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ECX Torment SCT Review

11/30/2011 by Gary Katzer

Copyright:© 2011 Horizon Hobby, Inc.

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     There are a lot of things to love about ECX vehicles. They’re fun, really easy-to-use, durable, and provide a terrific way to get into the hobby. One of the hottest segments of RC today is the Short Course Truck (SCT) class, and many have wondered if and when ECX would be releasing an SCT. The wait is now over as the new ECX Torment SCT ushers in a new era, both for beginner-level SCTs and for ECX as well. Based on the successful Ruckus 2WD Monster Truck, the Torment builds on the lineage and legacy of previous offerings. Using the Ruckus platform as its basis means replacement and option parts are already widely available. It also means that the durability of the platform has already been proven.
     Rising above what previous vehicles have offered in the past, the Torment is blazing a new path and leading ECX into the future. There will be a lot of changes to come for ECX vehicles. Some will be a minor, like the change from Electrix RC to ECX, but some are rather substantial; like the inclusion of a 2.4GHz radio system. Not just any generic 2.4GHz system either; the Torment features a genuine Spektrum DX2E transmitter for flawless DSM performance. We were quite excited to tear the box open, charge up the battery and get some trigger time in with the ECX Torment SCT.

Speed Specs
Manufacturer: ECX
Part Number(s): ECX4100 (Red/Grey)/ ECX4000 (Orange/Black)
Vehicle Class/Type: On-Road or Oval Sub-1/12-scale
Target Audience: Entry-level short course truck fans and first-time racers
Completion Level: Ready-To-Run

Bench Notes:
Like the previous ECX vehicles I've had experience with, the final pre-running preparation was a snap. Actually, that's not entirely true; it was a bit easier. With the three previous ECX 1/10-scale vehicles, they all required me to thread the antenna through the antenna tube. Sure, I've learned how to do this over the years and there are plenty of ways to make this less of a chore, but it's still a bit of an annoyance. Thanks to the short antenna on the SR200 receiver, threading the antenna through the antenna tube was no chore at all since I didn't even have to do it! I love technology.

The Torment includes the exact same electronics package as previous ECX vehicles, minus the transmitter and receiver of course. That meant that I would have to charge up the included 1800mAh Dynamite Speedpack battery on the included wall charger before I got everything up and running. While I have faster chargers, I always like to use the stock charger a few times to give it a fair evaluation as to how well it charges the battery. After all, a beginner isn't going to already have a number of Dynamite Passport chargers at their disposal. Beyond charging the battery, I also had to install the included 4 AA batteries into the DX2E transmitter. After some final checks, I was ready to hit the ground running at my old home track, S&N's Trackside Hobbies in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

For our testing, we actually went straight to our parking lot for some asphalt fun. The surface was re-sealed a few years back and I have used this for testing purposes in the past and been pretty satisfied by the grip provided. I used some track dots to lay out a basic oval with enough spacing that allowed me to do some slaloming and figure-8s to put the chassis to the test.

Top Speed/Acceleration
The 20T Dynamite motor performs well and provided a decent amount of scoot in the Torment. For the long straight at Trackside, I felt like I could have installed a pinion that had 1–2 more teeth on it to get a few more miles per hour out of it, but the punch in the infield felt decent enough. I'd estimate that top speed was right around 20MPH with box-stock parts. The more I ran the truck and the brushes in the motor seated, it felt like the Torment picked up a little more speed too. While the stock motor won't set any land speed records, you can always install the optional Dynamite 15T motor, which will put a few extra ponies at your disposal.

The hard packed surface at Trackside is a little weird. While you might expect it to have gobs and gobs of traction, it can also get quite slick. The Torment did quite well over most of the track as the Dynamite SpeedTreads tires had better grip than I originally anticipated. There was one part of the track that I did struggle just a bit with, and that was the tight, 180-degree right-hand turn just before the driver's stand. I had to square the truck up coming out of the turn before I got on the power hard, otherwise the rear would break free and over-rotate. Adding some grease to the gear diff would absolutely help settle the rear end down in these conditions. Adding a thick shock pre-load spacers to the front shocks and turning down the steering travel also helped keep the Torment from over-rotating.

