PHOTOS HOPE MCCALL
1/10-SCALE ELECTRIC ROCK BUGGY | RTR
Vaterra hits the dry lake with the hammer of the gods
Vegas to Barstow, Baja 1000, Dakar—what do these all have in common? They've all made their mark in motorsports history as competitions where you can see some of the wildest off-road racing and vehicles in the world. Since 2007, King of Hammers has been a forerunner in the off-roading world, forging its name in the steel of the vehicles that survive this epic event at the Means Dry Lake in California. Rather than the desert trucks, rally cars, and dirt bikes used for other events, this race features Ultra 4 vehicles that must have the agility and suspension to traverse rocky terrain like a crawler but also the speed and handling to cross the open desert. Vaterra's new Twin Hammers rock buggy takes the thrill of King of Hammers, Dakar, Barstow, and Baja and smashes them together to put you behind the wheel of one of the most versatile 1/10 vehicles money can buy. Hang on, this is going to be one bumpy and wild ride.
Length: 18 in. (457.2mm)
Width: 5.9 in. (149.9mm)
Wheelbase: 11.6 in. (294.6mm)
Height: 6.125 in. (155.6mm)
Item no.: VTR03000
Weight, as tested: 74oz., 2100g
Chassis: Molded plastic tub
Type: Cantilever front with upper control arm, trailing arm rear with solid axle
Inboard camber link positions (F/R): 2/0
Outboard camber-link positions (F/R): 1/0
Shock positions, towers (F/R): 1/2
Shock positions, arms (F/R): 1/1
Shocks: Aluminum body shocks with ride height collars
Type/ratio: 4WD shaft drive with front diff and locked rear axle; 4.05:1 (low gear), 2.27:1 (high gear)
Spur gear/pinion: 78T/28T
Differential: Locked rear, fluid-filled front
Driveshafts: Steel constant velocity style
Bearings: Metal-shielded and rubber-shielded
WHEEL & TIRES
Wheels: Plastic bead-lock wheels, 12mm hex
Tires: Vaterra Race Claw 1.9”
MOTOR AND ACCESSORIES
Motor: Dynamite brushed motor
Speed Control: Dynamite LiPo Tazer 12T Waterproof
Motor Limit: 12T
Battery Limit: 4.8-8.4V
Battery: Dynamite Speedpack 7.4V 2000mAh 30C Mini
CANTILEVER FRONT SUSPENSION AND SOLID REAR AXLE
Above: The Twin Hammers features a trailing link and solid rear axle design but you can unlock the diff to increase it's high-speed handling as well.
Below: The front shocks are tucked safely up inside the roll cage and utilize a cantilever system to damp the suspension.
The Twin Hammers is all about scale and that's immediately apparent from first look at the suspension. The rear end features a solid axle 4-link design that puts the power down in a big way. Because the rear diff is locked via a metal locker, the wheels never stop pushing and let the drag link suspension setup do the heavy lifting. Up front, the inboard shocks keep things pumping through a cantilever and pushrod setup. To help the TH handle speed, Vaterra has opted for a fluid-filled differential up front. This setup allows the rig to be versatile both on the rocks and at speed but does so by making sacrifices in all-out performance on one over the other.
The shift-on-the-fly transmission is controlled by the AUX channel on the included Spektrum DX3E radio.
One of the coolest features of the Twin Hammers is its brushless ready, shift-on-the-fly transmission. Shifting is controlled by the AUX channel on the radio, which actuates a servo on top of the centrally mounted transmission case. Inside a small plate slides back and forth to engage the chosen gear. To mate the motor to the tranny, the Twin Hammers has an aluminum motor mount and plate that are anodized green to add some style. Your standard dual pad slipper clutch finishes off the top shaft and although the gear cover has a removable plug, there is absolutely no way to adjust the slipper inside the vehicle without removing the cover completely.
At $400, the Twin Hammers is more than a lot of RTRs, but with an included LiPo battery and Spektrum DX3E, Vaterra makes it well worth the money.
The Twin Hammers is definitely one of the coolest-looking RC cars I've seen this year and it's all thanks to its scale realism and aggressive styling. A full roll cage encases the car behind a labyrinth of plastic tubes that can be removed in small sections to access specific areas or all together by taking out 12 screws that attach it to the vehicle. Some of the key physical attributes are a cage that's wrapped in individual body panels for the sides, a roof complete with lights, a hood and driver, and an interior that keeps out the dirt and mud. Scale-looking 1.9-inch trail tires finish off the rig along with an extra wheel for the rear rack.
