Element RC Enduro SE Sendero Trail Truck

Element RC Enduro SE Sendero Trail Truck

It’s Enduro SE!

I’ve been calling it the Sendero SE, but it wasn’t until I went to write this article that I realised the truck is called the Enduro SE Sendero. Well, that makes sense, as the Enduro platform is the common layout you’ll find under all of Element RC’s current line of epic rock crawlers and trail trucks, current and retired: the Sendro HD, Gatekeeper, Ecto, Knightrunner, Bushido and now, the Enduro SE. (We’ve looked at ALL of these on the channel).

Available from AsiaTees or Amazon, this rig has been an interesting combination of budget and performance oriented decisions by Team Associated. This more budget-oriented release first hit the shelves in November 2022. Being in Australia, I tend to get new releases up to 6 months after that, and in this case, it was even longer. But it’s finally here and we’ve already had it on the rocks, so I am in a good position now to show you through this one. Let’s dig into what makes the Enduro SE (Sport Edition) a little different from all the other Enduro rigs before it!

Enduro SE Unboxed

Same, But a Little Bit Different

The Element RC Enduro SE Sendero is a trail truck that draws inspiration from the truck styling of the 80s and 90s. This isn’t new to this class of RC vehicle, but there’s a trick to this model. You might expect the closest comparison to be to the Sendero HD, given the name is common to both. (You can find our review of the Sendro HD here, and our video series here).

However, the reality is something quite unexpected. As you’ll see in the video at the end of this article, I found the Enduro SE to be most closely similar to the Axial SCX10 II Deadbolt! We’ll have to do a video comparison on those two rigs as they’re similar in price, setup and performance. That’ll be interesting!

Enduro SE Complete Underside

Enduro SE Sendero Body

Unlike the Sendero HD before it, the Enduro SE Sendero boasts a one-piece polycarbonate body. The tube frame and tray are replaced with a drop bed and bumper, which is both durable and aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, underneath both ends of the body you’ll find adjustable bumper mounts with integrated winch line routing for the front.

Much firmer than the bumper on the Sendero HD, the Enduro SE features high-clearance front and rear bumpers that are still flexible, though clearly tough. The same, adjustable-width rock sliders finish out the sides, including slots for the polycarbone body sills to locate snugly. As with the Sendero HD, it looks like there’s room to lower the body a little, and to bring the bumpers in a bit. Both these things will marginally help the car on rock obstacles.

Transmission

New to this Enduro family member is the StealthXF gearbox. It’s a front-facing motor design but still centrally mounted on the skid plate. In a break from other Enduro rigs (all of which have run the StealthX transmission, to date), the Enduro SE gets no overdrive out of the box.

Further, whilst all other Enduro RTRs that I’ve looked at in recent years have come with 5.7% overdrive built-in AND an extra 11.83% overdrive gear set you can install yourself, the Enduro SE comes with no additional gears. If you want overdrive in this one, you’ll have to raid your parts box from other Enduro cars if you’re lucky enough to have another already, or else you’ll need to buy the gears separately.

Enduro SE Motor and Gearbox

Drive Train Upgrades

In my opinion: if you do decide to shell out for overdrive gears, go for the 11.83% set – the car is lightweight and not fast, so you won’t feel the shortcomings of having overdrive on the trails, and then when you’re crawling, you’ll really appreciate that more positive steering influence.

Pinion and spur are 48-pitch and the system works well. It’ll tolerate brushless power if you don’t go overboard. The HobbyWing Fusion SE 1800kv would be my pick for this rig, while the higher-power Hobbywing Fusion Pro 2300kv will also give the Enduro SE some hustle on the trails!

Enduro SE Chassis Top-Down

Links & Suspension

The Enduro SE Sendero is designed with heavy-duty 5mm diameter steel steering links and aluminum steering plates. It also features optimized ball cups and links that allow for more fluid axle articulation. The suspension system includes threaded shock bodies, mini springs, and a 90mm shock length. The adjustable rear shock mount positions provide flexibility for tuning both the wheelbase and shock angles.

The links are the same spaghetti-type, bendy plastic as found under the Axial Deadbolt. As you’ll see me demonstrate in the video below (it’ll post a few days after this article is published), the links allow considerable amount of lateral movement if you force the axles forward or back. This, combined with the bushings (see next section) really speaks to the more budget nature of this rig. Thankfully, I think these are the two most glaring ‘shortfalls’ of this rig – though not every situation will mean soft links and bushings are a bad thing. The truck is certainly light weight, which contributes greatly to its ability on the rocks! More on that in the video below.

Enduro SE Axles

The truck comes with updated axles, including universal front drive axles and a one-piece rear axle design. The front axle is splined and offers adjustable caster. The gearing system of the Enduro SE Sendero is robust, featuring metal ring and pinion gears, a machined steel top shaft, and a steel servo horn. I’m not too hot on the faux plastic disc brakes and calipers but it’s a tidy setup overall.

They’re straight axles, no portals here! The steering config is servo on axle, which is less scale but generally better performing than CMS (Chassis Mounted Servo) config. It’s a solid setup, I like it.

Bushings, Not Bearings

Be aware that the Enduro SE Sendero ships with 24 bushings rather than the ball bearings we’re used to seeing on the Enduro platform. Before you lose your mind on this point, remember this is a slow vehicle and one that’s likely to encounter mud and water.

The benefit of ball bearings over bushings is lowering resistance, giving you that sliver of extra speed on the racetrack or drag strip. In a crawler, your motor will draw marginally (and I mean marginally) more power to overcome the added resistance from bushings, but I double-dog-dare you to notice the difference. Bushings are low maintenance, too – they can get muddy and wet, even salty, and they won’t rust out and seize, so that’s your silver lining!

Enduro SE Pinseeker Sidewall

Wheels & Tires

The wheels of the Enduro SE Sendero have a 12.8″ wheelbase and are equipped with 12mm wheel hexes. The wheels are plastic and a beadlock design. Shiny black and attractive, these 1.9” units are well-suited to the rig.

The tires are new, and very, very Element. They’re narrow, just like those found on the Deadbolt, incidentally, and they have a repeating Element RC logo all around the center of the treads. They’re a 4.7” size, come with internal foams and the rubber compound is pleasingly soft. Under load on the rocks, the side walls are soft enough to deform, but firm enough to help the rig maintain traction and direction. They’re cheap, on a cheaper rig, but I like ‘em so far!

Enduro SE Pinseeker Tire Tread

Electronics

The Enduro SE Sendero is powered by a Reedy 16-turn, 5-slow motor, same as the rest of the Enduro family. The motor is mounted to an aluminum plate, as the backbone of the transmission. As with all the others, it is powered by the same Reedy ESC, too. The electronics are completely adequate for this machine, though they have their limits. Great low-speed control is to be expected from this combo, though it’s low on power, even if you gear it up. It should last a good long time though and it’s a great match to the StealthXF transmission, though there is obvious strain if you run on 3S (12V) power in a heavy crawling scenario – motor and ESC can get properly hot.

The receiver is housed in an enclosed box, while the ESC tray ensures clean wiring. The truck also comes with an additional (wider) battery box. The servo is the same Reedy 1523MG waterproof, metal gear unit found in all the other current Enduro vehicles too. As with the power system, this is quite adequate for this vehicle and should endure even heavy crawling sessions.

Enduro SE Radio

In a departure from the XP130 system that has shipped with all previous Enduro models, Element RC has chosen instead to go with FlySky. The truck comes with a 4-channel FlySky FS-G4P radio system, though it only uses two of the channels. The two unused channels are a three-position switch and a momentary-press button. Nice!

I like FlySky and have many of their radios. Maybe 20 – and that’s just the trasmitters. I’m well familiar with how their AFHDS protocols run (and there are 3 versions of this, plus ANT, in the FlySky range) and all their systems are solid. I have several of this particular radio, which uses the ANT protocol (hackers rejoice). It’s solid, fast enough and comes with numerous adjustments as you’d expect from any modern 2.4G radio. It’s a good pairing with the truck. It takes 4x AA batteries and is comfy in the hand, plastic wheel notwithstanding.

In The Box

There are two versions of the Enduro SE Sendero, but both have the same vehicle and radio. The standard version gives you the truck, radio, body mounts, shock pieces for full coil-overs if you change to that, a spare body cross member and a wider battery tray. There’s a manual, sticker sheet, SCX480X ESC manual and FlySky radio system manual. Lastly, some basic allen keys are included, to fit the rig. The other version is the LiPo Combo, which includes a compact balance charge and LiPo battery.

Both versions give you the now-standard Element RC box which doubles as a parking garage if you reverse the box – and its different for every model from the Enduro range. A bit of fun!

So, How’s It Drive?

The big question! This is best covered in our video review, which incorporates a rock test and copious opinions on the vehicle. It will be posted within a few days of this article being published. Catch you there!

Enduro SE in Late Winter
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Our Test Course

If you’re not familiar with how we test RC rock crawlers, we have a course that challenges any 4x4 RC crawler in many ways:

  • Approach and departure angle: these  are challenged on Problems 2 and 3;
  • Side-hill ability: tested on Problems 1, 3 and 5;
  • Breakover (skid clearance): tested on Problems 4 and 6;
  •  Suspension articulation and centre of gravity: challenged on problems 2 and 5; and lastly,
  • A punishing ascent on problem 6 tests all of balance, break-over, articulation, tire traction and approach and departure angles.

Put together, we have a gnarly, challenging set of problems that challenge all crawlers. If a rig can conquer 3 or more of them, chances are you have a reasonably high-performance rock crawler. There are some machines that can claim all success on all six in stock form – but not many!

As you've seen in the video above, our Remo Hobby 10275 only managed to finish Problem 1. Still, one is better than none, right?

Get One!

Check the manufacturer page for specific details if you’re after more: https://www.associatedelectrics.com/element/cars_and_trucks/Enduro/SE_Sendero/

Buy an Element RC Enduro SE Sendero Trail Truck RTR from AsiaTees or Amazon. These are affiliate links that help support RC-TNT at no extra cost to you. Thank you for using them, if you do so!

