A Serpent Has Slithered Into Your Pit Space
For years 4WD buggy racing has been the upper echelon of competition. Manufacturers struggle to keep ahead of the competition on a day to day basis. If it is new today, for sure it is old tomorrow – that is unless something evolutionary and unique appears from everything else on the market. Serpent has been busy creating what they think is the best option on the open market with their new SDX4 4WD buggy. Let’s get busy and take a closer look at the new entry.
Product: Serpent SDX4 Competition 4WD Buggy
Part #: SER500020
Recommended For: Racers of all skill levels
The chassis is routed from 7075 T6-aluminum and is 2mm thick with a hard-coating. It allows 4 different chassis layout options for any track surface. Also incorporated is a flex tune chassis stiffener along the centerline of the rear part of the car, allowing you to tune the SDX4 from extreme grip all the way to the loose conditions.
The front and rear suspension uses similar suspension arms, but they are unique. They have plastic inserts in them to stiffen their feel; optional carbon fiber inserts are available to really stiffen them up. The suspension arms can also be flipped to access optional lower shock mounting positions.
Simple and efficient was the goal on the SDX4. The diff assemblies are amazing, being multi-part assemblies using the housing, cap and ring gear bolted down with (4) 2mm screws. A quick tip- pre-thread the diff housings with the screws and make sure you bottom them out. If not, it could fool you when installing the correct amount of shims for the ring and pinion, showing that its tightly meshed. The drivetrain on this buggy is amazing; it’s super smooth and very quite. This is a big plus for 13.5T or 17.5T racers. I’m quite pleased.
The steering assembly, along with the built in servo saver, is designed to be space saving, lightweight and efficient. It rides on a full set of bearings, includes optional Ackermann choices and is independent from the chassis brace to help prevent tweaking. There is also a floating servo mount – a very welcomed option.
I installed the new Maclan MMax Pro 160A competition ESC along with the MRR 13.5T brushless motor, a class that is currently sweeping the nation. Power is provided by a Gens Ace 4200mAh, ROAR-approved shorty LiPo. Control is all Futaba; BLS571SV LPF servo for steering, a R204GF-E antenna-less receiver for a super-clean install and my trusty Futaba 4PX in my hands.
Body and Bumpers
The body is sculpted to the bare minimum. It fits tight and low, held in place by 4 mounts on the chassis side rails. Personally, I prefer to use Velcro – it just seems easier than fumbling with body clips. The front bumper has a sleek appearance but offers just enough protection to the aluminum suspension mount and bulkhead.
Serpent’s SDX4 front wheels are unique in that the offset is different, so you’ll need to use those specifically for this car (until someone comes out with aftermarket ones that match). The can source the rears with either the SRX2/SRX4 or, oddly enough, Team Associated’s rear wheel. The Serpent wheels are some of my favorite wheels simply because they hide the wheel nut in the bore. Oh, and both the front and rear mount to standard clamping 12mm hexes.
To test the SDX4, I ventured off to Speed RC in Moorseville, NC for the Cupid’s Revenge monthly trophy race. I had just completed the buggy, painted the body, glued the tires (trackside) and had yet to run a single lap with the car – this was going to be interesting! My first qualifier was actually the first laps on the car and, although I didn’t win, the car was very quick on the track. I was pleasantly surprised in the power of the Maclan combo – the speed and super-quiet operation of the SDX4 made it appear very misleading. I just drove the car as smooth as possible to familiarize myself with both the clay surface and the SDX4 and ended up qualifying 5th overall (with qual points) out of about 25 4WD buggies. Everyone was just as impressed as I was. Throughout the day, I made small setup changes and progressively became more and more competitive.
Speed and Braking
Between the Maclan MMax Pro ESC, MRR 13.5T motor and the Gens Ace LiPo, I felt like I was running a much more aggressive motor combo. When there was a opportunity to open it up I did and found some of my laps times to be quicker than some of the guys with 6.5T (or hotter) motors – probably because it was so easy and smooth to drive. I have to say, though; by the end of the day, my tires still looked brand new. The same can’t be said for theirs!
The brakes, set at 100%, had enough stopping power to flip me forward if I wasn’t careful, so I fired through the easy menu system on the my Futaba 4PX and set the max brakes to 45%. This still slowed the buggy and allowed me drive through the next part of the track. Dialed!
Steering and Handling
For not have a terribly long time testing this car, it had me feeling confident enough that I could push it harder and harder every round. By the end of the day, I was easily clicking off fast-guy lap times. The suspension package is very good but in my opinion, a good selection of pistons and springs should remain in the pit box for tuning options for your own track. I only mention this because I had to do some tweaking on my SDX4 away from the kit setup.
Durability and Maintenance
When pushing the envelope for lighter and faster parts, some things have got to be sacrificed. Usually that’s durability, but when pro-level drivers can’t make one lap at the major race, what’s the sense? I can promise you this, it will be a long time before you break this buggy – I feel it will wear out before failure of a part. The design is there; 4mm shock towers, the amazing bulkheads, the monocoque arms with stiffeners … Serpent has done their home work on durability.
Serpent has made the chassis very compliant in terms of options for alternate layouts and flex characteristics. All the standard tuning options are available plus a few others; the suspension arms can be swapped front to rear and shocks can be moved forward or rearward. Serpent also sells options parts for additional tuning; suspension blocks, hubs and caster blocks. This is probably the only thing I don’t care for on the whole design but, as far as I can tell, the optional parts haven’t been needed on surfaces I’ve run on. The SDX4 has been a solid performer worldwide from the box to the track.
Serpent has done something special with this kit. Instead of printing a hard copy of the manual, they included a memory stick that has the manual on it. Probably a money-saver, but the downside is you’ll need a computer next to you during your build of the buggy.
• Brushless ESC
• Brushless Motor
• Shorty LiPo Battery
• Radio System
• Wheels and Tires
• Futaba BLS571SV Steering Servo
• Maclan MMax Pro Competition ESC
• Maclan MRR 13.5T Brushless Motor
• Gens Ace 4200mAh 60C Shorty LiPo
• Futaba 4PX
• JConcepts Barcodes – Gold Compound
• Garcia Graphix Paint Work
Power Source: Electric
Length: 14.9″ (380mm)
Width: 9.4″ (240mm)
Wheelbase: 11.3″ (288mm)
Weight: 3.8lbs (1740g)
Type: Flat plate
Material: 7075 T6 aluminum
Type: 4-wheel independent
Camber: Adjustable turnbuckles
Roll: Adjustable ball stud heights
Wheelbase: Adjustable with shims
Shocks: Emulsion-based, threaded aluminum bodies
Steering: Dual bellcrank
Turnbuckles: Adjustable turnbuckles
Clutch: Center adjustable slipper
Differentials: Fluid-filled gear
Bearings: Precision sealed
Gearing: Optional pinion gears
Body: Clear Lexan
Wing: Clear Lexan
Wheel hex: 12mm hex
Tires: Not included
• Sleek, sexy design
• Unique design allows multiple chassis layouts
• Beautiful aluminum and carbon fiber parts
• Closed-type suspension arms with optional stiffener inserts
• Silky-smooth, big bore threaded shocks
• Easy access center diff with integrated slipper clutch
• Clean body shape without a lot of external ribbing
• Floating servo system
• Manual comes in PDF form on an included USB stick
• No tuning inserts
Gens Ace, www.GensAce.com
Maclan Racing, www.Maclan-Racing.com
Garcia Graphix, www.facebook.com/GarciaGraphix2016/