Word: Carissa Smyka
Photos: Walter Sidas
Serpent has been in the RC industry for well over 25 years. Serpent started out designing nitro cars, mastered the design, won a lot of races and then branched out into other areas of the RC market. They have been well known for their high-quality, high-end, pro-level RC cars and now they’ve taken those assets and are applying them to the ready to run or race market. Serpent is one of the leaders in designs that are changing the RC market to what we know today. It is no surprise then that Serpent is making waves in the RTR market as customers these days are looking for out-of-the-box instant satisfaction. Their latest release in their ultra-impressive RTR line is the S411 RTR. Serpent didn’t just make a stripped-down basic, cheaper version of their pro race kit of the S411, they made a car that the average Joe driver can hit the track and be competitive with.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: Serpent
WHO IT’S FOR: Beginner drivers
PART NUMBER: 400007
HOW MUCH: $340
BUILD TYPE: RTR
• Amazingly, the 2.5mm fiberglass chassis is relatively stiff compared to some of the flimsy ones that are usually included on a RTR. This chassis is definitely optimized to be used in any indoor or outdoor surface.
• Threaded shocks are usually an option on most RTRs, but they are standard equipment on the S411 RTR. This makes ride height adjustments so easy, compared to looking around for the plastic shock clips.
• Included is a 2.4GHz radio system, which gives you all the main radio adjustments and more that are necessary to dial in the car to your driving style. Also, this radio has a 15 model memory! This allows you to use the radio with other cars as long as you install the correct receiver. It is great to see not just another basic throw-away radio offered in a RTR.
• All the parts from the pro kit version of the S411 bolt right onto the RTR version. So hop-ups are almost endless for this car.
• It’s nice that the Velcro strap is included to easily remove the battery. You can also take out the Velcro strap and use battery strapping tape if you choose.
• wish they had included a motor geared more towards mainstream racing such as a sensored 17.5. The 9T is a bit too fast for the beginner racer.
Most of my racing is with stock 17.5 sedans, so it took some time to adjust to the horsepower of the 9T motor. I was quite amazed that the S411 handled very well out of the box. I like that the car is geometrically the same as the kit version which makes the handling very similar. With the addition of using the SXT traction compound, the S411gripped the track very well. I think this car will also be great for racing outdoors and I can’t wait to burn up some asphalt!
• The S411 chassis is made from 2.5mm black fiberglass with a super narrow black fiberglass top deck. The chassis gives the car side to side flex but still remains stiff front to back. Mounted on the chassis is a LiPo battery bracket which is dual purpose. The battery holder not only locks the LiPo battery in place, but it also serves as a mount for the Velcro battery strap. The battery holders can be reversed for a different battery mounting position.
• The S411 offers thick, durable front and rear a-arms. The front end is a c-hub and steering block style, which is the best system out there for precise handling and steering response. The four corners of the S411 ride on smooth riding, threaded-bodied RCM competition shock absorbers. Ride height can be easily adjusted and the springs are color coded for ease of use.
• The Dragon-RC servo is practical and does the job of getting the S411 around the track. The servo is directly linked to a dual bellcrank system that rides on ball bearings. Two Ackerman locations are positioned on the steering blocks. A servo saver is built into the servo horn.
• The drivetrain is run by a two low friction belt, full ball bearing drive system. The rear differential is a 4-gear differential. Rear traction can be adjusted using thicker or thinner oils within the diff. The RTR already has the revised rear differential. The S411 comes with steel front CV driveshafts and steel rear dogbones. The steel CV driveshafts and dogbones are more durable and have less wear, but if you’re looking to lighten up the car you can use the race version aluminum CV driveshafts. The S411 comes standard with a front spool, which is optimal for rubber tire racing.
• The Serpent TC body provides the S411 with good downforce. The paint design is bright and easy to see on the track. The paint design on the body is great-looking and a flashy design compared to some other RTRs on the market. The Dragon-RC tires give the S411 good traction on indoor and outdoor surfaces. The dish wheels are durable and functional.
TOOLS & ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• None, we recommend picking up a quality set of hex wrenches for tuning and maintenance such as a set of MIP’s tools.
