RCU Review: HPI Racing Savage X

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    Contributed by: Eric Hege | Published: July 2006 | Views: 273978 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    HPI Savage X

    HPI Racing

    70 Icon Street
    Foothill Ranch, CA 92610 USA

    Phone: (949) 753-1099
    Fax: (949) 753-1098
    Website: www.hpiracing.com

    See the Savage X in action!
    Resolution:  Low  Medium  High

    Assembly Ease

    Rotary Starter
    Lower Center of Gravity
    Easily Access to Receiver Box
    Easy Access to Diffs and Tranny
    New Rollbar/Motor Protection
    17 and 14mm Wheel Adapters

    Would Like More Hex Hardware

    The HPI Savage has gained a huge fan support base since its initial release several years ago. Since then, it has become one of the most popular monster trucks, and developed a large aftermarket following as well. Its reputation is one of toughness, as it's widely regarded as a super truck platform thanks to its super-rugged construction.

    Over the years the Savage has underwent several revisions, as it continued to evolve to a point that provided even more truck for the money. Despite this, there have been a few things on the Savage that owners have wanted to see changed since early on. So this time around, with the Savage X, HPI has addressed these items. With these changes in place, be prepared to see a round of evolutionary updates such as a lower center of gravity and an easily accessible electronics box.

    Many of the updates that have been incorporated this time around are certain to be welcome changes for fans of the Savage. Wrap that up in the tried and true platform that's a favorite of many and I'm sure HPI has another hit on their hands with this latest version of their monster truck platform. So follow along as we explore what has now become the Savage X. Whether you're looking for your first monster truck, or are looking to add to your collection, you're sure to find some useful information to help you make your decision.

    Model Name: HPI Savage X
    Part Number: 858
    Price: $450.00 (Approx. Street Price)
    Type: 1/8 Nitro 4WD Monster Truck
    Length: 21" (533mm)
    Width: 16.8" (427mm)
    Height: 10" (254mm)
    Weight: Approx. 11.2 lbs. (5.08 kg)
    Wheelbase: 13.25" (336mm)
    Suspension Travel: 6" (152mm)
    Ground Clearance: 3" (76mm)
    Drivetrain: Two-Speed Transmission Dogbone-Style Axles
    Brakes: Vented Fiber Disk With Stainless Steel Calipers
    Shocks: Plastic With Preload Spaces
    Wheels: Six-Spoke Plastic
    Tires: HPI Modified Chevron V-Style"
    Chassis: Twin Vertical Plates-2.5mm Aluminum
    Motor: Nitro Star F4.1 (4.1cc/.25ci) Rear Exhaust w/Rotary Starter
    Fuel Tank: 160cc
    Radio: HPI TF-3 AM

    Additionally Required Items
    Standard 6-Cell Rechargeable Battery Pack
    Peak Charger Capable of Charging Standard 6-Cell Pack
    8 AA Batteries For Radio
    4 AA Batteries (or Receiver Pack) For Receiver
    Glow Plug Igniter
    Fuel Bottle
    After-Run Oil
    Air Filter Oil
    Flathead Screwdriver
    Manuals and Documentation
    Savage X Designation

    HPI has always documented their vehicles well in the past, and the Savage X is no exception. The glossy pages are black and white, but cover nearly any question you may ever have regarding the operation of the truck. You'll find exploded views, assembly diagrams, break-in information, tuning directions, as well as plenty of other information. In the back of the manual you'll find an extremely handy chart that gives you a full size chart of all the hardware found on the Savage X. This makes matching up screws and other hardware a snap!

    Even though the included body comes with decals already applied, HPI includes a sheet of additional decals as well. You can add them to the stock body, or save them for later. HPI also includes a sheet detailing the truck's warranty, and to help keep you up and running you'll find a spare air filter as well.

    The body included with the Savage X has a super tough looking stance. The raised hood center reminds me of a heavy duty pickup, and seems to beg that it be driven hard and rough. The tribal design on the red background stands out well, while the rear of the truck is branded with the Savage X logo letting everyone know you're hitting the jumps with HPI's latest version of their monster truck.

