try and give my reviews more of an air of professionalism! Hopefully this review will be well received.

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    Nice write up! looking forward to getting mine even more!


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