Enduro SE Rock Crawl Stance
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

A note on affiliate links: we were provided with this car by the manufacturer for review purposes. The Amazon and AsiaTees links in the above article are affiliate links, which means we may be paid a small commission if you choose to click on them to make a purchase. As always, we make effort to ensure that no review is impacted by this – we still report on bugs and issues encountered during product testing, and our fixes or solutions if found. Thank you for reading and happy RC-ing!

Losi Promoto-MX: the Ultimate RC Motocross Experience

Losi Promoto-MX: the Ultimate RC Motocross Experience

New on Two Wheels

The world of RC vehicles is vast and varied, with models designed to replicate every type of real-world vehicle, from cars and trucks to planes and boats. But there’s one type of vehicle that’s been largely overlooked in the RC world until now: the motocross bike. Enter the Losi Promoto-MX, a groundbreaking RC motocross model that’s set to create a new niche in off-road RC.

Horizon Hobby launched this bike under the Losi brand at the start of July 2023. It caused quite a stir, as while bikes have been around for some years now, durability or performance or realism or size have all been challenges to the existing models from other manufacturers. To see one that is apparently stable off-road, with a realistic and bendy rider, whilst looking great and pulling stunts – well, that’s something new! Then consider the size of the thing and you have a compelling new toy to seriously consider!

Losi Promoto-MX Green Stand

Unprecedented Realism

The Losi Promoto-MX isn’t just another RC motorcycle. There are some good models around already, though they’re mainly on-road. The Losi is something different. It’s a meticulously designed, ultra-realistic 1/4 scale motocross bike that captures the thrill of riding a full-size bike with unprecedented accuracy – even if the rider’s rear doesn’t ever leave the saddle!

It’s clear the Losi team has gone above and beyond to reproduce true dirt bike performance. The realism of the Promoto-MX runs deeper than its faithfully detailed looks, too. Consider the narrow frame, the rider with authentic riding gear, and the officially licensed graphics. More important is the accurate performance, accomplished through a unique hybrid of mechanical and electronic technology that appears to let you run an RC bike like never before. More on that below; it is really quite impressive and it’s exciting to share if you’re new to this model!

Losi Promoto-MX Options

Cutting-Edge Technology

Losi teamed up with the engineers at Spektrum RC to reinvent stabilization technologies for a surface vehicle that requires balance to work. The Spektrum MS6X continuously calculates the bike’s positioning relative to gravity, taking into account the inputs from the transmitter. There’s a 2700kv motor driving a 22,000rpm gyroscopic wheel as part of this system. The MS6X feeds outputs to gyro, throttle and steering that give realistic and predictable handling to the ‘driver’ at the radio. The more I think about what they’ve done here, the more impressed I am – this thing is a marvel of modern technology.

But then, it gets better: stopping distance was cut in half by complimenting the traditional rear-wheel braking (ESC+motor) with a cable-driven front disc & caliper system. Just as on a real bike, stopping with both wheels is far superior to just the rear wheel, and marginally better than just using the front. (Of course, you can get lost in the techincal side of motorcycle handling and which brake to use when, but in an RC model, we don’t have to get so sidetracked!) This new technology works behind the scenes to give the Promoto-MX performance superior to any previous RC motorcycle.

Durability and Protection

Knowing the Promoto-MX would exceed eight pounds, the Losi team over-engineered critical areas to give the bike the extra support needed to withstand hard-hitting dirt bike action. The innovative front crash structure is rigid during normal running, but absorbs front impacts by compressing until the front tire bottoms into the chassis frame. That protects the front fork tubes from bending, keeping them safe and true. Included skid plates guard critical components from rocks and debris, and a twin aluminum plate chassis shields all of the bike’s electronics.

Losi Promoto-MX Disc Brake

Suspension Like No Other

No other RC product on the market has a suspension package like the Promoto-MX. Losi studied the suspension geometry and technology of full-size motorcycles to give it the same handling characteristics. The front suspension takes a unique approach to RC shocks with a front fork and internal dampener and spring. It’s adjustable, rebuildable, and looks like the real deal. The Promoto-MX also has a rising rate rear suspension, just like a real motorcycle. It starts soft around ride height but stiffens as the shock goes deeper into its travel, keeping the bike from bottoming out on flat landings.

Losi Promoto-MX Red Air

Losi Promoto-MX Powertrain

The heart of the Promoto-MX powertrain is a robust Spektrum Smart Brushless System, featuring a 3800Kv 4-pole brushless motor and 85A Smart ESC. This is a sensored system that will get you moving out of the gate hot, with enough torque to clear large triples and hit 40+ mph top speeds on a 2S LiPo battery. The durable drivetrain is true to scale, with chain drive that lets your rear tire rip whenever you’re ready to send it!

Losi Promoto-MX Green Tank

Realism in a Motorcycle

The Losi Promoto-MX RC motorcycle sets itself apart from every other remote control motorcycle and dirt bike with its scale details, authentic control, and realistic powertrain with disc brakes and chain drive. The gyroscopic force of the flywheel partnered with the new MS6X stabilizing technology from Spektrum deliver the stability of anything on two wheels, all in a 1:4 scale RC dirt bike package.

Something that maybe wasn’t practical to produce at scale until recent years, the Promoto-MX features a firm but flexible model human rider. The head jiggles over the bumps, there’s a bum on the saddle and the protective gear matches the smart livery of the bike, in all three colorful designs. The only thing you’ll miss seeing is the rider standing on the pegs when the going gets rough or the air gets big. Perhaps that’s one area modders can work on as this niche becomes more established. Today more than ever before, the potential for such a mod is there. We have the technology! …Probably!

Losi Promoto-MX Red Bike Stand

Mastering RC Motocross

Maneuvering a motorcross bike around obstacles, carving precise turns on the dirt or popping wheelies over berms are challenging enough on a real bike. When you consider that many RC cars are basically just suspension, steering and motor in a chassis, and then what is involved when you cut the number of wheels in half, making a stable and drivable model seems like a tall order. We know that keeping balance is easy enough for a bike, as long as that rear wheel is spinning. But what about stability in turns and in the air? The Losi Promoto-MX RC motorcycle has the stability you need to perform those stunts and tackle the tight turns thanks to an onboard gyro – but it doesn’t do everything, and has been designed in a way to be complimentary to the drive whilst still leaving enough challenge on the table for it to stay interesting! Working to improve your control and adding new skills to your repertoire should keep you coming back to the bike for more!

Losi Promoto-MX Top-down

Losi Promoto MX Specs

Dimensions

  • Model Scale: 1/4
  • Ground Clearance: 2.9 in (73mm)
  • Product Length: 20.2″ (513 mm)
  • Product Width: 10.8″ (274 mm)
  • Product Height: 17.3″ (439 mm)
  • Product Weight: 123.5oz (3500g)

 

Power

  • Battery: Sold Separately (or in bundle)
  • Connector Type: IC5

 

Motor & Gears

  • Drivetrain: 1WD
  • Motor Size: 540
  • Motor Type: 3800kv ‘Smart Brushless’ System
  • Final Drive Ratio: 12.0:1
  • Internal Gear Ratio: 4.8:1
  • Spur Gear: 50T
  • Pinion: 20T
  • Ball Bearings: Full Ball Bearings
  • Gear Pitch: 32P

 

Wheels & Suspension

  • Suspension: Front Fork, Rising Rate Rear Suspension
  • Shock Type: 16mm Big Bore Aluminum Shock
  • Wheel Width: Front – 1.1 in (28mm), Rear – 1.4 in (36.3mm)
  • Tire Compound: 65S
  • Front Brakes: Cable-Driven Piston/Caliper/Rotor
  • Rear Brakes: Motor Braking
  • Tire Tread: Dunlop Geomax MX53

 

Chassis & Tech

  • Chassis: 3mm Aluminum Plate
  • Body: Color Molded Panels with Wrap Graphics
  • Speed Control: Included
  • Charger: Sold Separately
  • Receiver: Included
  • Radio: Included
  • Technology: AVC and SMART, MS6X
  • Power Type: Electric
  • Servos: Included
Losi Promoto-MX Red Rider

Coming Soon!

The Losi Promoto-MX will be a game-changer in the world of off-road RC. It seems like one of those products that creates its own niche of vehicle upon release, in the same way the Axial SCX6 did, or the Traxxas TRX6, for example. Its unique design, innovative features, and high-performance capabilities make it a must-have for any RC enthusiast. I understand this model will be broadly available for sale at the end of August 2023. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, the Promoto-MX is sure to provide hours of thrilling off-road racing action. Snap one up when they’re out – I know I will!

 

Buy here: https://www.horizonhobby.com/losi-promoto-mx-rc-motorcycle/

Photo credit: HorizonHobby.com

Losi Promoto-MX Red & Helmet
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Redcat Gen9 Scale Trail Truck

Redcat Gen9 Scale Trail Truck

​A Detailed Look at Redcat’s Latest

The Redcat Gen9 is the long-anticipated successor to the Gen8 V2. We had to wait a while in Australia to get it, but now it’s finally here! This new model is more than just a Gen8 V2 with a different body. It’s a whole new beast, sporting a new Scout model body and a host of updated features underneath. Let’s dive in and see what makes the Gen9 a worthy addition to the Redcat Racing lineup.

My favourite global hobby store, AsiaTees, sells both the blue and gray variant of this lovely new rig. And on Amazon, TREAL already has a bunch of shiny new goodies for it.

Redcat Gen9

What’s New with the Gen9?

