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Team Losi Racing TEN-SCTE 2.0 Review

6/17/2013 by Horizon Hobby

Copyright:© 2013 Horizon Hobby, Inc.

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     Since it was initially released, the TEN-SCTE has made a huge impact in the world of 4WD short course trucks. Its design, influenced heavily by the 8IGHT™ platforms that came before it, combined a low-CG chassis with a plush suspension design that made it one of the best trucks in its class. Fast-forward to today and Team Losi Racing has taken the TEN-SCTE, added their personal touches, and are here with the TEN-SCTE 2.0.

     Instead of reinventing the wheel, the TEN-SCTE has been refined, upgraded and improved upon to bring the original design up to 2.0 status in a way only Team Losi Racing could. The TEN-SCTE 2.0 features changes to the weight bias and placement, a new battery mounting configuration, HD differential cases, new front and rear shock towers, and much more. In addition to these changes in the overall platform, items that used to be hop-ups are now included as standard items. This means Ti-Ni parts, threaded shock bodies, aluminum torsion rods, and adjustable suspension mounts all come as standard equipment. Does this new truck have what it takes to replace its predecessor at the top of the 4WD short course class? We're heading to the track to find out.

Speed Specs
Vehicle: TEN-SCTE 2.0
Manufacturer: Team Losi Racing
Part Number: TLR03000
Vehicle Class/Type: 4WD Short Course Truck
Completion Level: Kit
Target Audience: Intermediate-to-Advanced Racer


Bench Notes
One of the things that many have sought for some time has been a kit version of the TEN-SCTE, and the TEN-SCTE 2.0 does exactly that. You will need to build the truck before you get to run it. We have put together a comprehensive build thread on both our Facebook (http://on.fb.me/134fkMF) and Google+ (http://bit.ly/ZWq1U2) pages with a number of tips and tricks that will assist you along the way. In addition, the Team Losi Racing™ blog (http://losiracing.blogspot.com/) has a number of posts regarding tuning and setup tips for the TEN-SCTE 2.0.

Building the TEN-SCTE 2.0 took place over several days, and overall the build was fairly straight-forward. There were a few instances where the assembly steps seemed a bit out of order to me. Where I noticed this most was when completing the B-Bag. Starting with Step B-11, I'd recommend changing the way you do this assembly step. I found it easier to complete step B-13 FIRST, then install the body mounts. By doing this you don't have to fight with the mounts as you attempt to install the LOSA6278 screws though the front chassis brace and into the LOSB2278 spacer. I also found that the holes in the shock tower have a .105" ID while the screws have a .120" OD, making for a tight fit for sure. We used our Dynamite® reamer to open up these holes and ran the screws in and out a few times to open them up even further. Again, for more assembly tips make sure to check out our build, linked above.

Since the TEN-SCTE 2.0 comes as a kit, we needed to add our own electronics. I really liked the way the Novak power system I used in the original TEN-SCTE worked, as it had a great balance of speed, performance and throttle response. As such we reached out to Team Novak once again, this time opting for their new Pulse brushless ESC. Team Novak has also updated their Ballistic 4.5T 550-sized motors, now including vented endbells for better cooling and more consistent performance throughout a run. To power our system, I turned to Team Orion and their Carbon Pro LiPo 5000mAh 90C 2S Li-Po battery packs. These packs have been designed to withstand the torture that a 4WD SCT can dish out and are the perfect fit for this application. Rounding out the radio gear, I used my proven Spektrum™ DX3R PRO transmitter, SR3520 receiver and a Spektrum S6040 steering servo. Finally, while the TEN-SCTE 2.0 includes two sets of wheels, no tires are included. I've been running Pro-Line racing's Ion tires on my 2WD 22™SCT and my 22™ buggy and thought they would be a great tire for our test. With the body painted and the tires glued, it was time to head north to Trackside Hobbies and Raceway in Brookfield, Wisconsin, home of the Spektrum Electric Indoor Off-Road Championships, to put the TEN-SCTE 2.0 through its paces.

