The latest jewel in the Traxxas crown is this, the Unlimited Desert Racer. With this halo model Traxxas have opted for ‘scale realism’ rather than outright extreme performance, providing the owner with a fantastic miniature ‘real life’ trophy-truck experience. With limited access to an actual desert, we headed to the Kent coast to test the truck on the beach!
- Shaft-driven 4WD all-metal drivetrain
- 2200kv motor and VXL-6s speed controller
- TQi 2-channel 2.4Ghz Radio system
- Long travel suspension with dual-damper and a rear sway bar
- Fantastically detailed bolt-on body with usable spare driveshaft and two spare wheels mounted
- Approximately 1/7th scale and 6.1kg in weight
Just how big is it?
Traxxas call this a ‘Traxxas Pro Scale’ model, and comparing the wheelbase of the truck (420mm) with the equivalent full scale desert truck it comes in a little larger than 1/7th scale. In more direct terms the Unlimited Desert racer is an impressive 694mm long by 345mm wide and 261mm tall.
Incredible body detail
Traxxas have really raised the game when it comes to body detailing. This truck can happily hold its own alongside any shelf queen models you already own. From the faux damper reservoirs, to the fire extinguishers, wheel jack and bar, batteries and spare jerry cans; The scale moulded decoration is just fantastic.
The hard plastic ‘fuel cell’ (that even has its own filler neck sticking out of the top) doubles as a mounting point for the two fully-functional wheels and tyres sat upon it .There is even a (again genuinely functional) spare drive shaft bolted across the rear roll cage!
Beyond the obvious colour and decal changes, the Fox Racing model includes numbered end-plates mounted behind the cockpit, as seen in the comparison below
Bolt on body
The lexan body is firmly affixed to the tube chassis in 12 places with 2mm hex screws and this has been the subject of some controversy on forums. This approach gives the body some real strength but also means that it isn’t as quick to remove as the usual ‘posted’ competitor setups.
Note that the front bumper is part of the chassis and actually runs through the single piece shell, which can be fiddly to twist round and off. We feel the tubular roll cage adds to the ‘scale’ feel that the model is biased towards.
With the body removed the truck still looks the real deal. The composite plastic tube frame is not for show, it is the actual chassis holding the top frame of the model together! Many of the fill panels are held onto the frame with screws and can be removed.
The model is designed that you can still access a lot of the model with the body bolted down. Thanks to the inverse composite tub chassis design, the battery (along with much of the motor and chassis) is accessible from underneath.
Batteries and Accessibility
The battery door is released via a rotating catch, allowing it to be completely removed from the model. This then slides rearwards and swings out to allow the cells to stack into the compartment.
The cavity measures 181mm x 46mm x 56mm and is designed to accept two 3S batteries for that 6S power. You can run the truck on just one battery and spacer to hold the cell (plus a blanking plug for ‘shorting’ the spare hookup, seen below) is included to facilitate this.
When working on the Unlimited Desert Racer, the model can be sat on its roof allowing the reinforced skid plate to be removed.
Removing the honeycomb plate via the 8 bolts (circled red above) reveals the centre diff, motor and steering servo.
There is no gearbox in the Unlimited Desert Racer, instead the centre diff is directly driven off of the motor pinion. The aluminium motor mounting plate uses a pin system to ensure correct meshing, incredibly important in a drivetrain that will take this much abuse. Running the truck in full 6s power, the 2200Kv motor showed its true colours powering the truck easily over 40mph on our speed tests. Coupled with the slow, controlled, dampers the truck almost felt too powerful in 6S mode!
A torque biasing centre differential shifts power front and rear. Power is fed to the rear wheels via a solid rear axle. The locked diff features metal gears to put up with huge punishment whilst performing just like the real thing!
The new long-travel GTR shocks are part of the 8-damper system on the truck, two per corner. One is sprung (with clamp on spring perches) and the other offers additional damping, giving the truck incredible body control and over 8cm of suspension travel.
On the rear the rear-axle droop is constrained by rubber limit straps running down from the upper chassis, these can be seen in action above.
The relatively soft suspension is what gives the truck is signature handling and allows the driver to take huge jumps with confidence. Heavy duty lower arms on the front of the truck can take a huge pounding and despite is size and weight, it is incredibly graceful in the air.
As with other vehicles, feathering the throttle in the air will keep the nose up and the attitude flat, for retaining as much momentum on landing as possible.
Tyres and Steering system
Traxxas have glued BFGoodrich® Baja KR3 replica tyres (with inserts) to the dual diameter (40mm x 56/81mm) wheels. Despite the relatively shallow tread depth, these handle the sand impressively well, rarely leaving the truck beached.
