Tamiya 58614 MF-01X Suzuki Jimny JB23 Build and Review

The Tamiya M-series has been around for over 15 years now. We have seen various iterations in the series, both front and rear wheel drive...

The Tamiya M-series has been around for over 15 years now. We have seen various iterations in the series, both front and rear wheel drive, but never a 4WD variant.

That is until now, the Tamiya MF01 has made quite a stir once it was announced. It touts a durable monocoque frame with integrated gearboxes that both feature differential gears.

The promise of a 4WD chassis that fit popular 210, 225 and 239mm shells, and also has the ability to change the ride height has ensured that this release can appeal to a wide selection of enthusiasts.

The first release of this chassis is an rally variant (MF01-X) with a fantastic looking Jimny JB23 shell mounted on top. So will this car deliver? Let's start the build.

Opening the box

Everything is neatly packaged in the box, and when you take it apart you can quickly notice that it combines a selection of new parts such as the main chassis and some familiar parts from the other M-series cars such as the M05-RA (Rally Spec chassis) letting you know that they car is an interesting new hybrid of old and new.


The kit comes with a selection of plastic and brass bushings. These are fine, however I always like to use bearings as they give you an even more free drive train when I build my kits so I used a bearing set from www.RcBearings.co.uk . I went for the rubber sealed versions as this car will primarily be used as a rally car.

Stage 1 Wheelbase and ground clearance.

When getting ready for the build you need to ensure that you build the car to the correct specification. As mentioned you have 3 wheelbases to chose from.
Lot of configurations for this chassis but you will need  different prop-shafts 54654 (short) and 54655 (long) to do this.
Tamiya 58614 Jimny JB23 uses the medium chassis option. You also need to build it to the correct ride height, in this case it is the high setting.

With this sorted it is time to actually start building the car.

Stage 3  - Differential Gears

The MF01X comes with differentials in the front and the rear of the car. These are the classic tamiya unsealed bevel gear diffs.

The gears are bullet-proof. They are made from steel and I have cars that are over a decade old with these style of gear diffs and they still work as smoothly as the day I made them.
Totally reliable diffs, and easy to lock if you want to make your MF01 have more crawling capabilities.
You can change the feel of these diffs by using grease. Not too much as it can leak. I used a very small amount of Tamiya AW grease on the gears for the rear diff, and I added a little more on the front diff to make it a little more stiffer than the rear.

Stage 4 - Attaching Differential gear.

The steel shaft adds even more strength to the drive train.
Now it's time to start assembling the rear gearbox. The gearbox is made from a very tough resin. As is the plastic motor mount plate.
The sponge is essential to stop debris getting into the gearbox
At this stage you have to add some sticky sponge tape on certain parts of the gearbox to help protect the internal gears from any dirt and debris. Also ensure that you fit the bearing in the outer gearbox half.
The internal gears are made from durable plastics
The precision moulding ensures that this section is an easy part to build. The differential is the first part to be fitted, followed by the spur gear which slides onto the 5x40mm shaft. I didn't use any grease as I used bearings on this car.

Stages 5&6 - Counter gear and rear gearbox assembly

The teeth all mesh well together
The counter gear has two 1150 bearings that help it spin on its 5 x 21mm steel shaft . At this stage you also fit the 1150 bearing into the other gearbox half.  You also need to fit a little more sponge tape on the outer part of the gearbox.
The rear gearbox is now assembled
The two halves then need to be aligned and they fit together easily. I then screwed them together with the 3 screws.

Stage 7 - Attaching rear damper stay

The rear damper stay is also very stiff as it is made out the the hard plastic that the main chassis parts are composed off.
The rear shock tower is mounted in front of the rear wheels as the motor hangs out of the rear
It is mounted with two screws, and you also fit two ball connectors that will hold the rear upper arms.

Stage 8 - RC equipment fitting 

At this stage you just want to check the electrics and that the servo is centred so you can fit the servo horn. The servo stay is a new part, again made from the hard grey plastic.
The MF-01 chassis can easily accommodate low profile and standard servos.
I used a low profile servo on this car, but you can fit standard servo's as well.

Stage 9 - Attaching steering rods

Legs akimbo!
The steering rods are steel, which is a positive as this car will be rallied and steel will not bend like aluminium. Here you just need to attach the ball adjusters and then clip them onto the servo horn.

Stage 10 - Fitting servo mount.

Here there are two sets of instructions. One for fitting the Tamiya TSU-03 servo (Futaba S3003) or similar size servos, the other section is for other servos.

There are some little spacers on the B-Sprue that you can use to help get around this distance.
Try to get as close to 24mm as you can
When fitting this servo mount you will need to ensure that the is a 24mm space between the top of the servo horn and the top of the servo mount.

