With the popularity of the Traxxas Slash electric short course trucks over the past few years a nitro version was sure to follow. Traxxas not only made a nitro Slash, the stuffed their 3.3 racing engine in it for uncontrollable fun. While the nitro slash resembles the nitro rustler, as long as it works, it doesn't really matter which platform they chose to base the nitro slash off of. In this review we find out just that, does it work?
Traxxas makes sure you have the necessary tools and information to successfully operate your new nitro Slash vehicle. In the box you'll find the vehicle with trimmed body, transmitter, starter system with 6 cell NiMH battery and charger, fuel filler bottle, air filter oil, shock tuning parts, spare body clips, body washers, appropriately sized hex wrenches, flat wrenches, socket wrenches, decal sheet, complete instruction manuals, and instruction DVD.
The nitro slash body is the same style pick up truck body found on many other slash vehicles. The body comes in Black or Orange. They orange is very bright and resembles a neon or fluorescent orange mare than these photos portray. The contrasting Speed energy logos add a second dimension to the main body color. The orange is brilliant and many will enjoy it, though I prefer the black as the orange is a bit bright for my tastes.
The body is trimmed, drilled, decaled, covered, and mounted when the vehicle arrives. All you need to do is remove the plastic bag and sit in awe as you admire your new truck.
Traxxas does include some additional decals as to not leave out those who enjoy sticking them on.
Wheels, Tires, Chassis, & Suspension
The 5 spoke wheels with bright orange faux bead-lock rings are a great way to complete the overall color scheme. Rear wheels are used at all four corners of the nitro slash making tire swaps a breeze.
Traxxas spec all terrain tires are used to achieve a scale look. Medium compound are used in the front and a softer S1 compound is used in the rear to aid in traction. The tires offer an aggressive tread pattern. After testing both Traxxas' spec tires found here and their BFGoodrich AT tires found on the slash 4x4, I believe these spec tires have a higher traction rating than the AT, though you don't get the cool white lettering in the side walls.
Unlike its electric 2wd Slash brother, the nitro slash uses a chassis like the nitro rustler. This aluminum flat bottom chassis is anodized blue and positions the center of gravity very low. An upper plastic plate which is molded around the fuel tank adds to the overall rigidity of the truck. It was a good idea in my opinion to use a metal plate chassis in the nitro slash. The 3.3 engine would too much top weight in a regular slash chassis. The low center of gravity this chassis achieves is an absolute necessity. Let's hope it handles well.
The suspension mounting blocks are screwed to the top of the chassis plate with standard counter sunk hardware. Anti squat wedges are used on the rear suspension and the entire suspension mounting plate is angled up for to help absorb on coming obstacles. The anti squat geometry also aids in protecting the suspension components from the potential damage of hitting a bump or curb at 30 mph. Notice I said 30 and not 50 mph. While the nitro slash may very well go 50 mph, not many RC vehicles can drive away from a 50 mph mishap undamaged.
Beefy lower H-arms and adjustable upper links are used allowing the driver to adjust camber at all four wheels. Front toe is easily adjusted using the included wrenches and rear toe can be altered by buying optional suspension mounts.
The all plastic ultra shocks are filled with what feels like a medium weight silicone oil and offer smooth operation. The included shock accessories allow you to add preload as well as the option to replace the stock pistons for different levels of dampening. The front shocks have two lower mounting options found on the H-arms, and one upper mounting position found on the shock tower. The rear shocks have four lower and four upper mounting positions allowing you to tune the suspension for various levels of performance.
The upper suspension links offer limited mounting options. The front upper links offer a single mounting position while the rear links offer six different mounting locations for the inner link mount. These different mounting locations allow you to tune the amount of camber through the entire range of suspension travel. The upper links are mounted as close to parallel to the lower suspension arm as is allowed and results in a consistent camber setting through the entire travel range. Camber is set to approximately -2 degrees and I only needed to adjust the right front camber, as it was set to +2.
Over all the suspension looks well tuned and like it could possibly take a beating.
