Monday, April 22, 2024

Four RC E-Buggies Under $400

This article was originally published in RC Driver’s April 2015 issue.

Why do people absolutely love 1/8 off-road electric buggies? Could it be their speed and power?

Perhaps it is how well they handle and jump? Maybe it’s their beefy durability? How about the size? All of these are great answers and collectively contribute to why both racers and bashers alike are drawn to these off-road machines. The only downside some say is that an electric 1/8 buggy is much too expensive. Sure, you can spend in excess of $500 to $1000 on one if you race at the highest level week in and week out, but there are some top notch ready-to-run vehicles much easier on the wallet. So, if you are looking to get in on the 1/8 electric off-road action and finances are a concern you need to read on as I’m going to highlight four of these machines that won’t break the bank.

ECX Revenge Type E: ECX0800, $399.99
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ECX specializes in ready-to-run (RTR) vehicles that are loaded with options and delivered at a good price. The Revenge Type E (E for electric), is as you might imagine, their entry into the 1/8 realm of electric off-road. Built on a 3mm thick aluminum chassis that is tough but able to flex when and where needed, the Revenge Type E weighs in at almost seven pounds. To allow the big buggy to float over surface imperfections ECX employed 12mm bore shocks on all four corners. At the top the shocks attach to aluminum towers that feature multiple mounting positions to help tune the Revenge Type E to any condition. Speaking of adjustments, adjustable turnbuckles can be found through- out to tune both toe and camber. Premounted on black dish wheels that utilize industry 17mm hex adapters are Dynamite Speedtreads Watch Dog tires. While not designed for racing, these tires have a great all around tread and a long wear compound that should last a while. The drivetrain features a tough metal spur gear and durable gear diffs throughout.

Length: (485mm)
Width: (309mm)
Wheelbase: (323mm)
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The electronics package in the Revenge Type E is outstanding as it comes standard with a Spektrum 2.4GHz DX2E transmitter that has all the basic adjustments you need. To get the tires rolling, ECX went with well proven Dynamite components and used a Fuze 130A ESC and 34 RC DRIVER 4-pole 2500Kv 550-sized brushless motor. The motor is rated to be used with battery packs up to 3S (11.1V) in size while the ESC can handle a little more power and be used with a 4S (14.8V) battery should you decide to upgrade the motor for more speed. To make the Revenge Type E as versatile as possible the ESC, motor and steering servo are all waterproof while the Spectrum receiver is kept well protected in a radio box.

Should you go out and pick yourself up a Revenge Type E you will need to install the rear wing and sticker the body to your lik- ing to make it look as good as the box art or perhaps even better! Additionally, like most RTR vehicles you will need to pick up a battery pack, in this case a 2S or 3S LiPo battery pack, and compatible charger. Good batteries to use with the Revenge Type E would be the Dynamite Reaction 2S, 7.4V 5000mAh, 50C LiPo pack or, if you want to go a bit faster pick up a Dynamite Reaction 3S, 11.1V 5000mAh, 50C LiPo pack. To charge these packs a Dynamite Prophet Precept that features a built in USB port and has a maximum charge rate of 6A is a solid pick.

Duratrax 835E: DTXD78LL, DTXD78WW, DTXD78YY, $399.99035R-16 035R-17

Duratrax has been producing vehicles and accessories for a long while now so they know how to make a winner that won’t break the bank.

Enter the 835E; this 1/8 electric buggy has it all and then some. As soon as you look at any one of the three color variations of the 835E you’ll be blown away with the graphics package and high downforce rear wing. Starting with the 3.25mm thick anodized chassis, this vehicle is what tough stuff looks like. The durability does not end there at the front and rear shock towers; they feature multiple mounting positions and are made from rigid 4mm thick aluminum. The shocks are super tough with 3.5mm shafts and dust boots and even have 16mm aluminum threaded bodies to make adjusting preload a simple task. Working hand and hand with the smooth shocks are front and rear sway bars to enable the 835E to tame the toughest of terrain. To adjust ride height without altering the pre-load, droop screws are found on all four suspension arms. 5mm and 4.5mm adjustable turnbuckles add to the durability and adjustability as do the forged steering knuckles and hardened steel motor mount. Trick looking white dish style wheels with 17mm hex adapters have tires with a solid all-around tread and great compound for hitting the track or bashing. The drivetrain employs front, center and rear gear style differentials making the driveline nearly indestructible. Even tougher are the hardened steel dogebones, front universal driveshafts, spur gear, differential pinions and ring gears. To top that all off Duratrax is so confident in the 835E most plastic parts are covered for one year by their stress-tech guarantee..

Length: (505mm)
Width: (302mm)
Wheelbase: (325mm)

To control the 835E, Duratrax went with a reliable T240FS transmitter that offers throttle and steering trim adjustments as well as steering dual rate. A fully programmable (with optional card) and waterproof 120A Onyx ESC with 4mm motor bullet connectors and a Deans Ultra Plug sends power to the four pole Onyx 2200Kv brushless motor. This combination is not only brutally fast because it is 4S (14.8V) compatible, it is also smooth and efficient. The SX-501WP digital steering servo utilizes metal gears for durability and has plenty of torque to get the tires to snap from side to side. To complete the waterproof package the receiver is stored in a watertight radio box next to the steering servo.

