Why the Tekno DB48 is better than a $500 RTR Rock Racer

I wanted to share my story on how the Tekno DB48 came about and why it’s such a great alternative to many of the $500 RTR’s out there that share the same looks but are a far cry in performance. Even before I started Racing U4RC, I had a vision of a durable rock racer that still looked the part but could take a fair amount of abuse while running and crawling in the rocks. This is how the vision of the Tekno DB48 came to be.

The Axial Yeti

It first started in January 2015 when I finished my first Axial Yeti dubbed the “not so RTR”. It was far from stock and after over $1,000 in upgrades alone it operated okay. It still had issues like sloppy steering, front A arm pivots and bent rear driveshafts, but it was finally what I wanted in a Yeti.

After many years of messing with the Axial Yeti and building 3 of them, it was the closest thing that the Rock Racers had (without a custom build) as far as a “go fast” RC that could handle the demands of U4.

Being a long time 1/8th scale buggy driver/modifier, I always wanted my Yeti to drive like a 1/8th scale buggy. 1/8th scale buggies are probably one of the best handling and weight to power ratio RC’s on the market. So in November 2016, I had an idea of taking a Tekno EB48.3 and attaching a cage to the chassis. It seemed easier than it looks but I sat and thought about this for months.


Prior to starting the 2017 U4RC Summer Series, I stopped by the famous fabricator, Lue Lee at Mattzilla Designs in February. Visiting Lue is an all day affair, so I brought some show and tell items like my brand new built Tekno EB48.4 and we enjoyed Lue’s favorite drink….Bud Lite. I convinced Lue to let me mock up a WraithZilla chassis on the EB48.4 and after some disassembly, I made it look like this:

Tekno DB48 Better EB48.4 Wraithzilla cage

It wasn’t perfect and after drooling over these photos for a couple of months, I realized making something that drove like an 1/8th scale buggy and looked like a rock racer was going to be tough due to the rules governed by U4RC. They call for a locked center transmission that has no differential action like 1/8th scale buggies in the 2.2” Trophy Class. I also had issues with the 17mm hexed wheel hubs, as there’s not many options on wheels and tires for 17mm hex.

The Losi Rock Rey

Let’s back up a couple of months and look at the Losi Rock Rey that unveiled in December 2016 and hit the streets early 2017. It looked to be the answer of many people’s longing for a well driving Rock Racer. With Losi’s Long history of 1/8th scale buggies, everyone was hoping for the best. I started my Rock Rey project in March 2017, literally a few days before my first U4RC race. Although I didn’t race it at first, it looked very good.  The initial testing went well and after a few modifications (all new race electronics, wheels/tires and some custom panels) I gave it it’s maiden voyage for racing in the brand new 2.2” Unlimited Class in June 2017 and walked away with my highest finish of second next to the series leader in Indy.

Tekno DB48 Better Rock Rey
Tekno DB48 Better Rock Rey Podium

The Rock Rey quickly lost its “brand new feel” and needed parts that weren’t available (like differential bevels) and other issues that plagued the Rock Rey, like just working on it. For Summer Nationals in August of 2017, I had one of my worst finishes with all four cars breaking (Bomber, Yeti/Rock Rey and Nomad) and not one podium finish to speak about. I drove home with the intention of not racing anymore.


Tekno SCT410.3

I wanted a new project but I was setting out in uncharted waters. I started out in September 2017 building the Tekno SCT410.3. I also turned on the cameras in hopes that it would all work out. Tekno vehicles always go together easy and I mocked up my 2.2” Hyrax Tires and the Yeti cage and it just looked completely wrong. It looked like one of those VW buses that had the chassis shortened – it just wasn’t right. The wheelbase was off by 2” so I had some wiggle room to hit the max of 15” for the Unlimited Class. I contacted Tekno and let them know my thoughts and they were skeptical, but gave me some solid help on the parts that would be needed to make my dream Rock Racer come true and lengthen the chassis to make it right.

Tekno DB48 Better Yeti Cage on Tekno 1
Tekno DB48 Better Yeti vs Tekno SCT410.3 chassis

The Tekno DB48 is Born

The Sept 30th 2017 U4RC Race was coming fast and all I had was an expensive chassis, no cage and a lot of questions if it would even work. With about a week left to wrench, I decided on the Team Associated Nomad cage, as it was about 2” longer than the Yeti. Electronics went to Tekin and Hitec and I guessed at running a Pro4HD 3000kv Motor on 3s and a 15t pinion. I left the shock oil stock and bumped the center diff to 500,000 wt oil to help transfer power for the rock sections.

I still had a ton of questions, what do I do for the body?  How to attach the cage?  Will it even drive?

Tekno DB48 Better Nomad cage on chassis

Building the DB48

I started to fabricate .025” Aluminum panels as I had on the Yeti and Rock Rey – they’re simple and quick to make now. The cage will be my only issue on how to attach, but I figured worse case…..zip ties.

