Tuesday
Nov302010

1/16 Summit VXL Review

Let me start off by saying that I’ve been on record as have never been a big fan of anything smaller than 1/10 scale vehicles. I have many reasons for this, but the most relevant one is terrain - or more to the point, the lack of terrain options that smaller vehicles have. They don’t have the ground clearance to do most of the off-road options (grass being the biggest issue). Historically, if you look at the smaller R/C vehicles, starting with the Team Losi Mini-T, which started the trend, they are strictly dirt, gravel, and pavement (or carpet, if you’re indoors) cars. And since the vast majority of our customers tend to run around in the backyard, this can be problem.

I say this because you need to understand why I think the newest addition to the Traxxas 1/16th scale lineup is so cool. Even though it has the moniker of 1/16, it does not act like one. It is 1/10 scale through and through, and handled some of the roughest terrain I never thought it would.

The included 1200mAh battery

But let’s start at the beginning, and look at the truck’s design and build before we attempt to break it.

First off, included accessories. You get a 1200mah six-cell battery pack, an overnight AC charger, miscellaneous tools, body clips, and manual. Electronics package includes the Traxxas Link 2.4GHz radio system, Velineon 380 Brushless Power System, and a standard 1/16 mini servo. You’ll need four (4) AA batteries for the transmitter, and a better charger. Seriously - spend the $40 and get a decent charger. Traxxas has one coming out specifically for its’ 1/16 trucks and cars. If you need one before that, I’d recommend the Dynamite Prophet Sport 2 (DYN4077) and a Traxxas charge adapter (TRA3061).

The chassis might be something you've seen before. It’s the only chassis that Traxxas has ever made for the 1/16 scale vehicles. At first, I was perturbed that they hadn’t innovated on the design any since the first 1/16 scale Revo and Slash came out over a year ago. But the chassis is solid, and in no need of re-design. But still, it’s more of the same, and I’m not going to take a lot of time to talk about it. Same shocks (but stiffer springs), same dimensions, same transmission.

Laydown, threaded shocks and waterproof servo

Of note is the fact that the truck uses the long-travel rocker arms for the suspension, not the Progressive-2 rockers that both the Slash and Revo models do. But the Progressive-2 rocker arms are available as an option part. And the suspension arms are the same ones the 1/16 Revo, with the exception of the rear arms, which are the extended wheelbase arms that are an option part for the Revo.

The smaller version of the Summit has rims and tires modeled after big brother, though the “beadlocks” are molded into the rims, meaning you can’t change them out to a different color. You can replace them with any 1/10 stadium truck rim and tire and still have it look just fine. So you have lots of options for rims and tires, and are not limited to the smaller scale stuff. But I personally like the rims and tires just as they are. The tires have a ridiculous amount of grip, especially on pavement - the truck will wheelie on demand, even with the stock battery. Side-bite is there too, but almost too much. The truck has a tendency to roll when turning under power - similar to a Stampede. But I can’t complain about great grip. Thumbs up to the tires.

The 2.2" "beadlock" rims are a good match to the 1/10 Summit

Speaking of the bigger Summit, it’s probably time to mention the one question I get asked the most. The mini version does not come with the remote differential lockers or a two-speed transmission. This is the one key thing that makes the 1/16th version much different than the 1/10th version. It seems the new Summit is really geared as a monster truck, and not aimed whatsoever at the crawler market. Even though the 1/16 Summit VXL has pretty good suspension articulation, if you want a rock crawler, look elsewhere.

But you really want to know how it drives, I imagine. Well, I can tell you this: when you get your hands on one, you probably won’t be disappointed.

It handles much more like a larger truck than I would have guessed. It reminds me of a cross between a Stampede and a Slash. It has lots of body roll, just like a Slash, but it will tip over easily and will wheelie like crazy, similar to a Stampede. In fact, it wheelies so much that a wheelie bar is going to be a must have on this truck. The 1/16 E-Revo wheelie bar will bolt on just fine - but I can’t say I like it. It bolts to the rear bumper mount, which has a lot of give in it. And this means the wheelie bar has give too - enough that it’s rendered almost useless. At a later date, I am planning to try other manufacturer’s wheelie bars and see if they work better. Specifically, I’m thinking about New Era’s 1/16 Revo wheelie bar, or Trinity’s similar mono-wheel version.

