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TESTED: Traxxas TRX-4 Sport

TESTED: Traxxas TRX-4 Sport

The Traxxas TRX-4 was our choice for Truck of the Year when it debuted as a Land Rover Defender last year, and the SWAT-tastic Tactical and best-selling Bronco appeared soon after. All three are top-notch trail machines thanks to their portal axles, remote-locking differentials, and radio-operated High/Low transmissions, but those innovations add cost and a TRX-4 will set you back $420 to $450. “Worth it,” and the price hasn’t seemed to slow down sales. But Traxxas gets it—not everyone has that much extra cash for an RC truck. And there are plenty of trail truckers who are happy to leave their TRX-4s in Low and keep the diffs locked because they’re all trail, all the time. Either way, the new TRX-4 Sport is probably just the truck a lot of current and wannabe trail guys are looking for. With a suggested selling price of $360, the Sport squares off with the Vaterra Ascender, Axial SCX10 II, and HPI Venture (among other models) at the most popular price point for 1/10-scale trail rigs. To get the price down, Traxxas kept the essentials (the chassis, suspension, portal axles, and power system are unchanged) and moved the T-lock differentials and High/Low transmission to the “options” list instead of standard equipment, plus they made a few other tweaks. Let’s take a closer look…

AT A GLANCE
Type: 4X4 trail truck
Drivetrain: 4WD shaft
Power: Electric
Build: RTR
Price: $360

VEHICLE SPECS
Item no.: 82024-4
Scale: 1/10
Price: $360
Weight: 6 lb. 11.7 oz. (3057g)

Chassis
Type: Ladder frame
Material: Steel

Suspension
Type (F/R): Solid axle w/ Panhard bar/solid axle w/ 4-link
Shocks: Threaded aluminum body, 7mm-bore
Shafts: 3mm steel

Drivetrain
Type: Shaft-driven 4WD
Differentials: None
Driveshafts: Telescoping plastic w/ steel CV-style joints
Bearings: Rubber-sealed

Body, Wheels & Tires
Wheels: 5-spoke one-piece, 1.9-inch, 12mm hex
Tires: Traxxas Canyon Trail, S1 compound
Body: TRX-4 Sport polycarbonate

INCLUDED ELECTRONICS
Transmitter/receiver: Traxxas TQ 2-channel
Servo: Traxxas 2075X, metal-gear, 125 oz.-in.
Speed control: Traxxas XL-5 HV
Motor: Traxxas Titan 21T reverse rotation

Test Gear (not included)
Battery: Traxxas Power Cell 2S & 3S Power Cell LiPos

Single-Speed, Locked-Diff Drivetrain
The TRX Sport gets the same transmission housing and internals as the other TRX-4 models with the High/Low transmission, minus the “High” gears. The final-drive ratio in the Sport, however, is different than the other TRX-4 models in Low gear because Traxxas equips the Sport with a 17-tooth pinion and 39-tooth spur (2.29:1 ratio) in place of the other models’ 11T/45T combo (4.09:1 ratio). The Sport also skips the T-Lock remote-locking differentials; instead, you’ll find “spools” in their place for full-time, locked-axle driving. Notably, the ring gear attached to the spool is the same part used with the T-Lock diffs. All the parts to add High/Low shifting and T-Lock diffs to the Sport will be offered as upgrade kits.

The Sport has the same transmission parts as the two-speed TRX-4 models—Traxxas just leaves out the “High” gears.

In place of the T-Lock remote-locking diffs, the Sport has solid spools.


Portal Axles & Linked, Aluminum-Shock Suspension
The Sport just wouldn’t be a TRX-4 without portal axles. In addition to jacking up the differentials for more ground clearance (or lowering the stub axles, if you prefer to look at it that way), the portals also reduce torque twist by putting more of the total gear reduction into the axles. That increases driveshaft speed, so less torque is applied at the axle. Presto—less torque twist. Slim, threaded-body GTS aluminum shocks with trail-appropriate spring rates hold up the chassis. Beefy steel links with heavy-duty rod ends locate the axles, with four links in the rear and a Panhard bar setup up front. Traxxas got the geometry right—there’s plenty of steering throw and no bump-steer.

Gotta have portals to be a TRX-4.

The scale-diameter
GTS shocks look realistic and are well tuned to the truck’s weight and mission.

No change to the Canyon Trail 1.9-inch tires used on all the TRX-4 models, but the Sport does get its own 5-spoke wheel design.

Traxxas saves a few bucks on the Sport by spec’ing the 2-channel TQ transmitter instead of the 4-channel TQi, which means there’s no Cruise Control capability for the Sport—at least, not out of the box. You can upgrade to the TQi system with the Traxxas Power-Up Program, “tell it” the receiver is installed in a TRX-4 using Traxxas Link and the optional Bluetooth module, and then you’ll have Cruise Control.