Note : I wouldn't be too bothered if it is not exact, you will just need to adjust the steering rod length to ensure your front wheels are straight.

Stage 11 - Fitting Servo Mount.

This stage also has two set's of instructions. One for the STD Tamiya servo, the other for every other make).
The servo mount spacers are all set at different lengths
Here you simply want to use a range of spacers on the B-Sprue.
A small dab of AW grease will help keep the spacer seated when you fit it in the chassis
These spacers help you move out the servo mount to ensure that the spline is along the middle of the chassis.
Precision Tamiya moulding ensures that the parts slide in easily with no slop
You then slide it in and screw the part in to check that it's aligned to the centre of the chassis.
Nice and straight!
As you can see this is the right setting.

NOTE: You may also need to move the servo in the servo holder a little to get the servo perfectly aligned. Just take a measurement, if the spacers do no make it exact, remove the servo mount and loosen the 4 servo screws and move it around a little. I was probably being over the top, but I like to be very exact when doing these things.

Stage 12 - Front Differential gear.

I added a little more in the front to help pull the car out of the corners.
This is the same as the rear differential, I added some thicker grease (Tamiya AW grease) to make the front differential a little stiffer than the rear. I prefer how this makes a car handle when at the track.

Stage 13 - Attaching gears (Front Gearbox)

I think that they are staring at me....
Now we need to fit the 1150 bearings into the bearing holders, these then need to be mounted into the chassis. These act to protect the bearing load at the front axles, and will stop the chassis cracking around this area. A nice touch and it shows Tamiya's commitment to creating robust cars.
The steel shafts fit snugly into their mount holes
Now just fit the steel posts in the front gearbox and fit the gears.

Stage 14 - Gearbox front left

Do not forget to fit the battery mounts at this stage
Simple stage, just fit the bearing into the half, and I also aligned the diff.

Stage 15 - Gearbox front

A little gently wiggle and the two halves slotted together well.
You just need to join the two halves. Ensure that you take your time here and that the steel shaft rods fit into their mount holes. Gently wiggle it around and the two parts nicely come together. Then you simply fit 3 screws to hold them both together.

Stage 16 - Chassis

As mentioned there are 3 settings for the chassis length. For the Jimny JB23 you want to go to page 17 for the medium chassis setting.
You can mix and match these to make various chassis lengths
The kit comes with 3 chassis parts that link together. The combinations of these can give you all of the standard short / medium and long M-Chassis settings. When combined all together they actually give you a 254mm chassis so I can foresee some people experimenting with that in the future.
A distant cousin of the TL-01 chassis
I attached the two correct spacers together, and then attached it to the front and rear chassis parts.

Stage 17 - Propeller shaft

Chunky solid steel
The prop shaft is made of steel and will be able to take a lot of power from the motor.
The prop shaft just falls into place perfectly
You need to thread a 2x10mm steel shaft in the main prop shaft at either end after placing the 850 bushing and plastic spacer on the shaft. The instructions ask you to use a drop of rubber cement on these shafts to hold them in, however I used trust AW grease as it's sticky and holds things in a treat.

Assemble the rest of the spacers and bearings, making sure to ensure that you have the spacers facing the correct way around.

Stage 18 - Attaching propeller shaft

The monocoque is now assembled and it's very rigid
This stage, just involves fitting the two prop shaft covers on the shell. I again did not attach any grease here as I had fitted the bearings.

Stage 19 - Rear Arms

You can also fit the Tamiya 54614 M05 carbon re-enforced one piece arms as a hop-up.
These are the classic two piece arms that come with the M05 cars. NOTE: You can buy the new M05 pro arms with droop screws and fit those as well as the chassis has built in droop limiters
I built these to 5.5mm
You also have to assemble the upper rear arms. TIP: the manual says leave a 6mm gap between the ball adjusters, but after running I would go to 5.5 or even 5mm to lock the rear end down more on the gravel.

Stage 20 - Attaching rear arms

Screw pins are fine, just to not over-tighten them
The arms are held in with Tamiya screw pins, the arms once fitted feel fine with very little slop and they drop down well under their own weight.

Stage 21 - Rear Dampers

Easy to build
This kit comes with simple friction dampers that are very easy to build. These are a part that can be upgraded at a later point if you want more damping on your suspension movement.
some people add a little bit of thick friction grease on the inside to have a slight damping effect
The instructions tell you to build just the rear shocks, but I built all 4 at this stage before moving on.

Stages 22&23 - Attaching rear dampers and body mounts

This reminds me of a M06 from this angle
The rear dampers are just screwed on with 3x18mm step screws, and you have to fit the spacers to ensure that the dampers are vertical. The body posts are next and they screw firmly on to the rear gearbox.
Steel gearbox joints also add to the strong drivetrain.
You also now want to fit the gearbox joints into the rear differential. Before you do this you want to fit the black o-rings into the joint cups. This helps keep the drive shafts firmly seated into the drive cups.

