RCU Review: Schumacher Menace 21

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    Contributed by: Eric Hege | Published: December 2004 | Views: 118017 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Schumacher Nitro Menace .21 RTR

    Schumacher Racing USA

    6302 Benjamin Road Suite 404
    Tampa, FL 33634 USA

    Phone: 813-889-9691
    Fax: 813-889-9593
    Website: www.racing-cars.com

    See the Schumacher Menace .21 in action!
    Resolution:  Low  Medium  High

    Ease of Assembly

    Very Fast
    Easy To Start
    Easy To Tune
    Radio Includes Dual-Rate

    Uses Torx screws
    Needs A Better Steering Servo
    "Fire in my veins,
    Faster as I go,
    I forgot my name,
    I'm a dirt torpedo"

    Anyone who has compared the Schumacher Nitro Fusion and the Schumacher Nitro Menace side by side should instantly notice how similar they are. The two remote control models are so alike in design that, aside from the tires, they almost look like identical twins until you start hunting for the differences.

    The fact that the Menace shares much of its design with the Nitro Fusion is a definite benefit to all of the speed freaks in the hobby. First of all, there are not many four-wheel drive stadium trucks in the hobby to begin with. Then the fact that you can see speeds in the 65-70 MPH range gives you the ability to leave everything else in your dust. That is providing your hands aren't sweating and shaking too much! If the combination of highway speeds and off-road action doesn't send your heart rate soaring, you'd better head to the hospital's emergency room. They'll probably want to check your pulse to see if you even have one.

    Will the Schumacher deliver the same sense of exhilaration off-road as it does on-road? There's only one way to find out, and that's to break it in, stir up some dust, and get it dirty. I have a feeling that we're going to find out that this truck is a true "dirt torpedo".

    Model Name: Schumacher Nitro Menace .21 RTR
    Price: $499.99 list price
    Type: 1/10th Scale Four-Wheel Drive Off-Road Truck
    Length: 17.72" (450mm)
    Width: 11.81" (300mm)
    Wheelbase: 11.22" (285mm)
    Weight: 5.3 lbs. (2.4 kg)
    Chassis: 3.0mm CNC Machined
    Engine: 'E-Start' Thunder Tiger .21 ABC Pro Engine (3.5cc)
    Drivetrain: 3 Speed/4 Wheel Drive
    Shocks: Adjustable Aluminum Shocks
    Tires: Pin-Style
    Wheels: Plastic Chrome Dish-Style

    Additionally Required Items
    Transmitter Batteries
    Receiver Batteries or Rechargeable Pack
    Single D-Cell Battery For Included Glow Igniter
    Fuel Bottle
    Cordless Drill
    Lexan Body

    The included body for the Menace is provided by Atomik R/C. Atomik R/C has placed themselves in the spotlight by providing well detailed pre-painted bodies for off-road trucks. The body that comes with the Menace is actually made for a Traxxas Maxx truck, which illustrates the fact that most Maxx bodies should work well with the Menace. The only stipulation you'll likely notice, with some bodies, would be the need to adapt some longer mounting posts to the Menace.

    I do have some concerns regarding the strength of the Atomik body in the event of rollovers. This is due to their manufacturing process, where the windows are actually a separate component from the body itself and the window is held in place by double-sided tape. This looks like it will result in a weaker body, due to the fact there's less material around the window area of the body. However I have a way to address this issue and will cover it a little later.

    Among the other included accessories you'll find several tools, including turnbuckle and hex wrenches. You'll also find a T10 L-shaped Torx wrench as well. Like other Schumacher models, the Nitro Menace uses Torx head screws almost exclusively. So this is an important item to hang onto. Very few hobbyists will have a T10 Torx driver sitting in their toolbox unless they've had experience with Schumacher before. However, if you plan on purchasing a Nitro Menace, it would be a good idea to pick one up. The included L-shaped Torx wrench is fine for taking out a few screws, but a good Torx driver will save you time in the long run. The included D-Cell Glow igniter is a little cumbersome due to its size. However that's typical with any large cell igniter. Once I was in the field, I opted to use my Dynamite NiMH rechargeable igniter instead.