The first thing you’ll notice about the Gen9 is its new body, modelled after the International Scout 800A. This model is slightly smaller than the Scout II, which allowed Redcat to tweak the front and rear bumper setups and enhance the already impressive approach angle performance of the Gen8. But the new body is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Gen9 also boasts a two-speed transmission, V3 portal axles, new tires (that look suspiciously close to the tread on the Marksman we reviewed last year), beadlock wheels, and an entirely new body mounting system, not seen on any other rigs to date. There’s an interior now, too – a big jump over the previous models in the series. If you’re a fan of the Gen8, you’ll find many familiar parts in the Gen9. Even as a Gen8 V2 owner myself, there are plenty of new features or updates to make the Gen9 a worthwhile investment.

New Gen9 Transmission

A Closer Look at the Gen9 Body

Redcat has upped the ante with the design and construction of the Gen9 body, thanks to their experience with their R/C lowrider lineup. The Gen9 International Scout 800A body is a multi-part piece that offers a detailed interior and exterior with ample room for customization. The open-cage design provides an excellent view of the interior, which includes a steering wheel, shift levers, door handles, and pedals. The only other trail rig that offers this level of scale detail is the SCX10 III Early Ford Bronco and some of the Cross RC models, such as the EMO XT4 (which we have here but it’s unbuilt – must get around to that one!).

The exterior of the Gen9 also features scale details, but they may not be as durable as you’d like. Side mirrors and door handles add visual interest to the body, but they may not withstand rough handling. Our unit has arrived intact, but I’ve read of numerous others who’ve received broken mirrors or door handles out of the box. Thankfully, Redcat includes a few extra parts in case you need them. I’d suggest keeping the mirrors aside until you get your rougher trail driving done! (Or look at hinged or rubber alternatives, like this handy 5-pack).

Redcat Gen9 Hinged Body

Lights and Colors

There are light buckets for 2x white LEDs on each side up front, and 1x red and 1x white reverse LED on each side of the rear. The side signals at front and rear of the body are stickers only. But, there are also two light buckets behind the dash! I’ve just gotta work out how to open it all up – it isn’t obvious and the manual gives no clues. I’ll cover this in a future video and/or article here on rc-tnt.com.

The Gen9 body comes in two color options: Metallic Blue and Graphite. Both are eye-catching, and Redcat includes two decal sheets so you can personalize your rig right out of the box. There aren’t instructions included but the box art gives you some idea of how you might go about it. You could also image-search the web for ‘IH Scout II’ for some inspiration. The body mounting system has also been redesigned, making it easier to access the internals of the rig. Two swivel latches secure the front of the body, and releasing them allows the body to be tipped toward the rear and removed from the chassis. Some have noted the front swivel pins can get loose with driving, but ours have been firm so far!

Redcat Gen9 Installing Lights

Under the Hood: The Gen9 Chassis

At first glance, the Gen9 and Gen8 chasses may look similar. Both feature a traditional H-ladder setup with full fenders and sideboards. The motor and transmission are in about the same spot. But a closer look reveals a small shift servo for the two-speed transmission and rock light ports on top of every inner fender. The portal axles have also been adjusted to improve durability, tracking, and steering performance. There’s a new servo, too! More on that in a moment.

These updates may not be visually striking, but they significantly impact the Gen9’s driving experience. The truck’s weight is certainly hefty for a ready-to-run (RTR) model. It’s heavy, at about 4kg, but the weight distribution is reasonably low and centered. The car is a little roll-over happy, but it’s not a chronic issue. That is, until you start making turns in 2nd gear! That’s another story.

The most significant performance change between the Gen9 and its predecessor is the two-speed transmission. The first gear is similar to the standard gearing of the Gen8, which is great for crawling but leaves something to be desired for trail use. This is a big point for the Gen9 over the Gen8, as second gear offers a fun, faster than walking speed experience. This feature is great for trail enthusiasts or those who want to let loose occasionally. Just don’t get carried away or you’ll be buying new side mirrors!

Redcat Gen9 Chassis

Redcat Gen9 Wheels and Tires

The Gen9’s tire choice is another departure from the Gen8. The Redcat team chose a 1.9″ version of the Interco Super Swamper SS M16, and I’ve just gone and looked – yep, it is the same tire found on their 1/8-scale TC8 Marksman, but in 1.9 instead of 2.2. This tire offers reasonable traction for both crawling and normal trail use. The wheels have also been updated with a faux outer beadlock ring for added scale. The actual bead locking is achieved from the rear of the wheels.

The tires of the Gen8 were fairly poor. We did a big tire test in 2021 that covered the Swampers from the Gen8 and they came up poorly overall. We do have an upcoming ‘biggest on YouTube’ tire test this year that’ll test more tires than ever before in one series and we’ll include this set in that test for reference. I’ll update this article with a link when it’s done.

Redcat Gen9 Tires

The Gen9’s Radio System

DumboRC has been making its way into many RTR configurations over 2022 and 2023. It’s good to see Redcat jump onto this as well. The Gen8 V2 came with the AFHDS protocol of the older FlySky system, which made it inconvenient for binding to newer radios. Now that DumboRC is commonplace, there’s a heap of flexibility out of box with this system.

You not only get the 5-ch receiver with the Gen9, but it’s the light-control variant as well, with an entirely separate, dedicated row of pins just for LEDs in the car. On the transmitter, only three channels are active in the default configuration. You can easily add a fourth and there’s even a Channel 5 dial under the cover of the radio. I’m unsure if this works yet, but when I get to testing it, I’ll update the article (yep, Ch5 is a dial-controlled channel with full functionality). The third channel controls the two-speed transmission servo via the left blue button on top of the unit. The two auxiliary channel buttons are easy to find and use, and they light up when activated, so you can easily tell what gear you’re in. Good!

Redcat Gen9 DumboRC

Redcat Gen9 Moving Parts

Portal axles grant clearance without hurting center of gravity too much and the metal diff plates are a nice touch. If construction and materials are at least as good as the Gen8 V2, then this drive train will be a solid and reliable performer.

There’s finally a better servo for steering than Redcat has done before – see the woeful unit on the Marksman, for example. They’ve been underwhelming for a few years now. To finally see a metal geared, metal cased, waterproof and 8.4v capable unit is awesome. It even gets to 42kg/cm of torque at 8.4v – what a turnaround from Redcat’s previous fare!

Drive shafts are plastic but tough. Axle components are also solid and the stainless steel links and ball ends are stainless steel. It’s a decent package all round, especially given the price. Even if this rig was $449, this would be a positive review of this vehicle. But the model is surprisingly good for its RRP of just $399 (and selling for less from some dealers).

Redcat Gen9 Undercarriage

Crawling and Trail Performance

The Gen9 shines when it hits the trail. The two-speed transmission is a standout feature, as the Gen8 was either fast and bad at crawling or slow but frustrating on the trail. The simple addition of the 2-speed is a winner. The first gear is perfect for smooth, low-speed crawling, while the second gear lets the rig move at impressive speeds. Despite its weight, this rig can really move.

When it comes to crawling performance, the Gen9 is excellent. After the Gen8 V2 was capable but not exceptional out of the box, the Gen9 has been a real surprise. I’d put it nearly on the level of the TRX4 Sport. The 1.9″ Interco SS M16 tires have an aggressive tread pattern and a high grip compound, allowing the rig to navigate obstacles with ease, even in challenging conditions. They’re not the all-rounders of the Traxxas Canyon Trails, but they’re a real improvement over the Gen8 V2’s tires. (See our Gen8 V2 review here). For more on performance testing, see our video (posted at the end of the article once it releases).

Redcat Gen9 Interior

Final Thoughts on the Gen9

The Redcat Gen9 is an impressive machine at an impressive price. For USD$399.99, you get a capable crawler and trail truck with features typically found in higher-priced models. It’s a great 1/10-scale rig for outdoor driving, whether in your yard or on the trail. With plenty of room for customization, the Gen9 offers solid performance and stunning visuals. That’s a win-win in our book.

For more information about the Redcat Gen9 International Scout 800A, see https://www.redcatracing.com/products/gen9. Get yours here.

Redcat Gen9 Top-Down
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

A note on affiliate links: the Amazon and AsiaTees links in the above article are affiliate links, which means we may be paid a small commission if you choose to click on them to make a purchase. As always, we make effort to ensure that no review is impacted by this – we still report on bugs and issues encountered during product testing, and our fixes or solutions if found. Thank you for reading and happy RC-ing!

Cross RC EMO X: Epic 8th Scale!

Cross RC EMO X: Epic 8th Scale!

Introduction

Cross RC EMO X is not the first model to have EMO in the name. In the past, we’ve examined the EMO AT4. (You can find the review here, along with a video). Until now, the EMO range has been a 1/10 scale family of crawlers. They’re known for their rugged capability and impressive features like remote locking differentials and two-speed transmissions above portal axles. However, the Cross RC EMO X breaks from this, hulking up to 1/8 scale. This is not your average RC crawler— it’s so much bigger!

EMO X Size Comparo

Overview

With a weight of 17lb (7.7kg) and dimensions 575 x 300 x 271mm, the EMO X commands attention wherever it goes. She’s a hefty beastie!

It comes in three striking colors: Bright Yellow, Metallic Blue, and Silver. Its design blends aggressive lines with the classic appearance of a rugged off-road truck. Note, there’s no licensed branding on this vehicle.

Equipped with features like a simulated driver, hidden body mounts and a full-size spare tire, the EMO X is thoughtfully designed. The shell is a mix of high-quality polycarbonate (or ‘Lexan’) and durable plastic pieces, ensuring exceptional ruggedness and longevity.

Cross RC EMO X Dimensions

Cross RC Swag!

Inside the Cross RC EMO X box, you’ll find an assortment of items. Alongside the impressive RC crawler itself, you’ll receive a set of quality Cross RC tools, a Cross RC baseball cap and Cross RC lanyard. None of this is necessary but it’s all awesome! There’s also a styrene ‘EMO-X’ piece still on its parts tree off-cut. Then, there’s all the usual inclusions you would expect. Notably, the manual provided is comprehensive and detailed, enabling you to disassemble and rebuild the vehicle with confidence. The sticker sheets are nice, too.

