What 2wd Short Course Truck for racing in 2014?

In my mind the Short Course Truck has done a lot to invigorate electric 1:10 off road since it’s appearance in the form of the Traxxas Slash which brought the fun (and fender rubbing) back to a lot of RC Racers.  The Short Course Truck was also affordable, durable and brought a lot of new people into RC racing with it’s scale looks and handling.  Now another two generations down the line, what are the options out there at the moment if you want to buy a Short Course truck for racing in your local 2wd SCT category.

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Traxxas

The Slash is still the original Short Course Truck, and it is still available almost unaltered from when it was first released back in 2008 as a RTR.  In racing terms, the slash died off when the 2nd generation of lower centre of gravity short course trucks appeared.  That said, I have seen many a beginner racing a slash, and in some cases very successfully, partially through the Traxxas Low CG chassis version that was released recently, and the Proline Low CG conversion kit that has now resulted in the Pro-2 truck. Today there are no less than 6 different versions of the Slash available varying from the original through to Robbie Gordon editions, Ford F150 SVT Raptor versions, and the latest version with an On Board Sound generator to sound like the real thing! Interestingly there is no version which comes with the Low CG chassis as seen in the Traxxas Rally, but it is an option for around $40 USD.  The Slash is still tough as nails, and always looks great, but as a racer has been dynamically eclipsed in most forms.

Team Associated

Associated were the 2nd cab off the rank in the Short Course Truck market releasing the SC10 in 2009.  Based on the popular RC10T4 it had a much lower CG and was if you like the style of the 2nd generation of Short Course Trucks to hit the market.  Whilst still durable, it was more competitive and race oriented due to it’s close relationship with the T4. Today you can still buys a SC10 RTR or you can get the SC10RS (Race Spec) with some upgrades, or the SC10.2 is available as a kit.  Now the kits are always something that racers like because they can build up their car, add upgrades and electronics of their liking to them.  Ironically few RTR versions of SCT’s actually meet the motor and esc requirements for the AARCMCC sanctioned SCT class as most are sensorless.  Associated also hit the mark with the SC10 for another reason, they came with a plethora of good looking bodies, in many cases modeled off the real thing in one of the various Truck Racing Classes from TORC, CORR or Baja. Like all trucks of the time, it is still rear motor configuration only, but on most tracks that still works just fine.

HPI Racing

HPI came to the short course party in late 2009, and like the SC10, it too was based on a Stadium Truck, in this instance the bulletproof E-Firestorm.  The Blitz was a RTR with scale Maxxis Trepador tyres, a 15t brushed motor and NiMH battery with wall charger. This was the Short Course that I wanted as I had an E-Firestorm at the time.  However I never actually bought one because as a racing vehicle it was soon overshadowed by the Blitz ESE Kit released in 2010.  The ESE stood for Erik Shauver Edition , the designer of this racing special variant of the ESE.  Visually it stood in stark contrast the the black plastics of the Blitz because it used stiffer White and Grey plastics in virtually every single part of the vehicle.  This was a blessing in terms of handling, but a curse in terms of durability.  Personally I have snapped two ESE Chassis, but the 3rd one is still going strong, as is the whole vehicle some 4 years of racing later, although it is for sale at the moment, but more on that later.  This was the first all white kit I had seen since the very early Associated Kits, and something that is still fairly unusual, probably because it always ends up looking dirty! Today the only variant of the blitz still on sale is the Blitz Flux RTR, a brushless version of the standard kit with new electronics, radio and tyres. THe Blitz still is available in a rear motor mount only configuration.

Kyosho

The Ultima SC hit the tracks in 2010 based on a lengthened RB5 Buggy, and it was a good platform, albeit one that I didn’t see much of personally.  There was also a kit version with the upgrades you would expect in the form of the Ultima SC-R as well.  However the Ultima SC6 released early this year was the truck that really brought Kyosho back to the rest of the pack. The offspring of the RB6 Buggy and RT6 Stadium Truck, it very much looks like a stretched alloy chassis that is in the RT6 with all of the Short Course parts that you expect to see.  As well as the alloy chassis, there is mid or rear motor configurations making it a true 3rd generation truck. Great shocks and a competitive platform well and truly makes the SC6 a top of the line competitive SCT.