    The Schumacher Nitro Menace is well documented throughout the paperwork you'll find in the box. You get a detailed manual that contains exploded parts views, as well as an assembly walkthrough. It's nice to see that, even though the Nitro Menace is a RTR kit, Schumacher provides assembly instructions as well. A well detailed set of assembly instructions is always helpful down the road when you are performing routine maintenance or replacing a broken part. In addition the RTR kit comes with a manual for the included Airtronics Blazer radio as well. In addition to covering general operating procedures for the Airtronics radio, the manual also describes the various features of the radio. This helps you to understand their benefits and use.

    Left Side
    Right Side
    Motor and Fuel Tank

    The chassis layout of the Menace is straightforward, and allows most items to be easily reached. The left-side of the 3mm purple anodized chassis is home for the motor and fuel tank, while the right-side houses the receiver box. This staggers the weight across the truck in the same fashion as the Nitro Fusion, and helps to provide a good balance of weight. The servos and their respective linkages fill the center of the chassis, and the front of the Menace is protected during collisions by a very flexible plastic bumper.

    A 3mm carbon-fiber upper plate stretches from the front of the truck to the rear. It serves two primary purposes. One is to provide a mounting point for parts such as the fuel tank, while its other purpose is to help provide even more rigidity to the chassis. The brace attaches to the chassis at several points between the two shock towers. This ties the whole truck together preventing chassis flex and making the truck seem as if it's one solid piece.

    The servo saver on the Menace is built right onto the chassis of the truck. It resides between the 3mm aluminum plate and the 3mm carbon-fiber upper plate. A thumbwheel on the servo saver allows you to adjust the tension on the servo savers spring, which in turn affects the tension of the servo saver. An aluminum rod, with ball ends, connects the servo saver to the steering servo mounting in the center of the chassis directly in front of the motor.

    For the motor Schumacher provides a Thunder Tiger Pro .21. It's a favorite motor of many in the hobby, including myself. This is due to the nice amount of power it provides, coupled with the fact it's very easy to tune. It's not uncommon for this motor to be run several times without having to have any adjustments made. This makes the motor itself an excellent choice for someone new to tuning.

    The Thunder Tiger comes equipped with Schumacher's "E-Start" system, which is a blessing for those tired of yanking on a pull starter. All that's needed is for you to supply a cordless drill to use the supplied starter shaft with. You simply place the glow igniter on the glow plug and then, making sure the drill is set to turn clockwise, spin the motor over. I never had any problems using this system on the Fusion, and it's worked even better on the Menace since the exhaust exits at the rear of the truck. The exhaust at the rear eliminates the header being close to the starter mechanism on the motor like it is with the Nitro Fusion.

    With the Menace, Schumacher opted for a bigger fuel tank than they used in the Nitro Fusion. Tank capacity has been boosted another 50cc to give you a total of 125cc of fuel on board. With the Nitro Fusion, weight and balance was a very critical issue. However, with the Menace, Schumacher has wisely determined that runtime would be preferred by most owners. The big-block Thunder Tiger has a large appetite for fuel, so the larger tank gives you several more minutes of driving time between refills.

    Three-Speed Assembly
    Tuned Pipe
    Adjustment Needles

    The Menace comes equipped with a three-speed transmission, which is easily visible from the right-hand side of the truck. The cam-style shifting mechanism has preset weights and springs, which eliminates the need for shifting adjustments. This setup also keeps the transmission operation simple, and eliminates the possibility of incorrectly setting the shift points which can sometimes be seen with adjustable transmissions.

