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Review: Kyosho TF-5S Kit

Review: Kyosho TF-5S Kit

One of the most popular racing classes at my local track is the RCGT class. The beauty of this class is the scale realism and, no matter how you paint the bodies, you can tell what type of car it is. Add to the mix spoked wheels and spec treaded tires and you have an inexpensive racing class that not only has a bright future but is also fun to participate in.

Kyosho has recently released a sport line of touring sedans (under the Super GT Series name) aimed directly at the RCGT class. These 200mm racers are wider cousins to the already popular TF-5 sedan and include multi-spoked wheels and either a Lexus SC430 or Nismo GT-R body! I chose the Lexus for two reasons; it’s gorgeous and the body is red, white and black (my primary race colors). I headed for the track hoping the performance was as good as the paint scheme.

WHO IT’S FOR Scale on road fanatics
HOW FAST 34.83mph
HOW MUCH $199.99

• The TF-5S rolls on a sealed, shaft-driven drive train. Super smooth ball differentials transfer power to all four tires via steel dogbones. Since the TF-5S uses a 48 pitch pinion and spur gear, changing gear ratios (or finding replacement gears) should be a snap.

• In most cases wider is better, and the TF-5S follows that rule by coming in at 200mm. In addition to increasing stability, a wider car is usually a little easier to drive. This sedan proves both those points while racing around the test track.

Review: Kyosho TF-5S Kit• All of the same tuning options available on any high-end racing car are included with the TF-5S. Camber, caster, toe, anti-squat; you name it, this car has it. This makes this low-cost Super GT a definite candidate for the ever-growing RCGT class. Any spoked wheel will work, as well as any of the racing or RCGT-class tires. In addition, all of Kyosho’s PureTen bodies will drop on without modification. Even the body holes line up perfectly.

• The included G20 Stock motor is pretty fast for general use, and includes a built-in cooling fan for extended run times. If you feel the urge to throw some laps down on a track with this motor, the gearing is good on small to medium tracks. I would suggest gearing up a tooth or two for larger tracks, or even swap out the motor for something a little more dangerous. Any of the current touring car brushless systems will drop right into the TF-5S. Be sure to carefully set your gear mesh before heading out.

Review: Kyosho TF-5S Kit• One thing I liked about the car is that, once built, it feels solid! A lot of the parts don’t just screw together, they are keyed together too. This means that when you crash, parts won’t shift around and cause the dreaded ‘touring-car-tweak’. For those of you that don’t know, touring-car-tweak typically happens when you hit something (a wall, another car, a turn-marshall’s foot). The result is usually a chassis plate or top deck shifting slightly, causing your car to handle poorly. Having keyed parts helps prevent this from happening.

• Once you’ve decaled up the Lexus body you might not want to run it. Sure it will take you over 2-3 hours to complete, but the end result is a stunning replication of the real race car. It really does launch the car into the uber-cool realm. Take your time and you will be rewarded with an absolute masterpiece.

• Amazing body & decals
• Motor & pinion are included
• Includes threaded shocks
• Kit tires have pretty decent traction
• Clear, concise instructions
• 7.87-in. wide chassis makes an easy-to-drive car
• Every Kyosho race car adjustment is available on this car

• Hex screws would be nice
• It’s a bit hefty

• Transmitter and receiver
• Steering servo
• Electronic Speed Control
• Battery Pack
• Body Paint
• Charger

• Futaba 4PK transmitter w/R603FS receiver—item no. FUTK4900, $499
• Hot Bodies servo—DSJ-1SS, $150
• Tekin FX R Pro ESC—TT1093, $140
• Orion 4000mAh LiPo Rocket Pack—ORI14103, $65

14.17 in. (360mm)
WIDTH: 7.87 in. (200mm)
HEIGHT: 4.53 in. (115mm)
WHEELBASE: 10.20 in. (259mm)
WEIGHT: 54.67 oz (1,550g)


• Camber—F &R adjustable length
• Front toe—adjustable link
• Rear toe—optional block
• F/R springs—standard
• Bump-steer—add or subtract shims under steering ball stud
• Droop—droop screws in suspension arms
• Wheelbase—adjustable shims
• Ackermann—adjustable shims
• Main carbon-fiber chassis—TF001
• Carbon-fiber top plate—TF002
• Aluminum spur holder—TFW052
• Triple cap threaded shocks—W5189
• Aluminum suspension holder—TF131