It is worth noting that the wheels and tyres need modifying before driving on sand. A couple of diamonds must be cut into the centre of the tread and the breather holes in the rims themselves must be taped up. This stops any sand buildup ontop of the inserts, that could potentially cause a rotational imbalance on the drivetrain and an extra uneven load stressing the differentials and bearings.
The wheels are held to the hubs with an 8mm wheel nut and they provide a wheel wrench to help you torque them up correctly. Each corner has its own detailed (faux) brake disc and caliper to complete the look.
The Traxxas 2075X shown below is a 9kg (equivalent) waterproof metal-gear servo. It is located alongside the motor behind the front wheels, under the skidplate. Despite all of our abuse (on various terrains and even at 6S) we have yet to murder this unit, which is a testament to the steering design. The dual bellcrank system uses fixed length steering links hooked up to an integrated servo saver for precise control.
The model is easily powered on via a button on the speed controller. This is accessible through a gap under the ‘radiator fans’ at the rear of the model, allowing you to turn it on without removing anything whilst ensuring enough airflow over the ESC.
The transmitter is the standard 2.4Ghz pistol grip unit seen models such as the Slash and TRX-4. It has good range and fine adjustment for dialling in both the steering and throttle ramp. It takes four AA batteries under a sliding flat in the base. It also has the compartment for the bluetooth module so you can activate telemetry for data like live speed info, this module gifted by Traxxas to some early adopters of the model.
The traction control (Traxxas’ TSM) is set to around 50% as standard and is adjustable. Its worth having a play with turning it down just to see how well the solid axle puts its power down without spinning the truck out.
Traxxas Unlimited Desert Racer In Use
The Unlimited Desert Racer not only looks like the big trucks you see in race videos online, it also drives like one! Its incredible suspension steup allows it to float over dips and lumber over crest around with plenty of slow body control.
The dampers are setup to float over crests and maintain drive wherever possible. The trigger has enough fine control in it to balance the throttle perfectly. The rear likes to slide out lazily and there is some sway in the rear end that just makes it so much fun to powerslide on loose surfaces.
It can take an impressive level of abuse, happily sitting in dirt doing donuts for ages until the low-voltage cutout kicks in.
At our local pump track, the truck doubled the jumps like a champ, seen above at full throttle with the suspension getting a real workout.
The independent suspension will allow it to lean over without tipping and squat during tight cornering or hard launches. With the throttle wide open, its simple to hold large slides on loose surfaces, especially on sand.
Traxxas Unlimited Desert Racer : In Conclusion
In conclusion, we are HUGE fans of Traxxas’ Unlimited Desert Racer.
- Its incredible performance both off and on-road with realistic scale-driving feel
- Battery flexibility (with foam blocks to secure cells) enabling the use of one chunky 4S to twin batteries totalling 6S power
- Functional spares such as the wheels and driveshaft included on the rear deck, plus tools provided to aide switching them out.
- Advanced ESC with traction control, which is pretty essential when hauling along at 30+mph on loose surfaces.
- Early purchasers were gifted a Traxxas TQi Bluetooth module, allowing connection to your mobile phone for advanced telemetry features.
We’ve not fond of
- Price. It had to be said, at £935 RRP it is pretty killer and that does not include battery or charger.
- For a ‘Desert Racer’ it should really come ‘sand ready’ and not require modification of the wheels and tyres as per the additional warning notice.
Should I buy the Traxxas Unlimited Desert Racer?
If you can afford it, then YES. It was bold of Traxxas to apply the word Unlimited when selecting a name for it latest truck, but this really lives up to the hype. Over several weeks of ‘heavy testing’ (abuse) the truck never skipped a beat, no broken components, nothing more than a few marks on the front crash bar and scuffs on the shell!
This model is one of the most capable we’ve ever tested and would be ideal for any enthusiast or even any production company looking for an RC platform to modify for a remote control ground-based camera rig.
Don’t forget that you will need at least one Traxxas iD battery to get driving, we tested it with two 5000mAh 3S Traxxas batteries to get the maximum performance out of the truck. Lastly if you don’t already have one, you will need to pickup a Traxxas iD compatible charger like this dual model. Traxxas do offer a combo pack with all of this which nets you a reasonable saving.
If you found this article interesting and would like to see others like it, check out the rest of our Review series articles on our blog. If you have any questions or would like anything clarified, feel free to drop us a message in the comments section below and we will do our best to get back to you.