So I have had a TRF 101 sitting around waiting to be completed for a few months. It's been out for a while, and there is now the TRF 101W as well, though it's 200mm. The biggest change is the front end in comparison to the F104 front end.
I was a little unsure on the new front end in that I was used to the parameters I could use to tune the F104 front end. The TRF setup is a lot like the old F103 standard front end or an Associated "old school" front end. About all you can really change is the camber, spring, and the amount of flex.
Tuesday I was headed up to the local track (fresh rug ..yeah!) for a little practice time, and I was waiting on parts for my other car. The TRF just needed to be finished off, so I decided to bring it and get some time on the track. The setup was pretty standard to what I have run on Tamiya link cars, possibly outside of angling the links which was not possible before. The front of the link was all the way to the inside, the rear in the middle hole with the spring on the rear of the link.
As far as the front end, I set it for max camber just to see what that would do. The car was lifting tires all over the place. It really didn't want to traction roll too much, but it was losing drive off the corner. The track was medium traction, so I knew it would only get worse. I switched to the lesser camber setting and that was just right.
I also wanted to test what would happen with o rings under the upper suspension screws. Potentially it could add some steering, or affect the feel of the car. Using some soft clear o rings and setting the screws to put a moderate squeeze on the o rings, the car was less reactive, but at first I thought it lost some bite on the front end. Going back to a "bolted down" front end definitely brought the reaction back, but not necessarily the steering. I think I was thrown by the fact that it had a mellow steering feel. The added flex has a little more steering, at least in the conditions at my track.
At the same time, I wasn't wholly satisfied with the the way the car was working. Don't get me wrong, it was actually incredibly good for having been set on the track for the first time. Lap times were right where they should be for F1. I felt like I wanted to get between a solid front end and the soft o rings, so I replaced what I had with the hard black O rings that come with Tamiya kits.
Back on the track, this was just what I was looking for. The steering was there and it was pretty easy to drive. The lap times came consistently without pushing hard.
At the other end of the car, I just wanted to see what could be done with the links. Normally, the angled link is a bit more stable getting on the power but will help the car wrap the corner. The car was very stable overall, so I thought straightening the link might help get the car through the corner a little more on power.
So with both ends of the link in the middle hole I went back out on the track. Oddly enough, the car felt much the same getting on the power, but it did not get through the middle of the turn as it had before. Straightening the link killed a lot of the wrap and didn't take away any rear grip. This was somewhat contrary to what I had found on other cars, but I couldn't deny what this car was doing. Most of the time straightening the link frees the car up, but in this case the angle link was better.
On the whole I was really impressed with the TRF101. Right out of the box it felt as good as anything I have had on the track lately. Stable and easy to drive, I didn't feel like it would have needed much to be competitive in any situation. One of my buddies came up and asked if it was as easy to drive as it looked, and I said "YEAH". He was impressed with how smooth it looked and it drove just the way it looked. I hadn't been sure what to expect, but it was a nice surprise.