EMO X Swag

Radio

The EMO X is equipped with a 6-channel 2.4g transmitter and receiver, made by DumboRC. This one is special in that it delivers something I wish more manufacturers would do: every switch or button is clearly labelled! That’s super helpful. The other feature I love that DumboRC does is the buttons will light up when they’re engaged. No more guesswork on whether a diff is locked or what gear you’re in. I love it!

This handset series is known for providing reliable and responsive control. With its independent lock control, you have the ability to control the front and rear differentials separately or engage both simultaneously. You also have high and low gear and a light mode control button – more on that below. The trigger and wheel feel good in the hand and the handset takes 4x AA batteries. For an RTR radio, wow, this one sure is nice!

EMO X Radio

Body Details

The EMO X stands out with its impressive design and durable construction. It features a simulated racing driver, adding a touch of realism. The hidden mounts keep the body securely fastened during intense off-road driving. The full-size spare tire enhances its rugged appearance – the tire lugs are properly chunky!

A light control module is mounted underneath the shell and all wiring is routed neatly, helping keep things from catching where they shouldn’t. The body connects via a single Futaba-style radio plug that detaches easily when you remove the body, but otherwise stays connected.

There are detailed plastic trim pieces all around and even a metal front grille, next to trick, multi-feature headlights. Typical for Cross RC, this body is a smart and durable unit and it looks great.

Chassis

The EMO X incorporates a low center of gravity layout, enhancing stability and control. The strategic placement of the battery at the front between the shock towers allows for easy adjustment of the vehicle’s climbing characteristics. Use a smaller battery to improve CoG or slap a bigger brick in for longer running. Being over the front axles, the extra weight isn’t as bad as if it was over the rear.

The rig has a 375mm wheelbase, solid axle suspension system, stainless steel link rods, front panhard bar, rear 4 link and rear balance bar. It’s a rigid chassis with metal where its needed and flexible but strong plastic where weight-saving is more important. The bumpers blend well with the body and overall the rig has a durable feel. I hadn’t driven it at this part of the inspection and it was already looking like being one of my favorite crawlers.

Cross RC EMO X Chassis

Transmission & Drive Train

The EMO X boasts a robust transmission and drive train. Cross RC has a lot of history delivering reliable power delivery the EMO X will be no different:

Big Motor & Tough Parts

The 4X4 drive system of the EMO X is equipped with a 25-Turn 560-size brushed motor. It’s mated to a 2-speed transmission, featuring metal gears throughout. This combination offers excellent torque at a slightly reduced acceleration potential (longer motor means more mass – a good choice for this rig). The CVD drive shafts and metal u-joints, sealed bearings and friendly gearing ratios contribute to the overall durability and reliability of the power delivery system.

Lockable Portal Axles

One notable feature of the EMO X is its lockable portal axles. These axles have durable, nylon housings and metal internal gears. Portals give you increased ground clearance and improved torque delivery, eliminating torque twist. The lockable differential feature ensures maximum traction and improved maneuverability in demanding terrains. Plus, you know, it’s fun! With the ability to remotely lock and unlock the differentials, you have greater control over the power distribution to the wheels. It’s not for everyone, but I’ve always been a fan.

Transmission & Slipper

The transmission and drive train components of the EMO X have been designed for durability and performance. Finger-friendly, adjustable slipper clutch, strengthened 60t spur gear, and 20t metal pinion gear comprise the main input. The final drive ratio, with options of 17.8 (high speed) and 38.9 (low speed), provides the flexibility to adapt to various terrains and driving conditions.

More Than Its Parts

The combination of the 2-speed transmission, lockable portal axles, and reliable drive train components ensures that the EMO X is ready to conquer any off-road challenge. Whether you’re crawling over rocks, navigating steep inclines, or powering through muddy trails, the EMO X’s transmission and drive train deliver the power and control you need for thrilling off-road adventures.

Lighting System

The EMO X is equipped with an impressive lighting system. It is conveniently controlled by a single channel, which can be operated through a button on the radio transmitter, clearly marked with a light symbol. You can cycle through the various lighting modes available on the vehicle with a single button press.

One of the notable features of the lighting system is the position lights. When you’re crawling or navigating challenging terrain, these lights blink to provide enhanced visibility. In addition to the standard position lights, the EMO X features an angel eye position light, which adds a unique touch to its overall appearance.

The lighting system is designed to illuminate in a specific sequence. Initially, you will have just the position lights activated, followed by low beam lights, and finally, the third position will engage the full power forward lights. The rear lighting setup is equally impressive. It completes the overall lighting package of the vehicle, ensuring that it stands out even from behind.

Cross RC EMO X Blue & Yellow

Links & Suspension

The EMO X features a well-designed suspension system that ensures optimal performance and durability during off-road driving. The rear suspension utilizes a standard 4-link setup with coil-over shocks, providing excellent articulation and control. However, what sets the EMO X apart is the unique addition of what Cross RC calls the ‘balance bar’.

What Linkage?

The ‘balance bar’ consists of a link connected to each end of the axle, which then connects to a center-mounted pivot arm on the chassis. This innovative design allows for a dynamic response when encountering uneven terrain. Believe it or not, this design is hundreds of years old! (See Watt’s Linkage on Wikipedia). When one side of the axle is raised, the center bar pivots, drawing the other side of the axle up slightly. Essentially, this system performs somewhat like a sway bar or anti-roll bar.

The rear balance bar offers several benefits to the EMO X’s overall performance. Firstly, it enhances stability by minimizing body roll and controlling the weight transfer during cornering or uneven surfaces. The pivoting action of the center bar effectively counteracts the forces exerted on the vehicle, resulting in improved handling and traction.

Another notable advantage of this system is its ruggedness and simplicity. Traditional sway bar systems can sometimes become stuck or damaged by mud or debris encountered during off-road driving. In contrast, the EMO X’s rear balance bar utilizes larger-sized materials and a straightforward mechanical design, making it considerably more robust. This ensures that the suspension system remains functional even in demanding off-road conditions, providing reliable performance without compromising durability.

Overall

The combination of the standard 4-link suspension setup, coil-over shocks, and the rear balance bar makes the EMO X a capable and reliable off-road crawler. The suspension system allows for excellent articulation and control, while the rear balance bar adds an extra layer of stability and control during challenging maneuvers. Whether you’re navigating rocky trails, crawling over obstacles, or tackling uneven terrain, the EMO X’s suspension system ensures a smooth and controlled ride.

Servos

The EMO X is equipped with high-quality servos that not only deliver precise and accurate control but also offer convenient operation. One of the standout features of the EMO X’s servos is their differential lock control, which requires no trimming or end point adjustment. These servos are designed to “just work” at 100% EPA (End Point Adjustment) due to their mechanically adjustable design.

Unlike some other RC crawlers that may require manual adjustments and fine-tuning to achieve optimal performance, the EMO X simplifies the process. With the differential lock servos set at 100% stroke, you can rest assured that they will operate flawlessly without the need for additional adjustments. This ensures optimal performance without the risk of burning out the servos or compromising their functionality.

The innovative self-lubricating steel wire assembly of the differential lock servos makes them water and dust-proof, allowing for quick and secure locking in seconds. This means that you can engage or disengage the differential locks effortlessly, enhancing the versatility and excitement of your off-road adventures.

With a 6-channel remote control, you can independently lock the front and rear differentials. The radio will indicate what’s happening under the car. Honestly, it’s a simple but brilliant system.

The steering servo is a 23kg coreless unit with alu housing. Part of why I like Cross RC so much is their choice to not scrimp on components where they could have. The ESC and motor are premium, as are the servos here. Awesome.

Cross RC EMO X Locker System

Wheels & Tires

The EMO X is equipped with Cross RC Talon 136X55 R2.2 high-performance crawler tires mounted on 2.2″ bead lock wheels. These tires are specifically designed to deliver superior grip and durability. With their larger studs, snow lines, and high-grip tire wall, they provide exceptional traction on a variety of surfaces. Measuring 136mm in diameter and 55mm in width, these tires offer compatibility with common 2.2-inch wheels in the market. The lightweight nylon clip wheel hubs reduce the load on the shaft and enhance the dynamic performance of the vehicle.

Cross RC EMO X Wheels

Conclusion

The Cross RC EMO X 1/8 RTR RC Crawler is an outstanding off-road vehicle that exceeds expectations in terms of build quality, advanced features, and thrilling performance. Its exceptional design, durable construction, and attention to detail make it a dream come true for off-road enthusiasts seeking something a bit bigger than the norm. From its rugged appearance and imposing presence to its innovative components and precise control, the EMO X is ready to unleash your passion for off-road exploration like never before.

Cross RC has once again proven its commitment to delivering outstanding RC crawlers with the EMO X. So, gear up, take the wheel, and let the EMO X take you on unforgettable off-road journeys. It’s time to explore new horizons and push the limits of your off-road adventures with the Cross RC EMO X 1/8 RTR RC Crawler.

Find the Manufacturer’s website for this rig here: https://www.crossrc.us/shop/emo-x-rtr/

This is not a sponsored article. We bought this one at full price. Stay tuned for the running and review video, which we’ll link here soon (late May 2023). Thanks for reading!

EMO X Displayed
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Rlaarlo AK-917: a Porsche 917K Love Letter

Rlaarlo AK-917: a Porsche 917K Love Letter

Introduction

This is a recount of my personal journey so far with the Rlaarlo AK-917. This new release is a remarkable 1/10 scale road car that pays homage to the iconic 1969 Porsche 917K. In this retelling, I will share my experiences, joys, and challenges encountered while exploring the capabilities of this very interesting RC car.

Join me as I recount the unboxing excitement, delve into the radio system, power system, chassis and suspension, wheels and tires, track performance, encountered issues, and future plans. This is not a sales pitch; it’s a genuine tale of my time with the Rlaarlo AK-917.

AK-917 Underside

Unboxing and Included Items

Opening the box of the Rlaarlo AK-917 Metal Version Brushless RTR revealed a very special storage case. This isn’t the first of its kind from Rlaarlo – we’ve seen similar with their buggies in the past. This one was more refined and I don’t recall feeling excited about any other RC car in recent memory as I did with this one!