    Radio Box Accessories
    Misc Accessories

    The HPI Savage X comes with a host of accessories. So be prepared to spend a few minutes sorting all of the items out. One of the more notable items is the receiver box lid. Sharp eyes from Savage veterans may notice the lid has changed a little this time around. I'm happy to report that HPI has finally reworked the receiver box and lid, making it much easier to remove and install this time around. To accompany the box lid HPI also provides an antenna tube, and block off plugs for the lid. A battery holder for AA batteries rounds out the items for the onboard electronics box.

    The Savage X breaks away from the aluminum rollbar used by the previous incarnations of the platform. This time around the truck uses a plastic rollbar instead. To further strengthen this rollbar and protect the motor, HPI provides an optional rear extension to the rollbar. You're not required to install this, but it will certainly add to the durability of the truck.

    Since the Savage X uses 17mm hex adapters, you may be worried that you can't use your existing wheels with it. HPI knew this may be an issue, and therefore provided you with what you need to make the truck compatible with 14mm wheels as well. You also receive an 18-tooth clutch bell, which provides you a speed boost over the installed 15-tooth clutch bell. The difference between the two clutch bells is about 10-12 MPH, with the stock one providing you just over 30MPH. If you feel the Savage is too loud, an included baffle can be installed into the tuned pipe to make the truck a little quieter as well.

    In addition to all of the stuff I've mentioned, you find several tools to assist you in the event you need to work on your truck. There's also spare servo horns and accessories should you want to swap out the stock servos at some point in time.

    To control the Savage X, HPI provides you with their TF-3 radio, which is manufactured for them by Futaba. It's a two channel 27MHz AM radio, and offers a good compromise between features and a reasonable cost to the overall price of the model. In addition to servo reversing options, the radio also provides analog trim knobs and a dual-rate function.

    Rotary Starter
    Safety Cutoff
    Button Cover

    One of the most useful features that HPI packs with the Savage is the HPI Roto Start. The Savage X receives an updated version of this starter. It's dubbed, appropriately enough, the Roto Start 2. The new starter has seen a couple of significant changes. These include a redesigned battery compartment, starter button cover, and a safety shutoff. The safety cutoff is the most important of these changes, as it shuts the starter down in the event of an overload. An example of this would be a hydro-locked engine.

    Along with the Roto Start 2, you'll find the stainless steel starting wand and spare silicone o-rings which help it to stay in place once it's placed in the starter. When it's not being used, the wand clips into place on the underside of Roto Start 2 for storage.

    Left Side
    Right Side

    The Savage X follows the layout that the original version of the truck made widely popular. A pair of 2.5mm aluminum vertical chassis plates serves as the foundation for the truck, and stretch from the front to the rear. Eight super-sized shocks provide the Savage with plenty of suspension travel, giving it the classic monster truck stance. Up front, you'll find the electronics box, while the rear of the truck is reserved for the motor. The truck's two-speed transmission sits at the center.

    The 160cc fuel tank is necessary to supply the engine with an ample supply of fuel, and it's installed on the left-hand side of the truck beside the motor. The tank is held in place by two body clips, making removal easy if it's needed. On the opposite side of the truck a composite tuned pipe routes the exhaust away from the motor, dumping it out under the chassis.

    The underside of the Savage showcases the rigid construction of the truck. Purple anodized skid plates reside at the front and rear of the truck and brace the vertical plates. Plastic skid plates cover the aluminum plates, providing them protection when the truck encounters rough terrain or severe jumps. The transmission sits between them, and hardened steel dogbones connect the front and rear differentials to it.

    Shock Tower
    Multiple Positions
    Adjustible Body Posts

    The shock tower is nearly a carryover from the previous version of the Savage, as it handled the task it was intended for perfectly. Its thick rugged design offered plenty of strength while supporting the body posts and upper ends of the shocks. The upper ends of the shocks are secured to the shock tower in pairs, with a long screw and locking nut holding them in place. The shock tower and body post assembly is the same part at both ends of the vehicle, which makes the truck parts much more universal throughout the truck.

    Although the design of the shock tower is the same as the earlier Savage platforms, there is one significant difference. That change is that HPI has now altered the upper shock mount to allow the shock angle to be altered. While the Savage is primarily considered a bashing platform, there are a few people who try to race it as well. So the multiple shock mounts provide a level of adjustability for both racers and bashers alike.

