Cen Matrix R2 RTR Review
Cen Racing is a well known company among many R/C enthusiasts. In the last years, Cen Racing have extended their products lineup with many interesting vehicles like their 1/16 scale electric vehicles up to their full race race buggy and truggy. One product from Cen Racing that got my attention is the Cen Matrix R2 RTR buggy. It has an impressive list of nice features and a very low price tag of 250$us.
Body: light weight lexan body. CEN “Intruder”
Tires: CEN Xcellerator tires
Wheels: Light weight one piece 17mm speed disc wheelsChassis: 3mm thick 7075 aluminum
Radio Tray: lay-down steering servo
Braces: Front and rear composit chassis stiffenersDrive-train: Shaft-driven all-time 4WD with a center differential
Drive Shafts: Constant velocity steel shafts
Differentials: Sealed 6 gear ultra strong differentials, silicone filled
Clutch: Composite 3pc clutch system
Bearings: All sealed ball bearings
Gearing Pinion / Spur : 13 / 46
Length: 19inches / 485mm
Width: 12inches / 305mm
Weight: 7.4lbs / 3357g
Wheelbase: 13inches / 330mm – 336mm
Adjustable suspension, 6 hole options shock towers along with 2 hole arm mounting positions.
Big Bore Shocks, oil-filled coil over shocks with 3.5mm shock shafts, bladders, and silicone o-rings.
Camber: Fully adjustable
Caster: 20 degree – 22 degree of caster
Front Toe in: Fully adjustable
Front Kick-up: 4 or 5 degree
Rear anti-squat: 1 or 2 degree
Front down travel: Fully adjustable
Rear down travel: Fully adjustable
Ackermann: 3 positions
* Option parts may be required.
On the bench: The Cen Matrix R2 comes equipped with a powerful Corsa .30 (5.0cc) engine with pullstart coupled to a composite two-piece tuned pipe. A black engine head with 9 fins keeps the engine cool. A good note, the air filter is oiled from the factory. This engine has a lot of torque and a good top speed. During my tests, the engine ran flawlessly run after run and holds its tune perfectly. I’m surprised by the quality of this engine. To start the engine, I first had to richen the two needles about ¾ of a turn each. The engine was set lean at the factory. Once the engine started, it didn’t need any blips on the throttle to keep running during the break in and its temperature was locked at 190F. After a first tank at idle and the second and third tanks at low speed. I leaned the carburetor slowly after each tank until I got good respond from the engine. The Corsa .30 engine is more suited for a monster truck but it is always fun to have such power in a buggy.
On the track: The engine has a lot of power and no matter where I was on the track; it has enough power to clear any jumps and exit corner with authority. Accelerations were great and spinning the four tires was easy. I got a slightly more than 7 minutes of runtime with a full tank which is good considering the size of the engine versus the capacity of the fuel tank. Once again, the engine never stalled and has always run strong. The engine average running temperature was somewhere in the low 220F. It took me few laps to familiarize with all the extra power. But once I did, I had a blast to drive the buggy around the track.
On the bench: Four plastic body big bore shocks with heavy duty 3.5mm shaft equip the Matrix R2. According to Cen Racing, the four shocks are filled with 30wt shock oil. To adjust the ride height, Cen included various shock spacers. The right rear shock was leaking when I received the buggy. Nothing major, I just had to tight the shock cap and it was fixed. One of the first things I noticed was how much smooth the suspension is. There are a lot of tuning possibilities with the suspension, including the droop. The shock towers are made of 4mm 7075 aluminum and offer 6 different mounting positions each. Like with any full race buggy, all suspension components are fully adjustable. However they are not turnbuckles. The front and rear a-arms are interchangeable, this will lower the cost of spare parts. A good note for a RTR vehicle, no e-clips is used.
On the track: As I noticed when I first inspect the Matrix R2, the suspension is very smooth. On the track, the buggy literally floated on all rough sections and over any imperfection on the track. Jump landing was also nice as long as I did not over jump.
On the bench: The body looks really nice. It comes painted, cut and fits perfectly on the buggy. The body clips are really hard to remove and to install. One thing is sure, you will not lose them! The tires are the Cen “X”Cellerator. They use medium compound and will perform nice on a majority of track surfaces. They are glued on light and nice looking white wheels that are refreshing compare to all those dish type wheels on the market. Thread lock is applied on all four wheel nuts to ensure they will not loosen. A nice “CEN” logo is graved into the 3mm 6061 aluminum chassis. All screws are countersunk and there is a large opening to access the flywheel with a starter box. All components are centered into the chassis for a perfect balance. Composite braces secure the front and rear ends of the buggy while Philips head screws are used through the buggy.
On the track: The buggy really looks well on the track but it looked even better after I installed four Pro-Line Bow-Tie M2 tires. The stock tires were doing well but I wanted to push the buggy to the limit and to compare with tires I normally run on this track. With the new tires, the Matrix R2 was totally a different buggy. It was more aggressive and the extra traction helped to put more power to the ground.
On the bench: The steering system is similar to what we can found on others buggies. A steering rack, with two mounting positions, links a dual bell crank system. Cast-aluminum steering blocks are used to beef up the steering.
On the track: It was easy to run the R2 around the track. Steering is precise and the buggy reacts well to my steering inputs. The buggy slightly under steers on power and over steers when turning off power. The R2 has a larger turning radius than what I like. After few tweaks here and there, steering will be greatly increased.
On the bench: Cen equipped the Matrix R2 with good electronics. It first starts with a Skyion DX Pro digital FM radio with 10 model memory transmitter. The radio is easy to operate and fits perfectly to my hand. Two high torque servos with internal metal gears with 144oz of torque are used for the steering and throttle/brake duties. Receiver and receiver batteries are hold into a huge radio box. Right out of the box, the transmitter was correctly adjusted, I didn’t have to fine tune any trim.
On the track: The included electronics worked well on the track. The servos have enough torque to steer the front wheels and to keep them pointed to the right direction even on full acceleration. Braking was not an issue and the servo was powerful enough to fully lock the four wheels at any time. During all the testing, the Skyion transmitter worked fine with no glitch.
On the bench: Three composite clutch shoes transfer all the power of the Corsa .30 engine to a 13T clutch bell/46T spur gear. All the drivetrain components spin freely and ride on sealed ball bearings. Massive CVD type shaft are used in front. All others shafts are dogbone style. Cen Racing confirmed me that all the diffs are filled with 5000wt fluid.
On the track: The drivetrain is very smooth and handles all the power of the .30 engine with ease. It didn’t show any sign of wear after many runs and torture. Under hard accelerations, the front wheels never unloaded excessively. The diff setup is correct right out of the box and the drivetrain is build for punishments.
- Powerful servos for a RTR
- Great transmitter
- Powerful and reliable engine
- Packed of nice features
- Best bang for the bucks
What to improve
- Suspension is fully adjustable but no turnbuckle
- A little loose in the rear arms
There is nothing bad to say about the Cen matrix R2 buggy. The electronics, engine and drivetrain are the key features of this buggy. Cen Racing has worked hard to offer a good package for newcomers. The Matrix R2 is well assembled, has good specs and features to satisfy anyone looking for a budget buggy that performs well on and off the track. For 250$us, the R2 represents the best bang for the bucks of all the industry. The R2 outperforms many others more expensive RTR buggies out there.
For more information, please visit www.cenracing.com