Friday, July 8, 2011
Electrix RC Boost 2WD Buggy Review
There's no denying that Electrix RC has absolutely nailed the entry-level audience with their two previous vehicles, the Circuit Stadium Truck and the Ruckus 2WD Monster Truck, since they're incredibly easy to setup, user friendly and most importantly, fun machines to simply go out and bash around with. Their latest project, the Boost™ 2WD Buggy, looks to capitalize on the rebirth of the 2WD electric buggy class and provide one of the easiest ways to get into RC.
The Boost doesn’t reinvent the wheel so much as it continues down the path the Circuit and Ruckus blazed before it. Constructed out of durable composites and including absolutely everything someone would need to get started right in the box, the Boost has incredible potential. We packed up our gear and headed out to Eli Field, the same location that we reviewed both the Circuit and the Ruckus, and had an afternoon of fun.
Vehicle: Boost Buggy
Part Numbers: ECX3000 (Orange); ECX3100 (Blue)
Vehicle Class/Type: 1/10-scale 2WD Buggy
Target Audience: Entry Level and Sportsman off-road enthusiasts
Completion Level: RTR
With my busy schedule, I don't always have the time to sit down and build a kit like I might want. That's where I really appreciate the ease and convenience that the Boost (and all Electrix RC vehicles) offers. Getting started and setup with the Boost is super-easy. Simply pull the car out of the box, insert the receiver antenna into the antenna tube, install the antenna and included AA's into the transmitter, charge up the 1800mAh Dynamite Speedpack, and you're ready for fun. This approach is extremely hassle-free, putting the emphasis on you being able to get out and run your vehicle instead of having to set aside time to build it.
I headed back to Eli Field with our videographer Jack in tow. I haven't driven on the track since the filming of the Ruckus review and Lee Morrison had changed the track slightly; slowing things down a bit by removing the sweeper on the left-hand side of the track and replacing it with a pair of hairpin turns. We had also been experiencing near-record temperatures and the surface of the track was extremely dry and powdery. While I had a chance to drive a Boost at RCX 2011, it was on a much tackier surface with more bite. I had a feeling that I would need to be a bit more gentle on the throttle for these track conditions, but knew I'd be in for a whole heaping pile of fun.
The bone-dry conditions of the track were a bit of a concern to me since I didn't know how well the Boost would hook up. The fact that the track was pretty loamy off-line told me that this would present a challenge. From the first pull of the trigger, I was impressed with the zippiness of the Boost around the track, floored at how well it jumped and appreciative of the overall forgiving nature of the car.
Admittedly, the track at Eli Field isn't overly technical or covered with monster jumps; however, it was certainly enough of a challenge to see what the Boost's capabilities were. On this surface, the Boost had a bit of a pushy tendency, something that is better for a beginner than a car that swaps ends. While it was welcome on most parts of the track, I really could have used more steering in the two new hairpins. I tried to tap the brakes to slow down and swing the rear end around and was instantly reminded that my "pulsing" of the brakes won't work with the Boost. there isn't a delay before reverse kicks in. It only bit me a few times but, at least out of the box, my normal powering into a corner, pulsing the brakes, and powering out wouldn't work. With the Boost pulsing the brakes would cause reverse to kick in at the least opportune time. I did find however, that if I took a more flowing, smoother line around the corner I could get the Boost around quite nicely and quickly.
Perhaps the area of the track where the Boost impressed me the most was the step-up jump/right-hand hairpin/jump down section on the right side of the track. This part of the track has gotten a little rutted from larger 4WD short course trucks and 1/8-scale buggies, but the Boost handled it like a champ. Actually, that's an understatement as the Boost consistently took the step up, hard right and step down almost as good as my "race 2WD" does. The Boost was very sure-footed and only occasionally stepped out of line if I got on the power too hard.