    The shock towers also support the adjustable body posts, giving you the ability to raise or lower the lexan body you equip your truck with. HPI also includes a taller rear post set as well, should you want to install a SUV-style body onto the truck. The posts are easily adjustable as only pair of clips hold them in place. Once the clips are removed, you can slide the posts up and down as needed. Replacing the clips will lock the post assembly into place.

    Suspension Arms
    Suspension Components

    Following the example of the shock towers, the suspension components are universal throughout the truck as well. However, the plastic suspension arms have undergone a much larger makeover than the shock towers. HPI has revised the arms so that they use a new lightweight design. The new design reduces sprung weight, which helps to deliver a quicker responding suspension.

    The lower ends of the shocks are secured by individual Phillips head screws. The upper arm is held to the beefy c-hub via a screw and a locknut. The upper arm offers no provision to adjust the camber angle, which won't bother the bashing crowd much. However, anyone looking to also race the Savage X may miss this ability. The toe links do provide plenty of adjustability however, as they are turnbuckles.

    The c-hub is connected to the lower suspension arm by a long 4mm thick pin with an e-clip, while 4mm thick stainless steel suspension pins are used to connect the plastic arms to the chassis. The axle continues using the dogbone-styled approach found on the previous versions of the Savage, and their 4.5mm thickness should easily withstand the power dished out by the big block engine HPI has stuffed into the chassis.

    The outer end of the suspensions assembly has seen a minor revision as well, in the form of a set of 17mm hex adapters and new locking nuts. Previous monster truck owners with other sets of wheels and tires based on the standard 14mm setup shouldn't worry however, as HPI has also included a set of 14mm hex adapters as well. So the Savage has plenty of wheel options available for it.

    As before, the 8mm axle stub spins inside a pair of 8x16x5mm bearings. However two of these axle stubs have changed from the Savage 25 I previously reviewed. On the Savage 25, the axle stubs on the left-hand side of the truck used a reverse thread pattern. This time around they use a standard thread pattern instead. While the reversed thread pattern may have added an extra layer of security to prevent the nuts from loosening up, they didn't stay within the philosophy of keeping all of the truck's components universal. So HPI abandoned the reversed thread approach. I prefer the standard threaded axles myself, as the parts list is more streamlined and I don't have to remember that the left-hand wheel nuts turn backwards when I'm working on the truck.

    Chassis Reinforcement
    Motor Plate

    One of the more visible changes on the Savage X is the chassis plates. First of all, they break away from the purple anodizing that HPI normally uses. Instead HPI has anodized these chassis plates in gun-metal gray, helping making the Savage X instantly recognizable. Not only did they change the color, but the chassis plates also utilize a design that lowers the truck's center of gravity. This helps to reduce body roll and leaning, which sometimes led to vehicle rollovers before. Of course, if you haven't already noticed, the large "X" made within the chassis plate itself also serves to let everyone know you're piloting HPI's latest and greatest monster truck release.

    Of course the chassis plate secures to the truck at multiple points throughout its length. However, at each end of the truck there's a little additional reinforcement. A stainless steel upper pin is built into the bulkhead, while below it you'll find a threaded insert for the chassis screw. The pin helps you to properly position the chassis plate when installing it and the threaded insert allows you to securely tighten the plate without fear of stripping out plastic threads.

    At the rear of the truck, a horizontal aluminum upper plate serves as a platform for the motor to mount to. This aluminum plate continues the standard color approach of HPI and anodized in purple. Cutouts help lighten the plate in the middle, while its horizontal orientation serves to further reinforce the twin vertical chassis plates.

    Suspension Pin Brace
    Differential Opening
    Differential Access

    The bulkheads for the Savage X are similar to previous versions of the truck in the aspect that they retain their rugged and tough design that Savage owners have come to love. Also, just as before, a set of aluminum tie bars connect the suspension pins together for increased suspension strength.

    However, this time around HPI has incorporated a very welcome change to the bulkheads. Knowing that access to the differentials was time consuming previously, HPI focused on making access easier. With the new design, only six screws need to be removed. Then the outer half of the bulkhead assembly can be removed, allowing the differential to be lifted out for maintenance. This easy-access layout holds true at both ends of the truck. To provide a smooth driveline, the differential unit rides on a pair of 10x16x5mm bearings.

    Just like before, removing the plastic skid plate exposes the purple anodized aluminum skid plate. This also allows you to easily inspect the differential or re-grease it if necessary. The lower screws that are removed to pull the differentials out can be accessed through the plastic skid plate, in the event you don't need to remove it. This gives you a couple different options for easy accessible differentials.

