The Best Truck for Bashing?
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s July 2016 issue.
Words: Paul Onorato
Photos: Edwin Rodriguez
The Traxxas Stampede is a well-known radio control monster truck with the very first version having been released back in 1994. It has undergone numerous modifications and versions which has helped to make it one of the most popular monster trucks out there. The latest version is the Stampede 4X4 VXL. This is a high-power brushless monster truck that is packed with features, offers serious performance and built to handle all the abuse you can dish out. What makes this latest version special is that it is equipped with Traxxas Stability Management or TSM. This very cool technology allows you to better control all the power produced by the Velineon brushless motor system especially on loose or slippery surfaces.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: Traxxas
WHO IT’S FOR: Intermediate to advanced drivers
PART NUMBER: 67086-3
HOW MUCH: $449.95
BUILD TYPE: RTR
• Traxxas Stability Management (TSM)
• Incredibly powerful brushless motor system
• Waterproof electronics
• 4WD with great suspension to tackle all types of terrain
• Very durable
• A bit pricey
• Owner’s manual is not included but accessible online
• Need to purchase Traxxas Link Wireless Module and download app to access self-righting functionality
Traxxas has packed so much into the Stampede 4X4 VXL that it is hard to find something not to like. It has exceptional performance, can travel nearly anywhere and is built incredibly tough—perfect for bashing. On top of that is the cool new TSM technology, waterproof electronics, includes everything you need to get rolling minus four “AA” batteries, loads of hop-up option parts are available and you are backed by Traxxas’ excellent customer support.
TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• 2.5mm “L” wrench
• 2.0mm “L” wrench
• 1.5mm “L” wrench
• U-joint wrench
• 8/4mm wrench
• 4-way wrench
• Optional pinion gear, 17-tooth
• Body clips and body washers
• Preload spacers and shock pistons
• NiMH battery charger
• Battery hold down to accommodate other battery pack sizes
• Four “AA” batteries for the transmitter
Traxxas includes a NiMH battery pack and charger with the Stampede, but we also used the following items:
• Traxxas AC to DC Power Supply Adapter, #2976, $24.95.
The included battery charger is designed to only work with a 12-volt automotive power sockets. This power supply allows you to plug the stock charger into it and use household electricity outlets.
• Traxxas 5800mAh 7.4v 2-Cell 25C LiPo battery, #2843X, $83.99.
This LiPo battery pack is iD equipped and will give you longer running times, but not as much speed as with the stock 8.4V NiMH pack.
• Traxxas 4000mAh 11.1v 3-Cell 25C LiPo battery, #2849X, $85.99.
Jumping up to a 3S LiPo will give you another 15mph+ with stock gearing. If you install the included 17-tooth pinion, you will hit speeds in the 60mph range. This battery pack is also iD equipped.
• Traxxas EX-Peak Dual 100W NiMH/ LiPo dual charger with iD Auto battery identification, #2972, $99.95.
You can use this charger with the included NiMH battery pack to speed up the charging process and it is essential if you pick-up some LiPo battery packs. This charger is able to charge two different battery packs at the same time.
HOP-UPS WE RECOMMEND
• Traxxas Link Wireless Module, #6511, $29.99. This small device easily plugs into the back of the included transmitter and along with a free downloaded Traxxas Link App, you will be able to wirelessly adjust transmitter settings and receive real-time telemetry from the Stampede. It will also allow you to access the self-righting feature. •
• Traxxas rubber tires mounted on red-anodized wheelie bar wheels, #5186, $13.49. This hop-up not only looks cool, but it helps the Stampede during wheelies to hold a straighter line. The tires are rubber and mounted on 6061-T6 anodized aluminum
• Traxxas Steel Constant Velocity Shafts (front/rear), 6851R/6852R, $48.92/$49.88. Gain more efficiency and torque handling by installing a front and rear set of these steel CV-shafts. The U-joints are sealed by a rubber boot with its pins captured to stay put.
FACT 1: CHASSIS
The chassis of the Stampede 4X4 is a molded Nylon composite tub design. It is an ultra-rigid platform built to handle the brute power generated by the Velineon brushless motor system and 4WD drivetrain. Part of the chassis has integrated compartments to house the battery pack down the left side and the rest of the electronics on the right with the receiver tucked just behind the front shock tower. It has a high center ground clearance that helps to give the Stampede its monster truck stance and ability to clear rough terrain and big obstacles. Traxxas has made maintaining this truck easier with a modular design where you can remove a few screws and have the front and rear sections off quickly.
