It’s cheaper than the big-name crawlers. How does it stack up?
The Other Guys
The RGT Pioneer EX86110 also ships as the HSP EX86110 and the FTX Outback Hi-Rock – they’re all the same truck. It’s a 1:10 scale RTR RC rock crawler with the kind of spec list and scale accessories that place it squarely in competition with more expensive, big-name rigs. If you’re considering the RGT Pioneer EX86110, chances are you’re also looking at the Redcat Gen 8 V2, Element RC Sendero HD, Traxxas TRX4 Sport, Axial SCX10 II and III, GMade BOM TC and so on. So, it’s cheaper. Is it good enough to be comparable? Let’s test!
Strong points first: you have a separate transfer case. The motor is mounted up-front, next to the servo, above the front axle. A standard C-channel chassis underpins the truck, but there is a considerable amount of lateral flex (twists from front to rear). This isn’t a big deal for crawlers as it can be for road cars, but it’s noteworthy given the flex despite the braces in front, mid and rear of the frame.
The body is thin polycarbonate, but thin is good for crawlers – flexibility means durability. It is easy to install and sits neatly on the plastic rails and mount points. There is metal in the right places – links and link mount points, drive shaft universal joints and end-points and diff cover. The radio and electronics are adequate and the suspension is basic but functional.
RGT Pioneer EX86110 Electronics
The electronics are a mixed bag. The overarching word for this RTR electronics package is ‘adequate’ – which is fine for a cheaper model.
Steering: the 15kg waterproof, chassis-mounted servo is adequate with the stock tires, but if you upgrade to stickier rubber, be aware you’ll be over-taking the servo on the rocks. In stock form, it is good enough.
Motor: a cheap, 3-pole, 17-turn 550 brushed motor runs the model. A 550 is superior to a 540 of equivalent turns in a vehicle like this. Torque is greater, though power is lower. This is fine for this model – battery life is better for it. However, I’d like to see a 21-turn or even a 27-turn 550 instead.
ESC: the ESC is a Hobbywing WP-1040 40A brushed unit and the hill hold/drag brake is reasonably firm. It stayed cool during operation on our demanding crawl test (see video review).
Radio: the radio system is a 4-channel unit, though out of the box only steering and throttle are connected.
Lighting: illumination is achieved by static white LEDs in the headlight buckets and by a set of four spotlights on the top rack. On our unit, the spotlights flickered seemingly randomly, but the headlights were solid. No taillights, though! One oddity is the inclusion of orange LEDs in the front bumper, ostensibly fog lights. White may have made more sense here, but the truck does look okay in stock form.
Power: Battery and charger included are a 7.2V 2000mAh NiMH stick pack.
There’s no specialisation in any one area, but the truck’s electronics are good enough, overall.
Wheels and Tires
This is the area that can make or break a crawler. You may recall our recent review of the Cross RC EMO AT4: that vehicle had 170g wheels on all corners and sticky tires. Such a decision can hide geometry and suspension shortcomings on the rocks, and for the EMO AT4, we think it contributed to its ability to successfully finish all 6 of our test problems (a rare feat).
The RGT Pioneer EX86110 has light-weight, plastic wheels and soft but not particularly sticky tires. They’re 4.6” in diameter on 1.9” wheels with standard 12mm hexes.
The wheels look reasonable and could be painted to look different. They’re not beadlocks and the tires are glued rather than clamped, which is disappointing. Again, we’re examining a cheaper truck that is competing with big-name models, so compromises are more acceptable here.
The tires are a let-down. In our testing, traction was an issue even on reasonably high-friction surfaces (volcanic rock, rough granite, etc). Even though this crawler’s motor wants changing to a higher-turn unit, replacing the wheels and tires would be a prudent first step for improving rock crawling performance.
Steering and Geometry
The front axles have a CVA (Constant Velocity Axle) which ensures accurate speed control even at high articulation. The maximum steering angle is 42 degrees on the outside wheel (and 37 on the inner) – this is good.
The RGT Pioneer EX86110 does have one weird design element: four links in the front AND a panhard bar. If the servo was axle-mounted, a panhard wouldn’t be needed and the four links would make sense at both ends. However, as there is a CMS (Chassis Mounted Servo), there should be three links up front with the panhard, rather than four. Having the two different types of link designs at the same time means unnecessarily limited articulation on the right wheel.
The solution here might be to either remove the panhard rod or to remove the right-upper front link. Removing the panhard would result in unnecessary lateral pressure on the front links whenever steering – not ideal – so the better answer is to remove that right-upper front link. This will restore full articulation on both sides and will keep the steering position as neutral as possible throughout the suspension cycle on either side.
See our update video where we implement this exact fix.
Gearing and Shafts
The motor is mounted next to the servo, up front. There is an slipper clutch in the gearbox, which features reduction gears and an outdrive which goes to the mid-mounted transfer case. One additional reduction in the transfer case before the shafts take drive to the diffs. Other than the spur gear, all gears are of a “high-strength powder alloy” (per RGT’s website) and should be strong enough to outlast your driving for the life of this model.
The drive shafts feature steel universals and steel mount points at each end, with molded plastic shafts throughout. Everything seems strong enough to last and our testing on difficult rock problems with after-market wheels and tires would appear to back this initial impression. The drive train is solid and well made, overall.
