Traxxas Spotlight: E-Maxx

Ever since the mighty T-Maxx debuted and rocked the R/C world, Traxxas has been synonymous with monster truck performance and innovation. With no fewer than fourteen monster trucks in the Traxxas line, there's a lot to choose from. Nitro, electric, 2WD, 4WD—there's something for everyone. For this Traxxas Spotlight, we're going to take a look at what could be Traxxas' best all-around monster machine: the E-Maxx. It's a great value, a fantastic performer, and Traxxas-tough. Add the convenience of clean, quiet electric power (complete with included batteries), and you've got the perfect monster truck for everything from backyard missions to the gnarliest off-road action. Best of all, it's a bargain! With a suggested selling price of less than $450, Ready-To-Race, you get a huge bang for the buck. Let's move in for a closer look at the E-Maxx!

Driving the E-Maxx

What's the best place to drive an E-Maxx? Anywhere. Even though it's clearly an off-road beast, road-racing the E-Maxx is a blast. We had a good time hustling our E-Maxx monster trucks around the parking lot, carving turns with the inside front wheel lifted, chevron tires singing on the pavement. It's amazing how much feedback the truck gives as you push it closer to its rollover point. With smooth inputs, you can push the E-Maxx right to the edge and even roll it up on two wheels and ride out of it like a stunt driver. Wild! Wheelies were a blast, too. You can back into them and throw the front wheels into the air, but I think it's more fun to just punch the throttle from a stop for a slow-lifting power wheelie. Hopping up and down curbs was no problem, and E-Maxx's high-riding chassis didn't get so much as a scrape. We were about to break out the skateboard ramps when the video guy came out with his gear and reminded us to save our batteries for the park.

A short drive later, and we were launching our E-Maxxes off the picnic tables and tearing through freshly fallen leaves, which I recommend highly. Watch the video—the leaves really fly, it looks impressive! Recent rains left quite a few soggy patches in the grass, which we didn't notice until the tires started throwing spray, but since the E-Maxx is waterproof we didn't even have to slow down. That's the real beauty of the waterproof gear—it saves your bacon when you're not expecting to get wet.

Then again, sometimes you want to get your truck wet—like when it snows. E-Maxx is the most fun you can have in the snow without a Ski-Doo. It's got everything you need: 4WD, so you can get on the gas without constant spinouts, high ground clearance, so it goes over the snow instead of plowing it, and supple suspension, so it can take all the bumps and jumps of your favorite snow spot. As the video shows, E-Maxx really hooks up in the white stuff!

Sometimes, not hooking up is fun too, especially when you've got full-time 4WD to keep you in control. Wet pavement let us slide the big truck through turns sideways with spray flying off the tires. The dual-servo steering system's high torque made it easy to hold a line as we drifted through turns, and we didn't have to think twice about the electronics as we bombed through puddles.

Of course, an E-Maxx is really at home in the dirt, and the local ATV trails are like R/C nirvana. E-Maxx has the speed to air it out over the berms and whoops, yet it also has a deep reserve of low-speed torque for trials-style action and climbing through washouts. Creek-crossings are fun too. It's amazing how differently you look at your R/C spots when you don't have to take water and mud off your radar. Anyplace you would like to wheel a full-size off-roader is open territory for E-Maxx excitement.

Inside the E-Maxx

The Overview and Details pages for E-Maxx will give you the full lowdown on the E-Maxx, but I wanted to call out a few of the features that are my favorites—and some you may not have known about.

It's Waterproof!

The E-Maxx was the first Traxxas vehicle to get the full waterproof treatment, and deservedly so. Nothing screams for fun in the mud and snow quite as loudly as a 4X4 monster truck! The steering servos and EVX-2 speed control are waterproof, but the receiver is not. Instead, it uses a waterproof receiver box to keep it safe and sound. What's nice about this feature is you can easily install your favorite radio system, without compromising the truck's waterproof properties. The box is sealed by a silicone o-ring and a clever "wire clamp" that prevents leaking where the servo and speed control leads exit the case. Pretty trick.

Ultra-plush, Fully-Adjustable Suspension

Smooth, long-travel suspension has always been a hallmark of the Maxx series. What you may not be aware of is just how tunable the suspension is; caster is easily set without disassembly my moving clip-on spacers on the inboard upper hinge pins, and front and rear toe is easily set using the heavy-duty, 4mm steel tie rods. Shock position is also adjustable, but Traxxas doesn't just give you a bunch of holes to choose from and call it a day. The positions on the shock towers and arms were carefully chosen to provide real tuning benefits. There's even a chart in the manual that compares the wheel force and wheel travel provided by each shock position! Who does that? Only Traxxas.