Handling
I hate to bring up the original TEN-SCTE as a comparison here, but I feel it is only fair. Having driven the original truck, I knew what it was capable of both box-stock and with some tuning and modifying. From the box the original was fast, but it took me quite a bit to find my comfort level. It often felt right on the edge of going too-far and being over aggressive. It also could take some time on the bench to get the chassis balanced on the scales. In the end I could be fast with it, but I had to work harder to find my personal comfort-level.

The TEN-SCTE 2.0 just felt better overall. It was smoother, faster, and really so much easier to drive. Where I felt I had to really be light on the wheel with the old truck or I was afraid I might over-drive it, the TEN-SCTE 2.0 had none of that. If I blew the line in a corner it wasn’t because of something the truck did wrong, it was because I was trying too hard and should have let off sooner. On open and flowing sections of the track, I really felt and appreciated the differences and chances in this truck. It was smooth, not point-and-shoot. I could work on running a consistent and flowing line much easier, however, it was still sure-footed enough that I could pitch it into a corner, grip-it and rip-it coming out, and know the truck would stay under me. The TEN-SCTE 2.0 is quite confidence-inspiring.

While I started the day running the MC or Clay compound Ion tires, as the day went on I found it more beneficial to run M3 Ions on the front end with M4s on the back. This took a little bite away from the truck, which helped me drive more consistently and scrub less speed in the corners. This also desensitized the front end of the truck slightly and gave me a little more rear grip at the same time. If you're ever looking to settle your car or truck down, don't be afraid to play with staggering the rubber compounds on your vehicle.

Top Speed/Acceleration
One thing about the TEN-SCTE 2.0 is that the designers have worked hard at improving the driveline by reducing rotating mass in several key areas. The differentials all feature lightweight outdrives, which help quite a bit. There have also been improvements to the differential cases themselves in an effort to improve the parts’ fit and durability. The result is a driveline that spins freely and delivers power efficiently. The TEN-SCTE 2.0 accelerates hard and straight with little-to-no signs of torque steer, a problem that can affect any shaft-driven car. I was able to use every ounce of power from the Novak Ballistic motor each time I got on the power without worrying about simply lighting up the tires or spinning out.

Top speed was, if anything, a bit much for the indoor track at Trackside. If I had to do it over, I may have opted for a 5.5T or 6.5T motor to help provide a little more usable power instead of having an over-abundance of raw power. To get around this I did gear the truck down quite a bit by installing a smaller pinion, which took away some top speed while increasing acceleration. Even with the truck geared down, it still ate up the back straight at Trackside in a hurry. In the end this truck is a rocket ship, off the line or at speed!

Jumping
The new weight distribution is really noticeable when jumping the TEN-SCTE 2.0. I used to have several ounces of lead on the rear portion of my old truck’s chassis to help keep the nose up over any jump, and that simply isn’t necessary on the new truck for a few reasons. The adjustable battery bracket makes it easy to slide the battery forward or back to change the weight bias, something not possible on the old truck. Secondly, with the motor further back on the chassis there’s already more weight biased towards the rear. Overall this lead the truck to jump more level and predictably. There were times when the front end did dip and felt a little nose-heavy, but moving the battery to the rear-most position, changing my throttle use and adding some pre-load to my front shocks helped immensely.

There was, however, one jump that constantly caused me headaches and was a real thorn in my side—the triple jump right in-front of the driver's stand. Remember when I said I thought the 4.5T motor ended up being a bit more than I needed? This is where it was most evident, as I often found myself over-jumping this and blowing the approach to the right-hand turn that followed. It wasn't anything the truck was doing wrong; I simply had a hard time getting this jump and corner right. I also took to the track with my 22 and 22SCT in between battery packs on the TEN-SCTE 2.0 and found myself having the exact same issues with those two vehicles. Sometimes you get a part on a track or layout you just struggle with and, for whatever reason, that triple and corner was my nemesis all-day, regardless of the vehicle

