The Traxxas Jato 3.3 – Bonafide Street Racer, but Bozo on the Track?

Posted: February 5, 2011 in General RC
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The one interesting thing about the Traxxas Jato 3.3 is that it just isn’t a popular race truck. That is rather surprising… given that the Traxxas Rustler 2.5 and the older Traxxas Nitro Sport were both fairly popular. Yet, while we did have a fair amount of racers backing the Jato 2.5, the 3.3’s predecessor, the 3.3 didn’t gain much of a serious folks’ following much unlike the Revo 3.3 which is basking the glory of in a certain RC “fun segment”.

Traxxas Jato 3.3

Traxxas Jato 3.3

Traxxas Jato 3.3

Traxxas Jato 3.3. If you want to do anything more than speeding in a straight line, change your tyres, like what's been done in the pictured Jato.

Just looking at the stock Jato 3.3.. I don’t quite know what to make of it. It hasn’t got the ribbed front types and knobby rear tyres like most stadium trucks, or even the Jato 2.5, but instead it comes fitted with what Traxxas calls “Asphalt-hugging Anaconda™ performance tires”. The Traxxas people didn’t make it for the (offroad) tracks. Pull a stock Jato 3.3 out of the box and onto your usual off-road RC track and I bet you you’ll be pulling even slower lap timings than a Duratrax Evader EXB – because you’d be driving it so slow just to keep it from wheelie-ing, fish-tailing and running in circles. If you look at the current Traxxas catalogue, you might also realise the very good reasons as to why the Rustler has been upgraded to a 2.4Ghz radio system, but still the same TRX 2.5 Engine: 1) There’s no reason to having two of (almost) the same thing. 2) The TRX 2.5 is still better for racing.

Traxxas Jato 2.5

Traxxas Jato 2.5

A little research on the keywords “Jato Racing” in Google revealed several discussion threads pertaining to racing the Jato – concluding that to maintain a decent amount of control on a Jato on an offroad RC track, you must either richen the fuel setting, or downsize the engine. As it’s been said many times before, when it comes to off-road racing on a track you have to “Go slow to go fast”.

However, this article isn’t written in total condemnation of the Jato 3.3. If what you’re really into is straightaway runs and high speed passes, the Jato 3.3 is your ideal choice. Some even went as far as to add on an RB Innovations Supercharger, which includes a forced-induction carburetor attachment, plus a Nitrous Oxide (NO2) unit. After all, “Brutally Fast” is the main marketing line Traxxas used for the Jato, and indeed the TRX 3.3 engine “belts out more muscle than most tracks can even hold”, hence Traxxas fit the car with street-racing tires and a wheelie bar from the start – so you can spend more time zipping and less time back-flipping.

Traxxas Jato with RB Innovations Supercharger + NO2

Traxxas Jato with RB Innovations Supercharger + NO2. But seriously? I'm no fan of super-charging. Sure sounds cool like, "hey yo ma' bros, imma supercharge my Jato mofos! Badass! Badass!", but that's still no more power and no less lighter, costlier or more durable than swapping the stock TRX 3.3 for an oversized, more powerful engine.

If you already own a Jato 3.3 and wish to make it go even, some modifications for the Jato include a larger engine block. The .18 engines by OS.Engines and Picco apparently produce even more power than the TRX 3.3. AB Mods did a Dyno test on the TRX 3.3 and found it only to be good for 0.98hp. Rather paltry… but considering the light 2.34kg weight, it’s still good for a power to weight ratio of 418hp : 1 tonne and a fast acceleration of 0-60 in 4.2 seconds.

Further thoughts: 0.98hp wasn’t the official figure from Traxxas, but from a few third party dyno-testers. The Hpi Nitrostar K4.6 engine was rated 2.9hp by HPI, yet only 1.32 by dyno-testers. I wonder if the dynos are all faulty or are the manufacturers dishonest. Still, 418hp to the ton is comparable to Ferraris and Lamborghinis out there, and by such accounts, the 4.2 second century sprint makes sense.

Traxxas TRX 3.3 Stock Dyno Reading

Traxxas TRX 3.3 Stock Dyno Reading

Also, Traxxas boasted of a car that’s capable with withstanding crashes at upwards of 55mph.. To be honest, I never expected any car out there to escape unscathed so I found Traxxas’ claim rather brazenly bold. Here’s a video I found…

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