FACT 2: SUSPENSION
High-volume oil-filled composite Ultra shocks are a proven design used on Traxxas Maxx trucks. They are fully tunable and built to withstand rough terrain while keeping the chassis from becoming unsettled. Where the shocks mount to the suspension arms, Traxxas has added shock guards that will either allow the suspension arm to slide over an obstacle or take the brunt of an impact while keeping the shock safe from harm. Long H-arms sit at each corner and utilize adjustable steel turnbuckles that make suspension adjustments a breeze.
FACT 3: ELECTRONICS
The Traxxas TQi transmitter and receiver utilizes 2.GHz technology, has automatic model recognition where all its settings are engaged immediately so you can get driving right away. The transmitter is programmable to customize it to suit your needs. The receiver is enclosed in a sealed box to keep dirt and especially water out while the rest of the electronics are waterproof. To increase the TQi’s functionality, the Traxxas Link Wireless Module can be purchased and simply installed into the back of the transmitter. This module turns your smart phone, with the free Traxxas Link App installed, into a powerful tuning tool that is easy to use. Plus, it can capture real-time telemetry when optional sensors are installed on the truck. Once you have the module and app installed, you can access the Self-Righting feature which will get the Stampede back onto all four tires if it flips over and save you the walk. I feel the access to the Self-Righting feature should be included and not something extra to be purchased, especially when you consider the cost of the Stampede 4×4 VXL. A Velineon VXL-3 speed control with Velineon 3500 brushless motor is the powerhouse that makes the Stampede 4X4 ballistic. It is capable of running off of a 3S LiPo battery pack to push the truck into the 60+mph range. This motor system is a proven design from Traxxas with no special programming knowledge required for use, just plug it in and it is ready for action. Included with the Stampede is a 7-cell 8.4V NiMH battery pack to power the truck and a 4-amp DC Peak Detecting Fast Charger to get the battery pack juiced up.
FACT 4: TSM
Having gobs of power on tap is not always a good thing because it can be difficult to keep a high power vehicle in control. The Stampede 4X4 VXL is one of those vehicles that has near instant acceleration and high top speeds. In order to fully exploit all this power created by the brushless motor system, Traxxas has added its TSM (Traxxas Stability Management) technology. TSM comes into play when the surface is slick, in cornering, braking or basically anytime the Stampede becomes out of control. The TSM will senses the Stampede’s direction and input subtle corrections to the steering to keep it from fishtailing, spinning out or getting out of control. Another benefit is that the amount the TSM corrects the Stampede is tunable via the multi-function knob on the transmitter. It can be adjusted to suit the surface you are driving on or your driving style. It can also be completely disengaged by turning the knob all the way counterclockwise.
FACT 5: STEERING
A digital high-torque waterproof servo is used for the steering. It puts out 125 oz-in. of torque to muscle the tires back and forth while giving precise control with a fast transit time. It is installed upside down in the chassis so the steering linkage has a direct connection to the bellcranks. An integrated servo saver is found on the left bellcrank to protect the servo from damage during impacts.
FACT 6: DRIVETRAIN
If you dig into the drivetrain you will find rubber sealed ball bearings that allow all the rotating parts to spin smoothly with little friction. Inside each of the gearboxes are Revo-Spec differentials. These diffs are sealed so they can be tuned by changing the viscosity of the oil inside. To handle the power from the brushless motor, Traxxas spec’d heavy-duty 32-pitch gears and a Revo-Spec Torque-Control slipper clutch. It is key in providing consistent traction control and is built to be adjustable without it needing to be removed from the chassis and to dissipate heat. The connection between the motor and the front gear box is an extruded aluminum center driveshaft. This precisely designed and manufactured shaft is lightweight yet very strong. Likewise, the driveshafts at each corner of the Stampede are heavy-duty and offer superior torque handling as well as provide increased articulation over previous versions so there is longer suspension travel and tighter turning.
ON THE TRACK
Traxxas hooks you up with nearly everything you need to get the Stampede 4X4 VXL running except for four “AA” batteries to power the transmitter. Inside the box is a 7-cell 8.4v NiMH battery pack, a 4-amp DC peak detecting fast charger, optional pinion gear, extra preload spacers for the shocks, a second battery hold down that works with different size battery packs than the one that comes already installed on the chassis and even tools for performing routine maintenance. This is great for someone just starting out and does not have all the necessary accessories. With that said, the charger can only be used with a 12-volt automotive power socket which is not always at a person’s disposal. To remedy this, Traxxas offers a very affordable and cool little AC to DC power supply (see “Items Used” sidebar) designed to work with the stock charger and plugs into your typical wall electrical outlet. If you want to take it to the next level, get yourself the Traxxas EX-Peak Dual 100W NiMH/LiPo dual charger. This is what I used during testing. It allowed me to not only charge the stock NiMH battery pack, but also LiPo packs at the same time thanks to its dual charge outputs.
