L A T R A X T E T O N
It was in 2015 I reviewed the LaTrax SST. Modeled after the full-scale version of the Traxxas-sponsored Super Stadium Truck, it was quite a pleasant surprise to me then and keeps its place in my rc garage today. However, it’s not without its quirks. And the previous version of this Teton had the same, what I will also call, quirks.
If you bought a Teton before now, you were treated with a standard battery connection and DC charger. So no longer do you need a converter, but can use an ac outlet with the included charger or the same chargers you’d otherwise use for Traxxas vehicles. This is because LaTrax now includes the more common Traxxas TRX plug, which of course makes it compatible with the Traxxas iD system chargers. (SEE FIRST LOOK VIDEO HERE)
Finally, this updated Teton still includes full metal front and rear differentials, but now gets rid of the composite spider and output gears. The new one uses the 7579X kit, which can also be retrofitted to any older LaTrax model.
Since my SST is getting some miles on it, I decided to see how the new Teton compares. I’m curious to see the differences and whether I’ll enjoy the Teton as much as I do the SST. Even though one is a stadium truck and the other is a monster truck, the difference seems to be in the wheels, tires, and track.
The first thing you notice is the ProGraphix® painted body, which looks great with the pre-applied decals (4 color options). The wheels in black add to the aggressive vibe and the tire tread looks good for multi-terrain driving. I dig the look.
T E T O N E L E C T R O N I C S
Let’s start by taking a look at the electronics and esc, which has a lifetime warranty from Traxxas. It’s a waterproof all-weather casing that allows for 3 driving profiles: sport, race, training. This immediately puts the Teton on my list for beginner r/c vehicles as the training mode puts the throttle at 50% until a new driver can be trusted to control more power. The esc also has low-voltage detection and thermal shutdown to protect LiPo’s.
BATTERY: A new addition to this version Teton is that it now comes with an iD-equipped 7.2v NiMH battery and AC charger. This is definitely a plus as the old charging method left a lot to be desired. If you have a Traxxas iD charger, it will auto-detect the battery then set and optimize charge settings for you. More on that later in this review.
RECIEVER: LaTrax’s 3-channel micro receiver uses 2.4GHz technology, which is protected from all-weather driving by their patent-pending receiver box. It’s also protected with the same lifetime warranty as the esc. That’s a pretty notable promise in an r/c at this price range.
TRANSMITTER: Included with the Teton is Traxxas’ standard 2.4GHz Wheel Radio. It offers limited functionality with steering trim only. What you do get is reliability and consistent connectivity performance. I’ve yet to experience loss of signal or glitching with Traxxas’ transmitters. I don’t really think you need much more than this offers for this grip it and rip it vehicle.
T E T O N C O N S T R U C T I O N
Looking at the bones of the Teton, I see very similar construction to my SST. Upgraded with metal differentials will help improve strength and durability, otherwise, it looks very similar to the previous version.
CHASSIS: The front and rear bumpers are designed to take an impact, and my experience tells me they will be just fine for the long-haul because there’s not a lot of weight to the Teton and these are every bit as robust as I’m used to on the SST. Ground clearance is a little more than 1″ and careful consideration has been given to the approach angle so the larger wheels and tires can clear more obstacles.
SUSPENSION: The independent suspension makes for a more stable and balanced vehicle, soaking up uneven terrain and allowing each wheel the ability to maintain contact. They are also damped, which is helpful to soften the blows of large jumps and maintain control in high speed turning. The oil-filled shocks are also adjustable with different mounting options to dial in the Teton to your liking.
DRIVETRAIN: What would a monster truck be if it wasn’t 4×4? In this size, having four-wheel drive makes it easier to handle taller grass or field driving. It also helps to power through sand and dirt in a way 2×4 cannot. I expect durability and the metal differentials combined with an aluminum driveshaft should deliver nicely.
STEERING: The servo doing all the work keeping the Teton under control is Traxxas’ 2065 waterproof steering servo, offering 32 oz-in of torque. Protecting the gears in the servo is the bellcrank steering system and integrated servo saver. The design here is supposed to eliminate annoying bump steer that often makes it difficult to keep the truck on its intended path, however, I found the steering can sometimes take you off course.
WHEELS & TIRES: I can’t skip by the fact I was a bit surprised the tires weren’t actually glued to the wheels. This is usually the case, so I’m not sure if it was missed or if that’s the way it is on all Teton’s. It’s a quick fix, so no big deal, but it was definitely an issue during the first couple runs until I took care of it.
D R I V I N G
Now that we’re done talking about what makes up the Teton, let’s get to the fun part, driving. It’s not a secret that I love to drive the SST and find it quite enjoyable to work it around my local track. So where does the Teton fit into this as I have no plans to track it? Well, the answer is rather simple. I’m going to drive it everywhere else. The SST is at home on more solid surfaces and loves to jump, but it’s lower 1/18 scale clearance doesn’t love grass.