Stage 24 - Rear Axles

Again the manual has two options that you can select, high or low setting. For the Jimny we are building it to the raised specification.
The hubs are a bright red, reminds me of classic Tamiya colours from the past.
The rear hubs have a fixed 2 degrees of rear toe in. This will help the car feel stable when driving, especially as it has a relatively short wheelbase. The MF01 uses extenders on the hubs that then hold the ball connectors that attach to the upper arms. They are very high but that is to accommodate for the fact that the rear tower is also high as it is mounted above the rear gearbox.  The parts all fit together well, and the assembled rear axles feel very sturdy.

Stage 25 - Attaching rear axles.

The arms move freely once assembled.
Now it's time to attach the rear hubs and fit the short drive shafts. Once you have assembled it all, just check that both arms fall down freely as that will ensure that the car will handle well.

Stage 26 - Front Arms

These arms are near indestructible!
The front arms are next, they again M05 parts. They are made from two parts, and screw together easily.

Stage 27 - Attaching front Arms

The upper arms are a fixed length at the front of the chassis.
The lower front arms are attached with the screw pins. Then you move on to the upper arms, unlike the back they are a fixed length plastic part. This sets the front camber to 0 degrees, making it very neutral.
Everything moves freely.
Again just check everything is firmly screwed in, but not overtightened so the arms move freely.

Stage 28 - Front Axles

M05-RA front end
The front axles have M05-RA knuckles that swing in some very sturdy looking moulded C-Hubs. The King pins are fitted through the C-Hub into the front knuckles and they move smoothly, and even with my fetish for shimming I am fine with the horizontal movement.

Stage 29 - Attaching front Axles

The drive shafts are steel and will take a lot of abuse
Again this stage has two options for low and high settings. You want to do the latter for this model and that simply involves fitting the step screws and screw pins thought the correct holes in the C-Hub to get the correct height.

Stages 30 - 32 damper fitting and front bumper

The bumper will help protect the shell
As mentioned earlier I built all 4 shocks at the start of the build, so I just had to fit them on the car. Also it's time to fit the front bumper and the front body posts. The front bumper just adds more strength to the chassis holding the two halves together even more firmly

Stage 33 - Attaching Pinion Gear

This motor is 25turn and fits between the Std 540 and the Tamiya Sports tuned in terms of performance.
Now it's time to fit the pinion gear. This kit like many new Tamiya's has a Torque tuned motor included. These are a great motor, they have more speed and torque than the standard 540 motor but are still very reliable and do not sap your battery some lower turn motors.
The kit includes a pinion spacer
When fitting the motor you first have to slide on the motor plate which helps dissipate the heat, and then fit the pinion. The kit comes with a 16 tooth pinion. This will give you a final drive ratio of 9.45 which will ensure that it has a nice turn of acceleration. You can add larger pinions up to 20T which will give you a FDR of 7.56.

Stage 34 - Attaching motor

Check the motor mesh with the little spy hole before fitting the cover.
The motor is easy to attach. Once you attach it with the two 3x27mm screws  mounted through a steel motor plate. You then need to slide the motor up until the pinion meshes with the spur gear.

TIP:Just take your time here, look through the little motor mount hole and you can see the gear mesh. You do not want it to be tight as it will make the car slow and heat up the motor, too loose and it can strip the gear. I would fit it against the teeth and then just move it very gently away and then tighten the screws. It's not a hard step, but it's important to take your time here to make sure it's correct.

Stage 35 - Installing electrics

A fantastic ESC to be included in the kit
Now you just need to fit the receiver and speed controller. Tamiya supplies an esc in the kit box and it's a fantastic unit. The TBLE-02S is a 60a esc and is able to run both brushed and sensored brushless motors. This is a fantastic addition to any kit.

The specifications allow you to run a brushed motor down to 25turns, it also allow you to comfortably run a 13.5 sensored motor when you decide to move to a more powerful unit.

Installation is easy, the ESC is set-up to run the included torque tuned motor, and you just need to set your throttle points to your controller and you are ready to roll!

Stage 36 - Wheels

67mm Diameter and 27mm width wheels and tyres for maximum rally grip
The wheels that come with the kit look fantastic and have a great metallic sheen to them. They are soon fitted with the kit included rally block tyres. These are a classic Tamiya design, and I have been using them on all of my rally cars as I find them hard to beat.

Chassis pictures

The wheels are then fitted to the chassis and this part of the build is done.

The track width is 165mm in this configuration
The MF01-X in kit form has an impressive 22mm ride height, great for rally.