The nitro Slash uses the typical nitro vehicle clutch bell set up. This metal clutch bell, found on the end of the crank shaft, mates with a plastic spur gear which also doubles as a slipper clutch. The slipper clutch uses friction discs and pressure plates which are adjustable for various levels of slip.
Inside the single speed transmission box are three gears. Metal drive and idler gear and a plastic differential gear. Inside the differential gear housing are four metal planetary gears and two metal output shaft gears. Normally I wouldn't worry about the plastic differential gear, since it looks wide enough to handle much power but, the Traxxas website shows a metal composite differential gear with a metal outer gear being used in the nitro slash. Unfortunately this nitro slash arrived with an all plastic outer differential gear.
Traxxas' telescoping plastic drive shafts with metal CVD ball are used in the nitro slash to deliver power the flashy wheels.
The entire drivetrain is supported by Traxxas's rubber sealed ball bearings and is very smooth.
Traxxas chose to put their 3.3 racing engine in the nitro slash instead of the typical .15 size engines normally found in two wheel drive vehicles. While the 3.3 will be loads of fun, I hope it is controllable fun. That's a lot of engine for a two wheel drive vehicle with such small tires.
The Traxxas 3.3 racing engine is a strong running engine with ease of tuning. The composite carb is easy to tune and will also hold a tune. The brilliant blue head looks great and provides adequate cooling. The block and exhaust manifold also provide cooling from their integrated cooling fins. A two piece composite tuned pipe provides sound dampening as well as needed back pressure. This thirsty mill drinks from a large 150cc fuel tank with built in overflow reservoir to keep the vehicle clean while over filling the tank.
A two stage air filter ensures damaging dirt and dust won't be introduced into the cylinder. The filter was oiled and installed on the test slash. It's great that Traxxas provides you with a bottle of filter oil to help you get going. You will still need to eventually get other bottles of filter oil as the filter will need to be cleaned an absolute minimum of every seven tanks of fuel.
Starting the engine is simple with Traxxas' easy start system. Although this does add some weight to the vehicle, the 3.3 engine has more than enough power to handle it and the added ease of starting is well worth it.
A 2.4Ghz radio system are used in the nitro slash and provides great range and response. The 2.4GHz receiver is housed in a sealed receiver box. A small round optic window allows the user to see when the led on the receiver is illuminated.
Four AA batteries, which are enclosed in their own battery box at the rear of the chassis, are needed to provide power to the receiver and servos. A small switch is used to turn the power on and off which is located at the rear of the vehicle.
Traxxas' 2055 servos are used to control steering and the throttle. At 86 oz. in. of torque and a transit time of .20 sec/60º, they're not the fastest or strongest servos out there, but they provide more than enough of both to get the job done on the nitro slash. We've all gotten so used to Traxxas vehicles including waterproof electronics, so I should mention that these servos are not, and for good reason. Nitro engines do not run well under water. In fact, water and mud can quickly ruin a nitro engine, so these servos will discourage those who like to mud bog with their electric vehicles from destroying this one.
The throttle servo also controls breaking. Steel plates and semi metallic discs actuated by lever control breaking. A small collar on the break linkage can be adjusted for varying break response.
Performance & Handling:
My first test with the nitro slash was in the front yard. Short grass with a small jump leading to the driveway provided a good area to bash. I was able to see how the vehicle turned, accelerated, and felt at varying speeds. This thing rips!
There is no lack of acceleration, that's for sure. The front wheels lifted off the ground on many occasions. As you can imagine, steering is spongy while on the throttle. Even when all four tires were touching land, if I was on the throttle, there wasn't much weight on the front causing the vehicle to push.
The truck had an easy time transitioning levels and surface material. The nitro slash hopped over the drive way with ease however, If I was nearing top speed the front end would reach for the skies resulting in an ugly landing. There's not much mid air throttle control from the lack of tire mass, so hold on for the ride.
Breaking was a bit weak so I adjusted the linkages to remedy the issue.