• LiPo/6-cell NiMH battery
• Compatible charger
• 4 “AA” batteries
• Allen driver set
• 7mm wheel nut driver
• Thunder Power 2s 4300mAh 35c Sport Race Pack, TP4300-2SSR35
• Thunder Power LiPo Charging Bag, TP29005
• Thunder Power TP820CD Charger, TP820CD
ADDITIONAL ITEMS USED
• SXT traction compound
• Anti-roll bar kit, 401575, $53.99.
Anti-roll bars are a good option to add to any sedan. They help keep the car level in the corners, providing the car with more traction.
• Aluminum Steering Knuckles, SER401422, $50.80.
Over many years of racing, I’ve seen broken plastic steering knuckles due to the most random hits; prevent bowing out of a race early by upgrading the stock knuckles to the aluminum units.
• Aluminum Rear Uprights, SER401421, $40.40.
Like the knuckles, a hard slap into a wall at the end of a straight can tear a ball end out of an upright. Bulking up this part to the aluminum options can’t hurt.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
The S411 took the tight corners really well without losing much traction. With a little tweaking to the ride height and droop, the car tuned into the track layout very well. Larger sweeping corners were not a problem for the car under a load. The S411 took corners effortlessly without losing much time, the stock servo did well during high speed driving, I was impressed.
ACCELERATION & BRAKING: Very Good
The Dragon-RC sensorless 9T motor and ESC combo had plenty in infield and straight line speed. The stock gearing combo worked well and gave the S411 plenty of out-of-the-corner rip. I usually don’t use much braking on the track, but when it’s needed the brakes worked very well even to the point where I had to de-tune some braking out of the ESC.
SUSPENSION: Very Good
The car handled very well which is not a surprise, because the RTR version is based from the race version S411. The suspension was reactive when heading into tight turns on power and responded quickly. The car settled nicely over ripples on the carpet track that we did some testing on at RC Madness in Enfield, CT. Out on the parking lot track, the suspension was responsive here too. Serpent gets high marks for a nice nimble set-up out of the box. My only suggestion would be to pick up the swaybar set. Swaybars will help get the car dialed in even more.
RUNNING GEAR: Very Good
The included gearing works well. After a five-minute run, the motor was warm to the touch. This seems to be the optimal gearing for the 9T motor that comes standard on the RTR. You may have noticed the ESC/motor combo is sensorless which may seem odd for a TC, but the feel is rather smooth for first time drivers and only pros would notice the difference. The Dragon radio is rather comfortable for an RTR unit and has lots of features to tune which is easy to see on the LCD screen.
DURABILITY: Very Good
The S411 is a very durable sedan. A few board checks didn’t send me back to the pits. The car remained pretty well in tweak. Only outside did we notice any real wear to the car, the fiberglass chassis wears quicker as it rubs the ground or bottoms out, but don’t get me wrong, you’ll have to do a LOT of driving before wear changes tuning or becomes an issue.
SPECS & TUNING OPTIONS
LENGTH: 14.28 in. (362.71mm)
WIDTH: 7.48 in. (190mm)
WHEELBASE: 10 in. (254mm)
WEIGHT: 2.98lbs (1350g)
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
BODY: Pre-painted SERPENT TC body
WHEELS: Pre-mounted DRAGON-RC rubber tires
WHEEL ADAPTER TYPE: 12mm hex
TIRES: White dish
TYPE: 4-wheel independent
SHOCK POSITIONS: (F) 3-tower, 2-arm, (R) 4-tower, 2-arm
CAMBER: Adjustable turnbuckles
ROLL: Adjustable ball heights, optional suspension mounts available
WHEELBASE: Adjustable shims
RIDE HEIGHT: Threaded shock collars adjust ride height
TYPE: Dual bellcrank
TOE: Adjustable turnbuckles
MATERIAL: Black fiberglass
TRANSMISSION: Belt drive
DIFFERENTIAL: Front diff (spool), Rear diff (gear)
CLUTCH TYPE: NA
GEAR RATIO: Optional pinion gears
BEARINGS: Full set of stainless steel
As it is a Serpent, it’s no surprise of the high quality of the S411 RTR. The car is capable of being competitive in the 4WD sedan racing classes offered today. Tuning options are almost endless and every part from the sport and race version S411 bolts directly onto the RTR version. It’s great to see the top-dog manufacturers offering high-end, entry-level racing equipment to entry-level racers that are growing our sport.