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Review: Vertigo Performance Hex-Drive Vented Clutch Bell and Pinion System

Scrap Your Stock Gearing For Vertigo’s Awesome Hex-Drive Setup

Review: Vertigo Performance Hex-Drive Vented Clutch Bell and Pinion System

If you’re a hardcore 1:5th scale racer, you’re probably always on the prowl for something that will give you the advantage on the track as well as maintenance time in the pits. One weak point of the HPI Baja line is the puny M4 bolt that holds the pinion to the clutch bell. It’s weak and, as I’m sure you’ve encountered, can break easily, sending you back to the pits just before you cross the line to win the race! On top of that, when it’s time for maintenance, you have to blindly press the pinion through the outer bearing and key it to the clutch bell. Even if the parts are new and un-marred, it can be a chore that will certainly make you think twice before messing with them again.

All of the above issues have become a thing of the past thanks to Vertigo Performance’s Hex-Drive Vented Clutch Bell and Pinion System. Let’s give it a look.

Manufacturer: Vertigo Performance
Product: Hex Drive Vented Clutch Bell with 17t Pinion Gear
Part #: 61652-17
Price: $59.95

What’s in the Box
The Vertigo Performance Hex-Drive Clutch Bell System comes with a beautifully-constructed, steel clutch bell, a precision hardened pinion gear, lock washer and locknut. The pinion is quite different that a stock unit; it doesn’t have the dinky hole running through it with the keyed surface. Instead, it has a rather large hex drilled into it that keys to the hex on the clutch bell. This setup not only provides maximum surface area contact, it also makes installation alot easier. The pinion also has the tooth number and the Vertigo name stamped on the back, a nice touch that makes identifying pinions a breeze.

The clutch bell has also been given a major reworking over the stock HPI part. A 7mm shaft extends from the bell’s face and no longer requires a screw to keep the pinion in place. Instead, a locknut threads onto the shaft and pinches a stout lock washer to the pinion, keeping everything incredibly secure. Because of the size of the locknut (and shaft), you can use quite a bit of brute force to tighten it down without fear of snapping any parts. Cooling can be an issue with HPI’s clutch system as well, but Vertigo has addressed this with the addition of large vents cut into the corners of the clutch bell, allowing cooling air in while allowing any debris to fling out.

How it Works
Basically, you’re replacing the clutch bell and pinion, so you’ll need to get your hands dirty ripping the rear of your 5B or 5T apart to get to them. Once apart, simply slide the Vertigo vented clutch bell in place, re-assemble the rear of the buggy (or truck) and attach the pinion. The clutch bell works with the stock parts as well as most aftermarket clutch covers and carriers. The mesh is spot on and there isn’t any additional noise, something I’ve experienced with other aftermarket pinions. One added bonus is the fact that you can check the wear on your clutch without having to remove anything other than possibly the gear cover (a flashlight can be handy here).

In a nutshell, you’re not going to find a better clutch bell system for the HPI vehicle, period. This setup has so many advantages over the stock setup that I challenge you to find something that isn’t awesome about it. I’ve run one of these on my 5B, my 5T and a 5B I converted to a Dirt Oval car and haven’t had one issue with parts failure, and I run my cars hard! Simplify your Baja maintenance. Get one of Vertigo Performance’s Hex-Drive Vented Clutch Bell and Pinion systems. And, while you’re at it, pick up a few more pinions in different sizes.

Price: 8.9
Fit and Finish: 9.2
Installation : 1=Complicated – 10=Easy: 5
Durability: 8.6
Value: 8.4

Vertigo Performance,

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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  1. “Works with most clutch carriers”. Will it work with the Turtle Racing V2.

  2. Unfortunately, no. The clutch bell has a 12mm shaft, the TR V2 carrier accepts a 15mm clutch bell.

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