    Pinion Gear
    Inside the Differential

    After the differential unit is removed from the bulkhead assembly, you can catch a glimpse of the pinion gear that spins the ring gear on the differential. The pinion gears spins inside a pair of 8x16x5mm bearings, continuing the set of complete ball bearings that HPI provides for the Savage X.

    The differential is the same unit that was found on the Savage 25, and is greased well to eliminate wear of the ring and pinion gears. HPI also greases the output yokes for the dogbone-styled axles as well, but I would recommend cleaning this grease out if you're going to take the Savage off-road. The grease will trap dirt and dust while the truck is being driven, and could increase wear on the axle ends. I would replace the grease in all of the truck's axle and driveshaft yokes with a lubricant that won't trap dirt. Powered graphite would be one possible alternative.

    The differential houses a full six-gear setup inside of it. A liberal coating of grease keeps wear at bay, and helps control the differential action. The housing is sealed, so you are able to use differential oils to tailor the transfer of power from wheel to wheel to suit the conditions you run in. To hold the complete differential assembly together, HPI uses a long set of fine-threaded Phillips head screws.

    Brake Assembly
    Slipper Clutch

    Since HPI uses dogbone axles to maintain strength for the suspension, HPI chose them for the front and rear driveshafts as well. This would make sure that the entire driveline of the truck would be built optimally in regards to strength. The front and rear driveshafts are slightly different in length, with the rear driveshaft being slightly longer than the front. The rear driveshaft is 84mm long, while the front is 6mm shorter, with a length of 78mm.

    The brakes on the Savage X follow the previously used formula that works rather well, although I've typically found it needs a little adjustment out of the box. A fiber disk rides on a hex that is tied to the output yoke on the transmission. Then stainless steel calipers squeeze the disk when called upon by the braking lever.

    The slipper clutch assembly has seen a revision on the Savage X as well. To improve the holding power of the slipper pads, the spur gear now uses dual adhesive pads on the spur gear instead of just the rearward side. On the front side of the assembly, interlocking dual plates sandwich a rubber pad which provides another level of protection for the spur gear.

    Off to the side of the spur gear you'll find the throttle bellcrank assembly. The bellcrank is fastened to the vertical chassis plate and transfers the action from the throttle servo up front to the engine's carburetor.

    Inside the Transmission

    The new revised chassis plates on the Savage X allow the transmission to be removed much easier than before. It's no longer necessary to remove one of the vertical chassis plates to pull the transmission out. Now you simply need to remove six screws and the transmission pulls out from the top of the truck. If you find the need to readjust the transmission's shift point, this can be accomplished as easily as before thanks to the fact the Savage retains the opening in the case that allows access to the shift point grub screw. When the transmission is not being adjusted, a rubber plug seals the opening up.

    You'll be pleased to see that the Savage X retains the rugged transmission structure of the previous versions. The majority of the internal gears are hardened steel, with only a single gear being made from plastic. All of the transmission gears ride on ball bearings as you'd expect. Also, just as with the previous versions of the truck, you have the ability to install the reversing module and three speed conversion kits. The part numbers for these items are #87032 and #87218 respectively.

    The Savage X does away with the aluminum rollbar that was found on earlier version of the Savage, replacing it with a plastic bar instead. I think this new option will prove better in the long run, as the aluminum bar would often get bent and dented. The plastic bar will provide some flex when it's impacted, which will absorb the hit. The bar will also flex back into position, when aluminum would not. To help increase the strength of the bar, and to provide the engine more protection, HPI also includes a rear section as well. We'll cover the installation of this additional part a little later in the review.

    Shock Components
    Wheels and Tires

    The super long shocks found on the Savage are one of its most distinguishing characteristics. They are nearly 7 inches in length, and provide the truck with its huge amount of suspension travel. Thick shock rods, and heavy duty rod ends, make sure the shocks are up to the task of handling whatever tasks the truck's owner inflicts upon it.

    While the truck still uses oversized wheels and tires to connect the chassis to the ground, their design has been changed to offer a different look to the newer version of the truck. The tires feature a new tread pattern and are pre-glued onto a set of six-spoke chrome wheels. The wheels are made to specifically fit the new 17mm hex adapters and wheel nuts.