3S-Rated with Trail & Crawl Modes
The Sport’s XL-5 HV 3S speed control and 21-turn Titan brushed motor are shared with the other TRX-4s, so you get Sport, Race, Training, Trail, and Crawl modes. Sport mode has no extra drag brake; you just get the natural drag of the motor. Trail mode increases drag brake, and Crawl mode sets drag brake to 100%—anytime you let off the gas, the brakes go to 100% for “hill hold.” The speed control is set with low-voltage detection (LVD) on from the factory, so the Sport is ready for your 2S or 3S LiPo pack. Or you can turn LVD off and go NiMH.

No skimping in the power department—you get the same waterproof, 3S-rated gear as the other TRX-4 models.


WHERE’S THE WEIGHT?
I was curious to see just how the Sport stacked up against the Tactical, Land Rover Defender, and Bronco versions of the TRX-4 in terms of weight distribution, so I busted out the scales and weighed each truck with a 3S LiPo onboard. With 53% of its weight over the front axle, the Sport is the most weight-forward truck of the TRX-4 lineup.

The pickup body isn’t a model of any particular full-size truck, which helps keep the TRX-4 Sport’s price low—no need to cut a check to Chevy, Ford, Toyota, etc. Officially licensed bodies are great, but they do add cost.

The Sport will accept all the options currently offered for the TRX-4 lineup, but Traxxas also has Sport-specific parts in the pipeline. Expect to see LED light bars, a roof rack and bed cage, sand ladders, fuel/water canisters, and more.

BEHIND THE WHEEL
As long as the speed control is rated for the extra juice (and the Sport’s is), I like to run my trail trucks on a 3S pack instead of 2S. And so, in went a Traxxas Power Cell 5000mAh 3-cell LiPo for the Sport’s maiden voyage. I was counting on extra boost, but I was surprised by just how fast (by trail standards) the Sport is—it sure seemed faster than my Bronco and Tactical TRX-4s on 3S in Low. Surprise, the Sport’s pinion/spur gear ratio is taller: 2.29:1 instead of 4.09:1. That might be more gear than you want if your trail driving is exclusively low-speed creeping, but I suspect a lot of Sport buyers will appreciate the extra squirt. I know I do, as my driving spots tend to have plenty of open spaces between the truly challenging sections. Aside from the extra speed, the Sport felt like my TRX-4 Bronco—which makes sense since the Bronco has the same Canyon Trail tires and 12.3-inch wheelbase as the Sport. I couldn’t unlock the diffs like I do with the Bronco, but in locked-diff mode, the Sport gave up nothing on the trail. The portal axles increase ground clearance and reduce twist, the damping and spring rates seem well tuned to the truck’s weight, and the tires are exceptionally good—all of which makes the Sport a really capable terrain tamer right out of the box. Yes, it could use a more powerful servo for heavy-duty crawling or comps. I hear you. But as long as you’re not stalling the servo against obstacles, I think you’ll find the 2075X servo’s 125 oz.-in. of torque to be perfectly capable of keeping you pointed in the right direction, and the metal gears inside make it far stronger than the plastic-gear version. I thought about the servo exactly zero times on my trip to Arbor Hills Nature Reserve in Plano, Texas, where I tested the Sport. What I did think about was how I should have worn my Fitbit, since I did a ton of walking, and how versatile the Sport is. I found myself sliding the truck around mountain-bike berms one minute, then clawing up stair-stepped roots the next. Rocky water crossings were no problem, but I confess I don’t like to go deep. Axle-high is enough for me, I don’t like to go full U-boat. Sharp-edged rocks piled to prevent erosion and/or block bikers (I guess?) were the most challenging, as the irregular shapes and sizes created tall ledges and deep gaps. But as long as there was a line to be found, the Sport got up and over. The portal axles certainly helped, and the soft trail rubber smooshed capably over obstacles to find grip. Good fun.

FINAL WORD
This is where I usually point out that the TRX-4 models with locking diffs and the High/Low transmission cost more than the single-speed, locked-diff competition simply because they’ve got those extra features. Take the locking diffs and High/Low trans out of the equation and the TRX-4 Sport prices out right in the $350 sweet spot, alongside the other trucks with locked diffs and a single-speed gearbox. But the Sport still ticks off a few more feature boxes that belie its low price: There are those portal axles, which are a real benefit on the trail, and the aluminum GTS shocks—which honestly would be fine in plastic, but who doesn’t prefer aluminum? The “cheap” TRX-4 is anything but; Traxxas trimmed the most premium features to whack $100 out of the price, but the Sport is still a well-equipped ride with excellent trail performance. I expect Traxxas will sell a ton of these things.

PLUS
+ Genuine TRX-4 trail performance for about $100 less than the Bronco, Tactical, and Defender
+ No cheap-outs—same parts and plastics as the other TRX-4 models
+ 3S-rated power system with versatile brake modes
+ Can be upgraded with locking diffs and High/Low trans

MINUS
– Body could be meaner looking? Your call
– Hardcore trail runners might prefer lower gearing

Updated: August 30, 2018 — 1:17 PM
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