The box interior revealed a meticulously-arranged assortment of components and accessories; such attention to detail, Rlaarlo! Alongside the car itself, I found a 4000mAh 3S 25C hard-pack LiPO battery pack, a 2.4GHz radio transmitter, an instruction manual and related documentation, an array of spare parts and gears, and basic tools. These items provided a comprehensive package for embarking on an immersive RC experience – you can expect these in your pack too, it wasn’t just a sponsorship special.

AK-917 on Rocks

Radio System

The heart of the AK-917’s radio system is the DumboRC X6-inspired transmitter. This power-efficient radio offers outstanding value with its affordable price tag without compromising on performance. The reputation for excellent longer-range reception adds to its appeal, especially for those planning to push the limits of the AK-917 during speed runs.

The provided receiver, a DumboRC X6F copy, seamlessly integrates with the AK-917 Metal Version Brushless RTR, ensuring reliable and precise control over the car’s movements. Its compatibility with the X6FC receiver, included with the AK-917 Carbon Fiber Brushless RTR variant, extends functionality by incorporating light control features. Rlaarlo’s attention to detail is evident in their decision to include this upgraded receiver, with an added bonus of that flashing orange exhaust LED array on throttle overruns. We’ll hopefully enjoy this on the CF version I’ve purchased after my experience with the Alloy version! Coming soon.

AK-917 Radio

Power System

At the heart of the AK-917 lies a powerful non-sensored brushless motor, specifically the 3650 4200kv variant. This motor, combined with a 3S (12V) power source, delivered an exhilarating burst of speed that surpassed my expectations. The included ESC in the alloy variant is a 60A unit capable of 2S and 3S power. (The Carbon Fiber variant ships with a 120A version that’s 2S to 4S capable).

The AK-917 eagerly responded to throttle inputs, surging forward with raw acceleration. The non-sensored brushless motor proved its efficiency and durability, enabling extended run times without sacrificing performance. While the stock power system provided ample excitement, I did find a little hesitation on applying throttle after progressively braking from higher speeds. This was a minor issue and not one I experienced with an after-market ESC. Something worth keeping in mind if you’re shopping the alloy RTR variant.

Rlaarlo AK-917 Specs

Chassis and Suspension

The AK-917’s meticulously designed chassis captivated me with its attention to detail and resilience. Constructed with durability in mind, the metal frame provided a solid foundation capable of enduring the rigors of intense driving sessions. Flexible but solid plastic sides and ends made for a very stiff chassis that didn’t pack on extra unnecessary weight. It’s quite a balanced machine.

Inspired by the iconic Porsche 917K, the AK-917’s chassis design beautifully captured the essence of the original racing legend, igniting a sense of nostalgia and admiration. (Customers won’t enjoy the surprise I had of finding ‘RC-TNT’ etched on the underside of the chassis – WOW!! Thanks Rlaarlo!)

Complementing the robust chassis, the AK-917 boasted an adjustable suspension system. Fine-tuning the suspension components allowed me to tailor the car’s performance to suit various track conditions and my preferred driving style. This suspension setup facilitated responsive handling, enhanced stability, and reasonable cornering abilities, though the front sway bar setup does seem overly soft and I’m not sure how much function it really adds to the car. More testing needed on that front.

AK-917 CF Chassis
AK-917 Diff Cover

Wheels and Tires

Rlaarlo’s attention to detail extended to the selection of wheels and tires for the AK-917. These high-quality components not only enhanced the car’s performance but also added a touch of visual flair. The wheels are pretty and lightweight. They’re plastic on the Alloy Chassis version and that’s just fine. I do have a set of the Alloy wheels that come with the CF version too – they weigh a little more than the plastic units and I’m not convinced they’re a better choice. We’ll report back in future testing.

The thoughtfully chosen tire compounds provided optimal grip on diverse surfaces, ensuring maximum traction and control. The scale-inspired wheels perfectly complemented the overall aesthetic of the AK-917, further immersing me in the nostalgia of the legendary Porsche 917K. Note, there was significant wear on the insides of the rear tires especially after about 15 minutes of track use. There was evidence of heat and hardening along the inside edges and also the tire carcasses showed early signs of deterioration after this first drive. I may be imagining it, but grip levels seemed a little lower on our second track day.

AK-917 Tire Options

Track Performance

Taking the AK-917 to the racetrack was an exhilarating experience that truly showcased the car’s capabilities. Remember, we’re dealing with a reasonably cheap car that already delivers a large amount of power. It didn’t have to be perfect on the track to win everyone’s attention, but it really is quite good!

With its powerful brushless motor and well-tuned suspension, the car demonstrated impressive speed, agility, and handling. I pushed the AK-917 to its limits, navigating tight corners and exhilarating straightaways mostly with ease. We did have some upset leaving corners under power, with an inside front wheel consistently lifting in lieu of a stiff enough sway bar system. But overall, the car’s balance and stability instilled confidence, allowing me to push further and explore the full potential of this RC racer.

AK-917 Tires

Issues and Fixes

During my testing, I encountered a couple of issues that required attention. Firstly, the servo failure experienced within seconds of use was an unexpected setback. To ensure the continuity of our review and tests, I promptly replaced the servo myself – any standard digital servo is fine, though faster is obviously better. Rlaarlo would have replaced this for me, had I approached them about it.

Additionally, intermittent ESC cut-outs were encountered during the first video’s track performance. This is best viewed in the video, linked further down in this article. Upon further investigation, Rlaarlo identified that the radio system’s antenna installation was creating interference. They promptly advised on a better placement of the antenna, and noted they were rectifying the issue for all AK-917 models sold to customers. This responsive approach demonstrated Rlaarlo’s commitment to addressing potential concerns and improving the overall user experience.

AK-917 Alloy Chassis

(My) Future Plans

As I continue my journey with the Rlaarlo AK-917, my future plans involve exploring the capabilities of both the Brushless Metal Version they supplied and the Carbon Fiber Roller Version I have purchased. I am excited to experiment with larger motors, pushing the boundaries of speed and performance even further.

Additionally, I intend to participate in Rlaarlo’s 2023 Speed Run event in June this year. We’ll be chasing 200km/h and I look forward to sharing the thrill of the AK-917 with fellow RC enthusiasts and showcasing the enduring spirit of the legendary Porsche 917K.

Conclusion

The Rlaarlo AK-917 has captivated me with its homage to the iconic Porsche 917K and its exceptional performance on the racetrack. Through the unboxing experience, high attention to vehicle detail, track performance, and exceptional power system, I have discovered a car that embodies the passion and excitement of RC racing.

While not without its hiccups, the AK-917’s ability to adapt, coupled with Rlaarlo’s dedication to addressing concerns, ensures a fulfilling RC experience. The AK-917 promises many more thrilling moments on the horizon. See you next month for the speed run!

AK-917 Front Chassis View

Where to Buy

Visit Rlaarlo and buy directly from the manufacturer. Use code RC-TNT for a discount on your vehicle purchase. Thank you for your support – we get a small commission for every vehicle sold, though would be recommending this vehicle even if we didn’t. It’s a ripper!

Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

SCT – Should You Own One?

SCT – Should You Own One?

RC in History

If you’ve been living under a rock for a few decades, you may not know that the Traxxas Slash SCT is one of the best-selling hobby-grade RC cars of all time. (That is excluding Nikko, Tyco and other toy grade cars). The Traxxas T-Maxx, Associated Electrics RC10 and perhaps a Tamiya Hornet or Grasshopper may give the Slash a run for its money. Whichever the biggest seller may be, most would agree the Slash is a household name in RC at this point.

Following the Traxxas T-Maxx in 2000 which brought big nitro trucking fun to the masses, the 2008 release of the Traxxas Slash was a refinement in many ways. It shaped the modern RC landscape by being tough, fast, fun and extremely durable – and cheaper and simpler than the T-Maxx. It also happened to be an SCT. And, they’re still selling today, 15 years later!

Arrma Senton 3S BLX jump

What’s SCT?

SCT stands for “short course truck,” which is a type of radio-controlled vehicle that is modelled after the full-scale short course racing trucks. Short course racing trucks are purpose-built off-road vehicles that are designed to race on a specific type of track that is typically a combination of dirt, gravel and pavement.

Radio controlled SCTs are typically 2 and 4-wheel drive vehicles that are built with durable materials most commonly of plastic, but also with aluminum and carbon fiber. They typically feature high-quality suspension systems and powerful motors. They are known for their speed and agility, and are capable of reaching high speeds on a variety of surfaces. Some popular RC SCTs include the Team Associated SC10, the Traxxas Slash, the HPI Blitz, and the Losi 22S.

Traxxas Slash 2WD XL5 Chassis

Why a Short Course Truck?

This can be a tough question. We made a video that compares SCT to MT (Monster Truck) and Buggy options. Check that out here:

SCT Durability

Durability is definitely worth considering. Not all RC cars are created equally. Some of the drawbacks of the SCT design are tires wearing the inside of the body, dirt and mud filling the tub chassis common to SCT (but not always – more on that in a moment) and the tendency of an SCT body to catch air in big jumps, destabilizing the vehicle before landing. So, there are some drawbacks.

But, there’s plenty of good to consider with this vehicle type as well. For one thing, the modern SCT is a durable beast. Check this out to get an idea of just how much abuse and punishment a modern RC SCT can take!

Which One?

RC SCTs come in both kit and RTR (Ready-To-Run) packages. They’re popular among RC enthusiasts and hobbyists for their versatility and ability to handle a variety of terrains. They can be used for racing and also for bashing, with the right setup and tuning.

SCT deliver a good balance of speed and durability, making them an exciting option for people who enjoy both off-road and on-road driving. They require some maintenance and care, but with the right setup and tuning, they can provide hours of fun and excitement.