    Radio Box
    Radio Tray
    Throttle/Braking Servo

    Much to the delight of anyone who has previously owned a Savage, HPI has redesigned the receiver box on the Savage X. You'll be happy to know that taking the lid on and off is no longer the hassle it used to be. The newly redesigned box doesn't extend up under the shock tower in the manner the old one did, nor does it use body clips at the front or rear. The end result is a receiver box design that will be one of the most positive changes of the whole truck.

    The stock receiver is an HPI RF-1 two channel 27MHz AM unit. The receiver for the previous versions of the Savage supported more than two channels, but HPI has scaled this down with the Savage X. This allowed HPI to help keep the costs down with some of the new changes on the truck. However, those who still want the reverse option still can equip their truck with it. You'll just need to purchase HPI part #87039, which is the channel mixer.

    At the front of the box a deep well houses the power source for the electronics. HPI provides a AA battery holder, although I'd strongly recommend using a receiver pack. As before, a power switch is located at the rear of the receiver box. This makes turning the onboard electronics on and off a simple and easy task. The mount for the antenna is located beside of the switch. Further rearward is a plastic retaining clip that holds the radio tray and lid in place. This clip spins to lock all of the receiver box components in place, eliminating the need to use body clips at the rear of the box as well.

    The throttle servo resides on the left-hand side of the receiver box. A special servo horn is mounted to the servo, allowing it to operate both the brake and throttle operations. The brake rod also features a thumbscrew, allowing you to easily adjust the tension provided by the brakes.

    Steering Assembly
    Servo Saver
    Steering Servo

    If you remove the front skid plate, you can get up close and personal with the bellcrank steering setup that turns the Savage X. The post where the servo connects also provides you a means to adjust the tension of the built-in servo saver. The stock steering servo is a HPI SF-2, which gives the truck around 90 oz-in of torque at 6.0 volts.

    The lower skid plate also serves to reinforce the steering servo assembly. When put together with the twin vertical chassis plates, one will see no flexing throughout the Savage X's range of motion.


    HPI has redesigned the engine for the Savage X, dubbing it the Nitro Star F4.1. The motor's size is still the same as the Savage 25, although HPI has reworked most of the individual components to boost the torque and power levels of the truck. This should satisfy anyone who craves for more power, like most of us always seem to want.

    The motor now comes equipped with HPI's optional high performance air filter, replacing the standard air filter setup found on the earlier version of the truck. The new two-element assembly falls more in line with what big block motors are most often found with, and is simply a much better design than the old setup. The pre-filter helps keep the larger dirt particles from reaching the inner filter, which reduces frequent clogging in extremely dirty and dusty environments.

    The carburetor that feeds the F4.1 engine uses a large-sized composite nylon body. It features two needles, both a low speed and high speed needle, as well as an idle adjustment screw. All of these are easily reached when the motor is installed onto the vehicle's chassis. A factory installed throttle return spring closes the carburetor in the event the power source, or throttle linkage, for the truck would happen to fail.

    Rotary Backplate
    Piston and Sleeve

    One of the big hits with previous Savage owners is HPI's Roto Start. The Savage X uses this as well, although as mentioned earlier it has undergone some revisions for the handheld portion of the unit. The starter backplate is mounted on the rear of the engine, and has a spot for the handheld's starter shaft to fit into it. This allows the handheld unit to spin over the motor and start it, once you have clipped a glow plug igniter onto the glow plug.

    Above the Roto Start backplate, you'll find the engine's exhaust port. The HPI F4.1 uses a rear exhaust design which has a silicone coupler to provide a seal between the header and exhaust port. The header is held in place by a single exhaust clamp spring, and a silicone couple to connect the header and the pipe.

    To transfer the torque of the big block motor, HPI has equipped the Savage X with a three shoe carbon clutch. The clutch follows typical big bock rationale, using a separate spring for each shoe. A steel 15-tooth clutch bell rides around the clutch shoes on 5x10x4mm bearings, providing plenty of low end grunt to the truck. If you're after speed, HPI also includes an 18-tooth clutch bell as well. The high-count clutch bell will rob some of the truck's low end power, but will give you a much better overall top speed.

