In the last post, I mentioned that I was going to put my money where my mouth is. I recommend for new RC drivers to strongly consider the Traxxas Slash, in the two wheel drive variant. A base 2WD Slash, brushed, retails for a nickel under $180. Of course you need to add a battery to that, or you can spend the additional $50 and get the version with an included charger and NiMH battery pack.
As I wanted to get the new driver experience, I opted for the package with the NiMH battery. All my other cars are brushless, and they all use LiPO batteries, so this was to be an entirely new experience.
5 days later, the car showed up. Before the delivery window estimate. A good omen.
I ordered it from Amazon, but the fulfillment came from Traxxas direct. Today, I got it out for its first drive. I drove over to the local Park ‘n Ride lot (with Covid, there ain’t many people using the parking lot) and while I was driving over, I charged the battery. (The included charger uses the 12V accessory socket in your car. You can buy an AC adapter (ha ha, like I am going to continue to use the NiMH battery) for convenience. But I will continue to use it until I buy a proper LiPO battery.
As a ready to run car, it came out of the box good to go, especially with the included battery, there aren’t any real impediments to getting out and driving.
Now while the 2WD Slash is sedentary compared to my other cars, it was not purchased with the intent of it to be in the hunt, so to speak. I wanted to view this through the lens of a new driver.
So, for the rest of this post, I am going to pretend that I am a bright eyed 8 year old boy (or girl) who just received this car for a birthday or Christmas gift.
Through those eyes, I put 4 AA batteries into the transmitter, charged the NiMH battery, and followed the “Quick start instructions”.
Out of the box, the car looks great. This “edition” is the “Hawaiian” livery, and it has a lot of colors and patterns, as well as some “scale” looking decals.
I was concerned that the low end version of this vehicle would feel “cheap”, with mediocre tires, and other components. But they are surprisingly robust, at least on first impression. Sure, I could make it better. But like all RTR cars, it is built to a price point and a demographic in mind (curse my product manager background). However, the 8 year old me is impressed.
After topping up the battery, and properly powering up, it was time to drive. I was in a large parking lot, with lots of open space, some foliage debris (COVID means that not many people are using the lot) to drive through.
Pulling the trigger, the 8 year old me had a grin. No, it doesn’t have enough raw power to stand it up, and it isn’t a speed demon, but, for the new user, someone new to the sport, it is very gratifying. If I had to guess, wound flat out, it probably does about 20 MPH. Not a blistering pace, but respectable, and exciting.
Since I was on pavement, and it is a short course truck, it has a fairly high center of gravity, so there is a lot of body roll in corners. The manual does recommend adding some preload spacers to the front shocks to increase the “stiffness” and reduce that. I didn’t before this run, but I will when I go back to the parking lot.
One thing that I enjoyed, even with the slower pace of the NiMH batteries, was that the detritus from the trees’ leaves made it very easy to spin donuts. Lots and lots of donuts.
It also made for good J turns (the ol’ Rockford flipping a 180 trick) as well.
2WD is more difficult to drive, but at least with the lower power batteries, it is very manageable. The biggest difference is that when you jump on the brakes hard, only the rear has braking effect, and when you brake weight transfers to the front, unloading the rear, so it skids. That is new, and, uh, exciting.
Product manager me comes back out again. I did a couple more charge/runs, and decided to measure the time a charge lasts. Unlike a LiPO system, where the battery has fairly constant current output until it hits the LVC (low voltage cutoff, if you discharge LiPO batteries beyond a certain point, they can be damaged, or even catch on fire) the NiMH current output drops as they discharge. The time until it slows to a slow walk pace is about 8 minutes. Disappointing to say the least. But it is a fun 8 minutes.
But, in all, I am very happy with the 2WD Slash. I knew it would be very different than my other cars, and a good choice for beginners. And it has lived up to my expectations splendidly.
I will do some more driving, and begin to tweak it up. This project is going to be fun. I almost punted and bought the 4WD version, but I felt that the beginners experience would be a better path, and that the cost conscious option would be the choice. And so it is.
The second drive was with the NiMH battery, and I timed how long I was able to drive. It lasted 8 minutes, 23 seconds until it stopped going. Not great, but it worked well.
Tons of fun!