    With all the power available with the Menace, you need a good braking setup to stop it. So, when looking for a brake disk, Schumacher decided to go with carbon-fiber. A plastic hub sits inside the carbon-fiber disk and transfers the braking action to the driveline. The brake assembly is housed behind the three-speed assembly, and can be a little tough to see. However, it's not very difficult to remove the three-speed assembly to access it, when needed, and the setup is very effective.

    The transmission gears come with an purple aluminum guard placed over them. Due to the fact that this truck will obviously see some off-road duty, Schumacher installed this guard to help prevent debris from finding its way down in between the clutch bell and spur gears. This was definitely a smart call on the part of Schumacher. A rock becoming wedged between the gears while the truck is running wide open could easily damage the gears, forcing you to spend some time on the repair bench instead of in the dirt.

    As I mentioned earlier the tuned pipe on the Menace exits out the rear of the truck. Not only does this provide a benefit when it comes to using the starting shaft to start the truck, but it also help keep the truck clean as well. Instead of the oily mess exiting at the side of the chassis, like with the Fusion, it exits at the rear of the truck so very little ends up on the truck. This, in turn, eliminates the buildup of crud on the side of the body and chassis, which makes cleanup much easier than if the exhaust were mounted on the side of the truck.

    The lathe-cut pipe itself has a nice shiny finish, and is secured to the header by an exhaust coupler and zip ties. The exhaust header is held tight to the motor by a spring making removal a very simple process, with only a pair of needle-nose pliers. The end of the pipe is secured by an exhaust hanger, which prevents the pipe from banging around while the truck is being abused in the dirt.

    The Thunder Tiger's adjustment needles are easier reached than it would first appear. The high speed needle is in the brass housing on top of the carburetor, and is reached from the top of the vehicle. Upon first glance though, the low speed needle and idle adjustment appear much harder to reach. When adjusting them, you must access them by placing your screwdriver between the exhaust and shock tower. Once you do that, you'll find adjusting the low speed needle and idle is a breeze. You'll find the low speed needle located directly beneath the high speed needle, while the idle adjustment screw is located just to the left of the low speed needle and is surrounded by a small spring.

    Front Suspension
    Axles and Hex Adapter
    Rear Suspension

    The suspension of the Menace is built very well. The shocks are anodized aluminum, and use clip-on preload spacers. The aluminum shock bodies give you the ability to run thicker shock oil without having to worry about blowing the lid off of the shock, like you would if the shocks and lids were plastic. The installed springs offer a good compromise between being supportive enough for jumping and soft enough to provide good handling

    When looking at the front bulkhead and shock tower area, the first thing you're likely to notice is all of the aluminum and carbon fiber used. This showcases how well Schumacher put the Menace together, knowing that strength should be a primary concern. Notice how the 3mm suspension pins are captured as opposed to being kept in place by e-clips. Not only does this prevent you from having to install and remove the tiny clips, but it also provides a very secure hold on the pin and ultimately the suspension arm itself.

    The suspension arms are plastic, which contrasts with the majority of the Menace. While they are made in a manner to withstand a fair amount of abuse, they should break before anything braced by the aluminum or carbon fiber will. However, this is far from being a bad thing. In the event of a bad enough crash, something will need to give. The suspension arm will be the likely focal point should breakage occur, and it's an easy item to replace.

    The Menace uses C-style hubs for steering. They are built thick to withstand the rigors that this truck is expected to see when placed in an off-road environment. The axles themselves ride on 5x10mm bearings that are housed within the plastic steering hubs.

    On the front, toe-in and camber adjustments are handled by a series of turnbuckles with heavy-duty ends. These connect the bearing carriers to the chassis. To fine tune the toe-in and camber adjustments, you simply twist the turnbuckle assemblies as needed. This gives you the ability to easily adjust the handling characteristics to suit your tastes.