One of the coolest and most unique features of the twin Hammers is its ability to change gears while driving. While we've gone through the concept of gear ratios before (and do in this issue, now that I think of it), understanding what this means to your rock buggy takes things a little further. The twin Hammers has two final drive ratios: 4.05:1 for low gear and 2.27:1 for high. When crawling over rocks, heading up steep inclines, and traversing obstacles, the buggy uses the lower gear ratio to get more torque and low speeds. This helps the wheels move slowly and keeps the buggy more surefooted, but also helps stall it from rolling downhill on its own, allowing it to hold itself in place on an slope. Off the rocks, a higher gear helps the buggy hit higher top speeds, as the motor-to-wheel rotation is closer. In the case of the twin Hammers, the motor will turn 6.32 times for the wheels to rotate one full turn. While the higher ratio helps top speed, it sacrifices torque.
ONE OF THE COOLEST FEATURES OF THE TWIN HAMMERS IS ITS BRUSHLESS READY, SHIFT-ON-THE-FLY TRANSMISSION.
Even with the body off, the Twin Hammers is totally scale thanks to its full roll cage and rear mounted spare tire.
Rain or shine, the Spektrum waterproof radio gear keeps you running.
Since the Twin Hammers will most likely see some of the most brutal RC terrain, Vaterra has installed a full set of waterproof running gear. Paired to the included Spektrum DX3E transmitter is a SR300WP 3-channel receiver. Power to the motor comes from a Dynamite LiPo Tazer speed control while steering and shifting duties are left to a set of Spektrum waterproof servos. A mini servo keeps things light on the shifting side while a metal-geared 625WP servo handles the front wheels.
JUMPING OFF THE ROCKS, THE TWIN HAMMERS DEMONSTRATES A SLIGHT NOSE-UP ATTITUDE BUT A SIMPLE TAP OF THE BRAKE OR LIFTING A LITTLE JUST BEFORE TAKE OFF KEEPS IT FROM GETTING OUT OF SHAPE.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
It wasn't that long ago that I drove a rock crawler for the first time, and while I could admit that it was fun, I missed the top speed factor when I wasn't on the rocks. The Twin Hammers is an equal amount of both, boasting both higher speeds and the agility of a crawler thanks to its manually shifted 2-speed transmission. Shifts while running are slightly abrupt but nothing jarring—just a quick clunk and it's off to the races. On the rocks, the lower gear range works well as it digs the rig in one step at a time. On smoother surfaces, top speeds are decent, not blistering … you might call them quick yet battery conserving.
For how much of a buggy the Twin Hammers truly is, it offers up a nice balance with its solid axle rear end and cantilever front suspension. The rear end is locked while the front keeps a differential between the wheels to help the car steer, but when paired with the extra push of a solid rear axle, the Twin Hammers steers so much that at full speed it can find itself upside down if you're not careful. On the rocks, this rear setup shines and has the grunt to do some challenging climbing. However, when a front wheel falls into a hole its own size, the steering servo and differential setup fall short and the rig needs a little bit of a running start to push itself out. Flat out, the servo is strong enough to take a beating but when paired up with slipping wheels, it just doesn't have the muscle for hardcore climbing.
The Twin Hammers' big sell, at least for this editor, is the fact that it's a capable crawler that you can run like a normal RC car as well. Vaterra includes a Dynamite speed control that's both waterproof and flexible. Want to bump up the power? Go ahead, the speedo keeps you covered up to a 12-turn motor. Mix it up with a power boost to 8.4V and now we're talking movement. Like I said before, high-speed direction changes often result in a traction roll due to the axle setup along with grippy side bite tires and a taller ride height. However, with a little tuning and a rear diff, you can get the rig cranked up pretty easily. Jumping off rocks, the Twin Hammers demonstrates a slight nose-up attitude but a simple tap of the brake or lifting a little just before take off keeps it from getting out of shape.
Awesome scale looks
Spektrum DX3E and waterproof radio gear
Runtimes are on the low side due to mini-sized pack
Lag time on speed control between reverse and forward
At first glance on a hobby shop shelf, the sticker shock is a little tougher than your other competition in this up-and-coming category. However, when you consider the equipment the Twin Hammers comes with, the value becomes clear very quickly. A highly adjustable Spektrum radio system, waterproof electronics, a metal gear servo, and high-tech suspension pack a great deal under the hood of an awesome-looking rig. With a solid platform that gives you a lot but also leaves room to expand, the Twin Hammers puts its fingertip right on the heartbeat of off-roading. The ability to take this buggy from rugged terrain to the sandbox and then to the driveway puts the Twin Hammers at the top of my list of go-to rides, and my bet is soon it'll be on yours too.