Axial Visits ICON Vehicle Dynamics

You have probably noticed a lot more full size off-road company names featured on Axial vehicles as of late. These names are not just another marketing ploy, but instead relationships that Axial has developed to bring you the best products we can. We all know that R/C vehicles are scale representations of full size vehicles, so isn’t it natural that Axial would want to work with full size companies to make their products as accurate as possible? There are obviously components that can not be made to scale, due to the abuse that an R/C vehicle will see, which is way more intense than a full size rig would endure. Take an R/C car and let it tubmle off a 10′ rock, which would be scaled to a 100′ rock in full scale, where a full size vehicle would be literally totaled and made into scrap metal; your Axial rig keeps on ticking. So as you can imagine, not all components scale out just right. The theory however, when it comes to suspension geometry and suspension tuning crosses over extremely well. The Axial staff recently ventured out to Riverside, California to have a technical chat with Dylan Evans and company at ICON Vehicle Dynamics so I tagged along to bring you the scoop!

ICON Vehicle Dynamics is a very unique company staffed with some of the most talented suspension development experts in the nation. Headed up by SCORE off road racing champion Dylan Evans, who also knows rock crawling through his membership of the Poly Goats Four Wheel Drive Club of Cal Poly SLO; Evans and company know a thing or two about how to deal with rough terrain at all speeds. As the name implies, this company focuses on the unique characteristics of each vehicles dynamics (forces causing motion), and how to improve that vehicles ability to tackle rough terrain while significantly improving ride quality.

ICON Vehicle Dynamics is further unique due to their manufacturing process, which all takes place “in house” at their Riverside, Ca facility. The ICON Vehicle Dynamics philosophy demands the use of the highest quality raw materials available, construct the products in the USA and deliver to the consumer the best mix of top-shelf product and customer service. This philosophy has made ICON Vehicle Dynamics stand out in a sea of aftermarket companies and has them labelled as the place to go if you demand the best available.

Cool ICON Decal!

Here is a short video they have as an introductory to their company, check it out!

We started out our visit with ICON Vehicle Dynamics in their large meeting room, where we met with the marketing staff, the general manager, and the engineering staff. This gave both companies an opportunity to discuss the similarities between the two companies. It is amazing how we share the same customers and the same passion for the off road lifestyle

After the meeting, we were off to the warehouse and shop area to check out where the magic happens. I made a few pit stops on the way out of the offices to snap a few pictures of some cool stuff I saw laying around.

Very high tech Bypass shock for off-road racing

Our Axial EXO proudly on display!

The SCX10 Honcho articulated in the office

The line-up of Axial vehicles featuring ICON branding

I decided to peak out the windows from the upstairs office and sneak a few shots of the facility from a bird’s eye view.
Check out all those CnC machines!!

Our shop tour started in the warehouse where they house some of the stock, getting ready to be shipped out, It was amazing to see how many different products they stock, and to hear about how the shelves get refilled almost every day as product is shipped out.

The manufacturing side is what really had us drooling! These guys make some really impressive components.

Everything about ICON Vehicle Dynamics, from their design process, to the manufacturing all the way to packaging, is top notch! We were really looking forward to checking out the shock department, as these guys are known for mastering the ride quality as well as performance.

shock shafts for days!!

Bypass shock bodies freshly welded

Mounting sets ready for assembly

Resivoirs ready to be added

Here is Dylan discussing shock tuning with Axial’s Jeff Johns, Matt Kearney, Brandon Coonce and Jamie Seymour.

Not sure if you caught our blog on the SCX10JK where we installed the ICON suspension system (If not click here to read it), but we were running and testing some of their compression clicker shocks. We figured since we were here, we should go ahead and remove them to see how they were doing, as well as make a slight valving adjustment. We pulled the SCX10JK up in the shop, and Adrian (shock building master) got to work.

The first step was to remove all of the shocks

Once the shocks were off of the vehicle, Adrian set up the shock dyno, yes I said shock dyno! This is where these guys take technology to the next level to put their experience into scientific numbers.

The numbers from the shock are then placed on a graph in real time on a computer screen

The objective of the change was to make the shocks 25% lighter on the compression valving to make the clickers more effective through their range of adjustment. We found that the SCX10JK never went above 6-clicks even in the harshest of terrain. We had the pleasure of watching Dylan and Adrian work their magic on the Dyno and out in the shop as they dissassembled and re-assembled the shocks for the adjustments. We will let the pictures tell most of the story…

The shock pistons look quite a lot different than the average R/C shock piston. These pistons have valve shims that are designed to flex out of the way of piston holes to let fluid pass. The one unique feature of full size ICON shocks is their very drastic difference in tunability between compression and rebound settings. Were we would normally make changes in the R/C world with oil viscosity, these guys make changes with shims. They have been doing it long enough to know what shim stack will make the desired change, and only have to tear them down once and get it dialed in perfect!

