The Traxxas Unlimited Desert Racer (UDR) is the Texas-based remote control model manufacturer’s latest offering. It is also one of its priciest products, surpassed only by the mammoth X-Maxx monster truck. You’ve likely heard the old adage “you get what you pay for”, but does the Unlimited Desert Racer actually live up to its price tag?
The UDR takes one of the top positions on our Best Trophy Truck Guide but let’s take a closer look at the desert racers exterior design, interior build, internal electronics and lastly, how all of these things come together.
Body and Chassis
The first thing you’re likely to notice about the Traxxas Unlimited Desert Racer is its sheer size. With a length of over 27’’ from nose to tail, the UDR is truly a beast. Interestingly enough, the UDR is only three inches shorter than its big brother, the Traxxas X-Maxx.
The Traxxas Unlimited Desert Racer has a fixed, one-piece body, which can be taken off with relative ease. The twelve screws that keep the body secured to the frame can be a bit cumbersome to unscrew. Once you have them out though, the body will more or less just slide off the frame.
Traxxas offers two liveries for the UDR, which they call Fox and RIGID. Both body versions were precision-modeled after a full-scale desert race truck.
And while we’re on the subject, Traxxas’ attention to detail truly shines with the Unlimited Desert Racer. Replica brake calipers and discs, an oil can, fire extinguishers, fans, a floor jack with a handle, shock reservoirs and batteries can all be found in the rear of the truck and look surprisingly realistic.
And as a testament to how dedicated Traxxas is, they included functional spare tires and a spare driveshaft in the rear, which is a very nice touch that you don’t see elsewhere.
The Desert Racer sports a rugged tube frame chassis. This chassis provides rigid support for the bumpers, shocks, and suspension. Traxxas engineered the chassis to better absorb and distribute the force of an impact, should one occur. This gives the Desert Racer a rock-solid base.
The side plates mounted directly to the cage are precision-modeled and meant to look realistic. They serve to help keep debris, dust, and dirt out of the cockpit. Thankfully, they’re fairly stylish as well.
Traxxas designed the chassis so that most of the truck’s weight was located as low as possible. That lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity, which serves to improve handling and performance.
Its chassis is also equipped with protective skid plates, which serve to keep out debris and protect the vehicle’s interior. The Traxxas Ultimate Desert Racer’s inverted tube frame design also simplifies service and maintenance tasks, such as battery replacement.
And thankfully, Traxxas designed the interior of the Ultimate Desert Racer as meticulously as they did the exterior. The cockpit includes driver figures, switches, radios, a gear shift, safety gear and all manner of panels meant to maximize the scale realism of the vehicle.
Power and Control
The UDR boasts a 2200kV sensorless, brushless motor. Weighing in at slightly over 14oz, the motor is light, but nonetheless able to convert up to 6S LiPo worth of power efficiently.
The UDR features an all-steel gear, direct drive transmission, with a fixed-pin gear mesh. A fixed-pin gear mesh is critical for vehicles with the high torque of a 6S LiPo-powered motor. An added bonus is that the transmission can be removed as a single piece, simplifying any future maintenance work.
There has been quite a lot of talk about the Desert Racer’s VXL-6S ESC. This is because of its advertised capacity to handle 6S LiPo (lithium polymer) batteries. And while it can, in fact, handle 6S batteries fairly well, 4S batteries are also perfectly adequate.
Whichever option you choose will mostly depend on personal taste. Using only 4S batteries will definitely make things easier to control. But using 6S batteries can provide for more of a thrill and give you those advertised 50 mph speeds.
Whatever the case, you won’t be hurting for any extra power, that’s for sure. However, the motor does tend to get a bit hot. You should probably keep an eye on that whenever you’re using 6S batteries or if you live someplace with a hotter climate.
The Desert Racer sports a versatile battery compartment. This means it can accommodate a single 4S LiPo battery pack or dual 2S battery packs, if you want to use the UDR on 4S. It can also take dual 3S packs, for combined 6S power.
A plastic strap lock secures the battery compartment shut. And while the strap lock itself is very durable, be wary of dust and dirt getting in between the gaps. This can make opening the battery compartment hard. Fixed battery connectors are another feature, and they further simplify battery replacement.
