TESTED: KYOSHO ULTIMA SC6
The Decathlete In A Class of Couch Potatoes
Words & Pics: Stephen Bess

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When short course trucks went viral in the late 2000’s (2008 for the Traxxas Slash’s release–has it been that long ago?), racing an SC truck seemed a bit like competitive riding lawnmower racing. It was all in the novelty of their appearance, albeit a truck scale appearance – wait, an RC vehicle that actually looks like a real vehicle?! — that drew many new faces into RC and arguably saved the industry from a dark dead zone. Much like watching a 200hp John Deere skid around a corner, spectators pointed and smiled when a pack of SC trucks barreled over jumps or smashed fenders on the straightaways. People seem to love it when machinery is raced that has no business being raced, and the tall, wallowing, parachute-bodied SC truck fit that mold perfectly. Eventually, however, racing companies took notice of the booming class and began to produce competitive racing chassis. The “point and laugh” SC class became a serious club-racing sensation almost overnight. You can argue among yourselves whether the SC class is a “worthy” racing class (before you make your point, remember two opposing things: there is no IFMAR Worlds for short course, yet the SC class is one of the most popular club-racing classes in the entire country), meanwhile companies like Kyosho will continue to churn out faster and faster SC vehicles that elevate competition while lowering lap times. In a class where many short course trucks wallow around the track like couch potatoes, the Kyosho Ultima SC6 possesses the athleticism of a seasoned decathlete.

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FEATURES
As an evolution of the popular Ultima SC-R truck, the SC6 builds upon the suspension design geometry Kyosho implemented with the RB6 buggy platform. And like any Kyosho racing product designed and produced in Japan, the SC6 carries with it a premium price tag. Long gullwing arms, premium suspension mounts, an X-Gear tungsten carbide differential, CVA driveshafts and an upgraded CNC aluminum steering system are inside the box. Kyosho’s infamous velvet-coated, threaded body shocks are included, as are X-Gear shock springs–a premium-price upgrade that racers of other brand platforms love to complain about yet purchase by the truckload to improve their vehicle’s handling. How ironic.

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Kyosho designed the SC6 to appeal to racers who may race indoor or outdoor on high grip and low grip tracks, thus its convertible rear-motor/mid-motor configuration. Parts for both complete configurations are included in the box, as is a long hard-anodized 7075 aluminum chassis with more battery mounting positions (see below–more holes than a block of swiss cheese) than virtually any other vehicle in the class. If you own a 2S lipo pack, chances are it will fit the SC6, since everything from a standard stick pack to side-by-side saddle packs to shorty packs will work.

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THE BUILD
I assembled my test truck in rear-motor configuration so that I could race it at both indoor and outdoor tracks without being at a significant advantage on either surface. For indoor racing at tracks like our local SCVRC clay track, racers opt for the mid-motor configuration, while outdoor tracks seem to benefit the rear-motor layout.

The build went smoothly, with Kyosho’s premium parts assembling almost perfectly as a typical Kyosho kit tends to do. You won’t find a lavishly colored instruction manual with the SC6 – hell, you won’t even find written instruction inside the black and white manual – but the typical Kyosho buyer won’t care. Spur gears are included for both stock and mod setups, and while I tested initially with a Peak 8.5 mod brushless motor, I switched over to 17.5 so that I could participate in our local area’s overwhelmingly popular 17.5 spec class.

Even at $479, the SC6 doesn’t include wheels, tires, inserts or even a body, so you’ll need to supply those yourself. I painted a Pro-Line Flow Tek SC body for my SC6, and depending upon the track, raced with AKA Grid Iron SC tires or Pro-Line Holeshot SC 2.0 tires. I also installed a Tekin RS Gen2 speed controller, a Futaba 4PKS-R radio, and tested with both short and long 2S lipos from Peak and ProTek RC.

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TESTING
Suffice it to say that this review is embarrassingly late long over-due, but the many delays I encountered allowed me to run quite a few miles under the SC6’s tires since last fall.  The extra testing time allowed me to race the truck outdoors, indoors and back outdoors again. Switching setups didn’t require massive tuning changes, which is a testament to the SC6’s neutral but fast chassis engineering. Without boring you to tears with tired media cliches about how the truck corners on rails and accelerates like a rocket, I will offer a comparison of the SC6’s handling to the other competitive SC trucks in the class. Several current SC trucks I’ve tested and raced seem to always feel like they’re searching for traction, even when they’re really dialed in, as though they ride on the very top layer of the track and on the very tips of the tire tread. It’s as though these trucks are a moment away from becoming unbalanced, as though they were running precariously on their tippy toes. The SC6 by comparison feels like it’s driving on the full width of the tire tread, as though it’s pushed into the racing surface. Many fast locals who race the SC6 have made similar comments to me about the truck’s stability and handling. Stability like the SC6’s increases driving confidence during fast laps, and especially in rowdy traffic, where a slight tap could break traction and send the truck skidding. The SC6 feels planted, sure-footed and athletic in ways that build confidence lap after lap. This is a truck that dares you to drive faster, without punishing you or creating an uncomfortable pucker factor during those “hair on fire” qualifying moments.

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That’s not to say the SC6 has an unfair advantage or is flawless. I managed to shear off a rear hub during testing at SCVRC in Santa Clarita when the truck landed awkwardly on the rear right wheel. And rear suspension arm was split in half when the SC6 received a rude full-blast punt from an out of control 4×4 SC truck during practice, but those were the only casualties during testing. I raced the truck dozens of times during my extended testing, and the truck’s axle and gearbox bearings remained smooth. You’ll pay more for the SC6 than other SC kits, but to be fair you also won’t have to buy X-Gear Kyosho shock springs or shock sets to make your truck run properly, either, because they’re already in the box. It’s a premium truck with a premium cost. That’s just how the world works, y’all.

WRAP UP
If you’re determined to race an SC truck, it’s tough to find fault with the Ultima SC6. It’s an engineered performer from the ground up, from a company that has made racing vehicles longer than almost all of us have been alive. Short course racing may be a bit silly to the RC racing elitists, not unlike racing a riding mower must seem to an F1 fan, but in the world of the absurd, the SC6 is the truck to beat.

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CONTACT

Kyosho Americahttp://www.kyoshoamerica.com
AKA Racing Tireshttp://www.raceaka.com
Pro-Line Racinghttp://www.prolineracing.com
Protek RChttp://www.protekrc.com
Futabahttp://www.futaba-rc.com/systems/futk4903-4pksr/