My Suzuki Swift Super 1600 evo 2: racing the M-03
2 years after this model joined my collection, I decided (at last) to update this article (august and november 2011). The very first thing to mention after two years is how fun every run was: this model is the one I drove most since it ran at almost every meeting.
So here is a detailed review since I now have quite an experience to share about it.
This is definitely THE strength of this chassis: it is rock solid. Apart from the servo-saver (see below), the M-03 chassis is bulletproof. It is almost maintenance-free, nothing more than some cleaning from time to time to remove tire residues and miscellaneous stuff it brought back from the track. The motor needs to be replace after over 30 packs, as the motor pinion does: the aluminum stock one will not resist more than 20 packs and I recommend you replace it with another one in steel.
When I say "overall reliability", I mean to survive this kind of stunts:
Sorry for the blurry pictures, but I guess you will understand the photograph couldn't anticipate this . Of course, the bodyshell is the element that suffers most: mirrors are among the very first victims but once gone, the car slides much better on its side.
I added only two extra protections: a foam bumper at the front (because others go sometimes so slow that you need to push them gently ) and reinforcement tape on the antenna tube where it crosses the roof top. This avoids the antenna tube to be cut off when the car rides wheels up.
The bodyshell is robust
Foam bumper and antenna tube reinforcement
Scratches on the body are testimonies of intense battles between my Suzuki Swift and the track surface. Mirrors soon got lost but even the very long rear body mounts are still alive.
This is the M-03 weak point: the stock one is very soft which leads both to imprecise steering (getting worse after each run) and a predictable breakage after a few shocks and other stunts. So I recommend to replace it with the 51000 Hi-Torque Servo-Saver:
51000 Hi-Torque Servo-Saver
Installed on the chassis
I also found interesting to replace the stock plastic servo mounts by aluminum ones from 3Racing. I can't certify either any precision improvement for the steering system nor better reliability, but I think they may contribute to the overall system.
Outdrive and gears:
Apart from the stock aluminum motor pinion to quickly replace with one made of steel, the differential cups and the wheel axles show some wear. This is normal and proportional to the motor power. This is why I replaced a few things after 2 years.
Worn stock parts
Naturally, the motor power and heavy braking left their marks and the whole system soon has a lot of play (sooner depends on the motor power). But let's get clearer: the above photo is after 2 years of regular runs with the stock 540 motor. No need to panic, but you should only consider this after a while, especially if you run your model with a powerful motor.
To solve this, there are universals like the 3Racing's (ref M03M-11/V3) that I installed: they remove any play between the dogbone and the wheel axle. Consequence: better lifetime without loosing efficiency due to wear. The next advantage is to remove any risk of loosing the dogbone in case of severe incident on the front arms (which is rare). About the differential cup, I replaced the stock ones with Tamiya's reinforced version reference 53218.
Another interesting hop up to improve reliability: the reinforced gear set (reference 54277). The exact same as the bullet-proof stock one, but even more bullet-proof (and black).
54277 M Chassis Reinforced Gear Set
53267 TA03 Ball Differential Set
So why no ball differential? Good question: there is nothing specific for the M-03 chassis but the TA-03's will perfectly do the job (reference 53267). Pros? Lighter, can be set up from stiff to loose, less rotating weight and above all, a smoother and more precise transmission of the motor power. Sounds goof until you check the cons: complex to set up, very frequent maintenance (after each run or so when using big motors), quick wear. Conclusion: keep up with the planetary differential with a reinforced gear set. To keep reliable, stay simple.