The SG 1602 Brushless RC truck is a 1/16 scale 4wd off road truck/buggy (truggy) that has a powerful and efficient brushless motor/esc system. Note, this appears identical to the HBX 16889 and shares the same parts. It is available from Banggood for less than $90 and as little as $70. I've had one of these for about 2 months now and for the times that my son lets me drive it I've had quite a few runs to get a good feel of performance and durability. My full review is below.
What's in the box?
Actually this is pretty well equipped:
Specs and design
Getting it ready to run
The main battery is an 18500 1300mah 2s li-ion pack and charging couldn't be simpler - plug the included USB charger into a USB port on one end and on the JST balance plug (white plug on the battery) on the other. It'll take 2-3 hours to charge but it is very simple when you compare the alternative of using a hobby-grade charger like this one. I'd recommend using a USB power supply rather than plugging into the USB port on your computer just in case the QC is a bit dodgy.
The only other thing you need to do is add 4 x AA batteries to your remote. Turn the remote on, turn the car on, put the shell on with split pins and you're ready to go!
In operation - remote
Trigger remotes are the most common controllers around for good reason - they are very intuitive. Pull the trigger to go forward, push to brake and then to reverse push it again. Everything is full proportion i.e. if you pull the trigger a little it will run slowly, if you turn the wheel a little the car will turn a little. Steering and throttle trim on the remote it is set the centre-points for steering (to make it run straight) and throttle (to make sure it is in neutral when trigger released) respectively. Steering dual rate will change the range you can steer - leave this wound clockwise on this model. Unfortunately there is no throttle dual rate which is a very good tool for limiting maximum throttle for the learner. You can ignore the bind mode, this is not used here and performs no function if pushed.
Lastly the control link has no interference but the range isn't fantastic. After about 50 metres the signal can be lost at which point the truck becomes unresponsive in a failsafe mode rather than running off with the last control that was input. Raising the remote above your head can often get you back in range.
In operation - performance
Man this little truck is quiet and fast! Quietness suggests a will meshed gearset with little friction and this truck is very impressive in that regards. This means a lot more power to the ground rather than being lost in noise and heat. I haven't run a GPS speed on it but it is a lot faster than the WL toys 12428 which my other son owns. In addition to top speed this has massive pick-up. It will wheel-stand anwhere there is a reasonable level of grip, it is most impressive on short grass in particular where it will wheelie right to the end of the battery.
Some have said these tyres are too hard but I think they are perfect for the application - they offer great grip on grass and are predictable on concrete/tar seal. They are hard enough to make sure they last a good amount of time before replacing. They seem to be glue to the rim fairly securely. Spares are available here.
Being a truggy style truck it has a fairly low centre of gravity and will not flip when using full throttle and steering unless you hit an obstacle. Compare to the WLtoys 12428 where full throttle and full steer from stand still or at speed will cause a flip. The stock suspension is very bouncy and tends to bottom out over jumps. This is because shocks are friction only i.e. they lack oil dampening. I highly recommend the oil shock upgrade front and rear but I'll cover this more in the section further below. With oil shocks this things handles very well indeed but it's pretty good for a car of this price range even without them.
This is the section that takes the longest to review because I can't make a call by driving it once or twice (even 10 times). So far I've had to replace nothing at all and it has been well abused by both myself and my 5 year old who is learning. Furthermore there is no wear on the driveline I can see or hear which is promising. I've also just learned front and rear diffs are metal with metal conical gears which means they should last the life of the car at least (unlike the plastic gears on generation 1 of the 12428 buggy which stripped with regularity). There is no obvious wear in drive cups and shafts at this stage.
I am wary of the way the front and rear arms mount directly to the front and rear diff housings but so far the plastic seems to be of the right blend of compliance and bendability. I'm also not a fan of the way the wheels mount by bolt rather than nut but again, this is a design comment rather than a specific durability issue. Update: there are upgrade available if you wish to go to a tradtional universal shaft and nut retainer as below:
First off there are no critical upgrades. Everything runs well as is and there are no glaring design issues. With that said I would recommend the oil shocks as it greatly improves on an already good handling truck. Oil shocks will improve dampening mean it can better control the springs making it less bouncy during running and lessen the chance of bottoming out over jumps. The official upgrade parts are actually decent - unlike other cheap oil shocks I've seen they offer about the right amount of dampening and spring strength for this truck. You can no doubt find shocks from other cars to fit but you can guarantee these ones 'just work'. There are a range of other parts below but I'll only be getting these upgrades if/when the stock parts break. The full list of upgrade and replacement parts can be found here.
I'll be brief here. For me this is the budget RC car to have at the moment if you are looking to step up from a toy grade without the expensive of a full hobby grade setup. This is because it offers they key elements you want in an RC car:
Further more the small size means it can be easily placed in a backpack, in the bottom of a baby buggy or however you want to carry it.
This is an easy truck to recommend and I think will be very popular. If you are looking to buy, make sure you get the brushless rather than brushed variant. The same truck is sold under SG and HBX brands. To be safe I've identified the correct models in the links below and in this article:
6 month update - My 5 year old son has now been running this every weekend for the last 6 months. It's yet to break anything substantial. This is definitely my recommendation for a fast reliable and tough RC car for friends' kids and would recommend the same for reader. More details on the 6 month update in this article.
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