I took the nitro slash to the local off road track. It is currently February so the water supply has been turned off for the winter. This was kind of a downer. I knew this truck would need a high grip surface to keep from spinning out. I tried it any way with expected results.
All the nitro slash wanted to do was light up the tires. Extreme throttle control was need to keep the truck on the track. I only reached full throttle once and had to place the truck back on the track because of it. One half throttle on the straight way is where the truck need to stay especially in these low traction conditions.
Attempting to drive the nitro slash on this track was frustrating. All that power and not able to use it. GRRR! The engine seemed to load up and run a little rich from not passing over the 1/2 throttle threshold. I occasionally made some speed passes in the field to clear it out. I can't lie, I was also itching to hammer the throttle and feel the power!
Because of the difficulties I had driving the nitro slash, I crashed a lot. I mean a lot! Every other jump was either upside down, or a cart wheel. As a result of all this abuse, I broke the rear suspension mount. It was obviously time to pack up and call Traxxas for a replacement. Now is also a good time for me to make a few modifications to the truck.
The entire vehicle seemed too light for the amount of power the 3.3 engine was providing. I also noticed the front end needed some help staying put and the truck tended to lean toward the left in mid air. All of this can be remedied with some modifications.
Traxxas offers many optional performance parts for the Nitro Slash. I was lucky enough to acquire a few key performance upgrades.
Rear suspension holders take much abuse, especially in a vehicle so over powered. Many bad landings abused the stock rear suspension holders to their breaking point. These aluminum upgrades took much abuse without any problems at all.
I didn't have any trouble from the stock caster blocks, but after installing the performance upgrade 30 deg. caster blocks, I could tell the front end was stiffer.
The stock steering blocks held up to my punishment but the performance replacements definitely helped to stiffen the front end, which resulted in less unwanted movement.
Aluminum shock caps not only look great, they also provide a more secure fit on the shock ensuring the oil stays where it needs to. Inside the shock.
Well, I'm almost done installing my Traxxas Performance parts on the Traxxas nitro slash. I figure with all this blue bling, I might as well add a little to the wheels too. Blue aluminum wheel nuts not only look great, but the machined spirals on the back of the nut grip the wheel really well. This will help them to stay tight.
As with all short course trucks, the large body acts like a parachute making it very difficult to predict landings. I drilled many holes in the body to help release some of that trapped air. Larger holes were added at the track as the high speed of the nitro slash magnifies the parachute effect on the body. The entire truck could use a little more weight so I decided to reinforce the body slightly with Gorilla tape.
Adding some weight to the nose of the nitro slash is necessary. I used stick on weights designed for pine wood derby cars. These weights can be found at large hardware stores like Lowes. Each medium sized square weighs .125 oz. As you can see here, I started off with .5 oz. on the nose. After continued track testing I ended up adding a total of 1 oz. to the nose. The weights come with double sided sticky foam and as long as you wipe the parts with rubbing alcohol, they stick great.
I also added .25 oz. of weight to the right side of the truck along the front to rear balancing point to counter balance that 3.3 engine.
I've gotten the nitro slash ready to go back. Let's see if I have better luck controlling this maniac. Although the 3.3 engine is easy to tune, I found myself checking it constantly. Each time I checked, it was still in tune. When combining the large 3.3 engine, small tires, and dry bumpy track, and use of only 1/2 the throttle range, I kept hearing the sound of a badly tuned engine. So I would take the truck to the grass or road and run it through the entire power range. Each time I did this it sounded great. No adjustments were necessary. Once I got back on the track, it sounded out of tune. I don't guess it took a genius to realizes the rear tires were bouncing on the dry bumpy track, gaining and loosing traction. Each time they lost traction, the engine revved slightly. The reason this was happening was because I was only able to drive at 1/4 -1/2 throttle on most of the track. Very seldom did I ever go over 3/4 throttle. This truck is fast and anything over 1/2 throttle got exciting and difficult to control on such dry conditions.