The seal heads are similar to the R/C versions, here is a cut away version of the ICON seal head

Once the shocks are completely reassembled, it’s back to the dyno for a comparison check from the original numbers

Dylan fires up the dyno and then checks the graph on the lap top and confirms they are good to go!

While Adrian re-installs the shocks on the SCX10JK, Dylan, Brandon and Matt discuss some of the suspension tuning Dylan has been doing on his Axial EXO and Wraith. Dylan is also an R/C enthusiast and really gets into the deep technical theory conversation with Matt and Brandon.

It was extremely cool to be a fly on the wall while the head of R&D from both of these companies exchange theories and ideas. It will be very interesting to see where this corroboration leads in the future. One thing for sure, with Partners like ICON Vehicle Dynamics, there will not be an issue gathering insight into the full size world when developing the next Axial vehicles.

Thank you Dylan and Crew at Icon Vehicle Dynamics, we appreciate your hospitality, and look forward to future visits!

Please check out ICON Vehicle Dynamics on the web here.

 

Story by: Recce01
Photos: GCRad1

 

The Full Size Connection

Axial is different than any company I have ever worked with before. These guys are the real deal enthusiasts; the parking lot at the Axial offices is regularly decorated with capable off-road trail rigs. This enthusiasm for full scale adventure translates directly into the scale products we have all come to enjoy.

While hanging around the office after hours, a conversation sparked up about full size trail rigs. The VP of Axial, Jeff Johns had recently parted company with his 99 Jeep TJ and was in the market for a new rig. The debate immediately kicked off as to what vehicle he should build next, and the opinions were all over the map. Eventually the discussion led where every good 4×4 discussion leads, right into the age old Jeep vs. Toyota battle. The strongest argument going was the idea of building a full size Honcho, which would be really cool! We could model the bed and cage exactly like our 1/10 Honcho and hit the trail with a full size SCX10.

With this debate in full swing regarding a new trail rig for Jeff, I started looking into the full size vehicles owned by the guys behind the Axial brand, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. One of the reasons this brand is so successful is because they are authentic. Authentic to the point that when they are not on a scale trail run with their Axial rigs, they are on the full size trail with their 1:1 rig enjoying the outdoor life with their families. To illustrate this, I thought I would share a few shots of the rigs owned and enjoyed by the Axial staff and Axial team members…. check it out!!

Axial Employee 1:1 rigs:

Here is the 99 Jeep TJ that Jeff Johns [Axial Vice President] had to let go due to room constraints. This rig was really well prepared, I am sure he is sorry to see it go!

 

Here are some shots of Matt Kearney’s [Axial's VP of Product Design] 1973 Ford Bronco Ranger out on the trail.

 

This is the 1992 80 Series Landcruiser that belongs to Rodney Wills [Axial Global Marketing Director].

Here is our resident Jeep JK expert Randall Davis’ 2007 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited [Axial Logistics / IT]

 

Randall even has a “proper” custom hood ornament!!!

Brad “Bender” Dumont [Axial Marketing Department] recently let his Jeep go as well while preparing for a new addition to his family. We expect to see him back in the game soon, either way we couldn’t leave out his 99 Jeep Wrangler TJ

Andrew Obannon [Axial Sales Assistant] is one of the more hardcore wheelers of the group, he isnt scared to take his 85 Toyota 4Runner through its paces and then some!

 

And then there is your humble scribe, Scott G. [Marketing Special Projects] and my 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee (or soccer mom station wagon as it get called on the trail)
First a shot of my 93, from back in the day…

and my 98 I am working on bringing back to proper spec.

 

Dont hate on the station wagon!!

The influence and direction of this company not only comes from internal, but also from a huge support network out on the trails. Our Axial team drivers are selected for their knowlege, not only in the scale 4×4 world, but also for their depth of knowlege in the 1:1 field. It is the goal of Axial to bring the most authentic experience to our customers and fans, and we feel our team drivers really assist and compliment this mission and contribute significantly to all of our success. Check out some of these guys in action!

Axial Team driver 1:1 rigs:

The one and only Brian Parker, he is usually out influencing the market with his passion for events and the outdoor lifestyle. So where does he get his motivation from? From spending time out in nature with good friends enjoying his off-road vehicles. His 83 toyota called “Lexus” is his favorite rig, it is said to be “powered by chevy, geared by Toyota and driven by a Jeeper” … Only Parker!

It’s all about getting away from civilization and exploring earth with friends…. Parker loves his Yamaha Grizzly 660.

Ryan Gerrish…. This man has owned so many vehicles that are on our wish list…… here are just a few!