    The Menace uses steel MIP CVD's to transfer the power from the differentials to the wheels. The CVD's provide a much stronger axle than most plastic slider solutions. However they do require little more maintenance, and frequent inspections to ensure they are in proper working condition. The most common cause of failure with CVD-style axles is the cross pin that passes through the ball joint. Over time it can possibly loosen and slide out. When this happens, it usually catches on the suspension arm while the axle is spinning and this normally results in the cup on the axle's shaft breaking. Generally the owner complains that the part is faulty, and that CVD's are a horrible type of axle. In reality it boils down to a failure to perform regular maintenance and inspection. So you'll want to inspect before and after each running session to ensure that the cross pin is intact.

    The hex adapters on the Fusion are made of steel and clamp tight around the axle. The benefit of this type of hex adapter is that, when you pull the wheel off, the adapter stays on the axle. This is a contrast to plastic hex adapters that use a cross pin, where the adapter often stays in the wheel becoming an annoyance to remove. The hex adapters are also 14mm, which means they are the same size as many other off-road trucks use, including the Traxxas Maxx trucks. This provides you a huge selection of aftermarket wheels and tires for your Menace, you'll just want to check the backspacing to ensure proper clearance.

    On the rear of the Menace, you'll notice that you have only one set of turnbuckles. These provide you the ability to alter the camber of the rear tires. However the toe-in cannot be adjusted. Instead it is set in a fixed position and offers a preset amount of toe-in. As with the front, the rear bulkhead and shock tower area is braced with aluminum and carbon-fiber. The suspension arm pins on the rear are captured as well.

    Drive Belt
    Chassis Bottom
    Chassis Opening

    The belt drive system from the Nitro Fusion is another item that found its way onto the Menace. However the Menace was intended for operation in the dirt, not the pavement. So Schumacher opted to fully enclose the belt to prevent it from becoming damaged due to dirt and debris. A plastic housing, running from the front to the rear, is the home for the 10mm wide drive belt and all of the driveline items associated with it. This also includes the front and rear ball differentials, which are items not often seen in the off-road world. Ball-style differentials offer a much more precise way to control the differential's slipping action. Most manufacturers use geared differentials due to the fact they require less maintenance to keep them in proper working condition. However Schumacher went against the grain, and opted for the ability to have better control of the differential action instead.

    The underside of the truck showcases a large number of countersunk Torx screws, which secure the various components of the truck together. You'll also see the recessed hardware that holds the motor in place, and allows you to adjust the gap between the clutch bell and the spur gears. These four screws are 2.5mm hex head screws, unlike the majority of the screws used on the Menace which have Torx heads. In keeping with the sealed drive belt theme, the Menace doesn't have belt access openings in the underside of the chassis like the Nitro Fusion does. It sound also be noted that the Menace cannot be used with a starter box, as there's not an opening with which to access the flywheel. As I imagine the Menace will primarily be used by bashers, I don't think that that will be much of an issue though. Most bashers will prefer to use the E-Start assembly provided by Schumacher.

    While there is no opening that exposes the drive belt of the Menace, there is an opening in the chassis plate under the transmission. This opening serves two functions. First it allows any debris that would make it past the purple gear guard the chance to fall out of the chassis without becoming entangled in the rotating gear sets. The other purpose is that it allows the transmission gears to sit a little lower on the chassis. I'm a little concerned though, that bottoming out after a large jump could possibly damage the spur gears.

    Suspension Arms
    Receiver Box
    Airtronics Radio

    The suspension arms for the Menace should withstand a fair amount of abuse before they crack or break, even if they are one of the few plastic parts on the truck. While the thickness varies throughout the arm, they are still a single piece to help ensure the rigidity of the part. Close to the outside edge, wheel stops have been molded into the arms to prevent the wheels from being turned too far and damaging the steering linkage. You'll want to ensure that you use the dual-rate setting, or endpoint adjustments, on an aftermarket radio to ensure the wheel doesn't contact the stop on the suspension arm during normal operation. Allowing this to happen will create drag at the wheel, wearing the wheel down and hindering performance somewhat.