Tekno DB48 Better Pic of panels

Lastly, the wheels. The fronts mounted pretty easy using 600SLW hubs on Vanquish Product KMC Bully 1.25” canned wheels. I met the 13.25” (at the time….it’s been widened to 13.5” now) width requirement, but the rears were giving me trouble. I spent the better part of a day mounting and remounting wheels, tires, cans, SLW hubs to find the perfect combination.  I ended up using some old CarterFab Machine 1” cans on the VP wheels, but with 725SLW hubs to make it to the 13.25” rule. (You can now just use stock 1.25” VP wheels with 850SLW hubs with the new rule)

Tekno DB48 Better Wheel Options

It was about 9pm now the day before the race and I hadn’t even fired up the rig. There were issues. I wired in a brand new RX8 Gen2 and figured I could update it with the brand new HotWire 3….not so quick. It wasn’t using the newest firmware to run HW3. I had to run it over to my buddies house (with a windows computer) to update the firmware. I also hadn’t shot the concluding segment of the DB48 (I came up with this name much later). So, I wrapped up filming, dropped off the rig and hit the hay about 1:30am.

Race Day with the DB48

I drove an hour out to the race and was quick to set up at about 7am. Little to my surprise, two other racers built Tekno based rock racers, but not to the DB48’s larger footprint. They were Stock SCT410.3 Chassis with SCT wheels and tires. One had a Losi SCBE cage and wing and the other was based on a Yeti. Now the pressure is on….my rig wasn’t even here yet (my buddy was programming it the night before and bringing it) I hadn’t even fitted the cage or tested the speed with the pinion.

Tekno DB48 Better Tekno on the track

Judgement time had come and the first qualifying heat at 9am. I didn’t even test it before the heat. It was time to see if all the work was worth it.

How it Drove

I could quickly tell that it was easy to drive, cornered well and lost no traction/torque twist if you punch the throttle down the straights (like you feel with a locked center/rear car). It drove like an 1/8th scale buggy!  Now the rock sections – it conquered any path!  You no longer had to pick your lines or worry about getting hung up…just drive right through them!  I was laying down lap after lap of consistent times. I ended up with Top Qualifier in the qualifying heats and started on the pole.

Tekno DB48 Better Tekno on the table


The Main was nerve racking – I did nothing besides charge the battery and double check everything was okay. The formula was perfect. I started off with a slight bobble at the first rock garden and never looked back. I laid down consistent laps and kept pulling further and further away from the pack. I had a clear winner.

Tekno DB48 Better 1st PLace Podium - 1st race

The next three races provided similar results with a 2nd place (serious battle with another racer and a couple of driver mistakes on my part) another 1st place finish and a 3rd place finish battling two other DB48’s!  I’m glad to report ZERO breakages or worn down parts after 8 Qualifiers, 4 races and many other film shoots.

Tekno DB48 Better 1st place Podium 3rd race
Tekno DB48 Better 2nd Place Podium 2nd Race
Tekno DB48 Better 3rd Place Podium - 4th Race

In the end, you’re looking at a little over $1,300 for a high end (Tekin, Pro-Line, Vanquish and Hitec) custom build (minus battery and radio) that can dominate any U4RC track or general bashing. It’s Tekno tough with a racing pedigree and is highly adjustable. There’s just nothing like it from any manufacturer – and the sad thing is….my Yeti cost more than this!

Tekno DB48 Better Other DB48 3
Tekno DB48 Better Other DB48 7
Tekno DB48 Better Other DB48's 2
Tekno DB48 Better Other DB48 4
Tekno DB48 Better Other DB48 8
Tekno DB48 Better Other DB48's 1
Tekno DB48 Better Other DB48 5
Tekno DB48 Better Other DB48 9
Tekno DB48 Better Other DB48 6

Now in January 2018 after several months, hobbyists from across the globe are building the RC called the DB48. Some are racers, some are bashers. One guy wants it to look pretty on a shelf.  Which ever hobbyist you are, I think we found the unicorn in the woods with the DB48.

One Comment:

  1. Rich, I really enjoyed this compilation of your progress towards an ultimate U4RC racer. Kudo’s for a great job. However since I have owned one for years I’m thinking that what you wound up with was a Losi version of the Axial EXO Terra???? You did one long ago when first starting out and I enjoyed yours and Jangs video’s on that vehicle. Since you’ve been competing in this class has anyone given it a go with the EXO and if so how did it do. (don’t know if it would meet the rules) I know that mind has proven to be somewhat fragile but I’m still improving it as of a couple of days ago adding front locker. I am also finding parts harder and harder to come by. I need both left and right tubular cage’s as well as the top one. Anyway keep on truckin’ or whatever’ rhymes. Cancun Tom

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