The Shoot Out

Testing The Best RC Crawlers Head To Head

Jun. 29, 2006 By Pete Bach

The Colorado RC Rock Crawling Winter Point Series ended months ago, which only means one thing…..The Summer Point Series is right around the corner! Of course, we’ve all been wrenching and improving on our crawling creations over the past couple of months but what’s toughest is the wait in between the big competitions. What’s most exciting for this year is the anticipation of the newly formed and planned “grand finally” which will occur in September, in Moab Utah, where only the elite will be invited to compete for the top spot in radio controlled rock crawling. The championship will, without doubt, be the hot bed for all new innovations and mastery of driving skills. And while driving skills will perhaps be the biggest factor at this championship, there will still be talk brewing amongst the seasoned veterans as well as the new onlooker as to which type of “build” is best. What platform will dominate through the slickrock? Which platform has proven itself over the past few years and what new designs have a chance at walking away with the championship trophy?

We decided to take five different trucks and show their differences in performance. Walk them over the exact same terrain, using the same lines where possible and see if wheel base, tire size and type and over all build type really make a difference when building a rig that will compete for the top spot in September, in Moab. Each truck has some similarities in product type, however, each also has components and measurements that provide drastic differences in the rocks.

Here is a brief introduction to each rig:

Yellow Jeep Rubicon:

Clod Buster Axles, SW2 Chassis, 18 inch wheel base, 7 inch Proline Racing Moab XL tires on Proline Bead Loc wheels

Orange Jeep and Purple Rubicon:

Clod Buster Axles, Custom Built Chassis, 13 inch wheel base, 5.5 inch IMEX All T tires

Black Jeep CJ-8:

TLT-1 axles, SW2 chassis, shaft driven Traxxas Stampede tranny, 12.5 inch wheel base, 5.1 inch Proline Masher 2000 tires

Orange Jeep J-10 Honcho:

TLT-1 axles, SW2 chassis, shaft driven Traxxas Stampede tranny, 11 inch wheel base, 4.9 inch Proline Moab 2.2 tires

Orange Nylint Jeep Unlimited Rubicon

Stock, pulled it right out of the box in the parking lot, 6 th Scale Nylint rock crawler

The terrain picked for the test is similar to that of the famed Moab slick rock. A popular crawl spot for local Coloradans is Palmer Park, located in the heart of Colorado springs and has unlimited sand stone formations that shoot to the sky, making it the perfect weekend playground for RC Crawlers.

The first obstacle for our fantastic 5 was a slick rock chute that is reminiscent of Moab’s Stairway to Heaven. Very steep, very narrow and tire placement is critical during ascent. First up was the big, heavy Orange Nylint Jeep. It started out as expected, churning its tires for traction. The gearing is perfect for the lumbering Nylint but the tire compound is just too hard, even on the sand paper-like stone. It slowly clawed toward the top of the stairway when a rear tire slipped into the center crevasse. As the rear went in, the suspension “jacked” the front end and the springs unloaded, sending the 30 pound rig tumbling backwards. Jumping out of the way was the best idea of the day, as it tumbled to the bottom, coming to rest on its roll cage.

It was then decided that the Stairway was just too steep for our Nylint Jeep after the third try. Over obstacle 2, the Nylint shined, as its super flexy suspension oozed through the large boulders. The large tires and low gearing made short work of the boulders

but it still had troubles with the steep climb at the end, which it also failed to complete. Although not fairing well over these small courses, the Nylint may have been the most fun and challenging crawler to drive!

Next up was the Orange Jeep J-10 Honcho, which was built as a rock racer hybrid crawler. While the truck is based off of the Bender Customs SW2 crawling chassis, some suspension modifications, a shorter wheel base and a hot motor and gearing, allow this truck to get up and boogie at nearly four times the speed of a comparable crawler, doing it all with its ultra cool 70’s style Jeep body. As it started up the stairway, it was evident that the 2.2 Moab tires were the ticket in this type of rock, hence their name! The other interesting and noticeable difference during the climb, was the speed. It was hardly a crawl…at all. It glided up the stairway and when it hit a low spot, the suspension allowed the tires to droop into it, providing total control and traction. This was another deviation from the norm in rc crawling, as the large majority of other crawlers are built with only up travel and no down travel at all. The last part of the stairway proved to be this trucks demise, however, as the left turn at the top put you up against a wall of rock that was at least 75 degrees steep

Even with the heavily weighted and sticky tires, the eleven inch wheel base was not enough to propel the little rock racer to the top. Try after try, it ended up on its 30 year old, Lexan lid. Moving onto the boulder field, it too gave the Macho Honcho, Mucho trouble-o-. The smaller rocks seemed no trouble but the larger rocks required a slower crawl, which this rig was not built for.