Body, Scale and Durability
The body is available in yellow, gold and blue. It includes LED lights in the headlight buckets and an additional 4 spotlights on the top bar behind the cab roof. Door handles, a snorkel and side mirrors round out the additional bits on the body and there are chromed plastic shackles on the front and rear bars (cut the front ones off to improve approach ability in particular).
As an RTR 1:10 RC rock crawler goes, the RGT Pioneer EX86110 is well appointed and ticks most of the boxes you’d expect from this class. It looks good and goes well. As to the bigger question of durability, especially in the rougher stuff: nothing’s broken yet!
Watch our review and follow-up mod videos to see the truck really put through its paces. Weak diffs, links and servos meet their breaking points on our test course, if they have them. I’m pleased to report the RGT Pioneer EX86110 had zero breakages during testing. This is better than numerous big-name crawlers we’ve tested over 2021. The GMade BOM TC blew diffs, the Traxxas TRX6 steering servo lasted all of 11 minutes, the SCX10 III DIG servo died during Problem 4, and so on. The RGT just kept taking the abuse – full marks here!
Our Test Course
If you’re not familiar with how we test RC rock crawlers, we have a course that challenges any 4×4 RC crawler in many ways:
- Approach and departure angle: these are challenged on Problems 2 and 3;
- Side-hill ability: tested on Problems 1, 3 and 5;
- Breakover (skid clearance): tested on Problems 4 and 6;
- Suspension articulation and centre of gravity: challenged on problems 2 and 5; and lastly,
- A punishing ascent on problem 6 tests all of balance, break-over, articulation, tire traction and approach and departure angles.
Put together, we have a gnarly, challenging set of problems that challenge all crawlers. If a rig can conquer 3 or more of them, chances are you have a reasonably high-performance rock crawler. There are some machines that can claim all success on all six in stock form – but not many!
The truck is durable, yes. Where things didn’t go as well was in the crawling department. We had some success, but the problems where we failed showed deficiencies with break-over, approach and geometry setup:
- Problem 1 was smoothly completed, which is a good sign for capable side-hilling.
- Problem 2 was a challenge – the stock tires here are a big part of this, as is the ‘break-over’ angle (skid plate height above the ground). It did finish successfully, though.
- Problem 3 tests approach angle in particular and is a difficult problem for most trucks. Despite multiple attempts on various lines, the Pioneer did not complete it successfully.
- Problem 4 was also a DNF – and to be fair, this is the second-toughest challenge in the set and longer wheel-base vehicles need well-sorted geometry and good tires to complete this one. The RGT Pioneer EX86110 is fair but wasn’t up to the challenge.
- Problem 5 took several attempts but with the right line, should eventually be successful for most trucks. The Pioneer did not finish this one, which was surprising. Line choice is paramount for any technical crawling, but trucks with superior clearance, tires, suspension geometry and center of gravity will succeed where lesser vehicles fail. The Pioneer failed here, unfortunately.
- With Problem 4 and 5 unfinished, it was unsurprising to see it fail at Problem 6.
Testing highlighted deficiencies in center of gravity (too high, could use a little weight on the axles or wheels), break-over angle (sufficient, but could be higher), approach angle (improved with removal of front shackle mounts in particular) and tire traction (tire mods could help, else replacing stock wheels and tires with heavier and grippier options would be the best first mod).
Trail performance would be adequate with stock gearing and vehicle weight. Performance leaves a little to be desired on the rocks, but as a general-purpose rig, this machine is definitely ‘good enough’. The platform is sufficiently solid that there’s room to grow via mods and fixes if you’re later inclined to seek improvement.
How Does It Compare?
Bottom line, the question is whether the RGT Pioneer EX86110 is worth the approximate 25% cost saving over its bigger-name brethren up-front, or whether you’re better off spending more on a different rig and saving on mods down the track.
The answer is, ‘it depends’. If you’re after a budget but serious trail truck, it might come down to this or the Redcat Gen 8 V2. Both are similarly capable out of the box, the RGT Pioneer EX86110 comes with a battery and is definitely cheaper. There are more off-the-shelf mods available for the Gen 8 V2, but both trucks are reasonably similar and there should be some cross-compatibility with common mods (motors, servos, wheels on 12mm hex nuts, etc).
If you’re after a rock crawler and trail driving is a second priority, and you’re on a budget, you may consider going even cheaper for better performance: the RGT 136100 V2 delivers exceptional performance for around half the price of the RGT Pioneer EX86110!
Or, if you save a little longer and spend about 25% more than on the Pioneer, the Element RC Sendero HD is the best performing RTR 1:10 RC rock crawler we’ve reviewed so far. It is exceptionally good in stock form – and even better again with a handful of simple mods, let alone spending money on the few key upgrades down the track.
The Final Verdict
Buy the RGT Pioneer EX86110 if you’re after a budget-friendly trail truck that can also rock crawl. Consider other options if you’re after an RC rock crawler in particular, unless your choice is limited to this or much more expensive models, in which case changing just the wheels, tires and motor will net you some impressive performance benefits. It definitely isn’t a bad rig –it’s a solid, affordable and durable truck. The only problem is that there are better choices in many cases. But if you think about it, maybe that’s not such a bad problem to have!
See RGT’s site for this vehicle: https://www.rgt-racing.com/cn_asp/productshow.asp?id=1140
Find our review for this video here: https://youtu.be/FczHvwaDc-w
And our Stage 1 mods video here: https://youtu.be/EBLTefpPUG8
Get yours from AsiaTees!
Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it’s all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! …You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