1/10-SCALE ELECTRIC 2WD SHORT COURSE TRUCK | RTR
PHOTOS BY JOEL NAVARRO
Helion joins the SC pack with a solid mix of speed and specs
With each wave of new product designs hitting hobby shop shelves every few years, the RC industry gets a new “it” class of vehicle — the 2WD buggy, the rock crawler, the oversized monster, etc. The current “it” category continues to be the 1/10-scale 2WD short course truck, and no vehicle lineup is complete without one — not even for Helion RC, which is sold through Hobby-town USA stores. Their new Volition joins a range of vehicles that has expanded wildly in just three years, and it follows the recipe that has made each of its offerings so far a success — tough, affordable, fun to drive, and packed with the features that enthusiasts of all levels have come to expect among their competitors. With a list of features that ticks off the popular SC standards, Volition stacks up respectably against other 2WD short course trucks. So, just how well does it actually compete? There's only one way to find out.
Item no.: HLNA0400
Weight, as tested: 4.9 lb. (2240g)
Type: Plastic composite tub
Type: Lower H-arm with upper camber link
Inboard camber link positions (F/R): 5/3
Outboard camber-link positions (F/R): 2/2
Shock positions, towers (F/R): 4/4
Shock positions, arms (F/R): 2/2
Shocks: Oil-filled plastic coilover shocks
Type/ratio: Three-gear transmission/2.62:1
Spur gear/pinion: 84/20
Slipper clutch: Dual-disk adjustable
Driveshafts: Steel CV-style
WHEELS & TIRES
Wheels: Helion one-piece short course type, black
Tires (F/R): Helion square-lug, open-cell foam
Body: Helion Volition SC, pre-screened
Transmitter: Helion HRS-3.1 2.4GHz 3-channel
Receiver: Helion HRS-3.1 2.4GHz 3-channel
Speed control: Helion Metric 30A brushed speed control w/reverse, LiPo compatible
Motor: Helion Metric 550 brushed
Steering servo: Helion 6KG-WP waterproof
Battery: Helion 3000mAh 7-cell 8.4V NIMH
TRIED AND TRUE SUSPENSION
The cost savings of one-piece camber links and plastic shock bodies are re-invested in upgrades elsewhere—including CV-style axles.
There's nothing out of the ordinary in the Volition's suspension. It uses long H-arms in the front and rear to provide the travel necessary to soak up jumps and bumps, with an impressive variety of adjustment options to boot. There are plenty of different location combinations for the shocks, though utilizing the optional camber link possibilities (or changing the roll center with washers underneath the vertically mounted ball studs) will require upgrading to turnbuckles camber links so camber can be adjusted to suit. The shocks themselves use plastic bodies that are built with bladders and filled with oil to provide a plush ride, and pre-load is set via clips—basic RTR stuff. The red-anodized front suspension mount brace is one of the few accented parts of the mostly black truck.
Those beefy transmission gears are made of steel and more than up to the task of the included 550 motor. If you want to go brushless, the gearbox is ready.
The other red-anodized piece of aluminum, the motor plate, is mostly hidden by the black plastic gear cover that also serves to protect the pinion gear and spur, which supports the dual-disk slipper clutch that is adjustable and capable of handling plenty of power. Like other rear-motor short course trucks, the Volition's compact transmission features three internal gears, and in this case they are metal for bulletproof (and brushless horsepower-proof) durability. CV-style steel driveshafts are standard, a nice plus over common dogbones. The drivetrain, along with the rest of the truck, spins on rubber-sealed ball bearings to spin efficiently and keep dirt at bay. You'll find 12mm hexes on both the front and rear axles, so the Volition can accept standard short-course wheels.
TOUGH TUB CHASSIS
In typical SC fashion, the Volition's chassis assembles in a modular manner. The chassis is fitted with heavy-duty bumpers on all four sides and provides the backbone for the front and rear suspension, with plenty of room for the Volition's electronics and water-resistant receiver box that will protect the truck's most precious unit from almost anything. The dual-bellcrank steering linkage setup swivels on ball bearings for smooth and consistent steering, with a built-in servo saver to protect the included servo from damage should you hit something hard enough to jerk the front tires in the opposite direction. The rearward-hinging battery strap is shaped appropriately for hump packs, like the 7-cell included with the truck, and can be locked down or freed up without the use of tools — just the quick flip of a pair of twistable locks.
