Are you looking for a go fast, go anywhere vehicle that can shrug off damage that would prove to be fatal for most other RCs? How do good looks, smart design and thoughtful engineering sound to you? If any or all of that appeals to you, then you’ll want to read on as we take a close up look at the monster truck they call Sledge. Rarely can an RC vehicle be all things to all people. In the case of the all-new Traxxas Sledge, we dare say that this truck comes awfully close.
The Sledge is an all-new platform for Traxxas, which is exciting news to us RC enthusiasts. The Traxxas brand is loved by radio control fans for its line of iconic RC vehicles, as is its commitment to bringing us fun, powerful and problem free vehicles. Slash, X-Maxx, E-Revo… no matter which Traxxas vehicle you call your favorite, you’ll find some serious history behind it. The Sledge is the latest entry into the company’s storied line-up and we’re glad we’re here to experience it first hand.
Officially Traxxas calls the Sledge a monster truck but by the looks it, Sledge looks more like a truggy to us. Regardless of what it is classified as, it’s clear that its purpose of existence is to provide pure non-stop bashing fun. Our time with it reminded us of another machine that was as brutally powerful as it was virtually unstoppable. Like a T-800 Terminator cyborg, the Sledge is a machine that doesn’t know how to quit. The four-wheel-drive monster truggy is purpose-built to exert power and absorb any and all punishment that it faces. Seriously, this thing is an unstoppable beast.
A TRUE BEAST
Sledge is a ground up build that shares little to no parts with any other vehicle in the Traxxas stable. Aside from maybe the shocks and electronics, the truck began life on a clean sheet of paper. What this meant for the engineers was that they were not limited to pulling any existing parts off the shelf to make them work with this vehicle. They were free to design and engineer this truck to be the ultimate bashing machine that it is.
Starting with a 3.2mm thick aluminum chassis that is ribbed and contoured for enhanced strength, you’ll immediately notice just how over-built this truck really is. The chassis features formed edges for improved strength as well as a thick T-Bar brace running from front to rear for added rigidity. This T-shaped bar is made of solid aluminum and is stronger than the rounded bars that are found in some other RC vehicles. The T-Bar is surrounded by a series of braces that help make the Sledge one of the most rigid and toughest chassis that we’ve ever encountered. It’s seriously impressive stuff.
The monster truggy’s shock towers are made of thick 5mm 6061-T6 aluminum that utilize oversized 4mm hardware. These robust units feature high-strength buttressing to keep them ultra stiff and ready for serious impacts. The chassis is based on a low center of gravity layout that improves stability and handling. The blue anodized chassis is framed around its edges with high durability plastic side guards that deflect debris and provide a seamless, finished look. Examining the chassis in detail revealed very tight tolerances between each of its interlocking components.
On the chassis, you’ll find a rugged locking battery compartment with a quick-release door. The battery tray can hold a single or dual 3S LiPo batteries. The two 3S batteries sit together in the tray on their spines and can be securely held in place with two body clips that lock the battery compartment’s quick-release door, leaving no chance that the batteries will fall out. When two batteries are combined, they fuel Sledge with 6S levels of power. Sledge is rated to drive 55 miles per hour straight out of the box while running 6S power. Changing the gearing will get it up to a factory rated top speed exceeding 70 miles per hour. Is there such thing as going too fast?
POWER & CONTROL
Powering the Sledge to 55 miles per hour and beyond is a Traxxas Velineon brushless system that consists of a VXL-6s waterproof electronic speed control and a monstrous 2000kV brushless motor. The motor features a finned body for better heat dissipation. It is mounted in an aluminum motor cradle mount that supports the entire motor and reduces flex for longer life.
All this power must be controlled and thanks to Sledge’s built-in Traxxas Stability Management (TSM), this daunting task is manageable. Think of TSM as electronic driver aids that you would find in real life cars such as traction control or even a sports car’s launch control. TSM makes the Sledge much easier to control on slippery surfaces such as loose dirt, smooth concrete, and even ice and snow. TSM can be fine-tuned or deactivated by adjusting the multi-function knob on the TQi transmitter or in the Traxxas link app.
The truck’s drivetrain is equally robust and features heavy-duty steel driveshafts with large 8mm steel stub axles and a steel dog bone center driveline. Does this sound overbuilt? You bet. But that’s what Sledge is all about. The transmission is built with a fixed gear mesh system and Torque-Biasing Center Drive. Torque-Biasing Center Drive is made to absorb shocks that may shock the driveline. The center drive is also filled with impossibly thick silicone fluid that helps distribute power evenly throughout the driveline to all four wheels seamlessly via robust sealed differentials.