Without a proper way to control it, the Unlimited Desert Racer wouldn’t be good for very much besides being a pretty shelf model.
Thankfully, the TQi 2.4GHz transmitter that’s bundled with the UDR more than satisfies. It is a two-channel transmitter and boasts a 13ms frame rate with almost zero latency. Customizability is another important feature and with this transmitter, you can adjust steering and throttle sensitivity and percentage.
The transmitter is also compatible with the Traxxas Link wireless app and Traxxas Link Bluetooth module. On the vehicle’s side of things, it features a five-channel micro receiver with fail-safe security.
Steering and Drivetrain
The Truck features a solid rear axle, designed for improved sturdiness and to provide an authentic driving dynamic. Heavy-duty steel half shafts give extra durability.
The UDR’s drivetrain is outfitted with steel CV driveshafts, which have 6mm stub axles in the front and steel beam axles in the rear. The UDR also boasts a locked rear differential and an oil-filled limited-slip front differential.
Suspension, Wheels, and Tires
One of the things that’s bound to catch your eye right away with the Unlimited Desert Racer are its large, heavy-duty suspension arms. These suspension arms form a double wishbone design, which serves to maintain proper geometry on the road. The ends of the shock and sway bar rods are also fully captured, which gives the front suspension extra durability and ruggedness.
And while we’re on the subject, the UDR has absolutely killer suspension travel. 3.15’’ of travel in the front and 4’’ of travel in the rear, to be exact. This monstrous suspension travel is what sets the Unlimited Desert Racer apart as a true off-road vehicle.
The Truck boasts new, “long-travel” versions of the old GTR shocks you’re likely familiar with. The main shock sports a threaded body, which allows you to adjust the ride height at each corner. Meanwhile, a separate slave shock, which has a solid body, serves to provide additional damping action and doubles the oil capacity of the shocks.
Wheels and tires
The UDR is outfitted with Beadlock-style 17mm dual-diameter wheels and replica BFGoodrich KR3 off-road tires.
- Absolutely outstanding build quality. The Traxxas Unlimited Desert Racer truly lives up to its “desert racer” moniker, as well as its price tag, as far as sturdiness, durability, and ruggedness go. Each piece feels heavy-duty and like it can withstand a good amount of abuse.
- Excellent performance out on the road.
- Monstrous power, when on 6S LiPo. 4S LiPo may be perfectly adequate, however.
- Easily modifiable, as the URD’s body is easy to take off and most of its parts were designed to be modular.
- Largely waterproof. Don’t take it out for a swim though!
- All-around stunning scale detail. Traxxas’ attention to detail and dedication to realism shines through every nook and cranny of the Unlimited Desert Racer.
- Slightly underpowered steering servo for a truck of this size and output. It could be adequate for you, though. It depends quite a bit on personal preference. But in any case, you can easily replace the stock steering servo with one that you prefer.
- Dust and debris can potentially jam up the battery compartment because of its location on the bottom of the vehicle. Thankfully, none of it ever reaches the inside, but dirt in the gaps could make it hard to open the battery tray.
- The TQi transmitter may not be for everybody. Again, this depends entirely on personal preference. For you, the TQi transmitter may be perfect. But again, you can easily replace the stock receiver and use any remote you prefer, so this isn’t a major complaint.
The Verdict: Is the Traxxas Unlimited Desert Racer worth it?
Given the impeccable build quality and top-tier performance of the Traxxas Unlimited Desert Racer, as well as Traxxas’ outstanding attention to detail, this vehicle is a luxury product in every sense of the word.
But as far as luxury products go, we can safely say that the truckr delivers on every front and every promise. Build quality, durability, performance, scale realism, usability, flexibility, and aesthetics. In each of these areas, the UDR lies comfortably in the top-tier of the market right now.
And if you prefer, you can easily modify almost any part of it to suit your liking. As mentioned previously, the steering servo may be just a tad underpowered for a truck of this caliber, but it’s also easily replaceable. And even if the TQi transmitter isn’t exactly to your liking, replacing the receiver is a piece of cake.
All-in-all, if you’re looking for an RC vehicle with high marks in almost every category, the Traxxas Unlimited Desert Racer is a pricey option, but certainly one you will get your money’s worth with.
Don’t miss out on our complete Top 10 RC Trophy Truck Guide.