We all have friends, some of them like R/C while others really don’t care about R/C. This is life and we all have different interests and different passions. There is a part of responsibility when a friend asks you help to get into the hobby. First, he is your friend; you want him to have a good vehicle to start but also good equipments so he can enjoy his new vehicle.
The idea for this article came after a friend of mine (and co-worker) crossed the door of my office and told me, “Sylvain, get me a truck, I want one!”. At first I was surprised because he never really manifested any special interest for my hobby. I replied “Are you sure? How much money you have to invest for a truck?”. The discussion started and after he asked me the traditional “How fast?” and “How much?” questions, I asked him many questions to identify his needs. Here is exactly what he was looking for:
No mess with nitro engines:
In the past, my friend has been watching me tuning a nitro engine. Even if he rides KTM motocross bikes for many years, I think he doesn’t feel comfortable to tune a nitro engine. He wants a truck that requires a minimum of maintenance, so all nitro vehicles were instantly removed from the list! We have focused on electric vehicles only.
A “plug and play” vehicle:
In this case, the term “Plug and Play” has nothing to do with computers. It is simply a term to identify vehicles that can be run right out of the box (ready to run) but that don’t need extra maintenance. You run the truck for an hour, you put it on the shelf when you have finished. Few days or weeks later, the truck can be run again with nothing else to do than charging battery packs. So, we have focused on ready to run vehicles for sure but also vehicles that don’t need any special maintenance.
It is important to have access to spare parts. Most hobby shops carry major brands. In our case, we can’t count on our local hobby shop for the simple reason that there is no hobby shop in our locality, I know, it is a shame! However, we can order through major online hobby shops or directly from a hobby shop located at 250 miles. They all offer great support and have good parts availability. All the most common parts from brands like Losi, Team Associated, HPI and Traxxas are on their shelves. So getting quickly parts for those brands will not be an issue.
A truck that can be raced and upgraded:
One day or another, my friend will want to race his truck. In fact, most of the new comers will want to race or at least install racing parts on their vehicles. At this point, we focused on vehicles that have a good amount of aftermarket parts and racing parts available on the market. We also evaluated the racing experience of the manufacturers. Since my friend will want to race, we better go with a brand that is known to be in the top. All new comers in the hobby want to spend money on their vehicle before they have tried their vehicle. It is a mistake. Go, run your vehicle, get familiarized with your vehicle, learn how to drive it before spending money on “most of the time” non necessary parts.
The invoice should be under the 400$:
My friend has a budget limit of 400$. This is a smart decision to have a limit when getting in the hobby. After all, nobody knows if my friend will like the hobby. Later, he can always buy race tires, tools and few hopups. But at this point, I wanted him to have a good truck, with good battery packs and a good charger. All this, under the 400$.
He finally made his decision. He bought a Team Associated RC10T4 RS (230$), three Wolfpack 4200 battery packs (115$) and a Duratrax Onyx 220 charger (60$). For a total of 405$, not bad!
The RC10T4 RS is an excellent truck with good race potential. It comes ready to run and it is well supported from our hobby shops and the T4 can be upgraded with all the Factory Team parts designed for the T4 FT from Team Associated. A lot of tires, wheels, bodies and hopups parts are available on the market to customize or to repair the truck. The T4 RS has been clocked at 25MPH, this seems slow compared to others trucks on the market. But 25MPH on a race track is more than enough to learn driving. You better go slower but complete your race.
For the charging duties, we went with a Duratrax Onyx 220 charger for three major reasons. The first one is because the charger is AC/DC which means it can be used with a 12V DC battery or with a standard electric AC outlet from a house. The second reason is that the Onyx 220 has five memory models; it has a back light display, it can be programmed to adjust amp rate, volt, delta, etc. This is a basic charger with great features for the price.
Will my friend regret his investment? This is hard to tell. To be honest, I think he will like his new truck and will be more than happy for having been well “coached” for his first buy.
For more information about buying your first R/C vehicle, you can read our First R/C buying guide