Large-scale RC cars have been slowly growing in popularity over the past couple years. With events like Bajafest, Dunetoberfest, and 5th Scale Power Jam, there are plenty of places for you to race the vehicle you once thought was a big gas-powered toy. And, with the massive 5th scale aftermarket support, it’s not unusual to see $2000+, highly-modified racers and bashers! But the one thing that has been missing in this niche of the industry is an affordable 4wd vehicle. That wait is over. CEN has stepped up to the plate with the Matrix 5-B, a high-powered, definitely affordable 4wd buggy! For this test session, I made my way over to Milestone RC (Home of the 2008 Baja Nationals) and met up with Andrew Smolnik (CEN Product Development), Chris Lee(CEN Head Technician) and Rodney Roberts II (CEN Account Executive) to throw down some hot laps and see if the 5-B could deliver. After a quick overview, we fueled up the buggies and headed for the track.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT CEN
WHO IT’S FOR Everyone
HOW FAST 39mph
PART NO. 5002
HOW MUCH $849
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• The high-output 30cc 2-stroke engine runs on a pump-gas/2-stroke oil mixture. Just mix up your fuel, pour it in and go! Easy to tune and maintain, these monster motors also have quite a bit of aftermarket support, making it easy to bolt on some additional power. I would suggest a high-flow air filter and pipe right away!
• The drive train is similar to an 1/8th scale car. Durable gear differentials are packed away in the beefy front and rear bulkheads. While the center is equipped with a hardened transfer gear, Andy mentioned that they will be releasing a fluid-filled center differential as an option part.
• The Matrix 5-B comes equipped with big-bore threaded aluminum dampers on all four corners. This makes adjusting ride height a snap, something I found very useful during our test session. The stock springs worked well on the test track, and Andy informed me that they will be releasing option springs to fine tune the buggy to different track conditions.
• The chassis is a stout, 4mm T6 aluminum plate that is braced front-to-rear by an aluminum roll cage. The cage is designed with quick-disconnect ‘legs’ so you can swivel it out of the way for easy access to the radio box or engine. This was one of my favorite features about this car.
• While the 650cc fuel tank will keep you going for close to an hour, the design of it is what caught my attention. If you look closely…oh, yes, you see it now? Uh, yes, that is the driveshaft going THROUGH it. Interesting design to maximize the amount of fuel you can carry onboard.
• To get the correct gear ratio, the Matrix 5-B uses a 4-step gear reduction system that is visible from the right side of the car. It is covered with a heavy-duty clear lexan cap. The gears are made out of a lightweight composite that held up well to some brutal beating at the track.
• The 8” tall, all-terrain tires are pre-mounted to the fluorescent spoked wheels from the factory. While they provided decent traction on the track, they worked great while on an impromptu bash session in a local field! Dirt, grass, sand and even mud, the knobbies held up well with very little signs of wear.
• The Matrix 5-B includes the Skyion DX-Pro Digital Radio System. This FM transmitter features a LCD display, digital adjustments, 10 model memory, dual rate… you name it, its got it!
To read the entire review including the performance section, be sure to pick up the June 2010 issue of RC Driver Magazine!