Instead, speed was needed through this section and all of us crawlers and rock racers know what speed equals in our sport: Carnage! A broken rear drive shaft stopped the Jeep in its tracks and the day was done for Honcho.

Two failed attempts but now it was time for the big, long, slinky Clod Buster based, Super Crawler to give these two sections a try. The yellow Rubicon bodied crawler looks capable just sitting still and it also proved to be just as capable in the rocks! Its track was narrow enough to easily slide through the stairway with only minor suspension flex needed. The wheel base, at eighteen inches, allowed it to climb to the top, never struggling with anything along the way. The four wheel steering turned it right into the 75 degree wall and the giant Moab tires clawed their way onto it.

Once all four tires got their bite into the rock, it easily started the whole truck up the hill, slightly lifting its front tires toward the very top and after only sixty seconds, the big Clod finished the first section with little, to no drama! The second section, consisting of the larger boulders, was just as easily tackled by the big truck.

Once again, the huge, tachy tires, eased the rig through, only slightly hanging up once on a pointed rock that wedged into the center skid area. It seemed that these two small test courses were not built to the standards of a true Super Crawler.

Up next was the Orange and Purple, Rubicon bodied crawler. Its Clod axles, with extreme low center of gravity and the larger Imex All-T tires, looked to be all business and set out to tackle the Stairway. The scale appearance of the truck was what I noticed first…but what was noticed second was detrimental to this trucks success. The tires were simply not cut out for extreme rock crawling. The size and tread pattern looked awesome but the compound was simply not sticky enough. The Jeep walked right up the Stairway,

with plenty of suspension and other modifications, however, once it turned towards the wall, the tires could only spin and hop the truck sideways out of line. Each time it was repositioned at the base of the wall, it inched upward, only to repeat failure. Turning the truck down hill was the only option and the rock pile was up ahead. Over the first few large rocks, it was apparent that this truck was made for that specific terrain. Five and a half inch tall tires on a 12.5 inch wheel base seemed to be the hot set up, cruising over large rocks and deep voids.

While the tires slipped from side to side a bit, they still had the bite to easily walk through the big stuffwith only a few scares.

Last up was the Black Jeep CJ, the purpose built 2.2 Class Competition crawler. The shorter wheel base and smaller tires were already a concern after watching the other trucks and those made up this trucks recipe. Starting up the Stairway, the M2 compound of the Proline Masher tires was obviously well suited for the 40 Grit rock it was rolling over. Being much narrower than the Clod axled trucks, it had little to bump or roll over. The tires clung to the sides of the stairway, keeping it away from the crevasse that sucked the big Nylint in. Once it reached the top, it made the quick right turn for the wall, having to make a short back up to position itself for the climb. Slowly it crawled onto the face, steadily increasing forward momentum while ascending, as the shaft driven trucks sometimes need a bit of convincing up obstacles that steep. The right front tire started to lift, just as it crested the summit! No problem for the little shafty! A quick turn around and down

the black Jeep came, rambling on to the boulder field. Over the first rock, it three wheeled past cleanly. The suspension was getting a work out but it was tackling the rocks beautifully

and very slowly, thanks to its Stampede transmission. As it came to the exit gate, the front left tire wedged into a hole that the big tired trucks floated right over. A blip of the reverse throttle shot the truck out and forward progress continued to the end. A very clean run…..almost as perfect as the big clod demonstrated moments before.

Our little test was concluded and much was told in a short amount of time. While there are many things that make a good crawler, such as little modifications and machine milled parts, there were a couple of characteristics that seemed to be most important of all. Wheel base and tire choice were certainly the two that stood out the most. A shorter wheel base and larger tire proved to be a good combination in the big boulders. A very short wheel base and super gummy, mid sized tires, just didn’t fair well over all. Big tires and a big wheel base seemed to be the best overall, however, it did get hung up on some of the bigger boulders. What’s the best combination?

Was their a clear winner? Is there a better truck out of the five tested? As in many of these types of tests, the answer is…..well… “maybe”. They all have their pros and cons but what we are all still waiting for is for that innovative someone to build the perfect crawler. The one with no trade offs. No compromises.

So…..If a build like this happens during the off season, we will have a winner this September in Moab for sure! He’s the owner and driver of the truck with the smallish, bigger tires and the shorter but longish wheel base. See ya on the rocks! Newsletter
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