S U P E R S T A D I U M T R U C K
SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road Presented by TRAXXAS features identically prepared high-horsepower trucks made to resemble their scaled-down Traxxas radio-control-car counterparts. The versatile off-road trucks race on virtually any surface, and in 2014 will be featured at IndyCar venues, X Games Austin and other large events that will expose the great sport of off-road racing to the masses.
Like their Traxxas namesake the trucks are designed to take flight. However, unlike RC trucks, they produce 600 horsepower generating speeds upwards of 130 miles per hour. Races feature man-made ramps set up in strategic locations throughout each course which allow the trucks to fly through the air nearly 20 feet off the ground and hundreds of feet down course. [source]
Unlike it’s full scale counterpart, the 1/18 LaTrax SST is built for any age or skill and designed to be durable and quick around the track. It comes fully assembled, painted, and Ready-To-Race with the included 6-cell 7.2V NiMH battery pack and 2amp DC charger. Everything you need is included in the package.
Equipped with All-Weather electronics, the LaTrax SST is designed to be an all purpose vehicle built for racing, bashing, snow, rain, puddles and of course mud. Initial inspection reveals a simple and familiar layout; I see before me a truck ready for some thrashing.
Preparing the SST for battle is simply a matter of unpacking everything, plugging in the 7.2V 6-cell NiMH battery and waiting for a full charge. You will need a a 12-volt automotive auxiliary power supply, which I find moderately inconvenient and would highly recommend the $24.95 AC to DC converter.
It seems the kid in me always wants to pull the trigger on the throttle as soon as it’s out of the box, so I did. Cruising around the house, it was immediately obvious the body was rubbing against the tires. Adjusting the body mounts did nothing to eliminate the rubbing, and it appeared to be only the back fender’s so I went to work on the body while the battery was charging.
T R A N S M I T T E R – The transmitter is basic, offering adjustment limited to steering trim. It’s also one of the more well-balanced and comfortable RTR transmitter’s I’ve driven; the steering wheel grip is a comfortable foam and the wheel has a balanced tension I like. My thumb rests comfortably on the shaped handle and my index finger reaches full reverse without needing to adjust my grip to reach. The trigger spring is more firm than I prefer, and its action isn’t as smooth as other RTR I’ve used, but that’s a minor distraction in an otherwise enjoyable transmitter.
E S C – On the top of the transmitter is also a set button for the patent-pending all-weather designed ESC. 3 different throttle modes are selectable: Sport, Race or Training. Through a series of blinks, the ESC can be programmed to run at 50% for beginners, without reverse for racing or with reverse for the full experience. And while it’s advertised as all-weather, there are specific warnings about it not being submersible or 100% waterproof.
Built-in two-stage low-voltage detection for LiPo batteries is an included feature, so longer run times and more performance is available. That also means there is thermal shutdown protection.
D R I V E T R A I N & C H A S S I S – The SST is a fiber-composite, full ball bearing, shaft-driven, full-time 4wd vehicle. Impressively, the driveshaft is steel, as are the front and rear differentials, ring and pinion gears. While usually reserved for the upgrade list, LaTrax saw fit to include these as standard.
Having all that steel means nothing if you don’t have the high-torque strength and precision of the bell-crank sub-micro steering servo installed on this machine. Combined with a small but heavy spring servo-savor and fully adjustable oil-filled independent suspension, the SST is a point and shoot missile seeking your intended path with precision.
T E S T D R I V E
I have a level of expectation based on my pre-drive inspection that could be considered unfair at this price point, but given the hype surround this vehicle I don’t think it’s unwarranted. The SST presents itself as durable, has a picture of Robby Gordon on the box, and everything about it says this is the same as the full-scale version, just smaller. That elevates my expectation.
The first test was the outdoor track at Battle Front RC. Despite the Brushed 370 motor not putting out as much power as I would like for this track, the SST just didn’t care and pushed on. When this track dries out it starts getting dusty and slippery, but the SST didn’t care and handled it wonderfully. The 4wd and independent suspension, along with the high-torque steering servo kept it moving around the track without many complaints.
The SST doesn’t quite have the top speed to clear some of the jumps or move smoothly through the whoops of a track designed for 1/8th vehicles, but with a little practice it is a lot of fun to race. The suspension is so compliant, both in the jumps and around the corners.
Given a long and straight enough setup to the jump, it will launch brilliantly and land on the downside; it would be a beast on brushless and LiPo. I am impressed how smooth it is around the outdoor track, soaking up the bumps and random debris. And the battery life is substantial– lap after lap it just kept going strong and lasted much longer than I expected.
The indoor track, which is smaller and more compliant to this scale r/c, was next. As much as I enjoyed this on the outside track, I enjoyed it all the more inside. It was almost as if the indoor track was made for the SST, and I just couldn’t get enough.
Off the track and on to bashing. High speed passes on pavement saw a top speed of 23mph as recorded by the radar gun. It handles nicely on pavement and is very controllable through power slide stops, drifts and the oh-so-fun J-Turn (rockford) maneuver.
It is tall enough to handle some short grass driving, but it’s not where it’s going to spend much time. Sand, dirt roads and two-tracks, puddles and mud are where I drive this and you will too. I just don’t have many complaints here either. Point the SST where you want to go, on whatever surface you choose, and it will make you smile more often than not.
F I N I S H L I N E
At $149.99, The LaTrax SST is right there with its competition. However, it’s a truck with a very fair value given the more durable steel components included. I also appreciate the scale connection, which makes it even more enjoyable to me.
There are a few upgrade parts you can choose, like some aluminum driveline components and suspension, otherwise it’s all included in the stock package. Being brushed, it’s not the fastest 1/18th I’ve driven, but it is a complete package with which I find difficult to find fault.
Through all the torture, not one thing has yet to break. I did notice a slight tendency to land on one side verses the other. It slightly favor’s the battery side when the suspension compresses on landing, but otherwise is balanced nicely front to rear. And quite frankly, I can’t say it affected the jumps.
I’m a fan of the LaTrax SST– It’s tough, has scale realism, it’s 4wd and has a list of upgraded parts already included. What’s not to like?