Building a trail-capable rig is not something all of us can afford to do. Even if you have built one, all it takes to be sidelined is a broken part, and it might be weeks before you can get back out on the trail. It can be frustrating, but one thing we really enjoy between trail runs (or even when our junk is broken and we are sitting around the house dreaming of when we can get back out on the trail) is having fun with a scale trail rig. This especially holds true if your nearest trail is several hours away, or if all your off-road buddies bail on you for various reasons. Don’t sit and be miserable—grab your scale radio control truck and go have fun right in your own back yard. Heck, we know people that have built mini trails right in their yard to have fun with!
The radio control fanatics at Traxxas have been building R/C vehicles for over 30 years now and know how to put a smile on a kid’s face (and on the face of the kid in all of us). Traxxas has put out some great off-road trucks over the years, and one of our favorites was the Traxxas Summit. This behemoth featured a two-speed transmission and locking front and rear diffs, all controllable from the handheld transmitter. This allowed high-speed fun, but at the flick of a switch the Summit could be geared down for crawling and the diffs locked to get up and over those obstacles. It was, and still is, a really fun truck.
Recently we got word that Traxxas was working on something new, a trail rig with incredible scale details that featured a lot of that “first gen” tech of the Summit but wrapped in an all-new chassis that could make it one of the most capable off-road scale machines out there. Our friends at Traxxas let us in on the ground floor to check this new rig out. To say we are impressed would be an understatement. Traxxas knocked it out of the park with the new TRX-4 Scale and Trail vehicle.
The new Traxxas TRX-4 is a clean-sheet design. The engineers looked at everything a real crawling and trail vehicle would need to be the most capable on dirt, rocks, and gravel. This included a low crawler gear, super-sticky tires, front and rear locking differentials, a low center of gravity, tons of articulation, and the biggest “wow” of them all: high center portal axles front and rear for unbeatable ground clearance!
Once the Traxxas team finished designing a real C-channel steel frame and bolted on aluminum shocks, the two-speed transmission, the portal axles, and all the other goodies to make it run, they topped it off with a fully licensed and true-to-scale Land Rover Defender body in red or gray (we scored a red one for our testing). Even the body itself got the full scale treatment, with a functional spare tire, jerry cans, a “high lift” style jack, a roof rack with an exterior cage, and more.
The new TRX-4 is almost too nice to get dirty, but there’d be no fun letting it sit on the shelf. We took it out to a nearby mountain bike trail and took it for a spin. Next time we get the itch to hit the trail and sling a little dirt but our time is limited or our trail rig is down for work, we can do it immediately in our backyard.
Traxxas began the design for the new TRX-4 just like a fullsize automaker would, with the frame. Made from 1.5mm steel, the ladder-style frame is a strong foundation that eliminates flex, allowing the tires and suspension to work properly.
The TRX-4 uses a multilink suspension front and rear. Up front is a three-link with a Panhard rod, while aft is a traditional triangulated four-link. The links are beefy 5mm steel with rod ends too.
Those suspension links keep the front and rear portal axles in check. These portal axles, a first for Traxxas, offer greater ground clearance (something a 1-inch-taller tire would have to be installed to match) without straining the axles themselves.
This cutaway shows the details of how Traxxas designed the all-metal gears of the portals that are fully supported by roller bearings. Utilizing additional gear reduction in the portals eliminates torque twist, which can be a limitation in traditional axle trucks.
Controlling all of the suspension’s movements are these very trick aluminum coilover shocks. They are completely rebuildable and adjustable by changing fluid viscosities, spring rates, pistons, and so on.
The tires included on the ready-to-run TRX-4 are of Traxxas’ own design and feature a “trail-tuned rubber compound” and foam insert. They are, however, not true beadlock wheels but are instead glued to the plastic wheels.
The steering angle on the TRX-4 is a generous 45 degrees, which means you get tight turning with the diffs open and plenty of maneuverability on the rocks.