The car can easily fit square pack lipos, and they are mounted in the middle for excellent chassis balance.
The motor hangs out the rear and the chassis, giving the car a planted feel when you hit the throttle
Here you can see the front toe out (more initial steering) and rear toe in (more stable on the straight and corners)

The body

Now with the chassis done it was time to work on the body. The shell is made of strong, lightweight polycarbonate and the detail is great. The proportions of the shell looks right and the little details are all sharply detailed.

The shell is unpainted which gives you the freedom to make your kit individual. I wanted to give my Jimny a design inspired by the Japanese tuning houses that modify the real cars to both look cool on the streets but also modify the car to be able to participate in rally raid events at the weekend.

I also bought a scale snorkel part to stick on the shell to give it that true Rally raid look. I painted this and then finished painting the shell and wing mirrors.

NOTE: The funnel was by djd designs on eBay. Donn Jarr is his name. The part is resin so I heated it with a hair dryer to bend it to fit perfectly. It was easy to do. It was also very reasonably priced. The snorkel was listed as this : 1:10th scale Hilux & Bruiser Snorkel Type 1
The kit included details then needed to be cut and fitted, and I always find it strangely relaxing doing this with a good CD on in the background. I also added some extra Vinyl Suzuki stickers that I had.

Track Test

The summer here has been pretty terrible, and it has stopped me going to my favourite rally site for this review (Although I will update the article once I do) however I managed a few test runs with the car.

First up I managed to take it for a gentle ride around our special RC racer stunt park. I only took it quite gentle at first as I just wanted to get to grips with how the car handled.
A selection of surfaces and a lot of inclines provide a great little test track for the car
As this car is high, the car does roll a lot on the corners, this makes it look very scale, especially with the fantastic looking shell. I got more confident and started to speed up some of the ramps and the car attacked them with ease.
This urban rally raid car really started to show it's capabilities on the track
The 4WD system was really coming into it's own and I could mount small steps and pull the car over with a dab of full throttle. I actually ran down a full lipo just crawling around the park. I kept driving the car up steeper and steeper inclines and this little Suzuki Jimny took it all in it's stride.
The car just keeps on going higher
The shell is quite top heavy and I thought this would pull the car over, but I was also working up some good speed and I think this was keeping the car down on the track. The rally block tyres provided good overall grip on the concrete, but you could slide the rear out a little when you needed to.
And higher!
I was also surprised how the kit springs and friction shocks handled. The car did bounce a little more than if it had CVA shocks but it was actually pretty good, although I will try them in the future as they are a cheap upgrade and worth it if you want to improve the handling further.

I managed to run two lipos down until the car went noticeably slower. The car had only rolled a couple of times despite me trying some very OTT manoeuvres.
Grass is not going to stop this car!
Next up I took it on grass, I am not a keen gardener so the grass was quite long but the MF01-X has an impressive ground clearance of 22mm which allowed it to run fine in the garden. Here the car felt fantastic! It took on the dirt (The wives Flower beds.. don't tell her!) and would launch out onto the grass and slide around before all 4 wheels would take grip on the wet grass (British summer = rain).

I am a big fan of rallying RC cars since I had a TA01 escort and this Jimny feels great when being thrashed as it tackles a range of different surfaces in quick succession, the car is balanced and because of this you can quickly adjust to the different grip and ensure the car stays poised around the layout.. excellent fun!

Finally I took it for a quick few laps at my local track, mainly because it was raining again and I wanted to get a video. Here the Rally block tyres really gripped onto the carpet and you could grip roll the car if you were too fast. This could be easily fixed by adjusting the car to the lower chassis settings (It would only take a few minutes), however I just took my time and tried to learn the roll of the chassis and get the most out of the car as I drove it around.  It still looked fantastic as it moved around the track and the other guys mentioned how awesome it looked.


The Tamiya MF01-X Jimny JB23 is a fantastic kit. It does so many things right for a very good price. The drive train is very tough and reliable and has already held up to a lot of hard driving without missing a beat.
The handling is also good for a car with such a narrow track width (165mm) and short wheelbase (225mm). This makes it very agile and when it is racing on lower grip surfaces it feels fantastic as I can whip the rear end out and ride out a powerslide.

The kit is also easy to assemble thanks to the clear build instructions that come with this and every Tamiya kit. This coupled with the kit included electronic speed controller and motor help to make it a good value kit for anyone who wants to build a small rally level car.
Street Raider!
The chassis itself it also very versatile, some will fit slower motors, lock the diffs and do some light crawling, others will run it low and fit M05 wheels for Tarmac racing. The possibilities that this car can give you is pretty fascinating and we will do a feature soon looking at some of the interesting other things that you can do with this very adaptable chassis.

So a great value, versatile kit that is fun to build and drive, this will be in my fleet of cars for some time.

Available in Via your local Tamiya Stockist.

tamiya 4226809954406655427

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