The differential is key to handling 6S power and Sledge’s steel-gear diffs are up for the challenge. They consist of oversized coarse pitch gears that are much more robust and physically larger than traditional 1/8-scale components. Not only is it designed for oversize 8mm output shafts, but it also has easy-access bulkheads to make quick work of maintenance duties.
Helping Sledge glide over rough terrain are its oil-filled GT-Maxx shocks. Similar to the ones found on the X-Maxx, these shocks feature an extra-large bore and additional oil capacity along with a large-diameter damper shaft for smooth yet efficient dampening. The GT-Maxx shocks work in concert with ultra-tough composite arms to form an impressive suspension package. Details found on the suspension arms include rear rock deflectors as well as molded inserts for a more refined look. Sledge rides on oversized 6.7-inch diameter Sledgehammer all-terrain tires that are mounted and glued to 3.8-inch black wheels. The wheels are sized for 17mm aluminum axle hubs, which are pretty much mandatory to handle all the power being put down.
As you may surmise by now, Sledge is made to take abuse and keep on running and we’ll tell you first hand just how durable it is. We took Sledge on a few gnarly bash sessions including a special visit to jump ramp maker, Freshpark, in order to jump over their building. Yes, you read that right. Sledge jumped over an industrial building and survived to tell the tale. Read more about that visit in the accompanying sidebar, The Adventures of Sledge.
We also took Sledge out to the local park to have a go at some dirt berms and other obstacles. The truck was powerful yet predictable to control, which is a nice feeling. Having access to incredible amounts of power is one thing, but having it under your control is a whole other thing and we liked it. TSM helped keep the beast under control but with it on, we did sense a tendency to understeer.
Sledge doesn’t come with a wheelie bar but it does like to wheelie when you punch it. What ended up happing is that the truck would take off on its hind wheels and ride its rear wing acting as if it were a wheelie bar. The Sledgehammer tires were made to minimize “donut-ing”, but the sheer power that the motor puts out make that an impossible task. The tires do donut, but they didn’t seem any worse for wear even after turning into flying saucers as they skimmed the dirt time and time again.
Although we didn’t have the space to get it up to 55 miles per hour, we were left with no doubt that it could easily achieve the factory rated top speed. The truck is seriously quick and at nearly 15 pounds with batteries installed, we needed to be careful that we didn’t run Sledge into any people or anything that we would hurt by accident. This truck is so fast and robust that caution must be taken when driving it. We did however ram the side of a gutter as well as a concrete building by accident and to our surprise nothing broke.
After bashing about, we found that Sledge was designed with attributes that allow it to survive what would be catastrophic impacts for other RCs. To name just a few, we notice that the arms have enough flex to bounce back before snapping and that there are many easily replaceable skid plates mounted throughout the truck including bumpers that protect the chassis in the front and rear and roof skid protectors that shield the body. The chassis and shock tower bracing is robust as is the motor mount and heavy-duty servo saver with aluminum posts. This truck is made to survive some rough RC bash sessions.
Speaking of body, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the awesome job that Traxxas did in regards to Sledge’s body. The inside of the body features a rigid internal frame that keeps the body in shape even after multiple heavy impacts. Also, the body’s new clipless body mounting system is the real star of the show. It’s super secure and is so easy to use. You only need one hand to mount the body and secure it to the chassis. Removing the body is almost as easy and just as quick. We’re huge fans of this clipless method of body mounting and we hope to see this design migrate to all of Traxxas’ other vehicles.
Takes A Beatin’ But Keeps On Revvin’!
All this damage and Sledge keeps on running. The superficial damage shown here is a good indicator of the abuse that we put Sledge through. The best thing is that nothing broke and many of the skid plates can be swapped out for fresh units to keep Sledge looking new.
Now back to the question at hand. Can the Sledge be all things to all people? With its good looks, impressive power and incredible robustness, it’s really a hard package to beat. During our limited time with it, Sledge has quickly become one of our favorite bashers and we can’t wait to take it out for some more amazing bash sessions. Others be warned, Traxxas just threw the basher gauntlet down and its name is Sledge.
Text by Jerry Tsai
Images by the author and Traxxas