Sealed Suspension Pivots and Driveshafts

I think the sealed pivots and the bellows seals on the driveshafts are just plain cool, and a they're a great example of the extra engineering that goes into Traxxas vehicles. It would have been easy to skip that detail—it's not like anyone else is doing it. But that's not the way Traxxas works. If there's a way to do something better, Traxxas does it better! Speaking of those 17mm in diameter, they are massive. In addition to extra power-handling capability, the increased diameter allows room for 14 true-curvilinear splines, making the shafts bind-resistant and virtually twist-proof.

Captured Rod Ends

Thrash the E-Maxx as hard as you like, you'll never have a link pop off. That's because each rod end is captured on both sides and secured via a screw that passes through the hollow ball. E-Maxx does not use breakage-prone ball studs.

Quick-Release Battery Straps

This is easily one of my favorite features. There are no body-clips to mess with, or thumb screws for that matter. Just press down on a tab, and the battery hold-down swings out for a fast pack change. Sliding the hold-down back into place is just as easy, and when it's in, you know it. The strap snaps in with a positive click, so you know the pack is secure.

Real Tools

Even though the E-Maxx arrives Ready-To-Race, it still includes a full set of tools—high quality tools. The hex wrenches are hardened, so they fit precisely even after many wrench sessions, and the turnbuckle wrench is a thick piece of steel that won't slip off the turnbuckle flats the first time you use it. The cast alloy offset wrench makes it easy to remove the wheels and adjust the slipper clutch, and the molded multi-tool adjusts pivot-ball tensions and grasps rod-ends. Trick.

That Body! Those Wheels!

Not even custom painters can match the cutting-edge graphics of Traxxas bodies, and the E-Maxx is no exception. It looks tight, and you don't have to mask or paint anything—or even put any decals on, for that matter (but extra logos and details are included with the truck, in case you want to add more decals to your machine). The Split-Spoke wheels are hot too. Perfect chrome, with a tough 5-spoke look that's pure monster muscle and a perfect contrast to the beefy chevron rubber.

High-Quality Batteries Included

If you're thinking the batteries included with the E-Maxx must be cheapies designed just to make the truck "complete," guess again. Traxxas got into batteries to make certain the E-Maxx (and other Traxxas electric models) would be used with packs that could supply the current Traxxas' high-performance power systems demand, and last run after run. Ten-dollar battery packs simply don't cut it. Traxxas Power Cell packs feature High Current connectors, 12awg wire, and double-thick, double-welded tabs. Tough construction is nothing without tough cells, and Traxxas tested plenty before wrapping the Power Cell logo around a single pack. The result is a superior NiMH pack with excellent "punch," 3000+mAh capacity, and the official Traxxas seal of approval.

Hitting the Dirt

Big box, big truck! The E-Maxx rolls out of the cardboard fully assembled and Ready-To-Race®, like all Traxxas vehicles. Only a few steps are required to get the big E into the dirt.

Under the hood, we find a couple of info cards. Call me crazy, but I bet Traxxas put those there for a reason. One card explains that you need batteries with Traxxas connectors (done: the truck includes Traxxas Power Cell 7-cell batteries) and the other is a programming cheat-sheet for programming the EVX-2 speed control. It's wallet-sized, so in my wallet it goes.

Next, it's time to thread the antenna tube. I like to pull the antenna wire against a screwdriver shaft to get the kinks out before snaking it through the tube.

A blue-anodized nut squeezes the antenna tube into its holder, and a neat wrench is included to tighten it with the antenna in place—the tube passes right through the wrench.

A rubber tip caps the antenna. I like to slice off the bottom of the cap so I can slide it down the antenna tube to hold the excess wire. You guys know you should never cut the excess wire, right? Of course you do.

And now it's time to charge the batteries. Two Power Cell 7-cell packs are installed in the truck. As the owner's manual will tell you, always remove the batteries from the truck for charging. The E-Maxx makes it easy to get the packs in and out: just press the tab, and the battery strap swings out. I'm keepin' it Traxxas and juicing up the packs with an EZ-Peak charger (item no. 2930). Plug the pack in, and the charger goes to work. When the LED turns green, the pack is fully charged and warm as toast—no buttons or screens required.

Rip It Up!

Time to shred! The E-Maxx is a true all-terrain machine: dirt, grass, rocks, leaves, you name it. But don't take my word for it; click here for the video from my bash session, and check out the shots below.