The TRX-4’s chassis layout is clean and easy to work on. One side features the differential locker shift servos, while the opposite side houses transmission shift servo and speed control and radio receiver (everything is waterproof). The battery sits in the middle of the chassis with a front-mounted motor configuration for good balance.
You might have noticed the “floor pan” in the previous underbody shot. Traxxas provided a pan not only for scale looks but also to keep mud and debris out of the vehicle. Along the same lines, Traxxas even fitted the Land Rover body with wheelwells for that unbelievable scale look as well as protection of all the chassis electronics.
Even though the TRX-4 has only been on the shelf about a month, the Traxxas engineers have been hard at work creating all manner of scale goodies for their new baby because they know people love to personalize. Right out of the gate they have these trick red towhooks and diff covers coming, with more gear, including LED lighting, hitting the stores as we speak.
While the TRX-4 is only available out of the box in either red or gray, if you’re looking to dress yours in a custom color (or perhaps that end of-the-world flat desert tan), you can get your hands on this new clear option body. Paint it up as you see fit and stand out from the crowd.
Controls on the TQi radio are intuitive, with the High/Low transmission rocker switch next to the throttle, and the T-Lock Differential toggle up top alongside the Set button, which activates Traxxas’ exclusive Cruise Control. Set the speed and control steering one-handed for added comfort during extended times on the hiking trail.
Kicking It Old School
While we are talking awesome trucks that love to play in the dirt, we can’t resist a quick look at the new Bigfoot No. 1 truck from Traxxas as well. While monster trucks aren’t something John Q. Public usually has parked in his driveway, there’s no denying that monster trucks are huge with fans of all ages. Like many of you, we can’t wait for the annual Monster Truck Tour to visit at our city so we can cheer on our favorite drivers and catch a little bit of mayhem. Even life-size versions of Traxxas’ Craniac, Skully, and X-Maxx can be seen running at these venues!
Traxxas has been building licensed monster truck replicas for a while now, but the Bigfoot No. 1 that the company released earlier this year holds a special place in our mudslinging hearts. You see, it is arguably the beginning of the monster truck movement right here with this mid-1970s Ford F-series Ranger that Bob Chandler built, and now you can own a scale replica to have your own muddy fun with.
Right down to the Predator carbs sticking through the hood, the licensed Ford truck body, and of course those iconic KC lights on the chrome roll bar, it’s all there, just like we remember as a kid. Pick up two, make a course, and have some monster truck races of your own. You can thank us later!
The scale licensed Ford truck body is incredibly detailed and includes scale replica graphics just like the original No. 1 Bigfoot ran back in the early days of the monster truck craze.
While most polycarbonate R/C bodies are one molded piece, Traxxas went the extra mile tooling up real chrome plastic bumpers, grille, roll bar, lights, and of course those memorable Predator carburetors poking through the hood.
Like all proper monster trucks, Traxxas has outfitted the Bigfoot No. 1 truck with scale-appearing rubber tires with simulated carved tire treads on wheels that look like industrial beadlocks.
The Traxxas Stampede 2WD chassis has been around for a long time and has quite the following. It is a strong yet easy chassis to work on, and hundreds of parts from a multitude of sources are available for upgrades and service. Our first upgrade will be the Traxxas wheelie bar—we don’t want to put a scratch on that killer body with a potential rollover (this truck wheelies like crazy!).
Traxxas fitted the Bigfoot No. 1 monster truck with water proof electronics. Shown here is the electronic speed control (ESC). Inside the waterproof black housing is the radio system’s receiver. No worries about getting the electronics wet and cutting your fun short!
At the rear is the trusty Traxxas Titan 12-turn brushed motor. This motor has plenty of power, and the optional pinion gear would provide even more once you get used to driving it!
If you get tickets for the Traxxas Monster Truck Tour you’ll be wowed by fullsize versions of some of Traxxas’ most popular trucks, and of course Bigfoot too!