We’ve covered a few on our YouTube channel so far and there are more coming. Here’s a list to consider:

HPI Jumpshot SC V2: https://youtu.be/FNosmI2rwQw

Arrma Senton 3S BLX: https://youtu.be/ybv6i_wLx3Q

Traxxas Slash 4X4 VXL: coming soon!

Awful smaller ones: https://youtu.be/j38Af1kb6J8

Also, check out our Off-Road category on the RC-TNT.com here. Plenty more to think about there too!

Traxxas Slash 2WD XL5
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Traxxas X-Maxx 8S – a Durable Monster!

Traxxas X-Maxx 8S – a Durable Monster!

Meet the Traxxas X-Maxx

Have you ever wondered what the Traxxas X-Maxx can really do? As one of the most popular large-scale remote control (RC) vehicles on the market, the X-Maxx is known for its impressive size and advanced features. But how does this 1/5 scale monster truck perform in a real-world setting?

In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the Traxxas X-Maxx by putting it through its paces in a bash test, which includes off-road driving and stunt driving. We’ll examine its performance capabilities, features, and any issues that may arise. Are you ready to find out what the Traxxas X-Maxx is really made of? Let’s dive in!

Traxxas X-Maxx 8S Chassis

Prepping to Bash

In preparation for the bash test, we made a few small investments in parts and body preparation to extend the longevity of the Traxxas X-Maxx. Although the X-Maxx is already known for its durability, these upgrades will help it withstand even the toughest driving conditions. To protect the body, we applied heavy-duty tape and Shoe-Goo.

On the chassis, we installed RPM upper and lower A-arms, as well as oversized hub carriers and bearings on the rear. Additionally, we replaced the stock pins with RPM threaded pins to ensure that the A-arms wouldn’t bend apart in the event of a rough landing. By making these upgrades, we’re confident that the Traxxas X-Maxx will perform at its best in the bash test.

Where We’ll Drive

Our bash session will put the Traxxas X-Maxx to the test as we drive it on a variety of terrains. First, we’ll take on a rocky dirt closed circuit that was designed for smaller 1/10 scale vehicles. This will be a real test of the X-Maxx’s handling capabilities, as it will have to maneuver through tight turns and over rough terrain.

Next, we’ll take the X-Maxx out on grass and tackle small jumps to see how well it handles different types of surfaces. After that, we’ll take on large mound jumps with no smooth landing area to see how well the X-Maxx can handle big air. With these diverse terrains, we’ll get a good picture of what this big monster truck can do.

Traxxas X-Maxx 8S Rear

Let’s Go!

In this video, we put the X-Maxx through its paces on all the different terrains mentioned in this article. You’ll see for yourself just how tough and capable this vehicle really is as it navigates through rocky dirt circuits, grass, big air jumps, and urban settings. So, if you’re a fan of remote control vehicles or just want to see what the Traxxas X-Maxx is all about, be sure to check out our video. Durable fun is what this thing is all about!

Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Rlaarlo’s 2022 Speed Run a Flying Success

Rlaarlo’s 2022 Speed Run a Flying Success

Sweet Loot

Speed run is a fun event even when it’s just for bragging rights. But how does a cash prize of USD$2000 sound? Perhaps an Anniversary Edition version of Rlaarlo’s best buggy? Or maybe just one of every vehicle in the 2022 catalog? If this grabs your attention, wait until you hear what had to be achieved to secure one of these shiny rewards!

2022 Speed Run Challenge

Need for Speed

You may have seen Rlaarlo offering this impressive set of prizes for a little competition on their Facebook page in July 2022. For once, this wasn’t just a ‘Like and Share this post’ to have a chance at a random prize. That’s something we’ve all seen from various groups at this point. Much better than that, it was for a good, old-fashioned speed run contest, with some actual sweat-and-tears friendly competition!

The prizes were enticing. So, what was the catch? RC hobbyists had three weeks to modify their Rlaarlo buggies. The goal was to video-record and measure their vehicle’s fastest speed run pass they could manage.

The conditions for that winning high-speed pass were simple enough:

  • any of four Rlaarlo or Amoril 1/14 buggies could be used;
  • entrants could modify the buggy any way they wished, as long as they retained the original body shell and chassis;
  • they must provide a clear GPS speed measure after the run;
  • the vehicle must be functional after the run;
  • it should be wheel-powered only (no EDF for you enterprising rocket scientists!);
  • the pass must be on flat ground; and,
  • the pass must be recorded in a single, un-cut video.
Qualifying Models

Star of the Show

Folks needed a video camera and a GPS unit to measure speed. But the key to this contest was the RC model itself. You could use the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 1/14 4WD brushless buggy (available here) or one of three other similar Rlaarlo and Amoril models. There are many 1/14 RC buggies available these days and on the whole, they’ve been slowly improving. However, the recently-released Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 grabbed our attention as it looked to have the balance of weight, power and durability. This was a balanced feature set that is so rare in ‘cheaper’ RC models. (See our initial review video and our more detailed article here on rc-tnt.com for more about the buggy).

Notably, the 006 features a carbon fibre tub chassis and a compact 2S/3S brushless power system that makes for a lightweight little rocket. This is impressive on its own and our initial review reflected that. However, what later impressed us even further was its sheer durability. We bashed ours far harder than it should ever have been able to handle. Our Durability Test video should be a testament to the rugged nature of the XDKJ-006. It was unbelievably tough and we gave it a rough day at the skate park!

Race Schedule

Competition Time!

And so it was upon this platform that Rlaarlo proposed a little contest of effort and cunning. Who could modify their XDKJ-006 to be the fastest in a straight line? To make it through Round 1 of the speed run, you needed a pass of at least 100kmph/62mph. The fastest would enter Round 2 and then a final round would test the best of the best.

The idea was simple enough – but just how fast could these little machines really go? Those tiny 1/14 wheels mean big gearing and motor speed would be needed for high-speed runs. And that’s to say nothing of limited chassis space and vehicle stability from a short wheelbase. Would 62mph+ passes even be possible?

Comp Rules

Round 1: Warming Up

Round 1 was to close on July 29, just one week into the competition. The entries trickled in as the days counted down. First to make a showing were USA, Canadian and Australian entrants, with buggies running from 12V to 24V systems. Three USA contenders hit hard with impressive speeds even at that early stage:

  • 75mph from Eric Woolsey on 4S with a 3200kv motor;
  • 76mph from Radlee Plott on just 2S with a 7800kv motor; and,
  • 94mph from Michael Koebbe with 3S on a 3200kv motor.

Already, things were getting interesting! The first round concluded on July 30 with 25 entrants clearing the 62mph cut-off speed. At this stage there were hobbyists from USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and the UK with seriously impressive speeds logged on camera.

Round 1 leaders were as follows:

  • tied third place holders Daniel Petrak (AUS, 3S) and Eric Woolsey (USA, 3S) had verified speeds of 87mph (140km/h);
  • Christopher Barnes (USA, 3S) ran a 95mph (152.9km/h) pass; and,
  • with a very safe lead was Michael Koebbe with a blistering pass of 121mph (194.7km/h)!

Round 2: Fight!

There were 25 people cleared through to the second round. Rlaarlo announced that only the fastest ten entrants would qualify for the final round. Clearly, competition was going to be close with such a fierce first round!

The second round gave contenders a week to make their attempts and submit their best video. Again, the entries trickled in over the next few days. It was a close thing, even at this stage of competition. The lower 5 entrants were tightly grouped, separated by just a few miles per hour, posting top speeds of between 96mph and 99mph! The top 5 entrants were split over a wider range, from 101mph and up. Anyone could take it at this stage!

Round 2 Qualifiers
Round 1 Qualifiers

Controversy in the Leaderboard

Video clarity and technical gremlins can hit at unexpected times. They’re challenging and often random in when and how they strike. This is especially the case when you’re pushing the limits with equipment vs physics! At this stage of the contest, Chris Barnes posted several impressive runs but encountered a string of issues from a series of crashes that led to him losing a GPS unit. His list-topping runs were disqualified and the leaderboard was adjusted.

It was generally agreed that Rlaarlo made the best call they could with the available information. Unfortunately, some fallout would be unavoidable as other competitors found themselves bumped off the leaderboard during this controversial exchange. Such problems and decisions are tough for all involved and can lead to high emotion in the midst of competition. Cool heads prevailed with the only reasonable ruling from Rlaarlo in order to maintain a level playing field. The show continued.

We wish Chris Barnes and the other affected competitors the very best for next time. All affected have our sympathy for a rough run this time. Good sportsmanship and supportive voices are what sets clubs and groups apart from others and to date we’ve found the Rlaarlo Facebook group to be generally very positive and supportive. This is something we could all use more of!

Round 2 Speed Run Finalists

With Barnes’ 118mph entry (USA, 4S) disqualified, the top three contenders posted their best runs for Round 2:

    • 3rd – Eric Woolsey with 114mph (183.5kmph), on 3S power with a Castle MM X 6S system;
    • 2nd – Michael Koebbe with 121mph (194.7kmph), on 3S power with a Castle MM X 8S system; and
    • 1st – Connor Matthes with 128mph (206km/h), running on 5S power also with a Castle MM.

Problems in rear-view mirror, the contest continued to its final round…

Hold My Beer!

The first three entries submitted to the final round were from USA contenders:

  • Radlee Plott (4S, Castle MM X) with 104mph (167.4kmph);
  • Eric Woolsey (4S, Castle MM X 6S) with 122mph (196.3kmph); and,
  • Connor Matthes (5S, Castle MM) with an eye-watering 130mph (209.2kmph)!

Later that day, USA entrant Michael Koebbe disrupted second place with a 126mph (202.8kmph) run on 3S power with an XLX2 system.

By August 15, as the final hour closed out the contest, Eric Woolsey retained his third position on the leaderboard. Michael Koebbe upped the ante with his XLX2 system, jumping from 3S to 4S power. He delivered a 130mph pass (209.2kmph), drawing equal with Matthes’ pass from just a few days prior.