The 380 Velineon System really gets this truck moving

With an average run time of thirteen and a half minutes on a 50/50 grass-pavement/mix, it lasts a considerable amount of time - on par with the more common 1/10 scale cars. If you’re running strictly on pavement, I’d estimate an average run time of almost twenty minutes, and on all grass an average of eight minutes. If that doesn't sound like enough, Traxxas offers a parallel battery harness that allows you to double up the run time by adding a second (stock) battery. Or, if speed is what you’re looking for, you can purchase the series harness, which will double the voltage going to the motor, up to 14.4v (12 NiMH cells). Traxxas claims speeds up 50+ mph with this setup, and I believe them.

I was unable to run two batteries in series (or parallel) for the review due to technical issues. But I did run a 2000mAh LiPo in the truck. I’m not sure if I set the bar too high or what, but I was underwhelmed. I didn’t notice any real improvement in performance, and the runs times were only slightly better. And since I didn’t get a chance to try different packs, I can’t be sure if it was just the vehicle’s characteristics, or just a bad battery. But whatever the case, I certainly feel the stock battery is more than adequate. But maybe get a second one and that series adapter. I think it’s going to be awesome.

The Exo-Cage allows the body to take a beating and still look good

In my time with the 1/16 Summit, I had plenty of fun. I didn’t manage to break it (which is good) but the exo-cage really took a beating - partly by design (have to to be rough on them, otherwise it's not an honest review), and partly due to the incredible torque this truck has. The only downside to the truck is that I lost many body clips - enough to burn through what they give you in the box and then some. Thankfully, the Team Associated 18T body clips work perfectly, and they hold better than the Traxxas ones do. So I’d recommend picking up a set of those when you lose the stock ones. And a set of Dubro body clip retainers - those things are amazing.

Our "First Hands On" video

To the right is the "First Hands On" video we took the day we got the truck in. I hope to have more video for this truck up in the future, but this is all I have on it at the moment, at least that we took. It is run box stock - we didn't change anything on the truck at all when we shot this video. So the suspension is a little soft out of the box for any major jumping.

All in all, this is a vehicle I can recommend to anyone looking for some R/C action. Whether you’re just getting into the hobby, or a veteran of the sport looking for something else to have fun with, the Summit brings something to the table that few other trucks can: a small, travel-friendly stature that doesn’t sacrifice performance and durability. Look for this car to be a regularly-stocked item on our shelves for a while; it’s going to take something even more special to dethrone the new king of the mini-monsters.

Reader Comments (5)

Thanks for the review Roger. I will be picking one up very soon!
January 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBryan
Nice review, really helped me understand it more.
February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous
Great review, will be getting one soon. Very soon, hopefully. I can't wait.
February 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous
So it has been a couple of years since your original review of the 1/16 Summit, is it still as good as you originally thought? What has the customer reaction been to it? I'm looking to buy something for occasional backyard and up north fun..
April 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTheGoz
@TheGoz:

Great question. Sounds like a good idea to go back and revisit the review and see if we still feel the same way about it that we did when it first came out!

To answer your question... no, it hasn't held up over the years. We carried the truck for 6-8 months after the review, and dropped it from our lineup ever since. It's still not a bad truck at all - you could do far, far worse - but there are other trucks / vehicles that have come out since the release of the Mini Summit. Durability has also proved to be an issue, with the mini chassis simply having less structure than needed, especially where the bulkheads meet the chassis. This is an issue with all Traxxas 1/16 vehicles, as they all use the same chassis. It's not specific to the Summit itself.

Depending on what you're looking to do, the 1/16 Summit still might be a great vehicle for you. But I'm liking the new-ish Vaterra Twin Hammers more and more. It's pretty versatile, can handle grass about as well as the 1/16 Summit, and has a 2-speed transmission. It runs $400, so it's a bit pricier than the Summit, and larger, since it's 1/10 scale.

If you're set on getting a mini vehicle (1/14, 1/16, 1/18, etc), I still do think that the 1/16 Summit is one of the best you can buy. For us, its fall from grace didn't really have anything to do with the truck itself. It was more of a fall from grace of the mini trucks in general, as we have stopped carrying pretty much all mini cars and trucks.

For me, I'd probably go with something 1/10 scale - they just do better in the grass, and have more durability.

If you have any additional questions, let us know!

One cool anecdote to finish off: we did still have the 1/16 Summit when we moved to our new location, and we needed to run ethernet from the backroom to the front for our point-of-sale system. Doing it one ceiling tile at a time would have been a nightmare with the drop ceiling. So we looped the CAT5 cord around the rear bumper of the mini Summit and drove it on top of the drop ceiling to run the cord. It worked so well we used it to run the telephone line to the front as well!
April 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterBrian

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