Our man Zach Chatelain, he is always at the top of the leader board in the scale comp scene, and he knows how to get around in the back woods in his 2011 Toyota Tacoma!

Here is Dean Hsiao frequenting the trails that the world famous “King of the Hammers” are held on in Johnson Valley in his beloved 1983 Toyots SR5, ya, he’s not scared either!!

Then we have Patrick Norton, another scale crawling master showing us the ultimate location for him to show off his 2004 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, We wanna go!!

 

Check out Jake Wright and his Toyota Tuber going for it on the rocks!

Our Man Mark Reel is rocking a 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Ok Jeff, you have quite the decision ahead of you. I guess the good news is that no matter what vehicle you choose to build, there will never be a shortage of friends to hit the trail with!!

Birth of the EXO Terra Buggy

The Wraith™ gave Axial it’s first taste of speed, and while speed was not the total pursuit principle of the Wraith, we still sought after more.
Axial Wraith; Telling of the EXO Terra Buggy Story

Axial’s R&D team started with a clean slate and took an in depth look at the off-road desert scene before starting the EXO Terra Buggy project.
Desert Trip Nov 2011
ICON Vehicle Dynamics
ICON Vehicle Dynamics
ICON Vehicle Dynamics
The design conclusion was, that if money was no object then we wanted the best of best and best of each type of desert rig. Plain and simple, trophy trucks are cool! But a Class-1 buggy is more practical and would easily allow a design to consist of four-seats much like a fun sand car. You could simply say it is a four seater sand car, but we all know that sand cars do not work in the desert and while a full-size 1:1 with 4WD is crazy expensive, this is our dream and we wanted our dream rig to be 4X4! Yes, we know the EXO does not exsist in the 1:1 world, and that is exactly what we intended – TO DREAM! Just not to the moon.

Axial worked directly with Hankook for tire development:
Axial version Hankook Dynapro A/T
Paul Jho of Hankook checks out the Axial Version Hankook Dynapro M/T
Paul Jho of Hankook checks out the Axial R/C version of Hankook Dynapro M/T.

Four Wheeler April 2011
Hankook? Off-Road? Did anyone read the April 2011 issue of FOURWHEELER magazine? The Hankook Dynapro MT was crowned FIRST PLACE in the Ten-Way Tough-Tread Shootout!

Matt Kearney of Axial Inc
Matt Kearney, Head Of Research And Development at Axial Inc. Many of you know him simply as “AXIAL” on the RCC-network. His desk is never this messy, I just fixed it up like this so you can treasure hunt for hidden items…

Brandon Coonce of Axial Racing
Brandon Coonce, R&D Product Designer at Axial Inc. He is the Lead Designer for the EXO Terra Buggy project; has a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from University of the Pacific. I think there is a running joke that he is “son of Badger” on RCcrawler.com I need to investigate that story more, but without a doubt, Brandon is super talented and very nice too! He also lead the design team on the XR10.

Jamie Seymour of Axial Inc
Jamie Seymour R&D Product Designer at Axial Inc. Jamie was the Body Designer for the EXO project – he has a Bachelor of Science in Transportation Design from world renowned Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. From pencil to pixels, then add in some drums as Jamie is our resident band member.

Axial Meeting
The Axial team made several decisions even down to the body details as we wanted to create something that look as modern if not more so than anything already existing in the full-size market. We think our man Jamie created what has to been the coolest looking body we have seen in some time! Any full-size companies looking to us for inspiration would be an honor!
AXIAL EXO Concept Drawing by Jamie Seymour

Axial has a mixed and varied passion for rocks. Previously we have only shown you how we like climbing on them… But we also like spitting them too!
Axial EXO Terra Buggy Rock Splash
And we try to creatively capture and show things as well, such as with this image. Yes, we takes lots of pictures and we like to tease you with images from our testing sessions.

Axial EXO Terra Buggy AX90015
The product has been blessed by a Baja Champion.

Axial EXO Terra Buggy AX90015
Rory Ward of Racers Only: cartoonist, communicator and “historian” for the off road community, has given his blessing to the EXO™. He even knocked out this little drawing for us! Who the hell is Rory Ward of Racers Only? Check this out: http://axialracing.com/wordpress/2011/10/24/rory-of-racers-only/

Hundreds of hours of research and development in new directions for Axial resulting in what is called the EXO™ Terra Buggy.
Axial EXO Terra Buggy AX90015
The result of all this passion, time and creativity have resulted into a new tool for the “toolbox” as we’ve expanded our arsenal.

Axial – Bringing Dreams To Reality Faster!™

Check out the product page:
AX90015 Axial EXO™ – 1/10th Scale Electric 4WD Terra Buggy – Kit

The Official Axial EXO Terra Buggy Video