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Axial AX10 Ridgecrest RTR Review

Some of you may not know that the AX10 Ridgecrest release for April 2012 (retailers in May 2012) marks the five year anniversary of Axial’s AX10 series. The original AX10 Scorpion hit the market in April of 2007. It was Axial’s first vehicle, brought crawling to the mainstream and quickly became the most influential crawler in the industry. Everything took off from there. RC Crawling had been around for years, but Axial grabbed it and rapidly fast tracked it to what it is today. Today, crawling is a changed segment. While highly technical and competitive 2.2 crawling is still alive and well, the majority of crawling enthusiasts seem to be drawn to either scalers or vehicles that bring some speed into the equation. That is why the Ridgecrest is the vehicle it is. And what exactly is that? Read on and find out.

> Fully assembled ready-to-run
> $309.99
> All-new molded plastic tube style chassis
> Wide AR60 OCP Axles
> Ripsaw tires and Raceline Renegade wheels
> 12-inch wheelbase (competition legal)
> WB8 Wild Boar drive shafts
> 4-link suspension with double shear mounts
> AX-3 2.4GHz radio system
> AE-2 speed control (Castle Creations built)
> 20-turn brushed motor
> Waterproof receiver box
> Slipper clutch
> Threaded body shocks
> Multi-position battery and electronics mounting

Previous to the Ridgecrest, the AX10 platform used stamped aluminum side plates for the chassis. This has been replaced with a molded plastic tube type chassis. The center skid plate is also all-new. The chassis is well designed and makes getting to the essentials such as battery changes easy. The battery tray and radio mount can be reposition in a few different configurations to redistribute weight bias and thus modify handling–ingenuous. The plastic overall construction does make it light and inexpensive to replace parts in case you have an accident out on the rocks or bashing terrain. I have to admit breaking the chassis would be hard, but not impossible. Once you take the body off, you can see the speed control and receiver are well protected from getting knocked around.

One of the biggest differences in this AX10 and its predecessors is that it is noticeable wider. The same AR60 OCP Axles that are used on the Wraith are brought into use on the Ridgecrest. The wider axles are used for the simple reason of increased stability. Crawling with solid axles is the norm, but Axial takes it to the next level by making these axles so scale in both looks and construction. The “pumpkin” section (contains the ring gear and pinion) is offset just like the real one. Realism aside for a moment, having it offset allows for more clearance when crawling over the steep rocks and varying terrain. When you take the covers off, you will see the ring gear, diff housing and diff retainers. In addition to looking cool, the easily removable diff covers are also good for maintenance purposes. The rear axles are straight, while the fronts have hub carries at each end. Axial does make the upgrade parts to make it rear steer possible for those who like it.

The AR60 OCP Axle is modeled after the famous full-size Dana 60 axle. The Dana 60 is much older than many would expect. The Dana 60 axle was first used in production trucks in 1955 and is still being used in some production trucks. The Dana 60 wasn’t just a truck axle; it has also been used in cars.

Having a triangulated 4-link design allows the Ridgecrest to climb over more rocks and other terrain with ease and a good amount of controllable articulation. Compared to previously  3-link design, this setup is much better. Specifically, the upper axle mount on the 4-link setup is far more durable than the upper axle mount used on the 3-link design. Each molded plastic link is built as a solid one-piece design with the ball ends incorporated into the link. Plastic balls snap into the ball ends. The plastic shocks are great for a RTR and feature threaded bodies. There are multiple points of mounting on the chassis to change the angle the shocks.

Threaded-body shocks aren’t just for RC. Threaded-body shocks are used in high performance full-size off-road vehicles and you’ve probably seen Fox and King threaded-body shocks. Threaded-body shocks are also often used in on-road race vehicles such as Late Models.

Like Axial’s other vehicles, the Ridgecrest includes an adjustable slipper clutch. Yes, I did say slipper. In rock crawling, traction and torque are essential, so some people may wonder why would Axial not put it solid drive? Well, for durability. It’s fully adjustable, so that the transmission can slip under hard conditions. The alternative is popping parts apart when the truck get bound up. While some will tighten it all the way down, for first time crawlers it will allow some give to reduce drivetrain damage. Speaking of damage, the WB8 Wild Boar drive shafts–that we also first saw on the Wraith–can take a lot more abuse before being damaged. With everything installed, accessing the slipper is a little awkward.

Axial was founded in 2005 and is located in Irvine, CA. It is now a division of Hobbico in Champaign, IL. Axial is still located in Irvine, CA.

The Ridgecrest is equipped with Axial’s 2.4GHz AX-3 radio transmitter and AR-3 receiver. Power is controlled by the AE-2 brushed speed control that is made by Castle Creations. The speed control featured pre-progamed drag brakes. The use of a 2.4GHz in a RTR is now more common and for good reason. 2.4Ghz on its own has it own benefits, but in an RTR, it’s not the first thing you need to upgrade anymore–allowing our wallet to contribute to other upgrades. The The speed control has a LiPo cutoff and is programmable with the Castle Link which is sold separately.

Many of the employees at Axial are full-size off-road enthusiasts and wheel some well equipped Broncos, Toyotas and Jeeps. Axial also partners with many well-known off-road brands such as Poison Spyder, PIAA, Corbeau and others. 