    The Nitro Star 4.1 uses true ABC construction for its internal components. This provides the best overall power output as well as general longevity. Cooling fins cast into the block help provide additional cooling to assist the aluminum head. The purple anodized aluminum head also features a replaceable head button design, which eclipses the design used on stock motors from other manufacturers. In short, the Nitro Star F4.1 continues a motor platform that's perfect for a tough monster truck like the Savage.

    Front of Engine Guard
    Rear of Engine Guard
    Installed Engine Guard

    You can almost take the Savage X straight from the box to the dirt. However, to utilize the most of what HPI provides, you'll want to install the rear half of the rollbar to provide the engine additional protection. I think this new addition to the Savage is an excellent change, and chose to take full advantage of it.

    To install the rear bar, you'll want to remove the single long screw that ties the left and right halves of the rollbar together at the top. Then you pull back the roll bar halves and remove the stock center section. Slide the front of the optional rear bar in place of the stock center piece, and reinstall the screw that holds the halves together.

    The rear of the engine guard is secured by the body posts. Remove the body post assembly, and position the rear of the engine guard between the body post assembly and the shock tower. Since I opted to keep the shock tower at the same height as it was stock, I used the spacer supplied by HPI in the accessory bag.

    Once the full rollbar/engine guard is installed, you can see how much more effectively it protects the truck than a single stock bar would. It will also provide you with a great place to grab and carry the truck as well.

    Fuel Filter
    Receiver Pack

    To help maintain a clean supply of fuel to the engine, I opted to install a Dubro fuel filter on the Savage X. I used their basic purple inline fuel filter, as it compliments the color scheme used throughout most of the truck. The fuel filter installs easily. Simply snip the line at the point you wish to install the filter, and slide the tubing over the openings on the filter.

    The receiver antenna is one item that you must prepare prior to using the Savage X. Uncoil the antenna and run the wire between your fingers to straighten it out. Then pass it through the hole in the receiver tray, following this up by sliding it through the antenna tube supplied by HPI. It should slide through the tube easily, but it you encounter any difficulty, sprinkling a little baby powder on the wire will help ease its passage. Once the wire is in the tube, use the supplied antenna cap to hold the wire in place. Then push the antenna tube into its resting spot on the receiver tray.

    You'll want to supply the Savage X with a source of power as well. While HPI supplies you with an AA battery holder, I prefer a receiver pack. So I charged up and used a 1200NiMH HPI receiver pack, which is part #2012. This receiver pack offers you plenty of power for the receiver and servos, and drops right into the place meant for the battery holder.

    Receiver Box Lid
    Body Preparation
    Body Installation

    Once you've readied the electronics, it's time to drop the lid into place. HPI provides a couple of plugs to close off the unused holes in the lid. Position the front of the lid into place, and then follow it with the rear of the lid. Push the rear of the box down, and twist the retaining clip to lock the lid into place. Check to ensure that the truck's electronics are powered off, as you don't want to drain the receiver pack prematurely.

    While the stock body will drop right onto the Savage in its box-stock form, the addition of the rear section of the rollbar requires some additional cutting of the body. I used my Dremel to remove some additional material around the opening in the back of the truck. While I had the Dremel out, I also cut out a hole in the front windshield as well to assist in the cooling process.

    I took this time to install some Dubro Klip Retainers which helps to keep the body clips from getting lost, and keeps the clips with the body when it's off of the truck. I used a red Dubro Klip Retainer (part #2248) for the rear of the truck, and black Klip Retainer (part #2245) for the front. This worked well in regards to matching the color scheme of the truck.

    You'll also want to install the Roto Start with a charged standard 6-cell battery pack. Once charged, slide the pack into place on in the bottom of the starter, and replace the cap that retains it. The Tamiya plug fits into the starter, and is keyed in manner to avoid you plugging it in incorrectly. Don't forget you need to ready a charged glow igniter as well. For the radio, you'll want to supply it with a set of 8 AA batteries. I recommend using a set of good name brand cells as they'll provide optimum range and length of use.

    Once the preparation work is completed, all that's left is to install the body. Once that's done, it's off to perform the break-in procedure, and ultimately to run the truck.

    I took the Savage X to the backyard, opting to use the tried and true heat cycling method for the break-in process. Once I had primed the fuel system, and had applied the glow plug igniter, the engine fired up within a split second of me pushing the button on the Roto Start 2. I then started to drive the truck around getting it warmed up as the procedure specifies.

