RGT Pro Runner
The RGT Pro Runner EX86130 is just the latest in a growing line of interesting and capable RC crawlers and trail rigs. And hasn’t RGT been on a roll this past year or two!
On our YouTube channel, RGT has featured every now and then when there’s an interesting release to examine. But it was almost as if the company was just warming up for 2023’s big releases that we’re now so lucky to be able to choose from!
RGT’s Other Options
Fans of the channel will recall the well-received RGT Pioneer EX86110, which was arguably a forerunner of the current upper echelon of EX861XX models. (Find our RGT Pioneer video series here). With some careful upgrades on a budget, the Pioneer is an exceptional all-rounder. The EX86010-CJ is also a budget stand-out, while we’re at it. (Video here).
Also, I should note up-front that there’s a gap in our coverage of this family of models: the RGT Tracer EX86180Pro. This is a 4WS-enabled SCX10 Pro type vehicle, and one I think we should try to get hold of in the new year. For now, just be aware that it’s an option for those with a rock-crawling focus rather than trail aspirations.
The Three Contenders
If you love a mix of trail driving and scale rock crawling, things are now very interesting. As of the start of 2024, there are three fantastic models that the discerning RC trail driver and scale crawler driver will want to know about:
- RGT Rescuer (EX86190) – buy here
- RGT Challenger (EX86170) – buy here
- RGT Pro Runner (EX86130) – buy here
Let’s take a look at them!
RGT Rescuer EX86190
There’s a complete article about this model on RC-TNT.com here – have a read when you’re done with this one. The scale crawling and trail driving community had their interest drawn to RGT’s mid-2022 release of the RGT Rescuer (EX86190). And it wasn’t just the attractive 70-series Toyota Landcruiser body – though unlicensed – that made this RC crawler something special. Sporting essentially the same feature set as the full-version Traxxas TRX4, the Rescuer’s scale looks, 2-speed and remote locking diffs made for a very attractive option.
What really stood out to me in my testing of this model was its fun factor. The vehicle rides on 4.75” tires and the live portal axles work under alu-shock, oil-filled, coil-over suspension on all corners. With a moderately high center of gravity, this leads to a scale model that moves pleasingly, with body roll that mimics the real thing. There are many RGT mods available. You can improve the vehicle’s CG (Center of Gravity), for better crawling with some brass parts. Or, you might better light the way with bull bar and roof rack light bars complement the existing light kit. Maybe you want to improve the scale model experience with a complete, polycarbonate interior, with driver. You can do all of this!
RGT Challenger EX86170
On the heels of the Rescuer, RGT next released the Challenger. This was more of a retro style pickup truck and in my opinion, its features put it roughly in between the Rescuer and the Pro Runner. Like the Rescuer, the RGT Challenger sports a pair of portal axles, with a 2-speed transmission that incorporates a DIG (rear axle locking), opposite-spinning drive shafts to minimise torque twist, and a built-in 6.6% overdrive to the front axle.
This attractive machine also sports a rear-facing servo winch, sway bar system on the rear end and a functional light kit! Priced only marginally less than the Rescuer, this is another compelling model. I found there were a few ways to modify this model to make it more convenient to use, but there’s very little this vehicle needs addressing, out of the box. A solid choice.
RGT Pro Runner EX86130
I found the Rescuer to be fun and the Challenger to be quite complete. And so the RGT Pro Runner EX86130 took me quite by surprise, not least because it costs about 20% less than the other two! The Pro Runner is another unlicensed body that looks very close to the Traxxas TRX4 2021 Bronco, even down to the smaller details such as the ABS plastic folding side mirrors and similar front grille. (Quick note: the top photo in this article shows the Pro Runner with different tires. The plastic, silver beadlocks are standard, with the 4.19″ tires. See the rock test video for how good they are).
However, the Pro Runner is special for two reasons, I think. First, the price – in Australia at least, I can buy two Pro Runners for the price of one TRX4 2021 Bronco. That’s already quite significant. Secondly, the feature set – it is vast! Check this out: 2-speed transmission with DIG, 6.6% overdrive and opposing rotation drive-shafts, just like the Challenger; full-function light kit, including brakes and reverse options; straight axles rather than portals for added scale; front-facing servo winch; servo-on-axle hidden in such a way that you’ll miss it if you’re not looking for it; steel universal front axles for greater turning angle and strength than the CVD-equipped Rescuer and Challenger’s portal axles. What a list!