On-Power
One thing that the weight bias change has altered is how the chassis reacts on and off power. Because the weight is laid out in a more balanced format, you don’t tend to get as much chassis roll side-to-side or front-to-back when you change direction or throttle input. The TEN-SCTE 2.0 was really good when I got on the gas, as the truck just hooks up and goes. If you notice a bit of an on-power push or understeer, a quick and easy fix is to limit the down-travel (aka Droop) in the front a-arms to limit the weight transfer. The reverse is also true though if you need less on-power steering. Increasing the down-travel (more droop) will transfer more weight off the front of the truck and onto the rear end.

Off-Power
One thing I didn’t do when I built the truck was to set the rear droop—I simply forgot to do it. I realized this quite quickly as the first few times I got off the throttle and onto the brakes coming out of the sweeper, the truck pinned the nose hard, the tail went in the air and it really turned in hard. I tried doing things such as changing my line or approach into the first corner, changing my braking points and more, until I looked at the truck sitting on my pit stand and realized what I had done. Yeah, full down-travel on a high-bite track is not the fast setup. After I adjusted my rear droop, I hit the track again and this time the TEN-SCTE 2.0 was awesome off-power. When I got on the binders the truck slowed down quickly and, often overlooked, straightly. There were times when I really over-cooked it going into a corner, driving in way too deeply and blowing the line, however the TEN-SCTE 2.0 was able to compensate for my less-than-ideal driving line and made me look better than I was. Much like the front end, remember to use your droop screws to your advantage when tuning. More rear down-travel (more droop) will transfer more weight to the nose and increase steering. Less rear down-travel (less droop) will take steering away and make the rear of the truck feel more locked-in.

Balancing
I know I have stated this before, but I am going to state it one more time—if your battery pack and charger both accommodate balancing, there is no good reason not to balance charge each and every time you charge your batteries! Whew, with that being said, the Touch Pro has a very nice balance option on it that allows you to balance separate from a charge or discharge cycle. I started off experimenting with the balance feature as I had feared several of my batteries had been quite abused and needed to be rebalanced. While a majority of my packs were ok, there was one pack that, in an 8-minute VTA A-Main, just laid down on me and I didn’t know what was going on. I thought perhaps I had a motor go south, however the motor checked out. The next possible source was my battery, and once I connected the battery and started the balance mode, I discovered quickly that my battery had let me down. In fact, I discovered through the balance function that cell 1 was reading at 3.26V while cell 2 was reading at 3.81V. The balance option on the Touch Pro did balance everything out after over 2 hours. From here it was time to determine if this pack was good to go or needed to be disposed of, so I started the cycling mode.

Conclusion
So the question you may be asking is “Is the TEN-SCTE 2.0 a better truck than the original?” and I have to answer with a definitive “YES!” While I hit on how the truck drove here, the TEN-SCTE 2.0 comes out of the box better equipped, more durable, more tunable and finally answers the calls for a kit. That would be a nice list of improvements if the truck just drove the same as its predecessor, but here too, the TEN-SCTE 2.0 takes things to the next level.

I'm not Dakotah Phend, I don't have his skill and I can't drive as well as he does. Sure, I can hold my own in stock, but I am not a modified driver, let-alone a 4WD modified driver. With the TEN-SCTE 2.0, however, I felt like what the changes and tweaks did was broaden the range of where someone could be successful in the arena of 4WD SCTs. For example, within the first battery I was fairly comfortable with the truck and felt like I could really hustle it if need be. Within three batteries I was relaxed behind the wheel and just having fun. By the end of my day of testing, I couldn't wait to race it. While I have raced the original truck and been successful with it, it never instilled the confidence in me that the TEN-SCTE 2.0 did. A lot of times confidence in your equipment is all it takes to be able to take that next step and be even more successful and have more fun. In the end, if there is one phrase I could use to describe the TEN-SCTE 2.0, it would be "confidence inspiring". And often if you have confidence, success isn't too far around the next corner.