    One thing many off-road trucks lack is a good receiver box. The Menace delivers in this aspect, as it comes installed with the same box that's used in the Fusion. It easily accommodates the battery holder in the rear and the receiver up front. While I performed all of my testing with the battery holder and Duracell AA batteries, this truck really should be coupled with a good NiMH receiver pack and a failsafe. AA batteries are very unreliable, and there's no good reason to leave anything to chance. The included throttle return spring, which isn't standard equipment on many RTR models, provides a fair amount of protection from a runaway. A failsafe will help further that protection, and will help protect the Menace from an unwanted accident.

    An off-road truck will get dirty. While it helps that the exhaust vents out the rear of the truck, lots of dirt and dust will still find its way under the body and end up on the chassis. Schumacher understands the need to facilitate easy cleaning, and therefore provides an easy way to remove the electronics for cleaning. The servos mount to the receiver box, making removal of all the electronics a simple process. All you need to do is to pop the servo linkages loose, and remove a few screws from the bottom of the chassis. Then the receiver box simply lifts off of the car, and you are free to perform whatever cleaning tasks you need to. This eliminates any worry about damaging any of the truck's electronic components while you clean the truck.

    The Airtronics Blazer radio is a fairly full-featured radio when compared to many other RTR radios. It has a nice comfortable feel, and even includes a dual-rate adjustment which places it a step ahead of many other RTR radios. One downside though, is that the adjustment knobs are analog as opposed to digital. This means they're susceptible to being moved out of adjustment when the radio is off.

    I can appreciate that Schumacher was keeping costs down with an AM unit such as the Blazer, and I can't really fault them for that. After all including a mid-level or top-end FM unit could have easily added a lot more to the car's price tag, and the owner may still want to change the radio to their favorite brand. So the effort of placing a top-end radio could very easily backfire. However I would recommend that a FM radio be installed shortly after the Menace is purchased. At the speeds the Menace is capable of, radio interference could prove to be disastrous. So the better signal provided by an FM radio can easily be put to good use. A better radio will also provide numerous other features, such as end point adjustments and exponential, that can also be utilized with a high-performance truck such as this.

    Glue Tires
    Install Receiver Antenna
    Check Screws

    The first thing you need to do, to ready the Menace for action, is to glue the tires to the rims. Peel a section of the tire away from the rim. Then drop some thin CA Glue into the channel on the rim where the tire bead normally rests. You'll want to do this all of the way around the tire, on both sides. I suggest doing all of the back sides, then coming back and applying glue to the front side of the tires and rims. This allows the CA glue a few minutes to set up before you start the other half. In addition this means you'll start off by practicing on the side of the wheel that won't be seen, should you get a little messy with the CA glue on your first few attempts.

    Another detail needing attention is the receiver antenna. The wire is already pushed through the tube. However you'll want to insert the lower end of the tube into the receiver box on the chassis. Allow the excess wire to hang out of the top of the tube. If you are worried about damaging it in a crash, you can use a small section of heat-shrink tubing over the top of the tube to help protect it.

    You'll also want to spend a little time checking all of the screws on the truck itself. It's not uncommon to find a few screws, or nuts, that need to be tightened down. I found a nut loose around the rear shock tower, so I ended up applying some thread lock to it, and then tightened it back up. This prevented any more problems resulting from that nut loosening up again.

    Install Receiver Batteries
    Install Radio Batteries
    Prep Body

    To prep the receiver, you need to install four AA batteries into the battery holder, which is located in the receiver box. Alternatively, you could also replace the battery holder with a receiver pack. In that case the receiver pack would plug straight into the receiver itself. Over the long term, this would be a much more reliable route than using AA batteries not to mention cheaper.

    The Airtronics Blazer radio will also need to have AA batteries installed in it. For the radio, you'll need a total of eight AA batteries. You could also purchase some rechargeable AA cells and use a charger that's compatible with the radio instead. However, if you plan on replacing the radio later, you may be better off to just save your money and buy a rechargeable pack that fits the new radio you plan on buying.