Stability and Cornering
The nitro slash wants to turn in such dry conditions. Applying too much throttle is easy and results in spinning out. Low speed cornering while applying 1/8 - 1/4 throttle slid the nitro slash around most corners beautifully. The suspension is plush and reacted just as it should while cornering.
Speed and Acceleration
This thing is a rocket! 50mph? Yes! Did I say this thing was fast? Lifting the front tires off the ground is a reoccurring event while driving on high traction surfaces like short grass.
Acceleration is outstanding! The nitro slash is no slouch and will peg RPMs as quick as you can pull the trigger. Acceleration would be even quicker if the rear tires were able to hook up better. These all terrain S1 compound tires look the part but when you throw the nitro slashes power to them, they spin, and spin, and spin. Traction is hard to come by on most surfaces, especially the off road dirt track I did my testing on.
This is one area I have not been able to consistently perfect. The nitro slash tends to be unpredictable on big air. Small jumps were pleasant and predictable, but the more speed needed to clear a jump, the less predictable the nitro slash became. The tire's gyroscopic effect is almost nonexistent from the lack of tire mass. Adding weight to the entire wheel might help, but I did not try it yet. I drilled and cut several holes in the body to try to lessen the parachute effect which helped a little, but not enough. I added weight to the body while stiffening it with Gorilla tape. I was concerned the many holes would weaken the body causing points of failure and breakage.
Weight added to the nose of the truck also helped. I added a total of 1 oz. to the nose. Anything beyond that point started to disrupt the smaller jumps as well, and the nitro slash was performing great over smaller jumps.
The nitro slash jumped well on small to medium sized jumps, but I wasn't satisfied with its ability to land big air.
The nitro slash has no problem blasting through short to medium-long grass. The tires have difficulty finding traction in the long stuff but on short to medium lawns, this thing can through down!
The 1/10 scale nitro slash has no trouble driving on ordinary gravel. Be careful though! If your standing behind the nitro slash when you nail the throttle, it's like a Tommy gun!
Dirt is a vague word. There's dry dusty dirt, moist dark soil, and clay like dirt. The nitro slash is much too over powered to control while powering over dry dirt. Moist dirt and clay on the other hand, are perfect surfaces to tear it up with the nitro slash. I was able to find some moist dirt early in the morning and it was awesome. The front tires lifted off the ground as rooster tails shot out behind. Unfortunately it didn't last long. The sun quickly dried out the lot and I was suddenly left with a dry area similar to the track.
I am excited for the weather to warm up and spring to arrive. Spring and summer time means the city will turn the water back on at the track. You know what that means, we can water it as much as we like, keeping a moist surface to rip it up!
Smoothness of electronics
The electronics worked flawlessly with only one exception. The on/off switch found at the rear of the vehicle filled up with dust and malfunctioned. Nothing crazy happened. I was lucky. When I turned on the vehicle, there was no power. I blew out the switch and worked it back and forth to clean out the dust. It worked great from then on.
The steering and throttle servo had adequate power and operated smoothly. When the front wheels were turned they stayed turned without unexpected surprises.
See the Nitro Slash in action!
Take a ride along with Robby Gordon in the real Speed Energy race truck!
The Nitro Slash is definitely an adrenaline machine. It's powerful and loves to wheelie! The low center of gravity kept it on all fours for the most part. The electronics worked great, the engine performed exactly as it should, and it looks great.
The Nitro Slash is a great truck for the bashers out there or anyone who wants to impress their friends with high speeds and raw power.
If you're looking for a full fledged racing vehicle on the other hand, the Nitro Slash has it's obstacles. While tons of power is great for bashers, racers may find most of the power to be unusable. The 3.3 engine drains the large 150cc fuel tank in 15 to 20 minutes, depending on driving styles.
The suspension worked good and the truck had good composure on the ground. Small terrain irregularities were unnoticed as the nitro slash glided over top.
In the end I would say the nitro Slash is definitely the bashers dream providing great visuals like rooster tails of debris coupled with smoke, and the wine of the powerful 3.3 engine. If you like high powered wheelie popping action, check out the nitro slash.