While delivered as a ready-to-run you will still need a battery pack and charger to complete the 835E. Since it is a 4S LiPo compatible vehicle I’d go with either a pair of 7.4V Duratrax Onyx 5000mAh, 35C LiPo battery packs with Star Plug connector or for a bit more run time and power I’d use a single 14.8V Trakpower 6800mAh, 70C pack with Deans Ultra Plug. As for a charger, there is the single output Onyx 225 that can charge one pack at a time up to 6S in size at 6A. Another option is the Duratrax Onyx 245 Dual Peak Charger. As you might imagine by the name it can charge two packs at a time at 5A although it is limited to packs 3S in size so it would be ideal if you went with two 2S LiPo batteries.

HobbyKing Basher BSR-888: 9249001005-0, $224.99

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The Basher BSR BZ-888 from the people over at HobbyKing looks like a race worthy buggy but it is a basher at heart. To start it has a modern style, cab-forward body that increases downforce to improve steering.

The chassis is made from tough 3mm thick aluminum while both the front and rearshock towers are 4mm thick. Speaking of shocks, they are all sorts of plush,  featuring threaded 18mm big bore bodies, aluminum bleeder valve caps and work well with included front and rear sway bars. As for adjustability, both shock towers have multiple mounting positions. The suspension arms and adjustable turnbuckles are found throughout to tune toe and camber. As for toughness, the suspension arms are rather beefy as are most of the plastic components so they can take a beating. The drivetrain features metal geared fluid filled diffs, CVD type driveshafts up front and a one-piece aluminum motor mount helps disperse heat generated by the motor. Black dish wheels come premounted with knobby block style treaded tires with a medium compound.

Length: (500mm)
Width: (305mm)
Wheelbase: (330mm)

While the Basher BSR BZ-888 does not include a radio system, the electronics HobbyKing did include are pretty good. A standard sized water resistant 15kg servo has lots of torque to move the 43mm tires around. To get the Basher BSR BZ-888 rolling a waterproof 100amp brushless ESC is paired with a 3665 size 1965Kv brushless motor.

To complete the Basher BSR BZ-888, two 2S 7.4V LiPo batteries, charger and radio system are needed. As for a radio, a Turing GTX3 AFHDS 2.4GHz radio system offers a great many adjustments, has a good feel, great range and won’t break the bank. For batteries, a pair of ROAR approved Turnigy 40C, 5000mAh packs is a good pick and to charge these batteries consider a HobbyKing ECO SIX 80W 6A 2-6S AC/DC unit.

Nitro RCX Iron Track Shootout: 16C222-Red-RTR-24G, $329.99

While the name of the company may be NitroRCX they still know a thing or two about producing cool electric powered vehicles.

Available in green or red, their Iron Track’s foundation is a combination aluminum/ composite chassis so it is lightweight and durable. It has a solid suspension system that utilizes plastic knuckles and C-hubs along with steel adjustable turnbuckles, threaded big bore styles shocks with bleeder valve type caps, front and rear sway bars and droop screws in all four suspension arms to set ride height. The aluminum shock towers offer a few mounting positions to help aid in tuning as does each suspension arm. All three differentials come profiled with silicone oil and feature hard anodized steel gears for durability. Knobby style tires located on all four corners come premounted to black 12-spoke wheels.

Length: (487mm)
Width: (306mm)
Wheelbase: (326mm)

The electronics package utilized on the Iron Track Shootout E8XBL is pretty solid to say the least. NitroRCX has included a 2.4GHz radio system that has good feel and range and has basic steering and throttle trim adjustments as well as steering dual rate. The included 2075Kv brushless motor is well complimented by the S8A 80A brushless ESC for a powerful combination. The 9KG metal geared steering servo is more than up to the task of moving the front tires from side to side. Unlike some other ready-to-run vehicles the Iron Track Shootout E8XBL comes with a battery, specifically, an 11.1V, 2700mAh LiPo battery.

Since the Iron Track Shootout E8XBL comes standard with a battery pack all you’ll need to get going is a charger. The Sky RC e4 charger is an economical choice and can balance charge LiPo packs from 1S to 3S at 3A. If you are looking for something to change a pack a bit quicker you might want to consider the Thunder AC680 Professional Intelligent multi-chemistry charger that can charge packs at 6A.


There are many, many 1/8 off-road buggies on the market today with more hitting the shelves all the time. These four, though, are loaded with great features, are quick, durable and come delivered at a price that won’t leave you eating ramen and bologna for a week or two. Even better, they all will provide hours upon hours of fun and not much is better than that.

Duratrax, www.duratrax.com
ECX, www.ecxrc.com
NitroRCX, www.nitrorcx.com
HobbyKing, www.hobbyking.com

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