    The body for the Schumacher Menace is supplied by Atomik. If you are familiar with Atomik bodies, you'll know that the windshield is a separate piece from the rest of the body. You are supplied with some double sided tape to fasten the window unit to the truck body. However, I chose a more durable option, in the form of Shoe-Goo. It's available at most shoe stores. Shoe-Goo holds the parts together perfectly, and when used between as much of the body and window glass as possible, it helps to strengthen the body which the double sided tape can't do. Shoe-Goo is also great for repairing the tears and cracks that occur over time, once the lexan body starts to see some abuse.

    You'll also need to make a few holes and cutouts in the body. First you'll need a cooling hole in the front windshield. This allows airflow to the motor so that it can maintain a proper operating temperature. They are several ways to go about this procedure. I normally use a hole saw, as it provides perfect circles. In the case of the Menace, I used a 1.5 inch hole saw for the cooling hole and it has provided plenty of airflow. Avoid cutting out the entire windshield, as that will only weaken the body.

    With the Menace I also found it necessary to trim the rear windshield so that it cleared the Thunder Tiger's motor head. This was easily accomplished with a pair of curved lexan scissors. The exhaust exits through a hole in the back of the body that I made with a body hole reamer. However a drill bit or hobby knife could be used to make an opening in the event a reamer isn't available. If you desire to apply any additional stickers on the body, now would be the time to do so.

    The first thing that is needed, is to break the Schumacher's Thunder Tiger .21 motor in. According to the manual, they suggest running two or three tanks through the motor with a rich setting and then start to lean it out. I generally recommend following the manual for break-in, which is exactly what I did in this case. With the Nitro Fusion I varied the break-in procedure, by lengthening it. However, that was due to the small 75cc fuel tank it had. The Nitro Menace has a much larger tank on board, so I felt comfortable with the break-in procedure as laid out in the manual. I should also note, that due to the pin-type tires on the Menace, I chose to break it in on a flat dirt area rather than pavement. This way I would cause less wear on the tires than the pavement would.

    About a third of the way through the first tank, just as it had begun to warm up good, I ran into a problem. I suddenly lost all ability to slow the Menace down using the brakes. Accessing the brake disk on the Menace required me to remove the three speed assembly. Once that was complete, I could easily see the problem. The brake hub the carbon fiber brake disk rides on had overheated and became distorted.

    I was puzzled, and was nearly positive that the brakes were not dragging while the Menace was being driven. I knew I had made no adjustments to the linkage that would have caused this either. So I called Schumacher, and discussed the issue with them.

    Schumacher walked me through a couple of issues that could have led to this problem. One of the more common things that they have seen, is the owner using the brakes to prevent the truck from rolling due to a high idle. I knew this wasn't my case as I hadn't adjusted anything yet. So they told me to double check the throttle trim on the radio, and to make sure the truck will coast while the throttle is in the neutral position. Then they sent a few replacement parts headed my way. I should mention that my experience with Schumacher customer service was exceptional. They were very knowledgeable regarding the operation of the Menace, and were eager to help me get it up and running again.

    Once the parts arrived, I started the reassembly process using the items I had received. I had been instructed by Schumacher, in my conversation with them, to make sure I tightened the three-speed assembly extremely well once I had placed it back on the truck. They explained that this was necessary for proper fit, and the assembly would work itself back out into the normal tolerances, even if it seemed like it had been over-tightened.

    With the truck reassembled, I took another close look at the brakes and found that they did indeed drag while at idle. At that moment everything became crystal clear. I remembered that when I did my initial walkthrough of the truck and checked the brakes, the radio was switched off. When the radio was switched on later, for break-in, the servo must have repositioned itself to its idle position which evidently introduced brake drag, and this led to the brake hub overheating and failing.