While the Boost uses the same 20-turn motor as the Ruckus and Circuit, the gurus at Electrix RC have been really good at taking the size of the wheels and tires into consideration and providing a different pinion gear depending on the destination vehicle. The Boost, having smaller tires than either the Circuit or Ruckus, utilizes a larger 20-tooth pinion gear. This yields decent top speed that felt pretty similar to its larger cousins. While the track was rather dusty and dry, I would say that, if anything, acceleration felt a little crisper than the trucks. I think the fact that the Boost is an overall lighter vehicle helps in this instance since the motor doesn't have to propel as large of a vehicle. Like the Ruckus and the Circuit before it, I found the Boost to have enough speed to be fun for a beginner without being difficult to drive.
The Boost is setup with a bias towards a mellow or balanced feel from the box and that was really evident off-power, particularly in the tight 180-degree sections of the track. I could get the car loose off-power if I dialed more steering into the transmitter, but I really didn't care for that feel. I turned the steering throw down just enough to get the car through most of the turns without swapping ends while still having enough steering to get around the course. The Boost did relatively well off-power, however, I could have used a little more steering in the tight 180-degree turns off of the front stretch. Being able to have brakes instead of going automatically into reverse would have made things easier for me personally, but for the target audience that the Boost is intended for, I think that majority of those drivers would rather have reverse than brakes.
When I first saw the tread pattern for the rear tires that the Boost would be coming with, I thought there was a lot of potential here. The block pattern was small enough to hook up well on harder packed tracks while still being large enough to be able to bite into loose dirt, gravel or other surfaces that the Boost is sure to see. The rubber is a harder compound for increased tread life, but they still hooked up quite well in these conditions. I was able to get the car sideways or out of shape if I got on the gas too aggressively, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. Much like the off-power characteristics on-power, the Boost seemed to slide the front tires a bit when on-power, but it wasn't too bad. If anything, it helped provide a bit of confidence that I could get off the gas and have the car follow the line I wanted versus chasing the rear end.
If there's one area that the Boost really impressed me, it was in how well it jumped. Let me be totally clear here, the Boost isn't a race buggy, but it sure jumps like one. From the approach, takeoff and landing, the Boost was totally predictable and a joy to drive. While I could manipulate the chassis in-air if need be, I never really had a need to. This was all with the Boost featuring the out-of-the-box setup regarding pre-load and ride height. In fact, I'm trying to recall one time when the Boost got out of shape taking off or landing and I can't think of one. It was a very pleasant surprise and one of the highlights of driving the Boost.
I expected the Boost to drive very similarly to the Circuit and, for the most part it did, but it didn't at the same time. Here's what I mean… The Circuit was really forgiving to drive, very fun, durable and had a decent amount of speed. The Boost had all of these same features but just seemed like it was amped up a bit. The Boost felt more precise and had a more direct feeling and felt faster around the track. I was also a bit shocked that, if memory of the Circuit serves me right, the Boost also felt like it jumped better too. This isn't a condemnation of the Circuit as it's more of praise for the Boost that it was a more nimble vehicle. Thinking it through, this makes total sense as buggies normally are more precise and nimble than their stadium truck cousins, and this totally translated with the Boost.
The Boost is exactly what it is set out to be; a fast, fun, durable and good handling buggy. I think the biggest endorsement for the Boost was something that happened after the camera stopped rolling. I handed the transmitter off to our videographer, Jack, so he could get some laps in as I took some photos for our Facebook page with my cell phone. Jack has some previous RC experience, but I think even he'd admit he's far from a hardcore RC guy. It took just a lap or two for him to find his comfort level as he started turning better and better laps. This is exactly what we need in RC and what the Boost delivers. Much like how the Blade mCX-series of helis provide people the right first-step into the world of RC flight, the Boost provides the right first-step into the world of RC cars. I know I've said it over and over, but the Electrix RC vehicles in-general, and the Boost specifically, are the ideal sort of vehicles to get anyone into the hobby quickly and easily. Everything is here to provide the perfect foundation to build upon as you grow and develop your skills. I know my kids have been bugging me to take them with me to the racetrack and I've been hesitant to let them drive my personal race machines. The Boost from Electrix RC, however, is the perfect fit for their needs and I look forward to watching them have a blast.