Review: Team Associated SC28

Team Associated has been a major player in Short Course since the release of the SC8 in 2008. After multiple national championships and success in every scale from 1/8 to 1/18 Team Associated could have sat back and watched the rest of the industry try to catch up. What they did instead was move into uncharted territory not only for SC trucks as a whole but for TA as a company. The SC28 is Associated’s first foray into the entry level micro vehicle market. The truck carries a price tag of around $50 (at most retailers at the time of writing) and comes completely RTR as soon as the truck comes out of the package. The truck costs less than a used video game which begs the question: can Team Associated capture Short Course lightning in a miniscule bottle?

OUT OF THE BOX:
The box presents well on the shelf with its clear window and scale backdrop. The trucks looks like nothing else in the hobby shop and really catches the eye. The truck is a great scale replica of Carl Renezeder’s Pro 2 race truck and by extension the original SC10. The body looks like someone left an SC10 in the dryer too long and shrank it. The decals are faithful to the original truck and the front bumper looks very similar as well. With the design of the rear axle there was no simple way of attaching a rear bumper and mud flaps but otherwise the truck looks great. The tires are faithful representations of the the SC10’s treads right down to their different sized sidewalls. It’s details like this that make the truck feel like a part of the Associated SC family. The transmitter is smaller than I expected and is quite basic in design but works well, both at charging and controlling the truck. The tension on the wheel when turning gives a great feel and the foam grip is especially nice. My rather large hands fit the grip snugly but it is not uncomfortable to hold and even after driving for 30 minutes at a time my hands don’t cramp. The charge lead stows away nicely into the battery compartment and is a nice feature especially when in the field and you need to re-charge the truck. I used Associated’s optional USB charger to charge the truck while at home and the transmitter to charge it in the field. This extends the amount of drive time you get before the transmitter needs new batteries. The USB charger is simple to use and it is a funny site to see the truck tethered to my laptop looking like it is trying to download the secrets of the universe. While charging, the charger lights up red showing that the battery is connected and charging. Once the charge cycle is complete the LED lights up green to indicate the charge is finished and the truck can be disconnected. I prefer to use the USB charger as it keeps the transmitter batteries strong for those long run times and I don’t have to worry about losing control due to dead transmitter batteries.

PERFORMANCE:
I tested the truck on every surface that a new driver would try with a vehicle this size. My first run was in my kitchen on hardwood and I was surprised how much overall traction the truck has. It accelerated without much wheel spin and didn’t lose traction while cornering either. The truck can be coaxed into donuts from a standstill but once moving is easy to control and is quicker than I expected. The first run lasted just over 26 minutes before the power started to taper off which is surprising for a vehicle with a 150mah battery on board.

I moved on to my workshop which has the anti-fatigue foam mats for floor covering and this is where the truck felt most at home. You can push the truck as hard as you want and it doesn’t complain. There is no over or understeer during cornering and the forward traction is impressive. I set up a small ramp to test the 28’s jumping ability and it survived but wasn’t especially happy about it. The design of the front suspension doesn’t allow much in the way of travel and there is no damping other than the torsion effect of the suspension arm. The truck lands with a bounce or two and continues on its way, most of the time in the same direction that it was traveling before the jump.

When driving on a higher grip surface such as the textured concrete of my driveway I found the truck more of a handful. Forward bite was excellent but the truck tends to traction roll if you do not back out of the throttle before attempting to change direction. I have found the sweet spot to be between 1/3 and 1/2 throttle at most. The truck is as entertaining in this open space as it was indoors. The truck is faster than I expected and will keep a new driver on their toes. The gravel between my driveway and the street proved to be more than the SC28 can handle. The pea gravel scales out to be as big as a boulder for the little truck and it gets tossed around quite badly.

The truck performs similarly on carpet as it does on the foam mats but with a little bit too much side bite. Overall traction is slightly greater but the grip in corners is more than the truck can handle without backing the pace down while turning.

I feel like the truck could use slightly lower gearing for indoor use, giving more torque and longer run times while also allowing the truck to reach its top speed in a shorter distance. I also feel like the truck is a little too fast for most indoor running in confined spaces. The truck can cover a lot of distance in a short period of time and if you are not paying close attention you will test the quality of the bumper quite often.

DURABILITY: I admit, I have smacked the truck into the baseboards, the oven, my workbench, the toolbox, and even my own foot more times than I can count, The truck is tough and hasn’t broken a single part in all of my testing. The body is holding up better than I expected with all of the traction rolling and wall tapping as well considering its relatively thin construction.

PRO’S:
-The truck is fast and has good torque for its size
-Handles well on many different sources
-Durable
-Great scale looks
-Inexpensive
-Charger built into the transmitter for on-the-go charging
-Transmitter sized for large and small hands alike
-Simple design
-Easy to drive
-Long run times

CON’S:
-Could use lower gearing for indoor use
-Would like to see a rear bumper and mud flaps to match the SC10
-Doesn’t handle bumps and jumps well (as most are not scaled for the truck. This isn’t really the trucks fault, it just a simple matter of scale.)

FINAL THOUGHTS:
The SC28 is a great truck, not only for beginners but experienced drives as well. I have logged about 12 hours of run time with the truck and it continues to amaze me that this truck only costs $50. I wish that I had a local racing series that used these in a spec class. It would be a lot of fun to see a half-dozen or so of these little guys running around at the same time. The truck is durable, fast and handles well and that is all you can ask of a fun beginner truck. To answer my previous question, yes, Associated has a winner on their hands.

Here are a few shots of the SC28 with my original SC10

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