    Since the throttle trim was properly set, the solution to my brake problem was to readjust the linkage collar for the braking rod. Once that was complete, it was very apparent the brakes were no longer engaged while the truck was in motion. I would strongly encourage anyone to spend a few moments and check this area of their Menace each time before they run it. With the speeds the Menace can achieve you want to make certain you don't lose the ability to brake.

    With the brake issue behind me, and break-in still looming, I set off for a second attempt at breaking in the motor. This time around break-in was flawless, and soon the third tank was behind me. At that point I started leaning the Menace out and the power provided by the Thunder Tiger motor started to become very apparent.

    Before I go any further, let me go ahead and state that this truck will need a very large area in which to run. If you plan on running in an average backyard, you'll be lucky to get the truck close to half-throttle on a regular basis. It's just that fast and powerful. You also want to ensure the area is nice and smooth as well. The truck can handle some differences in the terrain, but obviously the faster you go the less time the suspension gets to react to these changes. Couple that with the fact the Menace sits at stadium truck height, and you'll quickly find yourself upside down if you get a little too gutsy with the throttle on rougher terrain. I definitely don't consider this a problem though, as this isn't a monster truck. The Menace is a four-wheel drive stadium truck, so this is expected behavior for it.

    When it comes to jumping, I found that the Menace jumps very well. The catch is that flying level, and landing correctly, just takes some practice. The powerful Thunder Tiger .21 motor will easily overpower the wheels once you leave the ramp, and quickly bring the nose of the truck up. If you get a little too liberal with the brake, while trying to correct it, you'll quickly find the front end digging into the dirt. A little practice jumping the Menace goes a long way when it comes to landing perfectly. I'd certainly suggest starting with small jumps, and getting a feel for the truck, before moving to mid-size or larger ones.

    Another thing that should be considered when jumping is your speed when hitting a jump. Because the Menace is capable of highway speeds, the last thing you'll want to do is to hit a jump wide open. Even at very moderate speeds, the lightweight Menace had no trouble getting 8 or more feet of air from my curved ramp. If you hit a ramp like that wide open, you could easily double that height. However, that would just invite unnecessary parts breakage should you land incorrectly. Speeds of 60+ MPH, and jumps that provide peak heights in the high teens, will tend to damage any out of the box model if you don't land correctly. Many times even a correct landing could result in damage under those criteria.

    Along with that thought, is the speed the Menace is capable of on the ground. While the truck has proven to be very durable in my experiences, I suggest running in a very open area. Just because I state the truck has proven to be tough, doesn't mean it will sustain a head-on collision with a tree, mailbox post, or some other inanimate object, at 60+ MPH. These speeds have the ability to crumple up a remote-controlled model pretty easily. So start off easy, and pick up speed once you start to feel real comfortable with your ability to control the truck.

    In the handling department, the Nitro Menace handles pretty well overall. At higher speeds the truck's handling becomes somewhat erratic. This seems to be partly due to tire ballooning, since the truck's tires do not contain inserts. However zipping across off-road terrain usually doesn't necessarily provide the smoothest driving surface either. This is multiplied as speeds increase, and contributes more to the erratic feel than anything. Obviously a nice smooth track surface will exhibit very little of this when compared to a construction site or someone's backyard. Quite honestly, I wouldn't expect someone to be running wide open much at all anyway, as the Menace can run out of running room real quick when it's wide open.

    While cornering with heavy throttle applied, the Menace will exhibit an ability to push or understeer. That's pretty common with a four-wheel drive setup however, and if you back off the throttle when cornering, it will quickly change direction to wherever you're pointing it at. Getting back into the throttle after turning requires careful application, as you can easily overpower the tires if your trigger finger is a little too judicious. While the Menace gives you the ability to alter its suspension characteristics, you always have to keep in mind the truck's nature is to be overpowered, and throttle control is a key element when handling is concerned.