As you can see in the video, the Teton can be driven in the grass but it doesn’t love it and you’re likely sending your motor to a premature grave. It just doesn’t have quite enough clearance for the wheels to find a solid grip and the motor is working extra hard to keep the truck moving forward. In all fairness, even when recently mowed, my grass stands 2-3″ tall, so the 1/18 scale Teton’s struggle is understandable.
Rolling around on pavement is where you really see the full capabilities of the traction, suspension, and speed. The radar gun clocks the Teton at 26mph on the pavement with the wind at its back, which is pretty decent given the 370 brushed motor and 7.2v 1200mah pack. It’s also spot on with the SST I reviewed. On the pavement, there are some noticeable driving characteristics different from looser surfaces. Remember the oil-filled, damped independent suspension? They allow the chassis to pitch and roll through turns, have significant travel on uneven surfaces while still keeping the 3 other wheels on traction, and smooth out less than perfect landings pretty well. All of that is good, but it’s not all good news.
The suspension travel and damping also allow for some torque steer under full acceleration from a stand still. The big front tires certainly don’t help, but when combined with the softer suspension it becomes noticeable. Because we’re not talking about blistering fast speed, it’s not a problem, but if you’re lined up to a jump 5′,10′, or 15′ away it is something that will get your attention so you hit the ramp solid.
Staying on the pavement for just a second, traction roll is real with some speed. I had thought the suspension would soak it up, but the wide tires and wheels overpower the suspension and allow for some wheels up action. What’s interesting is doing J-Turns are really simple and quite fun in the Teton. So while the tires grip well on the pavement, there’s still enough slide in the tires to have some fun without traction rolling every time. The pavement’s a good place for the Teton to play, but I would appreciate dual rates to slow the steering while driving on the pavement.
If the pavement is good, so too is a dirt road and hard-packed sand; this is where the Teton will likely live its life, as it should. The fat tires float over dirt and sand, yet the tread pattern will allow you to get stuck; the wheels will still dig in if you’re too aggressive on the throttle. Speaking of throttle, the Teton would benefit from a little exponential around neutral as it’s just a bit punchy. I found while working some obstacles that throttle management was a little difficult around neutral. I’m nit-picking here, but it was noticeable.
When it comes to jumping, the Teton handles the ramp with no problem. It is controllable in the air but needs throttle input to keep it level. Let off the throttle and the nose will dip slightly. Hit the brakes and you’ll land it on that beautifully painted body. And those wide wheels mean you can also steer it in the air. Hitting my jump at full throttle means you will land on the chassis as the suspension doesn’t fully handle the weight on landing. This is exactly as it is with my SST and never has it been a problem. I suspect the same will be true for the Teton.
S T E E R I N G S E R V O F A I L
Over 2 years and countless battery cycles, I’ve only just now had to replace a part on the SST. I noticed the motor was slowing down and not able to reach the same top speed it once had and it became very clear when running next to the Teton. A quick trip to the hobby shop with $10 and a few minutes later the problem was solved. The motor might have failed a bit prematurely, but it does have many hours of abuse on the clock, so I think of it as normal wear and tear replacement.
The Teton, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky as the steering servo stripped during testing. This is the same servo used in the SST and the Teton has a servo saver, so I’m quite surprised. This is a more expensive component to replace on this vehicle at $32 retail and is not covered under the electronics warranty.
This would normally put a bad taste in my mouth in regards to the Teton, but my experience with Traxxas and the SST, in general, has been so great over the years. Why did this servo fail when my SST’s servo continues to go strong with not so much as a hint of failure? I have no clue. Considering I wasn’t launching the Teton off anything major, I am going to call this one an anomaly. In other words, I’m not sure I could replicate whatever it was that stripped the servo even if I tried over and over again.
F I N A L L A P
Traxxas took a familiar platform, upgraded it for durability, made it easier to use with their charging systems and batteries, then lowered the price. The LaTrax Teton once retailed for $159.99, is now offered for $139.99 and can be found at online retailers for less. The Teton is fast enough to keep a more seasoned r/c hobbiest entertained for a bit, but will keep the younger among us entertained for quite a while.
If parent and child are running these together as my son and I often do, the fun factor increases significantly. For less than $300, my son and I can be entertained through several packs as we challenge each other’s skills, both in racing and obstacle challenges. I would consider that money well spent. And should something happen to break, like the servo, my local hobby store has all the parts I need at a price that won’t break the bank. Yet another reason why I love 1/18 scale.
Is it better than before? Definitely. I can’t really explain the servo thing as I’ve never stripped any Traxxas steering servo in all my years, so I’m calling it an anomaly and moving on. I recommended the SST in 2015 and will recommend the Teton now in 2017. It’s every bit a value proposition from Traxxas that I believe will be in my r/c garage for a long time.