    After driving for a few minutes, the engine seemed to be somewhat lean on the low-speed needle setting. So I pulled it in and richened the needle. This tamed the motor down after the throttle had been applied, so that it idled nicely instead of sounded like it wanted to speed up. Later, during the cooling cycle, I would check the low speed needle to see how it had been set. It appears that the Nitro Star F4.1 had arrived with the low speed needle set about a turn and a half in from the "flush" setting as described in the truck's manual. I haven't ever run into this before with the LSN, and figure it to be a fluke. It definitely illustrates the need to pay attention during the break-in process though, as a vehicles needle settings may need to be altered at times. Even when they are set to the factory defaults, needle settings are not "one size fits all". So adjustment may be necessary, although it's ordinarily the high speed needle that you would find the need to adjust.

    The rest of the break-in procedure went flawlessly, so there's sense in me boring you with the details. After break-in, I started adjusting the needles for performance. Then I piloted the Savage X around the backyard hitting a few jumps that I have available. I wasn't really aiming for getting big air; instead I was merely trying to get a feel for the latest version of the Savage. It seemed to jump just as well as it had before, with the truck jumping nice and level off of the dirt jumps in the backyard.

    When I tested the Savage 25, I tested it more as a basher spending my time in the backyard pulling off back flips and super high air. With the lower center of gravity chassis, and better handling suspension, I wanted to take the Savage X to my local track for a little testing action this time around. While the main focus of the Savage is still bashing, getting it in an environment with plenty of dirt and jumps will let everyone know how the handling changes have affected the truck. This will have an impact on both the bashers, as well as those who may want to try and use the Savage as a racing platform at their local track in a production-based monster truck class.

    At the first available opportunity I headed out to the track. Soon after my arrival at Monkey Bottom Raceway I had the Savage fired up and running, so I steered it onto the track and nailed the throttle. The Savage X has plenty of bottom end grunt, as evidenced by the wheelspin when I nailed the throttle. The stock tires grabbed decently although, like most box stock rubber, they consider overall lifespan as more of a priority than absolute traction.

    I made a few quick laps around the track, but the truck felt a little too top heavy for my liking. It was simply a little too twitchy in the corners. I also felt as if the brakes were set too weak as well. So I brought the Savage X back in for a few adjustments.

    I yanked out all of the preload spacers, and reset the upper ends of the shocks to the innermost holes on the shock towers. This would provide me as low of a ride height as I could get with the stock setup, and allow the springs to provide a little firmer feel in the corners when they started to get compressed. To adjust the brakes, I spun the thumbwheel on the brake lever clockwise a few times, tightening it up closer to the spring on the braking linkage.

    I also took this time to lean the high speed needle a little more as well, because the truck still seemed to be running just slightly on the rich side. Since I had performed some additional cutting for the optional motor guard, the high speed needle was easily reached with the lexan body in place. Someone who chooses not to install the optional rollbar may possibly find the need to cut an opening to provide easier access to the high speed needle.

    With my changes made, I headed the truck towards the track once again. The end result was a much more balanced truck. While it wasn't perfectly track ready due to the tires, it was certainly less twitchy than before and much more controllable. The lack of perfect traction ruled out making a triple, but the doubles were a piece of cake. I quickly found myself hitting the triple as a double/single, landing on the backside of the second jump which gave me an easy run up to the last hump. The power provided by the HPI Nitro Star F4.1 made it easy; I barely needed any throttle at all to clear them both. It was more about keeping the truck in control, as that was all that was necessary.

    I was also amazed at how well the truck was able to carve through some of the corners on the track. Obviously the truck couldn't keep up with the HPI Hellfire I tested a few months back, due to that being an all-out racing platform for the truggy class. However, the Savage X was certainly showing itself to be at home on the track in its own right. I found that by setting myself up right heading into the corners I could use the tires to my advantage and pivot the truck coming out of the corner. It required some precise throttle control, but after a few laps I had it mastered fairly well.

    One of my favorite sections of the track involves a single jump leading up to a tabletop jump. My normal route, with vehicles that are capable, is to hit the single hard and land on the flat upper section of the tabletop. The Savage X didn't disappoint me in this regard as it hit this section as well as anything. Just a quick blip of the throttle was all that was required as I hit the single. In fact, once I even landed right at the backside of the tabletop!

