Traxxas Nitro Sport: instant nitro excitement
Gonzalez, George M
OUR LOYAL READERS will probably remember the Traxxas* Nitro Sport “First Look” that we published in the February issue. At that time, we promised that you’d be seeing a lot more of this truck, and after weeks of testing, the time has come to reveal our findings. If you’ve been wondering whether the Traxxas Nitro Sport really is the quick ticket to nitro excitement, here’s your chance to find out.
* Chassis. A special two-piece chassis serves as the Nitro Sport’s foundation. Its front is molded composite, while its rear is made of strong T6 aluminum.
A molded radio box that’s secured to the top plate with four machine screws does a good job of protecting the receiver from the elements, but it is not completely moisture-proof. An opening in its top allows easy frequencycrystal changes, but it also allows fuel, water and small debris to enter. Traxxas includes a balloon with every kit and highly recommends that you put the receiver inside the balloon to protect it from moisture.
Unlike the Nitro Rustler, the Nitro Sport does not include a racing-style bellcrank steering system; instead, it uses a simple direct-drive system. At one end, the adjustable tie rods are attached to the steering blocks, while their other ends are installed directly on a large-scale servo saver. Unfortunately, the system creates considerable bump-steer and makes the servo-saver work double time. If you ever notice that the steering is “loose,” replace the servo-saver immediately. This system will work just fine for backyard bashing, but if racing on off-road tracks with large jumps and obstacles at every corner is in your future, consider taking a look at the Nitro Rustler instead.
* Suspension. The Nitro Sport features a rough and rugged suspension system that’s all Nitro Rustler. All four suspension arms are extra-long and incredibly strong. They pivot on stainless-steel hinge pins, and the front hinge pins are supported by a fiberglass brace for extra crash protection.
Plastic, oil-filled, Ultra Shocks smooth the bumps and jumps and are completely rebuildable. Plastic clip-on spacers allow quick and accurate spring pre-load adjustments. The extra-rugged molded shock towers should survive even the most horrific crashes, and adjustable tie rods with captive ball ends allow camber and toein/out adjustment.
* Engine and drive train. The Nitro Sport comes with a 3-gear racing tranny with a super-low 2.81:1 final gear ratio and bulletproof planetary gear diff. The internal gears are all 0.580 metric pitch for increased durability. All the gears spin on 5×11 ball bearings, and power is transferred to the ground by means of plastic universal sliders. A 70-tooth, 32-pitch spur gear is included, as is a 20-tooth ball-bearing-supported clutch bell. Unlike the Nitro Rustler, the Nitro Sport does not have a slipper-clutch mechanism: I was a bit skeptical when I first discovered this, but after hours of thrashing, my skepticism vanished. It is comforting to know, however, that Traxxas offers an optional slipper clutch as a low-buck hop-up (see “Factory Options” sidebar).
The Nitro Sport comes with a specially tuned Traxxas TRX 15 engine. Its heat-sink head is slightly smaller than the blueanodized head on the Pro 15 engine, but it still dissipates heat well.
The Nitro Sport engine has a userfriendly TRX-Sport carburetor that does not include a bottom-end adjustment screw; hey, that’s one less thing to worry about, right? The carb has an air restricter that gives the engine a broader powerband and a quick throttle response.
The Nitro Sport’s high-performance exhaust system includes a cast-aluminum header and a composite tuned pipe. On most other comparably priced nitro vehicles, these are optional upgrades. I’ve had a lot of experience with Traxxas glow engines, so I can say that the new TRX 15 Series engines are the best powerplants to leave the Traxxas factory!
The Nitro Sport is the first Traxxas vehicle to include the EZ Start electric starting system. Gone are the days of pulling on starter cords or lugging around heavy starter boxes. Heck; you don’t even need a glow-plug igniter to fire this thing up. The EZ Start is basically a gear-reduction unit (transmission) that’s mounted on the engine backplate in place of a typical pullstart mechanism. A 380-size electric motor powers the unit, and a hand-held control box that uses a standard 7.2V R/C car battery provides the voltage. Just press one button, and the proper voltage is fed to the glow plug and the small electric motor cranks up the engine. A standard 7.2V sport pack will provide over 100 starts on a single charge! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone racing only to find that my glow-plug igniter was out of juice; I’m sure I’ll never have this problem again.
ODDS AND ENDS
The Nitro Sport has one of the coolest-looking stadium-truck bodies in the business. Esthetics aside, it’s also extremely functional. A giant air scoop in the truck’s bed provides tons of airflow. According to Traxxas, under normal running conditions, the airflow that enters under the body will provide sufficient cooling. If you plan to run the vehicle for long periods in extremely hot weather, however, Traxxas recommends that you make an opening on the front windshield to provide additional airflow. I’ll take Traxxas’ advice, and after the photo shoot, I’ll open up the driver’s-side window as well. I plan to punish this bad boy!
The Nitro Sport includes an air filter with replaceable foam elements, a 75cc fuel tank with priming bulb and stadiumtruck racing rubber. The stock tires aren’t exactly competition oriented, but they will provide adequate traction on loose dirt, gravel, grass and asphalt-the stuff backyard bashers usually race on.
The Nitro Sport’s cone-dish wheels look great and will accommodate all standard 2.2-inch truck tires. The truck has its own five-piece tool set, so you’ll need only a few additional tools to maintain it.
The Nitro Sport is available ready to run, with or without a Traxxas TQ 2-channel radio system installed. Our test vehicle arrived with the radio in place, and Traxxas was kind enough to provide a sharp-looking, custom-painted body, so I was able to get “Thrashing” in a hurry. The clear Lexan body includes die-cut window masks to make painting a snap.
I did most of the “Thrashing” in my front yard and along my street. It’s amazing how many adventures you can find right in your own neighborhood with a nitro-powered stadium truck and a little imagination.
The Traxxas EZ Start electric starter system takes all the intimidation out of operating a nitro vehicle. I didn’t need to use the EZ Start that much, because the engine runs so reliably; I just kept adding fuel, and the Nitro Sport kept running. I ran the truck on grass, cement, gravel and dirt. It seemed content on all the surfaces, but with little provocation, it showed a tendency to spin out. I also noticed that it wandered a little when getting off the gas. I’m sure that with a little tuning, however, the Nitro Sport will handle admirably. The TQ radio does not have steering dual rate or end-point adjustments, so chassis tuning is critical. Other than that, the truck was a lot of fun to drive and achieved impressive top speeds.
The Traxxas Nitro Sport is perhaps the most user-friendly nitro-powered stadium truck available. It may not be a hardcore racing machine, but that isn’t what it’s intended for. It has the look and feel of a top contender, but it’s an easy-to-start and easy-to-maintain sport-level vehicle.
The EZ Start starter performed flawlessly, as did the TRX 15 engine. I give the Nitro Sport the G-Man seal of approval and would confidently recommend it to all first-time gas R/C drivers.
*Addresses are listed alphabetically in the Index of Manufacturers on page 201.
Copyright Air Age Publishing Jun 1998
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