MORE RUN TIME, LESS DOWN TIME
The Volition includes a 7-cell NiMH battery pack to give the included brushed motor the added voltage it needs for impressive speed, and its 3000mAh capacity provides for long run times — as high as 15 minutes depending on how you drive — but the included charger only replenishes that juice at the rate of 1 amp, meaning that a fully drained pack will take about three hours to charge. A peak charger that's capable of charging at even 4 amps, however, would complete the job in about 40 minutes. Choose a charger with a Deans-compatible plug to work with the Helion connector, and consider getting a unit that can also charge LiPos so you'll be ready when you upgrade to the latest battery tech.
LIPO-READY RUNNING GEAR
The speed control (with awesome LiPo cuto switch!), simple brushed motor, and waterproof servo make this one tough truck.
The receiver on our test truck was tucked into the receiver box but not taped down, though it proved to be perfectly safe in its tight cocoon. Helion chose the venerable power combo of a waterproof speed control and 550 brushed motor with a sealed endbell for weather-ignoring power, and the Metric 30A speed control has two switches — one to turn the power on and off, the other to turn the 2S LiPo cutoff onto “NiMH” or “LiPo” modes. With enough power to turn the front tires of Helion's much heavier Invictus monster truck, the included 6KG-WP servo is more than up to the task of directing the Volition's path, especially as the aggressively lugged tires dig into dirt of all types. The pre-screened Lexan body comes with either bright green or bright orange accents, but its awkward design angles are something you'll either love or hate. The receiver on our test truck was tucked into the receiver box but not taped down, though it proved to be perfectly safe in its tight cocoon.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
Helion RC advertises the 550-powered Volition as capable of 30+ mph, and with the included 7-cell battery topped off with a peak charger our truck sped off to a mark of 30.4 — plenty quick for any vehicle, let alone one aimed at new drivers coming into the hobby. Controlling that amount of power on dirt is no problem thanks to the square-knobbed tires, which dig into a variety of different types of dirt remarkably well and provide the Volition with plenty of traction. The tires help the truck track straight when getting on the power, no doubt with help from the gear differential and slipper clutch, and the Volition's gear ratio presents a thoughtful balance of acceleration and top speed that helps mellow aggressive wheelspin on slick surfaces. There's plenty of power on tap for powering through soft dirt, around big berms, and over jumps, and the brushed motor's drag brake helps keep you in check when you let off the throttle — as a full-on stab of the brake turns the Volition, like any other 2WD vehicle, sideways if you're not careful. Otherwise, the Volition turns very predictably with a hint of understeer, no doubt a function of the slight toe-in angle of the front tires thanks to the molded steering links, which makes the truck easy to drive regardless of the available traction.
The Volition's default shock setup feels a bit overdamped for small chop, as the truck bounces a bit more than might be expected, but it pays off through bigger bumps at full speed and when hitting large jumps. The shocks help the truck stay composed as it hits the face of the takeoff, the familiar 2WD platform is manageable in mid-air, and it settles nicely when landing if you managed to miss the gust of wind threatening to turn its full-fendered shell into a kite. The Volition was right at home smashing through our test site, doing its best to cope with the ⅕-scale sized whoops and blasting off of every lip in sight. I managed to pop the front suspension links off a few times when hitting various objects or landing at extreme angles, and though they were easy enough to pop back into place by hand in order to continue driving they started to feel a bit loose after a while — which is the whole point, as it's cheaper and easier to replace the plastic links (or replace them with turnbuckles) than it is to fix other suspension components!
Plenty of power for any occasion
Compatible with a variety of options for other trucks
Tough as nails and fun to drive
Separate LiPo cutoff switch makes switching packs easy
Fixed camber links — other trucks in this class include adjustable turnbuckles.
Helion's HRS-3.1 transmitter is a 2.4GHz unit with digital trim buttons and steering-rate controls instead of analog dials—uncommon features for RTR radios. The serrated trigger and foam steering wheel offer good feel, and it's lightweight with 4 AAs on board — the only items you'll need to complete the truck.
Helion's various vehicles offer the ratio of performance and affordability that suit hobbyists of all experience levels, and the Volition fits in nicely. Helion's latest release fills the void previously left in their assortment that only a 2WD short course truck could fill — the combination of scale appeal and off-road performance is what made the SC class blow up, after all. This truck has the right ingredients -solid electronics, versatile tires, and the all-steel transmission is a nice touch — though some of its closest market competitors have items that the Volition doesn't, like aluminum shocks and adjustable turnbuckles. Still, the separate LiPo cutoff switch, included CV axles, and a top speed that puts it near the top of its class makes the Volition an attractive option in the busiest segment of RC.
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