As you know, we love making our readers happy–and part of making you happy is reading your emails and giving you the type of coverage that you ask for. Thankfully, we’ve received many emails over the past few months requesting coverage of a category that’s very close to my heart: Radio Control vehicles. I started building and running kits over 25 years ago, and I’ve been a fan of RC ever since. I know there are many of you out there that are less familiar with the RC hobby; some folks may think RC vehicles are too complicated, while others may feel that price is a barrier. For those of you that have been on the fence about jumping into this great hobby, I have some good news: It’s far less complicated than you think, and the prices of RC vehicles today are very reasonable. Since this article is the first of many relating to RC, I thought we’d start with one of the most popular vehicles out there: The Traxxas Slash 4×4 Short-Course Racing Truck.
Traxxas is known as “The Fastest Name in RC,” but they’ve built their reputation on more than just speed–they’ve also pioneered some of the biggest trends in the hobby. One of the best contributions Traxxas has made to the industry would have to be mainstreaming high-quality RTR vehicles. “Ready-to-Run” is pretty much exactly how it sounds; everything you need to run your truck right out of the box is included–an assembled vehicle, body and radio. But Traxxas takes RTR one step further, by making the Slash “Ready-to-Race.” In addition to what a normal ready-to-run kit includes, Traxxas also includes a 7 cell racing battery, wall charger and perhaps coolest of all…a fully painted body (in my case, it’s the Mark Jenkins Edition, featuring a perfect replica of his actual Short-Course Racing Truck–right down to the rims and BF Goodrich rubber). As a father of 2 little ones, I’ve grown to appreciate RTR vehicles; as much fun as I used to have building my cars and trucks from kits, I simply don’t have the time that I used to–so being able to buy a truck that’s fully assembled and ready to go is a huge plus for me. But just because the Slash 4×4 comes fully assembled doesn’t mean you can’t take it apart; you purists out there are still able to break this beast down right to its chassis and hop it up to your heart’s content.
The funny part is, there’s nothing you really have to do to the Slash to make it competitive; when Traxxas says it’s ready-to-race, they’re not kidding! Velineon brushless motor and VXL-3s electronic speed control? Yup. Anodized aluminum driveshaft? That too. Oil-filled shocks and rubber-sealed ball bearings? You bet. And for extra fun…waterproof electronics. The Traxxas Slash 4×4 does not only survive any weather, it was built for any weather. Those YouTube videos of a Traxxas Slash in water and mud past its tires? It’s no joke…this is the first vehicle I’ve ever run that I genuinely felt comfortable driving through anything. At first, you may feel guilty taking a pristine racer like this and putting it through its paces at your local dirt track; but to have a Slash and not get it dirty…it’s just not right.
When you go through all of the specs and every feature the Slash has, it’s easy to get the impression that this truck was built purely for racers. And while the Slash 4×4 has won countless races and multiple awards, (including RC Car Action’s 2010 Truck of the Year) its most impressive feature may be how easy it is to drive…even for novices. Like all Traxxas vehicles, the Slash 4×4 is built to handle exactly like its full-size counterpart, and experienced drivers will certainly see the benefits of this on the track–but the Slash is also incredibly forgiving, allowing new drivers to experience the thrill of off-road RC racing without punishing them. Part of what makes the Slash special in this regard is how scaleable it is. The VXL-3s electronic speed control allows users to adjust performance as their skills increase and can be easily customized; the 2.4GHz radio that’s included also allows for customized settings and offers interference-free control normally reserved for $300 radios. You can also control your experience by changing your gearing; increasing your speed is only a pinion change away–Traxxas was even kind enough to include the extra pinion gear for you weekend racers. But know this: The Traxxas Slash 4×4 can hit 40mph right out of the box! Yes…you read that right. This is the first time I’ve ever had an RC car or truck and never felt like I needed more power; a simple squeeze of the index finger will give most drivers all the thrills they’ll ever need.
The acceleration of the Slash is incredible; thanks to the brushless motor, you hit top speed almost instantly. But power without control is useless, and thankfully, the Slash handles like a champ. Power slides are not only easy to execute, but also easy to exit; the truck also has a very neutral feel and doesn’t require constant driver input to remain on course–again, a tribute to Traxxas engineering. Speaking of engineering, I have to give special thanks to the folks at Traxxas for doing something almost unheard of in the industry–creating a user’s manual that’s actually well thought out and easy to understand; it’s not only good for Slash owners, but also good for Traxxas not having to overwork their excellent tech support team. But the Slash also features something that you can’t quantify and that will never appear on a spec sheet: It’s fun. Driving a big old 1/10th scale short-course truck is just a blast; imagine the best handling, fastest RC car you’ve ever had, that could also drive through and around anything, and you’ll start to get the idea of how much fun this truck is. And when it comes right down to it, isn’t fun what this hobby is all about?
The Traxxas Slash 4×4 RTR retails for $399, but can be found at most online retailers and hobby shops for around $350.