Body, Wheels & Tires
The pre-painted Lexan body is what some could best be described as an SUV. It is outfitted with, front and rear, molded plastic bumper bars that are a nice touch. Optional lights are sold separately and may be fixed to the front bumper. Getting these shells later in a clear version will be nice. The overall shape is great and will only get better with some personal paint jobs in the future. It’s worth noting that one big point of difference on the Ridgecrest, compared to its cousin, the Wraith, is that the Ridgecrest has the above described removable body shell. The Wraith, in contrast, has a cage as an integral part of the chassis. So, while the Wraith is certainly cool looking, changing its look is a bit challenging compared to simply swapping the body.The body mounting points are very adjustable.

The Ripsaw tires have proven to be a good all around tire. Crawling, and higher speed running is not problem with these tires.  They feature a nice aggressive tread pattern and are supported by foam inserts. They come glued to licensed chrome spoke Raceline wheels with a cosmetic bead lock look.

In full-size, the Ripsaw tires would be a massive 55 inches tall. This makes them comparable in size to the Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC tires that are 54 inches tall and the 54-inch Interco TSL Bogger. 

I drove the Ridgecrest on a variety of terrains. On the rocks, it performs well. Higher speed runs are more enjoyable than other crawlers I’ve driven in the past. I was a little surprised at the way it had just enough torque to crawl under slow throttle applications, but still tore up the grass on higher speed runs. A multi terrain environment is where the Ridgecrest shines. The Ridgecrest is great for all beginner and experienced crawlers.

Getting really down to the grit on the crawling aspect, the speed control with drag brake is fantastic. It maybe a brushed system, but it proves to be doing the job just fine in my book. Being able to hold your rig in place during an approach of a rock or obstacle is key. The metal gear servo didn’t miss a beat or seem sluggish at all. And as previously described, the 20-turn motor had plenty of low end torque and speed punch.

Who knew a crawler could jump? Taking the Ridgecrest off my small BMX ramp was a little nerve racking at first, but it handled it like a champ. Keep in mind, this is a 4-link, solid axle rig. Not everything solid axle I’ve driven before has fared as well on the landing.

Axial added the waterproof element to the receiver box which is top notch in my book. While it is intentionally mounted up high and out of the way, I would love to see the speed control further protected from water. A little bit bigger sealed box for both units would be my only change. My opinion is that Axial kept the speed control out in the open for cooling. When crawling, the motor can heat up and little bit and so does the speed control. Under high speed running, the speed control remains at a comfortable temperature and relatively cool for a 20-turn motor turning those big tires. I realistically know that water isn’t a huge concern all the time when crawling on rocks, but it does happen when off-roading and water is just hard to resist…I mean, accidents do happen.

From start to finish I really feel that the Ridgecrest is great for the price. Even though Axial budgeted down a tiny bit with the non-bead lock rims, the truck makes up for in value else where in the rig. The entire chassis is robust for plastic and it’s light weight. I think with this chassis design they kept the CG (center of gravity) as low as they could. I do see a fare amount of aluminum upgrades for more of the hardcore guys. You can’t beat the speed control with LiPo cut-off and drag brake–especially when it’s partnered a 2.4 GHz radio system. So, to answer the original question about what exactly is the Ridgecrest: it’s a little bit of everything. It’s surprisingly quick, it can crawl, it’s a solid first vehicle for beginners and its well equipped enough to satisfy more experienced hobbyists.

> Metal-gear servo
> 2.4GHz radio included
> Improved drivetrain durability and wide stance
> Great value

> Bead locks are only cosmetic
> Slipper adjustment is a little tricky
> Tire compound can hold truck back on some climbs



Axial Racing
Castle Creations 

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  1. Great review. I wasn’t considering this truck or a crawler for that matter. now i am.

  2. That’s great news Warren, always like to hear about someone joining the RC hobby. Glad we could help educate the idea. Thanks for the encouraging words. I don’t believe as a first time crawler the Ridgecrest will steer you wrong. The best parts speak for themselves and not many crawlers I’ve driven have the top speed this thing does, AND crawl! Axial has a great aftermarket support system and tons of ways to make your own.

    I will be posting updates and more projects and reviews as time goes on, so always be sure to check back!!!!

    1. Setting it up for comp use would not take much effort. I’d love the battery to the most forward position and switch to stickier tires. Maybe bent rear lower links too, but that’s more of an option than a requirement

  3. Yeah, I agree with Matt, its a great bashing rock crawler and having fun, but would need some tweaking for a hardcore competition. Besides, you can’t ask for more with the value you get for around 300.00 bucks. a few people think this RTR is the worst yet from axial, I disagree and ask, show me better for the same price.

    The Ridgecrest won me over, but IM not hardcore, and sure this RCTruckStop Ridgecrest project will be receiving some cool and reasonable up grades, you’ll all have to wait and see what’s next.

  4. I’ve had a lot of fun with this truck. i picked it up after reading your review and seeing it in action in a few of your videos. it’s my first crawler. I changed the tires and lowered it. i am running hot bodies tires and they make a huge difference.

  5. Great honest review. My friend has this truck and it performs and is just like you say. I am going to get one for Christmas and plan to do a few mods. I also want a scaler

  6. I have had my Ridgecrest for about 8 months now. I am in love with this thing. I put the proline Jeep XJ body on it with lights and roof rack. I run mud slinger tires, 200oz servo and VXL3s brushless system 12/88 gearing and I love it. I am a scaler at heart but this puts me in the middle of both worlds. My wife has one also and we go out any chance we get.

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