Review: Kyosho TF-5S Kit

Test Venue: West Coast RC Raceway
Condition: High-grip asphalt track with raised islands

Review: Kyosho TF-5S KitSTEERING Neutral
With any car I test, how well it drives through corners is one of the key features for me. As a long-time racer, I like my cars to have fast but neutral steering, so I know what to expect no matter what the circumstances might be. The TF-5S didn’t turn in very well or carry much corner speed, so I brought it back in and gave it a quick once-over. The servo-saver collar was completely loose. I adjusted it to the recommended setting and set the car back on the track to check the steering. With its whopping 458 oz.-in. of torque and 0.06 sec./180 degrees of transit time, the stellar Hot Bodies DSJ-1SS servo now swung the steering rack around like a crazed baton twirler. The Super GT motored well around the track but still felt a little numb in the corners. After about 20 laps, I brought it back to the pits and installed a set of the HPI X-Pattern tires (the spec tire for the RCGT class). Back on the track, the TF-5S felt much better in the corners and still retained its neutral feel. With a little more tuning, this car has definite track potential.

BRAKING Excellent
There is no shortage of stopping power with the Tekin FX-R Pro speed control and 4WD. The FX-R Pro features smooth, adjustable braking that’s amazing in panic situations. The track layout had quite a few short chutes where I had to accelerate hard and stop quickly. I had to panic-stop a number of times to avoid thrashing my beautifully detailed body, and I stopped in the middle of the driving line—even worse. Good thing the FX-R Pro also has great acceleration!

With the G20 stock motor, the TF-5S is snappy with the shaft-drive layout. There is no delay from full finger to full speed. The FX-R Pro provides great acceleration with the Orion 4000mAh Rocket pack. The kit tires work well and, at times, they squeal coming out of corners.

Review: Kyosho TF-5S KitSUSPENSION Excellent
The TF-5S suspension is the same as it is on the carbon-fiber race-ready TF-5. Everything is adjustable, so you can fine-tune your suspension to any track conditions. I made a few adjustments at the track and found that while I could feel the changes, none were so major that it made the TF-5S hard to drive. This means you’d have to make major changes to screw up your setup.

West Coast RC Raceway has a huge, high-grip, indoor asphalt track with raised curbs and painted partitions to define the driving lanes. I didn’t get into much trouble on the day of the test because the G20 stock motor doesn’t have the speed for such a large track. I later went back with a 19-turn brushed motor. After playing with the gearing, I was able to get the TF-5S around the track just a tad behind a few of the fast guys (again, using the RCGT-spec HPI X-pattern tires). At the end of the test, the car was free of problems other than the usual scratches, dings, etc. As with all touring cars, if you take care of it, it will supply you with hours of hassle-free running. The TF-5S did just that.

Review: Kyosho TF-5S KitTIPS
• When attaching the spur gear to the spur-gear holder, be sure to just snug each screw down. If you over-tighten one, it could cause the gear to warp slightly.

• Take your time when you build the shocks. They control the suspension, and if built incorrectly, they will certainly cause your car to handle poorly.

• After assembling the steering rack, make sure it does not bind when you swivel it. If it does not feel free, back the vertical rack screws off slightly and check again.

• Gear mesh from the spur and pinion gear is critical to avoid overheating your electronics. Make sure there is a small gap between these two gears before you tighten down the motor.

The RCGT class is quickly becoming one of the most fun and most competitive classes. To produce a kit that people will purchase, you need to offer a class-specific version of your most competitive racing machine and include all the tuning options racers might need. Then add a set of realistic spoked wheels and high-grip racing slicks. Finally, you have to wrap your creation in a killer package with style and beauty. Kyosho has done all that with the TF-5S. That, my friends, is how you deliver a race-winning vehicle to drivers entering the RCGT class.

Hot Bodies,
Team Orion,

About Tony Phalen

Tony Phalen - As an avid RC enthusiast, Tony has been building, bashing and racing RC Cars for over 25 years. He has raced everything from 1:18th scale trucks to 1:5 scale motorcycles and everything in-between. He's also worked on both sides of the industry fence; working at and with many major manufacturers (as well as being a sponsored driver) to working for a high-profile industry magazine. During this time he has learned many tricks, tips and techniques and has transferred that knowledge to CompetitionX - the most informative RC website on the internet! More articles by Tony Phalen

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