By Joe Adragna
The new wave is here: lay down transmissions for 2WD buggies. It’s the next evolution of the hottest class in RC, so I took the time to break down the differences of opinions, costs, and feelings on how a few manufacturers are using different roads to accomplish the same result. The lay down movement is a reflection of high-bite tracks, both packed clay and artificial surfaces like clay and astroturf, which have become the norm for so many in this hobby.
Before the IFMAR Worlds at Yatabe arena, most Americans chalked the then-little-known “carpet spec” forward-motor cars as something that’s only useful on that surface. Soon after the Worlds, though, there were public releases of the Redworkshop conversions, purportedly used by several racers at the Worlds.
Still, the fire had yet to sweep through the USA until other brands came to market with results stateside that seemed promising. Xray and Yokomo soon released specially built cars just for carpet in the XB2 CE and the YZ-2 CA.
Then, TLR and Kyosho both began producing conversions for their own cars - albeit in two very different forms.
Aside from the differences between lay down, three-gear transmissions versus inline motor mounts and driveshafts, these releases pitted two schools of thought against one another; would the conversion of a current car be the best option, or would a newly designed platform have the most advantage? Soon after the Cactus Classic, rumors began swirling about a big change to the TLR 22 3.0. The kit was released with a traditional stand-up 3 gear transmission, but four months after the release of their brand new car, Team Losi Racing announced and released a conversion for the 3.0 which includes a new chassis, hubs, and transmission to transform the dirt-ready buggy into the car that the team ran on the turf in Japan.
They weren’t the first, however - Exotek released a conversion for the 22 3.0 at a much lower price point than most, and offered a full CNC Billet Alloy case.
The Exotek all billet alloy transmission looks trick, and carries a significantly lower price tag than most conversions.
There are more options than ever for drivers to choose the car that best suits your driving style and track conditions. Some have even commented on social media that, after the announcement of the RC10B6 and B6D from Team Associated, that they’d purchase one car and the required parts to convert back and forth. This launched a question: what is the better avenue, the conversion or the whole new platform?
A look inside the new Team Associated Stealth laydown transmission.
B6 engineer Kody Numendahl stated several times in Team Associated promotional video that the only way they could accomplish their goal of the perfect LCG car was to go ahead with an all-new redesign.
Frank Root and TLR said the biggest key to the LCG car on their platform is the change in roll-center of their new hubs.
Meanwhile, WWHD and Exotek, two aftermarket brands that released optional transmission conversions for popular buggies, are convinced this is the best method. I polled some friends of mine about how they feel about their cars, as well as an outline of their experiences and that of their sponsors.
The WWHD transmission, developed by Arizona stock racer Humpty Helms,
has been a favorite among spec-class entrants since its release.
Chris Wheeler, TLR factory driver who races at SRS Raceway:
"I have been running the laydown 3.0 car in modified since the week of the Pro-Line Cactus Classic at SRS raceway. TLR air-mailed in a few pre-production kits and I was fortunate enough to receive one. Right away I noticed I was able to push the car harder and it had a much larger amount of corner speed."
Matthew Gonzales, 17.5-class hotshot at SDRC, runs the WWHD system in a RC10B5M:
"I've done a lot of comparisons over the past few weeks with the lay down tranny. I built a stand-up car to test to see which one was faster. The lay down car’s corner speed is unbelievable. It's an advantage for sure in stock racing if the traction is there and the setup is correct."
Tommy Hinz, Team Associated factory driver who races at SRS Raceway:
"Overall, on a high grip track, the lay down car is just plain faster. It does everything better: jumping, cornering, and the overall feel is better."
So this leaves me to my last point; what’s going to be the cost of the new wave in tech? On the conversion side, this is what you’re looking at after you’ve purchased the initial kit:
|Conversion kit||Cost||Cost of base kit||Total|
|TLR 22 3.0 conversion||$180*||$330*||$510|
|Exotek Racing TLR 22 3.0 conversion||$90||$330*||$420|
|WWHD conversion for B5M||$200||Discontinued||N/A|
|Kyosho RZ6 conversion||$280**||$400**||$680|
There’s the other option, which is the purchase of the purpose built kits:
|Yokomo YZ-2 CA||$350|
|Team Associated RC10B6||$310|
|XRAY XB2 Carpet Edition||$350|
**Cost from www.amainhobbies.com
Clearly, buying a dedicated kit is cheaper than purchasing a kit and then an additional conversion, but it's worth noting that converting a car with a "stand-up" transmission does mean you'd have the ability to switch back and forth for different tracks - which, if you're like most racers who don't have an unlimited budget, is still cheaper than buying two complete cars. However, the setup changes required to go from one configuration to the other may require a full rebuild.
The costs and benefits of the new wave of cars is always going to fall on you, the racer, and the conditions of your local track are still the biggest factor in choosing if the investment will be worth it. If you’re fighting at the front for A-Main wins in an advanced class on a high bite track, I’d recommend you take a long look at these platforms. If you’re a mid-pack 17.5 racer on an outdoor track, like myself, a lay down isn’t going to be your best option - yet.
Joe currently races an XRAY XB2 Dirt Edition.