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Performance Test: ECX/Horizon Hobby Barrage Gen2

Performance Test: ECX/Horizon Hobby Barrage Gen2

ECX’s low-buck truck boosts power and trail prowess (but not price) with new “Gen2” specs

Text & Photos by Peter Vieira

“Speed costs; how fast do you want to go?” is one of the oldest sayings in motorsports, and it applies to trail trucks as much as anything else on four wheels, even though trail trucks don’t go fast. Instead, let’s say, “Capability and features cost; how much do you want?” In the case of the ECX Barrage Gen2, you get quite a lot for quite a little. Like the first-gen Barrage, the new truck taps your wallet for just $180, yet it rolls out with LED lighting, steel-gear axles, and 4-link suspension in an RTR package that even includes the batteries. Unlike the original truck, the Gen2 gets a larger motor and a wider stance, so it’s even more sure-footed on the trail. Looks like Horizon Hobby’s accountants forgot to raise the price! Oh well, their goof is our gain.

VEHICLE SPECS
Item no: ECX01013T1
Scale: 1/12
Price: $180
Weight, as tested: 3 lb. 2.8 oz. (1440g)
Chassis: Ladder-type, steel
Shocks: Scale-diameter aluminum, threaded-body
Suspension links: Steel rod
Axles: Steel bevel gear, locked differential (spool)
Transmission: 3-gear w/ aluminum motor plate
Slipper clutch: None
Differentials: None
Driveshafts: Steel CV-type (front); telescoping plastic with steel/alloy U-joints
Bearings: Metal-shielded ball
Body: One-piece painted polycarbonate
Wheels: One-piece plastic, 1.55-inch
Tires: Falken Wildpeak M/T replica
Inserts: Open-cell foam
Speed control: Dynamite waterproof 60-amp, brushed only
Motor: Dynamite 390 22T brushed
Transmitter: ECX 2-channel 2.4GHz
Servo: Spektrum SPMS602 low-profile, plastic-gear, 54 oz.-in.
Battery: Dynamite Speedpack 6-cell NiMH 900mAh
Charger: Wall-type, 100mA

AT A GLANCE
Type: Trail truck
Scale: 1/12
Drivetrain: 4WD
Power: Electric
Build: RTR
Price: $180

WIDER, SMOOTHER AXLES
The Gen2 has a lot more metal in it than expected for the price. Metal ring and pinion gears are tucked into the axle housings, and steel universal joints outfit the fat telescoping shafts that join the axles to the transmission. Aluminum C-hubs are fitted up front, with steel CV-style joints contributing to smooth power delivery. The Gen2 uses the same axles as the ECX Doomsday, which boost the truck’s width from 177mm to 196mm—that’s more than half an inch, which is a big jump for a 1/12-scale truck. The axles also have smoother housings to help slide over obstacles.

The Gen2 axles boost width by 19mm, and have fewer edges to grab obstacles compared to the first-gen parts.

4-LINK SUSPENSION
ECX specs steel links for the Gen2, which helps concentrate mass down low for a sure-footed feel on the trail (and improved strength, of course). The plastic-body shocks are shared with the first-gen Barrage and Doomsday, and ECX does a good job on the shock build—they’re smooth and quiet right out of the box. Extra holes in the chassis rails allow the shock towers to be repositioned with wheelbase changes, if you want to get creative.

ECX does a good job of assembling the plastic oil-filled shocks.

MORE MOTOR
The Gen2 gets a larger motor than the original Barrage trail truck. Instead of a “370” can, it’s a longer “390,” and it’s about 3mm larger in diameter, with a 22-turn armature. That means more rpm and torque. Voltage is fed via a Dynamite speed control rated at 60amps, and it’s programmable via jumper plugs—no button pushing or flash/beep counting required. From the factory, the unit is set for NiMH batteries and forward/brake/reverse operation, but you can also activate low-voltage detection for LiPo use, and choose a Crawl setting with a powerful hold brake.

The 390 power boosts torque compared to the 370 powerplant of the first-gen Barrage.

The 900mAh NiMH battery and 60-amp speed control deliver more than an hour of run time.