Pulling out all stops, Connor Matthes made a final blazing pass on the same 5S-powered MM X 8S system with the winning entry of 131mph, or 210.8kmph! Here’s his video from that final run:

Speed Run Aftermath

Congratulations and support flowed in from many on the groups Facebook page on Matthes’ well-deserved win. Special mention must go to the next place-holders who managed such impressive speeds. This is a buggy that we have tested ourselves with a top speed of 50mph (81kmph) on 3S power in stock form.

The difference between stock 3S speeds and even the ‘slowest’ finalist was huge. David Grima (AUS) made a 94mph pass (151.3kmph) – that’s already nearly twice as fast as stock speed! One entrant made his personal best of 70.2mph immediately after being partially run over by a truck. That was with a damaged wheel! It was still 20mph faster than a stock 006 that hasn’t been run over. Crazy!

Suggestions were floated about maybe putting an expenditure limit on future speed runs to help level the field some more. Others had ideas around event timing with seasons in different hemispheres and competition time-frames. All said, the contest was an entertaining event that brought people’s skill and perseverance into the limelight and good humour was expressed across the page. What a fun way to spend some time tinkering with such an impressive little buggy!

Rlaarlo released a speed run highlights video you can watch on Facebook here.

Rlaarlo 1/12 Buggy

What’s Next?

Rlaarlo have been building on momentum from this and other fun events hosted over 2022. New models are reportedly in development. (We’re excited about a brushless 1/12 model that’s apparently coming soon. More details on rc-tnt.com as soon as we have them!) Parts availability for current models has been consistent and timely. Future events are in the works, they’ve reported on their Facebook page.

A note on the company as a whole: our XDKJ-006 had a rare electrical issue after some use that was swiftly rectified by Rlaarlo. We’ve been only impressed with dealing with the company, who even prior to our initial review video were accepting of our standard terms that we would not make a draft available to them before publication and that we would publish test outcomes, even if they were unfavorable. It’s this admirable attitude that prompted us to write this speed run contest debrief; the company has been reasonable, fair and simply a pleasure to deal with from our first contact. We’re looking forward to seeing what they do next!

Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 Front

Where to Get One

Rlaarlo’s website is https://rlaarlo.com. The 006 buggy details and purchase page can be found here. Also, Rlaarlo maintains a Facebook group page (here) and an Instagram profile (here).

Lastly, our detailed review article of the XDKJ-006 can be found here on rc-tnt.com and our video series starts with the review. The XDKJ-006 is easy to recommend and we are pleased to so closely follow the company’s journey.

Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 top-down

Affiliate Links and Integrity

We were provided with our XDKJ-006 by Rlaarlo at no cost for purposes of review. As always, we maintain the right to publish our test results without influence or edit from the manufacturer. This competition debrief is entirely the work of rc-tnt.com and has had no affiliation or marketing influence from Rlaarlo or its staff, beyond an initial request to consider writing it. We have not received compensation for writing this article. Having such fair treatment from the company, it’s been a pleasure to produce the videos and articles we’ve done so far and we look forward to seeing what Rlaarlo produces next. Oh yes, we are anticipating what future contests may entail, too! This one has been a hoot!

-Craig Veness, rc-tnt.com

RC-TNT Rlaarlo Review
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Redcat Marksman 1/8 RC Crawler

Redcat Marksman 1/8 RC Crawler

What Is It?

The Redcat Marksman is a different RTR RC crawler in more ways than its 1/8 scale size. It sports a (mostly) decent electronics package and 2.2” wheels. A pretty body with paint on the outside gives the polycarbonate body an interesting finish.

Whilst not a flawless execution, there’s a compelling case to be made for price to performance, especially if you’re after a trail-oriented rig. Join us as we take a closer look at this interesting, larger-scale crawler.

Redcat Marksman Front Bumper
Redcat Marksman Side-On
Redcat Marksman Wheel & Tire

How Big Is It?

For some comparison, we’ve put the Redcat Marksman between a Traxxas TRX4 2021 Bronco 1/10 and an Axial SCX6 1/6 RC crawler. Note that while the Marksman is similar in length to the TRX4 Bronco, the track width is considerably greater on the Marksman. Also, the overall vehicle size is similar to 1/10 scale rigs, but width is the greatest difference – if a little less than obvious at first glance.

The vehicle doesn’t weigh more than many 1/10 scale crawlers and its close enough in ‘feel’ that you could reasonably trail this with others driving 1/10 scale rigs and fit right in. Certainly, some rock problems that might defeat the Redcat Marksman may be traversable by smaller rigs on account of that track width! More on performance in a bit. First, let’s look at what you get with this RTR model.

Redcat Marksman Size Comparison 2
Redcat Marksman Size Comparison 3
Redcat Marksman Size Comparison

What’s In The Box?

There’s the vehicle itself, the radio transmitter, manual, scale accessories and ESC programming card. The Redcat Marksman is a Ready To Run (RTR) model, which means all you need to get it going is a battery for the rig and 4x AAs for the radio transmitter. The included Electronic Speed Control (ESC) is a HobbyWing WP-1080. This gives you the flexibility to run either 6-to-8 cell NiMH or 2S or 3S LiPO batteries.

Redcat also includes an accessories bag with some red plastic scale parts – though no obvious way to mount these to the body. There’s a spare wheel adapter for the back of the body – pictured below – but no spare wheel. We’ve used an old Axial Trepador from the original SCX10 on ours as its nice and lightweight and still looks convincing near the Marksman’s larger tires.

Redcat Marksman Box Contents

Radio System

The radio is the standard rebranded Flysky FS-GT2E AFHDS 2A transmitter, though the sticker calls it an RCR-2CE. This is the 2-channel unit Redcat Racing uses on their entire ground model range at present (2021 and 2022).

One nice thing to note is it runs Flysky’s AFHDS 2A protocol, so if you already have a FS-GT5 for other models, you can bind that to the Marksman here as well. The radio feels good in the hand and has a nice feel on the wheel. There is a sufficient, if sparce, amount of adjustment on the dials and it isn’t heavy. Overall, a good basic radio.

Redcat Marksman Radio
Redcat Marksman Transmitter
Redcat Marksman Radio Box

Holmes Hobbies For The Win!

The brushed motor in this machine is a Holmes Hobbies Crawlmaster Sport. This is a 13-turn 5-pole (or 5-slot) 550-sized motor. Being a 5-pole means you get buttery smooth torque at the expense of the punch delivered by 3-pole motors. On a crawler, this is generally desirable.

For trail use, the motor is a perfect choice. There’s sufficient speed for trail driving and still enough low speed control to be satisfying on the rocks. However, we found that if you’re more biased toward crawling than trailing with this rig, a motor with slightly more turns may give a more rewarding experience.

After some testing, we’d recommend the 16-turn 550 Crawlmaster Sport and the same gearing. On 3S power, you’ll be all set with long runtimes, good low speed control and more than ample speed for trail driving. If you keep the 13-turn motor, going down one tooth size on the pinion and sticking on 2S power could also be a reasonable way to slow it down enough to feel a bit better on trickier rock problems. Of course, this is largely a case of personal preference and the stock configuration is fine.

Redcat Marksman Motor

HobbyWing Is Good!

We have a good, solid radio system and a workhorse motor. Redcat have opted for a high-quality ESC for the Marksman in the HobbyWing WP-1080. This is a popular ESC for good reason. It delivers smooth and reliable control and is very customisable. We like this ESC so much that we’ve written an entire how-to article for programming it, right here on rc-tnt.com!

You can use the stock settings for the most part, but we would recommend making one change in particular before running it. Enable freewheeling, which is option 15 on the programming card. Set that to 1 instead of 2 and you’ll effectively have an active drag brake. That means the WP-1080 will apply braking to the wheels even while you’re giving throttle input, helping to hold the vehicle on a hill at the speed you’re indicating, rather than allowing the rig to run away down the hill. A good thing!

Redcat Marksman ESC

Servo Avoido

The electronics package with the Redcat Marksman is excellent! That is, until you come to the servo. This is the same Hexfly 25KG 4.8v-6.8v unit that Redcat puts in most of their vehicles, even their diminutive 1/10 short course truck (which is really a 1/12 sized machine). The servo is slow and too weak even on the smaller Redcat Gen 8 V2, we’ve found. That they’ve also put it on the Marksman leaves one wondering if they’ve actually, y’know, tested the big rig with it. Because it isn’t good.

If you change just one thing on the Redcat Marksman, make the servo your first upgrade. The WP-1080 has an adjustable BEC and while it comes at 6V by default, you can change that to 7.4V with an upgraded servo and the Marksman will be worlds better. Seriously, budget for this if you plan to buy this rig.

Nearly any other crawling servo would be better. Here are a few options we use and recommend, from cheap to expensive:

  • JX Servo WP-5318HV ~16.5kg @ 7.4v, waterproof, cored, metal gear (lower rating but much better than the stock Hexfly unit).
  • JX Servo CLS-6336HV 35kg @ 7.4v, waterproof, coreless, metal gear.
  • JX Servo BLS-HV7132MG 32kg @ 7.4, splashproof, brushless, metal gear, alu case. (Fast and doesn’t fade under heavy load. Probably our favourite semi-budget crawler servo).
  • JX Servo CLS-HV7346MG 46kg @ 7.4v, waterproof, coreless, alu case, metal gear.
  • Holmes Hobbies SCX500v3 ~42kg @ 11.1v (direct run from 3S), waterproof, brushless, ultra tough – our favourite comp servo!
Redcat Marksman Servo Mounted
Redcat Marksman Servo

Body and Accessories

In a break from the usual, the Redcat Marksman sports a polycarbonate body that has been painted on both sides! The matte green finish on the outside looks very smart. They’ve finished the inside of the body in a rust-brown color. If you think about it, as the outside green paint gets scratched off on rocks and branches, the underside’s brown will gradually show through, giving the appearance of rust! Very clever little scale-ageing trick they’ve incorporated there!