A quick start guide is provided with the Stampede which goes over the very basics, but does not go into a lot of detail. The complete manual is available online and it is packed with so much helpful information that it is a very handy resource. I only wish a hard copy was included because referring to an online manual is not always convenient, especially if you need some information while out bashing.
With a few battery packs charged for the Stampede, I headed to a local bash location that gives me a nice mix of off-road terrain as well as a big parking lot to test. The stock 7-cell NiMH battery pack feeds plenty of juice into the speed control to make the Stampede a total blast to drive. It can easily pull the front wheels off the ground for near endless wheelies and has enough top speed to gobble up real estate in a flash. I have had a lot of experience with the Traxxas Velineon brushless systems and I am still impressed whenever I drive a vehicle installed with one. The acceleration is just awesome as well as its nice proportional feel.
I really like the TSM feature and saw it come into play immediately. Loose dirt did not hinder the Stampede’s acceleration as it could launch holding a straight line instead of spinning out. It was extremely convenient to be able to quickly and easily dial the amount the TSM ‘helped’ the truck’s handling and turning it off revealed how much it was coming into play. I would run the truck through the same course with and without the TSM. A simple high speed run across a bumpy grass area with patches of dirt and rocks was a night and day driving experience with the TSM. When it was dialed to the 12-oclock position, it provided just enough assistance to keep the truck headed in the correct trajectory. The same course with it switched off made it quite the handful to keep in in control and maintain a high speed. I discovered that dialing in full TSM was not useful. At high speeds on pavement, the truck would start to fishtail and get progressively more out of sorts until it spun out. It seemed that it was overcorrecting.
Wheelies are fun and I found that if you try and hold them too long, the truck will start to wonder a bit back and forth and get out of control.
Chopping the throttle will drop the nose and get you back on track. Just be careful with the brakes when on pavement. They are easily powerful enough to make the Stampede perform a stoppie or even a forward roll. Jumps are easy with the Stampede and work best while maintaining some throttle input to keep its flight level. After testing was completed, the Stampede 4X4 VXL had zero breakage to report.
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SPECS AND TUNING OPTIONS
LENGTH: 19.69 in. (500mm) w/wheelie bar
WIDTH: 13.39 in. (340mm)
WHEELBASE: 10.83” (275mm)
WEIGHT: 5.6lbs. (2.54kg)
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
BODY: Pre-painted and trimmed, pickup style
WHEELS: 5-spoke Black-Chrome All-Star composite plastic
WHEEL ADAPTER TYPE: 17mm hex
TIRES: Talon 2.8” multi-terrain
TYPE: 4-wheel independent
SHOCK POSITIONS: (F) 3-tower, 5-arm,
(R) 3-tower, 5-arm
CAMBER: 4mm steel turnbuckles
RIDE HEIGHT: Pre-load clips on the shocks
TYPE: Dual-bellcrank with integrated servo saver
TOE: 4mm steel turnbuckles
TYPE: Molded tub
MATERIAL: Nylon composite
TRANSMISSION: Enclosed, single speed
CLUTCH TYPE: Revo-Spec Torque-
GEAR RATIO: Optional pinion gears
BEARINGS: Rubber-sealed ball bearings
Performance – Acceleration: 10
Performance – Steering: 9
Performance – Handling: 9
Performance – Durability: 9
Feature Breakdown: 10
Overall Value: 8
THE LAST WORD
Once testing was completed and the dust had finally settled, it was clear to me that the Traxxas Stampede 4X4 VXL is the best bash truck out there. It is so incredibly well-equipped with a powerful and proven brushless motor system, super durable construction, terrain taming suspension, includes everything you need to get rolling except “AAs”, comes with the Traxxas Stability Management, waterproof electronics and the list goes on and on. It is also the perfect size at 1/10-scale with enough ride height to allow it to run almost anywhere. Behind the wheel, its performance is just awesome and it can even be improved with a simple swap of the pinion gear and running a higher voltage battery pack. Last but not least, there are loads of hop-up option parts available from not only Traxxas but from numerous aftermarket companies. Yes you will pay more for this truck, nevertheless you are getting a lot for your money. The Stampede 4X4 VXL is a great truck!
Traxxas, traxxas.com, 888-872-9927