By Matt Higgins
Hobby-grade RC vehicles are marvels of engineering. Even in the “early” days, RC cars have had surprisingly impressive designs and features. Remember the Tamiya Avante? The buggy was actually ahead of its time in the truest sense of the phrase. And, because the RC car hobby is naturally competitive (both on the track and on the hobby store shelves), the vehicle designs advance at an amazing rate. We thought it was only fitting that we pay homage to the vehicles that we believe are the best engineered in their respective categories. Check it out and see if you agree with our picks.
|Monster Truck: Traxxas Revo 3.3
If you made a list of the features that monster trucks typically don’t have and built a truck, you’d end up with something like the Traxxas Revo 3.3. Even though it’s been out for a few years now, we are still amazed by the engineering that went into this truck. The truly unique shape of the chassis protects the drivetrain, maintains a low center of gravity and is still easy to work on. Instead of being stiff like most big-wheeled monsters, the Revo’s suspension is plush and offers extremely long travel. To keep the soft suspension from being too mushy, Traxxas designed it to be progressive. On top of that, the shocks are inboard like a F1 race car. Add in Traxxas’ proven EZ-Start system, OptiDrive Electronic Shift Module and you have what is easily the best engineered monster truck in RC.
Runner up: Losi LST2
|Touring Car: Tigermoth LCG V10
Some people might have a hard time accepting this pick since it’s not from a mainstream RC company, but Tigermoth’s LCG V10 gets the win due to its smart use of a graphite and Styrene plastic laminated chassis plate. But, that’s not all it has going for it in terms of design. It also earns some serious points for its use of laydown shocks and ball-jointed suspension. The shocks can also be run in the traditional upright configuration, and the LCG V10 can be run with or without an upper plate. Need more? The electronics all run inline. It’s impossible to look at the LCG V10 and not be impressed. The LCG V10 wins essentially because it not only works, but it’s unique in a class of cars simply plagued with sameness.
Runner Up: Losi JRX-S Type R
|Buggy: Mugen MBX-6
While Mugen has a rich history in RC and still enjoys pockets of popularity, this hardcore racing company currently doesn’t get nearly the attention its more mainstream competitors receive. The reason? As the hobby has shifted and bashers and ready-to-runs are everywhere, Mugen hasn’t shifted its purpose which is to build race vehicles. It’s top buggy is the MBX-6, and the pre-built M-Spec version is about as close to RTR as you’re likely to see Mugen get. The fuel tank is a special low center of gravity design, as is the entire drivetrain. While not alone in this respect, the MBX-6 uses graphite shock towers. The MBX-6 also uses self-locking wheel nuts to end those embarrassing and race-ending moments when your buggy goes one way and a wheel goes another way. All of that is good, but the reason the MBX-6 wins is that it simply has what may be the best suspension geometry in RC.
Runner Up: Losi 8IGHT 2.0
|Rock Crawler: Axial XR10
You would think rock crawling would be all about brute force, durability and traction. In some respects it is, but competitive rock crawling is serious business. As such we’ve seen some high levels of engineering go into the latest wave of crawlers. The XR10 isn’t the first MOA (motor on axle) 2.2 crawler, but it is the first “mass produced” kit that is competition ready right out of the box. Not only do the axles have the preferred MOA setup for zero torque twist (read: much more capable climbing ability), but they are extremely streamlined and designed to skim over rocks without getting hung up. The guys at Axial know that maneuverability also wins comps, so the XR10 can practically turn on itself thanks to copious amounts of steering throw, the easy dig nature of MOA setups and option cutting brakes. Yup, Axial shocked everyone when it announced the rear wheels could be braked independently for extreme turning and vehicle control.
Runner Up: Losi Comp Crawler
|Short Corse Truck:
Team Associated Factory Team SC10
This category almost gets deemed too close to call. We, however, give the edge to the Factory Team SC10 because we believe it is the most race ready of all the 2WD short course trucks. Just about everything on this truck impresses us down to the simplest of parts such as its graphite battery strap that looks trick, cuts weight and allows the truck to properly flex as it runs over rough terrain. We love the V2 shocks with built-in bleed screws in the caps. The ball differential with lightened outdrives are all about maximized performance as is the new slipper design. Living up to its name, the Factory Team is loaded with aluminum hop-ups. Sure, all of this is nothing new in RC, but all these features ensure the Factory Team SC10 is fully loaded.
Runner Up: Traxxas Slash 4X4