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What Is A Short Course RC Truck?

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Short course trucks are a well-known facet in the RC community, whether it’s racing or bashing, and they imitate full-size off-road racers. Recently, short course trucks are some of the most well known vehicles for RC racing, and there many reasons why these designs are so popular. 

If you have been looking at some of the more popular RC vehicles it is likely that you have seen a short course truck model. Since they are popular and many people have them that then gives rise to the question of what exactly are they? 

Short course RC trucks are simply off road RC vehicles that are modeled after real RC trucks that are raced offroad. These RC vehicles are designed to handle off road terrain well and are a great option for someone looking to use their RC car in the park, woods, etc. 

Many short course RC trucks imitate the full-scale short course racers that race at outdoor tracks and stadiums all around the country, and more interestingly, short course trucks are exciting to race. A lot of short course designs are very similar to the top-tier 2-wheel-drive and 4-wheel-drive buggies that are at the helm of RC off-road designs.

Apart from just racing, RC short course trucks are also excellent for bashing. Also, because of their wide tires, they can run on a variety of surfaces. Their meaty bumpers and full-fender covered tire bodies help to keep the truck right side up when it knocks into other vehicles or curbs.

To get a clear vision of what a short course truck can be like, we’re now going to examine The Cutback but we could just as easily look at the models made by Traxxas or other popular RC car manufacturers. 

To see exactly what this model looks like in action you can check out the video below. 

The Cutback short course RC truck

This vehicle comes with some ready-to-run features like a brushless motor and full ball bearings, even though it is mainly designed for bashing. The Cutback comes fully assembled and includes a painted body plus a 2-channel 2.4GHz pistol-grip radio. You will need four AA batteries and onboard batteries for the transmitter and the truck, respectively.

This truck is a four-wheel-drive that includes a three gear-type differential with one front-end gear, one rear-end gear, and one drive-shaft gear. The chassis’ core is a 3mm-thick aluminum plate that has a nylon tub attached that keeps the electronics and drive components.

The Cutback also comes with an 80-amp ESC with an installed cooling fan. It drives a 3600kV (RPM/volt) brushless motor longitudinally-installed near the middle of the chassis, and a metal-geared servo provides steering.

A watertight box houses the receiver while a covered tunnel neatly routes all wires going to and from this place. All of the truck’s wires are kept in place with restraint to ensure a clean layout.

It comes with a no-frills transmitter that also works well and offers analog trims, servo reversing, and adjustable steering rate, and velcro straps fasten the battery to the chassis’ left side of the chassis.

Driving the Cutback

The Cutback can run on quite a variety of terrains, including gravel, blacktop, short grass, dirt, and rough pavement. Using surface-specific tires can also make it a whole lot easier to race this truck as it gives you better handling. This truck also offers consistency even when moving from one surface to another. The Cutback’s low gearing contributes to the consistency in handling that the truck offers and provides a good level of punch even though it doesn’t provide a lot of top-end speed. 

For this, you never get enough speed to stretch the truck’s handling limits. But, this doesn’t mean it cannot have good speed. The low speed has quite a lot to do with 6-cell NiMH and 2-cell LiPo batteries. The kit comes with a smaller spur gear, which you can swap out to get more speed even though that would mean losing some acceleration. You can also change the stock batteries with a 3-cell LiPo battery, which should bring a step up to everything.

The Cutback seems to always oversteer when you’re using the stock suspension setup and does better holding a line when you remain on the power for the front wheels to pull it through.

It also tends to always nose over during jumps. Sometimes, you can use the throttle to control the flying of a 4WD car with the throttle by simply engaging more throttle to make the front end come up.

Just as is the case with almost any full-scale car or even an RC car, you can alter the handling by making some adjustments. This may require you to change a number of parameters such as shock oil, shock springs, weight distribution, shock pistons, and suspension geometry, among others, to be able to get the reaction you are looking for from your truck.

Because of the molded, fixed-length steering rods and camber links, The Cutback is limited to some extent when it comes to making adjustments. What this simply means is that you cannot adjust the toe-in and the camber unless you replace the stock parts. 

But, the simplicity, as well as the durability of the molded links, are two things you are going to really love them for. But, if you have any plans to race (and not just bash) the Cutback, you really should  consider upgrading those parts of the truck.

Something you may be a bit worried about is the fact that the interface between the spur gear and the pinion gear is open to the elements. When you’re driving in quite rocky areas, the fact that these parts are exposed may very well mean that it may not be long before a small rock gets caught between the gears. However, as much as that can be a source of at least slight concern, it really isn’t such a big deal as you can easily get rid of these rocks without necessarily causing damage to the truck. As a matter of fact, the truck will be mostly safe and scenarios like this rarely happen. 

You may hit a number of permanent objects as you race. You may flip, and you may roll very many times, and your truck would still be just fine. Of course, it may get a few creases here and there on the body, but most likely, it would not be much damage caused and you can get back to racing. 


This examination of The Cutback is just one of a single example in a multitude of other RC short course trucks. RC short course trucks abound on the market, and there’s a lot more to choose from a variety of makers. 

The Cutback is a tough and durable RC truck complete with almost all the features you want in a top-notch RC and gives you just the perfect representation of a good short course truck.