Losi & TLR

Losi started in the SCT game with their Strike in 2010, and from the little I saw of it, it wasn’t particularly popular, at least not at my club. However things greatly improved for Losi when their new racing arm, TLR, released the 22SCT based on their popular TLR22 Buggy in 2012.  This was a quantum leap forward in vehicle dynamics, bringing a narrow alloy chassis and a re configurable motor position that allowed for the traditional rear mounted motor, or a mid mounted configuration for high traction surfaces that were becoming popular at the time.  In essence defining the layout of the 3rd generation of Short Course Trucks. Today the same revolutionary platform is still available in an updates form of the 22SCT 2.0 boasting a range of updates and improvements, and is still one of the top choices for racers around the globe. The added benefit of the 22SCT using the buggy platform is that you have some parts commonality between the 22 Buggy, 22SCT Short Course and 22T Stadium truck if you race a few classes.

Team Durango

Team Durango is a very young RC manufacturer, starting with a 4wd Buggy of their own design in 2009 and branching out into many different classes after that.  Today they have fantastic 2wd and 4wd platforms in 1:10, as well as Buggy and Truggy platforms in 1:8 scale.  2011 saw the release of Durango’s DEX210 2wd Buggy, but it was not until 2012 that the DEST210 Stadium Truck and DESC210 Short Course Truck were released on the same platform.  Like the Losi, the Durango features a variable configuration that allows mid and centre motor placement which in my mind places it as another 3rd generation SCT.  However unlike the Buggy which has a narrow alloy chassis, the Stadium Truck and SCT feature a composite chassis.  To all accounts the platform is a good one, and I’ve got a DEX210 Buggy myself now. The DEX210 is on the upgraded V2 version now, and I hear that the V2 SCT is on the way soon as well, but for now the original DESC210 is still for sale, and for a rather good price, which is why I am finally saying goodbye to my Blitz ESE (or trying to) in order to get a DESC210 to become my Short Course race truck.

Serpent

A late comer to the Short Course game, Serpent only released their Short Course Truck earlier this year in the shape of the Spyder SCT SRX-2 RM (I know, long name).  Based on the buggy with almost as long a name, it has some interesting design features such as lexan inserts on the side nerf bars to try and stop some of the parachute effect that Short Course Trucks are famous for when jumping. Like the Durango it uses a composite chassis although rumor has it the buggy is having some issues with breaking chassis. It looks like Serpent is going to go the route of different models for Mid and Rear motor mounts, but unlike the buggy, there has been no sighting of a mid mount version yet, but I think that is only a matter of time before it appears.  A Kit or RTR version of the Spyder SCT is currently available.

Other Players in the SCT Marketplace

There are many other Short Course Trucks in the marketplace from players such as ECX, ARRMA and Helion, and I am not for a minute saying that they can’t cope with the rigors of a race track, it’s just that they are not designed as racers, and the design and upgrades available for them reflect that, as well as the strength of the materials used.  A bashing vehicle tends to have softer more flexible parts which will take a hit readily, but a race vehicle tends to trade durability for composure and handling on the circuit through stiffer or lighter materials.

Short Course Trucks have not found favour with every manufacturer either.  Tamiya have no SCT offering, which is interesting as some of their early trucks could certainly be pointed to as the source of SCT, but in truth it’s popularity was fuelled by the Traxxas Slash despite it not being the first to the party by some years. To date there is no SCT from Schumacher for example, although photos of prototypes have appeared in recent times.  Xray is another major racing brand that still does not offer a SCT.  I suspect to some of these manufacturers still see Short Course racing as a fad that won’t last, and for a long time that is how it was considered by many in the industry I think.  However SCT has brought a lot of new people o the RC Racing scene and many have stayed and loved it.  I know the close racing and low level of repairs is what attracted me to it initially, as well as strong numbers at my local club.

It is also interesting to note that many people who started in Short Course Trucks are also stepping up into the Stadium Truck class which is helping to fuel a re emergence of interest in that class to levels not seen for a decade.

2nd Hand Trucks

I have said it before, and i’ll say it again, don’t discount looking at a 2nd hand truck.  You do not have to have the world’s best Short Course Truck to race and have fun.  In fact nowhere is this more true than in the short course class. This is especially true of the offerings from Losi, Team Durango and Kyosho where their 3rd generation trucks have had upgrades to new versions, sparking some very good deals to be had out there.

Will SCT Last?  I don’t know, nobody does, but for the time being it is a popular and fun class that looks more realistic than any other being raced.  If you haven’t had a try, beg borrow or, well borrow not steal, and give it a go, you might just like it!

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