That tongue twisting title aside, these tank tracks are the most exciting accessory we have seen come out of Traxxas’ labs since the TRX-4 LED light kit. Ever since they were announced at the 2019 toy fair we have been itching to get our hands on them.
What are the Traxxas Traxx?
These are ‘all-terrain tracks’ designed specifically for the TRX-4 crawler chassis. Ideal for driving on sand, soft mud or snow they spread the weight of the vehicle with a larger contact patch and provide increased traction. These Traxxas units improve the ground clearance and increase approach angles, the longer rear units promising increased stability when climbing.
As with other Traxxas products, the Traxx arrive in a glossy retail packaging. Inside is a ‘re-usable’ polystyrene-style insert with lid.
The chunky units have 5 suspended dolly wheels on three arms and a large toothed drive cog with metal insert that mounts to the drive hub. An unbroken thick rubber track then runs around these to provide the drive surface.
The band can be wrestled off for a closer look at the units. They use a hard plastic composite for the body/wheels and metal hardware/bearings to hold it all together. The leading two pairs of wheels are fixed, as are the rear. The inner two pairs of wheels are mounted to a swing-arm, allowing the track to adjust to the terrain whilst retaining tension.
The track is made of a thick rubber and as mentioned can be removed to service the units or just for cleaning. Moulded inside the band are pairs of hard rubber teeth that interface with the drive gear to drive it round, whilst also center-ing the track on the dolly wheels. Note that each of the tracks is marked for direction.
On the back of the Traxx units is an oil filled damper with a special plastic hub mount on the end. This setup resists the rotational force the model produces at the hubs, ensuring the tracks stay the right-way-up in use. This rather specific mounting system also means these are currently not suitable for any other chassis.
Fitting the Traxx
Besides the included tool, you will need a standard 7mm wheel nut wrench and a 2mm hex driver to fit these to your model.
Use the wrench to remove the stock wheels from your TRX-4 (you will need a small flathead to take the caps off of the wheels that come with the Mercedes). Select the appropriate unit for the corner you are working on. Each are labelled on the inside and the manual leaflet depicts them accurately should the label be obscured.
Use the included 17mm hex driver to remove the plastic caps over the axle caps on the outer face of the Traxx unit.
With the raised side facing forward, slip the unit over the hubs. Replace the wheel nut and tighten it down by hand. Then replace the plastic cap and tighten it with the included tool.
Flip the chassis over to access the rear of the Traxx unit. You need to connect the hub clip to stabilise the unit and prevent it from rotating. Line up the plastic clip over the portal hubs to identify the two screws you will need to remove.
Undo these screws with your 2mm hex wrench. Place the plastic clip over the top of the hub and push down onto it until it clicks in to place. Finally replaced the screws you have removed with the longer screws supplied with the kit.
Work your way around the chassis fitting the Traxx units, being careful to select the right one for each corner. When fitting the front units you can rotate the steering left and right to gain access to the hub screws. On the rear you will need a short hex driver like an allen key to undo the rear units that do not rotate.
Traxx tension adjustment
These units ship with the correct belt tension but over time they may become slack. To tighten the tension, remove the belt and turn the unit over. Grab the leading pair of wheels and rotate them anti-clockwise to extend the gap between them and the next pair.
You can see the threaded adjustment rod in between the pairs of wheels above. Full details, including how to dismantle or replace components on them, are available in the included instruction leaflet.
Before you start tearing around with the Traxx fitted, you need to know a few restrictions for their use to prevent damage to the model
- If your TRX-4 truck has the ability, lock out both differentials (silver three position switch pushed ‘backwards’ toward the trigger) to prevent them from turning at different speeds.
- With twin speed models, only drive in low gear to prevent overheating the motor.
- On single speed models, fit the 17T pinion with the 39T spur when using a 2S battery. If you want to go to 3S fit the 11T pinion with the 45T spur before driving.
Traxx in use
Having installed the units we headed to the most challenging terrain we could think of, the windy, sandy dunes of a south coast beach.
At first the experience is a little underwhelming. The extra load on the steering (we are running the stock servo rather than a high-torque model that Traxxas recommend) made the steering feel a little laggy and slow.
Running the truck in the low speed mode also made it feel particularly lethargic, but perhaps this was as we are used to our heavily modified brushless TRX-4 Land rover defender.
However when we turned the truck to the steep sandy slopes of the dunes, we were impressed with the relentless drive the vehicle now has. Loose or moving dunes are notoriously difficult to tackle, even sand paddle tyres end up digging down and burying themselves.
Don’t get us wrong, if you approach a particularly steep or loose patch the truck will end up drifting sideways as it shifts the surface below it, but a quick trim adjustment and you are back to climbing up.
Then there is how awesome the truck looks with these on, its the ultimate ‘zombie apocalypse’ rig if that is your thing. Just check out the awesome track trails it leaves on the surface!
We were a little concerned that the extra height would exacerbate the top heavy nature of the truck-bodied TRX-4 but the wider track actually resulted in greater stability (on the smooth climbs of dunes anyway).
The purpose designed dampers keep the tension on the units, keeping them held down even over the rougher stuff and stop them rotating over.