The 2.4GHz radio system has adjustable steering and throttle-rate knobs hidden underneath the hatch on top.

The extra width of the Gen2 Barrage jumps out in a side-by-side shot with the first-gen truck.

Here’s the 1/12-scale Barrage compared to a 1/10 Vaterra Ascender. It’s smaller but hardly what you’d call “mini.”

The Falken Wildpeak replica tires have very thin carcasses and soft inserts, which help them conform against obstacles easily.

STEEL LADDER CHASSIS
The Gen2’s steel chassis rails have a tall cross-section and are deeply stamped to make the chassis exceptionally rigid front to rear, but it’s easy to twist, which can only help with articulation. The transmission mounts to a plastic skidplate, and the shock towers hold adjustable-height body posts. The bumpers are adjustable too, and telescope in and out with about 35mm of adjustment to accommodate different body styles. Like the first-gen truck, the Gen2 gets bright bumper-mounted LEDs, with two white lights up front and two reds in the rear.

Testing
ARTICULATION, WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION, AND CLIMB TESTING
The Barrage’s front-mounted battery puts more weight over the front tires, with a
57%-43% split for the truck’s 3-pound weight. That helps it tackle steep climbs easily, with a max angle of 51 degrees on my tilt-board rig before the truck rolled over backward. On the articulation ramp, the truck rolled up to the 10-inch mark to post a ramp travel index (RTI) score of 1010, which is pretty good. I enjoy comparing RTI numbers from rig to rig, but RTI is more of a fun fact—I’ve seen trucks with low RTI numbers get through some hairy stuff.

TRAIL HIKING
On easy trails, the Barrage just chugs along at a couple of clicks faster than walking pace, which is ideal. The speed control’s Crawl mode setting dumps to full brake whenever the trigger is returned to neutral, which was fine by me as my hike to the real challenging terrain doesn’t require me to let off. If you do want proportional brake, popping out the speed control’s brake jumper will set it for normal forward/brake/reverse operation, with full brake control via trigger travel. I tried it, it works just fine, and it’s definitely more pleasant for easy trail driving.

EXTREME TERRAIN
As a 1/12-scale truck hitting the trail on 1.55-inch tires, the Barrage shouldn’t be expected to match longer, wider 1/10-scale trucks on 1.9- and 2.2-inch tires. But it is a surprisingly capable little rig, and makes the most of its axle articulation and squishy tires to provide plenty of obstacle-clearing entertainment. Sidehilling stability is good, and the boost in motor size from 370 to 390 lets you do more with less trigger. Steering could use a boost, though. The Barrage’s servo is only rated for 54 oz.-in. of torque, which is sufficient on open trails and for bounce-around driving where precision isn’t a factor. But if you need the servo to scrub the tires into position against an obstacle, the torque deficit is apparent. Thankfully, the Barrage’s $180 asking price leaves plenty of room for a servo upgrade.

PLUS
+ Terrific value; half the price of 1/10 trail trucks
+ Well-equipped with steel axle gears, CV front driveshafts, and Falken tires
+ Bright LED lighting
MINUS
– Needs a more powerful steering servo for maximum trail performance
– Bland body design

FINAL WORD
I liked the original Barrage back when I tested it for the March 2017 issue, and the Gen2 model is a significant improvement with its wider stance and larger motor. If you’re looking to
get into trail trucking on a budget, the Barrage Gen2 is hard to beat at $180. Even if you add the cost of a servo upgrade (for example, a Spektrum S6020 metal-gear servo with 146 oz.-in. of torque at $33), you’re still only looking at $213 total. Compared to $300–$400 or more for a 1/10 truck, the Barrage offers lots of fun and capability for much less dough. I expect that for every newcomer who makes a Barrage Gen2 his or her first trail rig, there’s an experienced trail trucker with three or more trucks already in his or her fleet who will pick up a Barrage because the price is so low—when you can easily drop $120 just for a set of 1.9-inch wheels and tires, $180 for a complete RTR rig is hard to resist. Look up your local hobby store to get yours; the Barrage Gen2 isn’t sold online.

Updated: September 20, 2018 — 4:19 PM
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