The one place where the Torment really shines is in the rough and inconsistent areas. The Torment flew through the "dots" section of the track as if they weren't there. While we shot our video at Trackside, I've also had a chance to drive the Torment out at Eli Field where conditions are dustier and the track was a bit rougher. I found the exact same handling characteristics at Eli as I did at Trackside; good overall handling, excellent in the rough, but a little loose on-power. In all, this is a really fun truck to drive.

If there was one bummer about heading to Trackside to film, it was that there weren't really many jumps to tackle with the Torment. The two that were there didn't present much of a challenge. The suspension felt quite plush on landings and jumping was quite predictable.

Outdoors at Eli Field, the Torment was subject to a few other jumps and challenges that I didn't find indoors. There was a series of jumps on the front stretch that, once I got my rhythm going, I was able to repeatedly double-double-double. I was a bit concerned that the narrow chassis would allow more air to get trapped under the body and exaggerate the parachute effect, but this was simply not the case. Overall jumping with the Torment was a very pleasurable experience

Like the previous ECX vehicles, the Torment's ESC features a forward/brake/reverse setup. By that I mean the first time you push the trigger back, the brakes activate. If you don't squeeze the trigger past neutral to engage forward and push the brake again, the truck will go in reverse. For someone like me who is used to a forward/brake ESC and tends to pulse the brakes to prevent lockup, this can take some getting used to. For the beginners out there, it's almost like getting two ESCs in one since you get the benefits of both brakes and reverse.

When you get off the throttle and onto the binders, the Torment is very well behaved. The chassis transfers weight to the nose predictably, allowing you to get into a corner harder than you may anticipate. Whether on the hard packed surface at Trackside or the loose and sandy surface at Eli Field, the Torment has plenty of side-bite on entry into corners. If you like dive bombing under people going into a corner, the Torment is more than up to the task

The open diff of the Torment really helps the truck to rotate mid-corner and on exit. As such, you may find the rear overtaking the front if you get too aggressive on the power when exiting corners. Out-of-the-box, I noticed this particularly when exiting the tight 180-degree turn right before the driver's stand. Adding some preload to the front shocks really helped a lot, as did turning the steering travel down on the transmitter. Changing my driving style also made a difference too. If I rolled on the throttle or waited until the truck was more squared up when exiting the corner, I was able to exit that one corner more consistently.

One other thing I noticed about the Torment out-of-the-box was that the slipper clutch seemed to be a touch on the loose side for the amount of bite at Trackside. This was an easy fix though as all the tools to tighten the slipper down are included in the box for you. If you are changing the setting on your slipper clutch, just remember that there should be some slip in there to help protect your drivetrain; 1–2 feet of slippage is about right. Don't tighten the slipper down completely or you could shorten the life of your drivetrain components.

Out-of-the-box Setup
This is going to sound like a broken record, but the ECX lineup of vehicles simply work well straight from the box. The Torment's suspension is plush and durable right from the box and provides a really nice driving experience for first-time RC drivers out there. The truck is fun and fast box-stock, but not so fast that it's difficult to control. The included 1800mAh Dynamite Speedpack will deliver runtimes between 8–12 minutes. If you're looking for more speed or runtime, the ESC that comes with the Torment can handle 7-cell NiMH battery packs without breaking a sweat for more top speed or packs with a higher milliamp rating for longer runtimes. The stock Dynamite SpeedTreads tires worked surprisingly well and more than a few folks at the track commented on how much they liked the look of the body. In all, this is a stout truck from the box.

The Short Course Truck class is still red-hot, however, the focus of the class has shifted. This is what we need to see more of in the SCT class, the low-cost/high-fun sort of truck. Otherwise, SCT may become the next Touring Car class, so white-hot that it eventually burned itself out. What started as a casual class where low cost and high fun was the focus, it has become a serious racing class. Many of those entry level trucks that were available at a relatively low cost have been replaced with machines with a greater focus on pure bread racing. When you have former IFMAR World Champions and ROAR National Champions running a class, you know it's become an established and serious racing class. This is where the Torment succeeds. While the price of many trucks continues to go up and up, the Torment provides a great value at a low cost. Anyone can make a "cheap" truck, but it is something different to add value and performance under the umbrella of a low price point. The Torment drives amazingly well for an entry-level truck, features genuine Spektrum 2.4GHz DSM technology, full ball bearings, battery pack and a charger all for under 170-bucks. The ECX Torment captures exactly what Short Course is all about, and does it in such a way that anyone can be, and will be, successful.