    At low to medium speeds the tires provide a lot of grip, as much as a tire could for what kind of power this truck is putting to the ground. A nice set of soft rubber tires would probably provide some improvement, but this motor could easily overpower any tire you equip it with. So it's more about learning to apply the throttle properly than anything else. While it's fun to romp down on the throttle and stir up a halo of dirt and dust, most of the time you'll want to use the throttle quite conservatively so that you keep the Menace under control.

    For my first few runs I left the Menace with is out of the box settings. However after a few runs, due to the truck's nature to understeer, I dialed in a little more negative camber on the front to help increase the site bite of the tires. This helped considerably when cornering, especially once I also increased the dual-rate some as well.

    I stopped tweaking the handing once I had made my camber and dual-rate adjustments. I could have tweaked the truck a little more, but I chose not to. You have to consider the fact it's quite overpowered, and due to that, throttle control is more important than anything when it comes to how the truck handles. Unless you are in a very large and open area, I feel like it's highly unlikely that you'll spend much time in third gear speeds anyway. In fact, I actually found myself spending more time at low to mid-range speeds than anything. I loved watching the truck take off from a dead stop and spinning dirt everywhere. Plus low to mid-range speeds provided much better control of the Menace while jumping.

    So exactly what did I damage? Well, I've already addressed my issue with the brakes. Once they were correctly adjusted I encountered no further problems with them. While I replaced the brake hub with a stock plastic replacement, I should also mention that Schumacher does offer an upgraded brake hub as well. It's an alloy aluminum as opposed to plastic, and is more tolerant of the heat created by a dragging brake should you happen to make a bad adjustment.

    The only other issue I had was with the steering servo. It didn't take me long at all to kill the gears in the stock Airtronics servo. As a temporary fix I used a Hitec 5925MG I had lying around. It's a digital servo, and coreless as well. So it offers more precise control than the stock servo did. In addition, the metal gears will be able to withstand the rigors of off-road driving.

    See the Schumacher Menace .21 in action!
    Resolution:  Low  Medium  High

    The Schumacher Menace has been a blast to drive. From low to high speeds there's plenty of power on tap, which can get you into trouble in tight areas if you have very little self control of your trigger finger. The truck has proven to be very durable throughout the jumping I performed with it as well. However, you should keep in mind the surface you're landing on and the speeds at which you hit the ramp. The Menace definitely has the potential to be pushed beyond a reasonable limit in a jumping situation.

    Probably the major item I would change, or like to see changed, on the Menace is the steering servo. While the servo saver does a good job of protecting the servo, it can't stop everything this truck may encounter, especially when jumping. A good metal gear servo would be a tremendous improvement. Off-road trucks need strong steering servos, especially when they reach the speeds this one can. A little more servo torque wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing either.

    All in all, Schumacher most certainly retains their crown when it comes to producing super fast vehicles. The side benefit is that with them using the Thunder Tiger to achieve these speeds, the truck is very easy to tune and holds the carburetor adjustments well. If speed is your number one priority, then you'll find that the Schumacher Nitro Menace is one truck that delivers what it promises.

    Schumacher Racing USA
    6302 Benjamin Road Suite 404
    Tampa, FL 33634 USA
    Phone: (813) 889-9691
    Fax: (813) 889-9593
    Website: www.racing-cars.com

    Dubro, Inc.
    480 Bonner Road
    Wauconda, IL 60084 USA
    Phone: (732) 635-1600
    Website: www.dubro.com
    Products used: fuel bottle

    Hitec RCD USA, Inc.
    12115 Paine Street
    Poway CA, 92064 USA
    Phone: (858) 748-6948
    Fax: (858) 748.1767
    Website: www.hitecrcd.com
    Products used: Hitec 5925MG Servo

    Trinity Products, Inc.
    36 Meridian Road
    Edison, NJ 08820 USA
    Phone: (800) 848-9411
    Fax: (732) 635-1640
    Website: www.teamtrinity.com
    Products used: Monster Horsepower Fuel (20%)

    Comments on RCU Review: Schumacher Menace 21

    There are no comments

    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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