Rungu vs. Hell’s Revenge

Hell’s Revenge – Moab’s signature off-road trail

We took Rungu Electric Juggernaut MDV – Rubicon Trail Edition on Moab’s infamous Hell’s Revenge 4×4 trail, and it was a blast!  Utah.com’s subtitle for Hell’s Revenge is “Requires adult diapers.”  It’s not a trail for the acrophobic and the trail has many technical challenges.  The trail had at least one descent that made us pause and question our sanity.  Still, the two of us managed to “Rungu” the 6.5 miles in less than two hours with a half dozen stops for video and one first-aid time-out (finger cut). Given the opportunity, we’d happily ride the trail again.

Rungu covered the ground much like its UTV and Jeep relatives – trust the vehicle and it will get you through.   The trail has a combination of “slickrock” (funny name as it’s the opposite of “slick” – think sand-paper grip), dirt, sand, and embedded rocks. Clambering up and over the slickrock and rock-embedded trails was exciting.  Rungu front-end stability made a difference when riding at rock-crawling speeds in the steep sections and in the uneven stair-step sections of the trail.  The one slickrock ascent we measured had an average grade of 46%, though there were other, shorter sections that seemed much steeper.  Going into these technical sections often looked beyond the capability of Rungu, but Rungu prevailed 100% of the time.

Riding steep inclines requires technique

There are a few rules to riding Rungu up steep inclines (at Hell’s Revenge in particular): Get into first gear before you start, power level 5 and don’t stop ‘till you get to the top.

Stopping mid-incline makes very difficult to start again.  In the very steep sections, the 1,200+ W output isn’t enough to start or maintain progress without pedaling.  Pedaling from a stop at an ascent angle greater than 20 degrees (36% grade) requires a lot of foot force that unbalances you and Rungu and can push you off the trail, often towards a very steep, long, and potentially life-threatening drop.

Changing gears on a steep section risks breaking the chain and bending the cassette sprockets – ending your forward progress.  Rungu Electric Juggernaut MDV products use an electronic clutch (gearsensor.com) to momentarily unload the chain when changing gears and avoid a chain break. But on a steep incline, the clutch isn’t enough.  All the force on the chain during a slow gear change focuses on the first link to engage the next sprocket.  Your pedal force and the maximum output of the mid-drive motor can break that first link.  Best strategy: get in the lowest gear early, aim and ride.  Rungu made it up all the trail’s steepest sections, though the sections rarely looked doable.

We’ve produced three videos of the experience.  The first two videos show the complete ride from different perspectives.  They’re useful visualizations if you plan to complete Hell’s Revenge trail – whether you ride Rungu or not.  The third video shows excerpts from the other videos and is only two and a half minutes long.  Please check them out and sign up to our YouTube channel.

You can try it for yourself!

If you want a challenge and Rungu Hell’s Revenge, we recommend:

  1. Be in shape and know your limits. Even with full power on the steepest sections you’ll need hard pedaling unless you decide to walk up the section.  Walking up steep sections is precarious. On the rocky sections, plan to be out of the saddle for better control (much like with a dirt bike or ATV)
  2. Rent Rungu from Ultimate Utv Adventures. They have two MDVHC-XR versions available for rental.
  3. Do it on a dry day. Slickrock is slick and dangerous when it’s wet.
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