That said, the Traxx do not make the TRX-4 invincible and in the interest of fairness it was time to see how the same chassis would fare on a more traditional wheel and tyre setup.
Traxxas Traxx compared to tyres
We set up a course running down a firm dune, along a churned up gully before swinging up a long loose sandy slope, along the ridge before turning over the edge back into the slope.
This course (marked out with wooden flag gates) was driven three times by the same driver with each setup. The runs were timed giving us a range of performances and a personal best. Each of the tyre sets were prepared by capping the breather holes in the rims and cutting relief holes out of the peak of the tyre surface.
Versus standard tyres
First off we started with some standard wheels and tyres. Not those oversized rims that came with the Mercedes of course, those are pants. We took the used set of 1.9in canyon trail wheels/tyres off of our Defender and threw them on.
This setup had a clear acceleration/speed advantage as we could run the gearbox in ‘high’ gear mode without loading up the transmission. As such the Mercedes bounded through the initial section of the course with excellent steering and responsive throttle powering the truck over bumps.
However when it came to the climb, the truck would run out of momentum and then just bury itself in the soft sand. Thankfully the locked diffs (nearly) always enabled us to back out of the ‘sand drifts’ and make another attempt at the climbing.
In the interests of fairness we also ran the truck in low-ratio mode but found it no better at scaling the final loose slope than the balls-out sand-spraying power approach in ‘high’ gear mode. The weight of the vehicle pressed it down into the loose sand too quickly, preventing it from rolling over the top.
The ‘stock’ wheels and tyres logged a best time of 37.5 seconds in the ‘high-gear’ mode but averaged a shameful 65 seconds overall.
Versus Sand Paddles
Next up we tried mounting Traxxas’ very own sand paddles. These are designed for use on the back of their short course trucks such as the Slash. With the same hub hex size (and the large arches of the Mercedes body) these fit straight on (taking note of which side they needed to be on).
From the off the sand paddles looked serious. Churning the rutted initial section of the trail up and powering the truck along. Their first run up the loose hill was pretty incredible, the truck skimming its way to the top and power-sliding up the ridge to the finish line.
The camera captures the scooping effect these tyres have, producing waves of sand as each of the paddles throws the surface backwards from the model.
The sand paddles showed great promise but ultimately they suffered from the same weaknesses the standard tyres had (albeit to a lesser extent thanks to their wider footprint) the weight of the vehicle pressing them down into the surface as they span.
The sand paddles logged an incredible ‘beginners-luck’ personal best of 17.4 seconds in high-gear mode. However we were unable to repeat this, subsequent runs averaging at 58 seconds regardless of transmission mode.
Last along the point-to-point run were the Traxx. The low-range gearbox restriction immediately put them at a disadvantage on the harder packed terrain. The slow and steady pace meant that despite the driver taking the shortest route between flags, the progress felt slow.
We felt that the turning circle of the truck is restricted by the effective footprint of the Traxx, making it more challenging to thread it through the weaving gates and especially the tight right hand turn halfway through he course.
However once onto the loose sand of the long climb the Traxx came into their own. Sat up on-top of the loose surface, the truck bravely scaled the slope multiple times without slip or drama.
The wide Traxx had the truck sliding sideways off of the side of the ridge on one of our runs, but it was corrected with some lock to drag the truck back on top. This is something the other solutions couldn’t manage, digging in and beaching the truck.
The Traxxas Traxx posted a best time of 29.6 seconds with an average time of 32.5 seconds.
Its worth pointing out that this was in no way scientific. Many of the variables were completely out of our control, not least the condition of the course on a windy dune.
We found that the Traxx performed best overall on our particular point-to-point course. The loose sand really tripped up even the sand-paddle shod TRX-4. If you want to see the wheels in action, keep an eye on our instagram channel where we will be posting some footage of the G500 in action, real soon.
When we came back from the beach we spent time removing the belts, vacuuming and then using compressed air and brushes to drive out the dreaded sand.
We then used WD40 to clean the bits we couldn’t see before wiping it down and applying some low viscosity oil. Proper maintenance should see these units lasting a long time.
Are the Traxx worth the money?
Should you find yourself regularly driving on drive on loose sand or soft snow these are a no-brainer. They will spread the load of the vehicle and allow you to traverse terrain that would make even the most aggressive tyre tread pattern cry.
Alternatively, if you have a TRX-4 and have bought literally every upgrade there is for your truck, then this is the logical next-step.
However if you stick to rocks and other dry firm surfaces, the Traxx may be an unnecessary side-grade for you. A quality set of beadlock tyres on small rims will go an awful long way on these chassis.
Where can I buy the Traxxas Traxx?
If you want the ultimate TRX-4 then the Traxxas Traxx are available now on our webstore, where they qualify for free next-working-day delivery.
Depending on the body style you run these under, you may have difficulty with the tracks clearing the wheel arches. If you don’t want to trim the body consider picking up the TRX-4 lift kit that will give you an additional inch of ground clearance.
If you would like to see us test the Traxx on other terrain, or pitch them against other solutions, leave us a message in the comments section below.