How Do You Choose?
That really is the question, isn’t it? I am in the process of making a video about this, and I suppose writing this article is helpful in distilling my thoughts on this difficult choice. There are some little quality-of-life things, like how the body attaches to each (see the below picture), but the unique blend of features, capability, appearance and handling all add up to something different in each case.
So, I do have some thoughts that you may find useful. I’ll try to use this to guide you on why you may (or may not) decide to select each one. Read on!
This is the first, and to my mind, most compelling reason to consider any of these vehicles. For trail driving with some crawling, one vehicle really stands out to me: the Rescuer. Why? Consider the remote locking diffs in the portal axles, for a start. The Challenger has portals and the Pro Runner straight axles, but being able to remotely run them unlocked means more scale fun on the trails. When traction gets harder to find, lock one or both ends!
The second part of the fun formula is scale handling to match the gorgeous looks. With the suspension setup on the big, bouncy tires, the Rescuer rolls and moves like few others. I’ve driven this through deep water, mud, rocky ground, and long dirt paths. It just keeps on trucking and it looks great doing it. Vote 1 for Rescuer if you’re shopping for fun!
There are two kinds of RC crawler owners: those who mod their rigs, and those who just haven’t done it yet. The Challenger is a very complete vehicle out of the box, yes. However, there are a few things you can do to improve its design for easier daily use. I actually cover some of these in my modding video, linked at the end of the article.
But, aside from fixing wiring and putting a body-stand in place, there’s one mod in particular that this vehicle is just begging for: converting that rearward-facing winch to power a rear towing assembly! They’ve actually done most of the work for you already. A boom assembly could be made from aluminum, braised from mild steel, or even achieved with some 3D-printed beams (the last of which I think might be the way I go with it). You already have the winch, so re-route the cable and add a tackle block under the end of the boom and you’ll be done! The Challenger gets my choice as most promising for mods.
Fun is subjective and not everyone wants to convert a trail rig into a tow-capable machine, I get that. Where I think we’ll all find common ground is on the subject of sheer value for money. On that front, the Pro Runner absolutely and completely delivers.
I took this car with me last weekend to a meet-up with a bunch of folks and we went on a 4-hour mudding adventure in the Aussie bush. Water crossings, treacherous rocky ascents, muddy gullies, greasy clay climbs – this day had it all (video here). I ran the Pro Runner on 3S, which the included WP-1060 allows (and all three vehicles have the same ESC and steering servo, by the way), and this vehicle was reliable and fun. It wasn’t the most capable, with those small 4.19” tires and straight axles, but oh, boy, was it satisfying to wheel. I can’t recommend the Pro Runner enough, if you’re on a budget and want a single all-rounder. Get this, you won’t regret it.
The Bottom Line
So where does that leave us with the choice? Chances are, you already have a pretty good idea of which you prefer after reading the above sections. And if you’re noticing that, wait a minute, none of these three has the remote locking diffs AND a DIG AND portal axles AND a winch, well, yes, you’re right. But not even Axial or Traxxas will give you all that, out of the box. The TRX4 2021 Bronco comes close, as it currently even includes a winch, at time of writing – but no DIG. The Axial SCX10 III gives you DIG and portals, but the diffs are locked full-time. And they are both considerably more expensive than any of the RGT offerings, at least, in Australia.
If you can’t decide and all three grab you, I do have one final suggestion: buy the one that moves you. Pretend you’re going with one of them and see how you feel about not getting either of the others. Repeat for all three vehicles; you may just find you’re most wistful about ‘missing out’ on one of them in particular, and that would be the one to get!
Reviews & Test Videos
Now, if you’ve come this far and you’re pretty sure you know what you want, great! I have a growing catalog of videos that may be useful in helping you get to know any of these three vehicles better. Check them out here:
RGT Rescuer EX86190
Review & Crawl Test video
Muddy Trail Run video
All the RGT Mods video
RGT Challenger EX86170
Review & Crawl Test video
RGT Pro Runner EX86130
Unboxing & Review video
Crawl Test video
Trail Run video: coming soon!
Mods video: coming soon!
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 🙂
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