Saturday, 21 February 2015

MST MS-01D Review and Build Tips

Yes you can pick yourself up any old touring car, stick on some plastic tyres and "drift" but if you're looking to get into this hobby, you want a good foundation that has been designed and created to be a drift chassis. This is where the Max Speed Technology (MST) MS-01D comes into play. There are plenty of other "STARTING OUT" drift cars but remember, just because it may say "drift" on the box, it may not necessarily be a drift car.

(Image source: Soul RC)

There are many reasons why this is a great beginner car, the most important is the motor and battery positioning. The motor has been placed behind the front axle and the battery in front of the rear axle promoting a 50/50 weight balance.

The second most important reason is the suspension geometry adjustments that are available front and rear and thirdly, the amount of upgrade parts that are available not just from MST but also third-party companies.

(Image source: Soul RC)

There are a few variants of the MS-01D to include an RTR version (what is RTR? Keep reading) and can be bought from all over the place with a quick GOOGLE search; Soul RC being the MST headquarters for the UK. The different variants and differences are shown in this table:

Quite a price for the VIP II but then again you are paying for a fully upgraded drift chassis with all the bells and whistles.

I have borrowed a fellow drifters MS-01D S for this review and I'll be taking bits of it apart as per regular maintenance while sharing some tips for correct setup along the way. First off, the wheels will come off followed by the drive shafts for a clean and re-grease.

 You can find a good "how to" post HERE written by James from Soul RC.

Stripped, cleaned and re-greased.

The images doesn't show it clearly enough but the two shafts on the right had marks on both balls of both dogbones and came out of the front. They weren't wear marks, or at least not bad enough to classify them as wear marks, but these are an indication on lack of maintenance or running high steering lock. Being a MS-01D S, this chassis is fitted with the standard 50/55° shafts and not the upgraded 60° shafts. Forcing anything to do more than it's designed usually means wear or even worse, failure.

And reassembled before refitting.


The suspension consists of a double-wishbone pillow ball setup. Most other chassis' will use a hinge pin setup and the upgraded HT suspension system will do away with them but they work nonetheless.

They are also cleverly designed to give to adjustability; should you need to, you can extend the length of the lower arm by unwinding the outer ball joint out or decrease by winding it in. Of course this will affect your track width as well as other suspension geometry but you have the option there.

The other thing you can do is fit them in opposites. What I mean is that in the manual, the directions are to fit the arms so that you can see the A on one side and the B on the other (looking from underneath, A on the nearside and B on the offside). The ball joints are off center on the arms so you can use these to adjust your wheelbase and caster again, should you need or want to but don't forget, this will also affect the suspension geometry. I've left it as stock.

You can do the same with the top suspension arms too. The manual for the MS-01D S illustrates that the top arms, when looked at from above, should be fitted with A on the offside and B on the nearside. I have gone for opposites putting the A on the nearside and the B on the offside going from 10/11° caster to 13/14° caster. Not all chassis' have this capability of adjustable caster so I take full advantage of it! Mitto explains these options with annotated images in this post from MST UK forum.

A final note to make is this: these pillow balls do their job well but are usually man-handled incorrectly. 

Because these pillow balls are made from plastic, you can easily crush them should you over tighten them. The best way to do these up is by watching the pillow ball making contact to either the screw or whatever you're screwing it to. It's quite difficult to show these with images as the pillow balls are tucked away but these might help.

If you've tightened them correctly, all the joints should move freely and get full swing of movement. You can of course upgrade these pillow balls with metal ones if you've damaged the plastic ones or are heavy handed but I strongly believe in not fixing what isn't broken.

While we're looking at the front end, another small tip is to set the SAI (also know as KPI). The manual illustrates that the upper and lower arm ball joints/pillow balls be fitted to the holes closer into the chassis. That will set you up with 0°, if you put the lower one further out, you will get 6° SAI. Not a bad number to be working with.


The plastic dampers found on the S and RTR should be the first upgrade anyone does. To put it politely, there are just about sufficient but then again what can you expect from plastic shock absorbers. If you are sort for cash, the cheapest thing to do to make them slightly better is change the oil and maybe purchase some springs but ideally, the aluminium shock gear upgrade pack is the way forwards. The Pro and VIP II both come with the upgraded shock absorbers so no need to change them.

There is another post by the guys from Soul RC highlighting the first 5 upgrades any owner should do to their S or RTR chassis. Although the post says that there is no upgrade priority, I feel that the order they've listed the upgrades in are pretty much spot on. I would only swap 2 and 3 around. You can have a read of it here.


The rest of the chassis can be built as the manual says; there aren't any other changes that i would make, as long as you have the 1.54 CS kit installed. Some S or RTR chassis' come as 50/50 so CSing the chassis would be the first step.

Speaking of CS and RTRs, you're probably wondering what an RTR is... RTR stands for Ready To Run and that variant comes as an S version but with all the electronics that you need to get you going whereas all the others are rolling chassis', no electronics whatsoever. If you do decide to go for a rolling chassis, consider motor and ESC sizes especially regarding FDR.


(Image source; Soul RC)

The stock pulleys on a 1.54 CS MS-01 are as follows (keep in mind that this is a two belt chassis):

Front belt front pulley: 40T (front one way diff)
Front belt rear pulley: 13T
Rear belt front pulley: 18T
Rear belt rear pulley: 36T (rear solid spool diff)

You also get a 88T spur gear (48 pitch) but no pinion. The RTR comes in 2 forms; brushed setup and brushless setup (read up on motors here) along with a 26T (48 pitch) pinion gear. My advice if you're going for the RTR is to go for the brushed setup which is cheaper, then simply upgrade with your own brushless setup. The MST brushless setup is like the plastic shock absorbers; sufficient but you will outgrow it so save yourself the hassle and invest in something better.

With the CS pulleys as above and the 26T pinion gear, you get a FDR of 7:1 (6.77:1). You want to be looking for a motor size of 10.5T or 7.5T or around 3000-3500 kV.


So there you have it, a good starter chassis for anyone, a good all-rounder for any surface and any skill level with the potential to increase it's capabilities as you increase your own. I would still have one of these any day, I've never owned one but always liked them and aside from the Sakura D3, I always advise newbies to consider the MS-01Ds as well.

If you're looking for some guidance to building yours, here is a time-lapse video featured on DriftMission of a MS-01D Pro build but one of their affiliates.

There is also an unboxing by the MST UK guys know as Soul RC who stock and sell MS-01Ds as well as upgrade parts and many others.

If you're looking for geometry setup, Mitto from Soul RC has blessed us with his personal settings for different surfaces. I will say though, people learn new things everyday and I'm sure Mitto is a person so his knowledge and expertise would've increased since he wrote the post in April of 2013. Take it with a pinch of salt, it is a good setup if you're are completely without one but don't expect it to be the end all be all.


Right, well I'm going to be heading to the track for the next drift session to try this MS-01D out and finish off with some final tuning. Have fun guys!