    After running the truck for several hours, I dug back into all of the items I had brought with me and pulled out a pair of Panther Pythons that I had used for racing the previous year. I swapped the 17mm adapters for the 14mm ones HPI had provided, and then installed the Pythons onto the Savage. The difference was staggering, taming the truck substantially as it accelerated out of the turns and from a standstill. With the new tires, runs at the triple were possible, and soon a proven fact. The tires did introduce more of a pushing condition coming out of the turns, but some experimentation with a few different types would easily provide you with a happy median once you experimented a little at your own track or bashing grounds.

    Throughout the time I spend at the track, I only ran into two problems which were fixed rather easily. At one point a jump was overshot, and the truck ended up in a series of multiple cartwheels before finally coming to a rest. This resulted in the right-hand rear shocks ends being pulled loose from the shock rods. Nothing was bent or damaged however, and since I had no spares, I simply twisted the rod ends back onto the shock rods. I doubted they'd last the rest of the afternoon but I was proven wrong, as I had no further problems with the shocks at all.

    I also managed to strip a spur gear halfway through my day as well. I was able to grab a spare when this happened, which allowed me to continue running the truck. I was being pretty rough on the truck, laying in the throttle heavily immediately after my jumps trying to keep my speeds up in some of the sections of the track. A proper slipper clutch setting is critical for running hard like this, but I should point out that HPI has issued a statement regarding the factory setting gap between the spur gear and clutch bell. They have found that some of the earlier batches of the trucks had improper gearing gaps which could cause stripped gears. So just as with any RTR vehicle, you'll want to ensure this gap is set correctly out of the box. In fact it's always a good idea to check the screws and nuts throughout the whole truck, as well as making sure the tires are firmly glued, before you run it. For more information on checking and setting the spur gap, see HPI's site, at www.hpiracing.com. Even with the two minor instances I encountered, the Savage X has proven itself to be one tough truck!

    See the Savage X in action!
    Resolution:  Low  Medium  High

    Without a doubt, the Savage X is the best version of the twin-plated monster truck to date. HPI has really listened to their fan base this time around and eliminated the items previous Savage owners really wanted to see changed. This makes the truck a pleasure to work with and run, while maintaining the tough reputation that the truck has built since its introduction.

    Each time HPI refines the Savage it gets harder and harder to find something to point out when looking for an area to improve. Between their research and development, and customer feedback, HPI has performed an outstanding job of sharpening the Savage into what a remote-controlled monster truck should offer its owner.

    It's hard to name my favorite change as all the revisions have a huge role in improving the truck. It isn't as much about one item, but it's rather about all of the improvements wrapped up together into this latest version of the truck. If you have ever owned a Savage before, you'll quickly become spoiled with all the Savage X has to offer. On the other hand, if you ever considered owning an HPI Savage this is the time, and the Savage X is the most well rounded version HPI has ever offered!

    HPI Racing
    70 Icon Street
    Foothill Ranch, CA 92610 USA
    Phone: (949) 753-1099
    Fax: (949) 753-1098
    Website: www.hpiracing.com

    3585 Cadillac Avenue
    Costa Mesa, CA 92626
    Phone: (714) 850-9342
    Website: www.teamassociated.com
    Products used: Air Filter Oil

    Dubro, Inc.
    480 Bonner Road
    Wauconda, IL 60084 USA
    Phone: (732) 635-1600
    Website: www.dubro.com
    Products used: Fuel Bottle, Fuel Filter, Glow Igniter, Klip Retainers

    Dynamite RC Products
    Distributed Exclusively By
    Horizon Hobby, Inc.
    4105 Fieldstone Road
    Champaign, IL 61822 USA
    Phone: (877) 504-0233
    Fax: (217) 352-6799
    Website: www.horizonhobby.com
    Products used: 6-Cell NiCad Battery Pack

    Distributed Exclusively By
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021 USA
    Phone: (800) 637-7660
    Website: www.odonnellracing.com
    Products used: 30% Racing Fuel

    Trinity Products, Inc.
    36 Meridian Road
    Edison, NJ 08820 USA
    Phone: (800) 848-9411
    Fax: (732) 635-1640
    Website: www.teamtrinity.com
    Products used: After Run Oil

    Comments on RCU Review: HPI Racing Savage X

    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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