There are light buckets for headlights only – taillights are stickers on this body. The plastics and faux interior on the Marksman are all of a high quality. Finish is solid and this body should last well. It’s very attractive and is enhanced further by the spare wheel holder included in the accessories package. We’ve mounted ours and the weight difference is minimal on a bigger crawler like this, so we found it very worthwhile for the improved look. You do have to poke a few holes in the pretty body to add this extra bit, so think about it before you do it – but we can at least show you how it looks. We like it!

Redcat Marksman Scale Accessories

Chassis & Running Gear

The steel C-channel chassis rails are solid. Reinforced with plastic cross-braces, the Marksman has a nice, rigid feel. We like that the vehicle doesn’t weigh a lot, despite its size, and as you can see from the photo below, there’s a lot of spare room on the chassis. Included wheel wells are a nice touch also – you get the aesthetic benefits when the body is on, and they also work to keep crud and debris out of the internals.

The axles are solid and well designed. They’re straight rather than portals, which is nice to see when portals seem to be everywhere. You’re going to be scraping the diff pumpkins over rocks, given the width of the vehicle. Larger tires are helpful, but clearance will be something to keep in mind when driving. For us, this adds to the appeal of scale fun. The skid plate is also intelligently implemented and has a nice, smooth finish. Drive shafts are tough plastic with steel universals. All up, the Marksman is a strong and lightweight platform. Simple and reliable.

Redcat Marksman Chassis

Drive Feel

We said earlier we found this vehicle to feel a little faster than we’d like on the rocks. On the trail, the speed is good and it turns well at speed – impressive given its size and locked axles! The adjustability from the WP-1080 ESC means you can make the Marksman feel more like a cruisy trail rig or a precise rock crawler. It’s nice to have that control.

Another thing to note is torque twist. This is the phenomenon where the chassis twists under throttle in the opposite rotational direction to the drive shafts. It’s quite pronounced on this vehicle. On a smaller rig, torque twist can unsettle a crawler significantly. While it’s pretty pronounced on the Marksman, even to the point of lifting a wheel at times, the whole machine does not lose its track or become unsettled. It could be that the effect is weakened by its greater wheelbase and track width than on 1/10 crawlers. Something to be aware of, then, but not a deal-breaker.

The only let-down in the rig is that weak Hexfly servo. We almost never say this as we don’t like to waste things, but do budget in a better servo when you buy the Redcat Marksman. It’s the only shortcoming we’ve found after running several packs through it.

Redcat Marksman
Redcat Marksman Underneath

Our Verdict

This is a mid-range crawler as far as pricing goes. You have the choice of numerous 1/10 scale crawlers for similar money. If you like the idea of walking a trail and crawling obstacles as you find them, the Redcat Marksman could be for you. It’s not as capable as some 1/10 scale crawlers largely on account of that track width, but it’s a lovely, smooth machine. We haven’t driven it enough yet to give an idea of longer-term durability but will update this section in a few months to note this.

We love its look. Its simplicity under the body is alluring and it feels great on the rocks. What do you think? Feel free to leave comments and questions in our review video above and stay tuned for more videos in future on the Marksman’s performance, what upgrades we do (*cough* servo *cough*) and how we find its durability. After a few LiPO packs so far, we really like it.

Get Yours Here

AsiaTees sells the Redcat Marksman globally. Get it here.

Redcat Marksman Rear
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 1/14 Brushed RTR Monster Truck

Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 1/14 Brushed RTR Monster Truck

Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 Box

Hard to Say, Great to Play

As with the XDKJ-006 buggy, the Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 monster truck’s full title is a bit of a mouthful! We’re also a little unsure about the claims of 50-70km/h on the box, but time will tell! What doesn’t look like a problem is the potential for some big-wheeled fun and RC mayhem. This machine is something between a truggy and a monster truck. Although heavy for its size, it should be a blast off-road. Let’s take a closer look!

Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 Box Content

The Same, But Different

After playing with the XDKJ-006 brushless buggy recently, it was not surprising to find a lot of repurposed componentry in the 005 here. From a design, manufacture and parts support standpoint, repurposing a platform makes a lot of sense.

And this isn’t a new idea – Traxxas does it with the Slash and Stampede or the Rustler and Bandit. Element RC has a bunch of different vehicles built on the same Enduro base. Kyosho makes the Fazer Mk II road series and even a monster truck (the Mad Van) with the same base. This approach clearly makes sense.

We found the XDKJ-006 buggy to be incredibly durable. Just look at how it stood up to extreme punishment in our test video! Aside from the obvious body and wheels change over the buggy, the biggest thing that stands out immediately with the Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 is the weight. It’s easily another 50% heavier than the buggy!

Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 Chassis

Part Truggy…

A truggy is a TRuck and a buGGY. Typical on truggies is the big, rear wing. You still may find a low center-of-gravity layout with similar running gear to a buggy, but also with big, truck-sized wheels and tires. The 005 definitely features both of these! Truggies also commonly feature a shorter wheelbase and wheelie bar, moving away from a buggy’s focus on speed and poise to something bouncier and more rowdy. The wheelbase is the same between the 005 and the 006 but the center of gravity is higher on account of the larger wheels and tires.

Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 Rear Bumper

Part Monster Truck…

The Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 has ‘Monster Truck’ in its official name, though we’ve been calling it a truggy. We have the car-like body and big wheels of a monster truck. Certainly, the huge, brushed motor hints at this being a bit more of a top-heavy, big-air basher.

The chassis still grants low enough weight balance that the 005 is capable of decent stability at speed, and the handling isn’t bad. More on that below. Perhaps the 005 sits somewhere between buggy and monster truck, whilst not quite being either. This is why we’ve been calling it a truggy!

Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 Front

The Spinny Bits

The Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 ships with a 60A brushed Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) and a 550-size brushed motor. The system can handle 8v and 12v power – that’s 2S and 3S respectively – and comes with a 1800mAh 2S LiPO battery.

There are ball-bearings all-round and the drive shafts are also of metal construction. If it turns, it’s metal, aside from the wheels and spur gear. That’s pretty awesome for a relatively cheap machine!

Tires have plenty of traction on sealed road and even on firm sand. We’ve done limited running on grass so far, but our initial experience with this model has been quite positive. We’ve had 5 or 6 other 1/14 scale buggies and truggies over the past 3 years and this one is the nicest off-road so far. Even on-road, it isn’t bad at all.

Steering and Handling

Steering is fast and torquey enough to work in all terrains we tested. The car has a wide turning circle at speed. However, if you let off the throttle while steering, that circle tightens right up. At low speed, it can change direction completely within about 3 car lengths. It’s quite impressive.

The ride height can be adjusted via the thumbscrew collars on the alu shocks. Out of the box it’s set to about medium. After driving this thing a bit and getting used to it, the next time we take it out it’ll be lowered all the way. As well as improving center of gravity, that’ll also soften up the damping effect of the springs. The oil-filled shocks will stop excessive cycling and the wheels will have good range of movement over the bumpy stuff. This is really where the 005 here should excel.

Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 Suspension

Weight and Durability

The 005 weighs considerably more than the cabon-fibre chassis-equipped 006 buggy. Whilst the alloy plate may be more durable from a materials standpoint, its additional weight brings with it the issue of greater kinetic energy with momentum. Big landings or sudden stops from speed will mean the 005 carries more of that kinetic energy than the lighter-weight buggy. That means more chance of breakages.

Keep that in mind as you consider the other part of the durability equation: specifically, the aluminum, coil-over shocks and alloy chassis are implemented in such a way that at full compression, the chassis doesn’t touch the ground. This is great for preventing damage to the underside. However, the one caveat here is that with a heavy enough landing, there is an increased risk of blowing the tops off the shocks and/or damaging the shock towers. Having a chassis ‘slap’ the ground instead on a big landing is often preferable. The warning here then is to avoid big air. Ironically, due to weight and this suspension implementation, the 006 buggy may actually be the better skate park basher!

We’ve tested the 006 on the big jumps. The 005 will be tested soon and we’ll report back. We’d sure love to be wrong about this issue of weight and suspension leading to more breakages – we’ll soon find out, either way!

Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 Bottom

Radio Letdown

If weight and suspension implementation are one weakness of this vehicle, the other one is the lousy radio range. On an open beach with no interference (even our GoPro was transmitting at 5GHz, not the 2.4GHz of the radio), we got all of about 25 meters / 82 feet range before the car lost signal. The AA batteries were fully charged and the antenna on the ESC-Receiver in the car was fully upright.

This was ideal conditions, in other words – you may find its even worse than this in a more crowded environment where more 2.4GHz devices are operating. Just be aware of this and you should be fine. For speed runs or bigger distances though, you may need to overhaul the radio system – and then the ESC as well, given the ESC and receiver are in the same unit in this car.

Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 Radio
Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 Radio Top

Our Verdict

This thing is fun. It’s fast for its size and its well-made. We’re still unsure about the weight and suspension setup and how that might play into durability on big landings, but so far, it has been fun, fast (for a brushed model) and poised on the ground. Also, there’s a minor issue with the battery tray having a plastic piece that can damage the battery – worth removing that screw and cutting the piece off entirely. See the photo below for that.

But otherwise, the 005 gives you predictable handling, linear steering response, less-than-expected heat after hard running and it looks great. The included spares are welcome and if you can live without a huge radio range, the Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 1/14 RTR Monster Truck may just be a little gem in your RC garage!

Where to Get It

Click here to grab one for yourself. We understand Rlaarlo has a promotion from Aug 23, 2022 for the first 200 buyers to get this thing at a deep discount for USD$99.99, and then the next 500 buyers to get it for USD$129.99. Its usual price is USD$169.99.

This is the manufacturer’s page for the Rlaarlo XDKJ-005 RTR Monster Truck.

Rlaarlo XDKJ-005
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Team Associated MT10 Rival 1/10 RTR Monster Truck

Team Associated MT10 Rival 1/10 RTR Monster Truck

MT10 Rival

The Team Associated MT10 Rival is a budget option in big-name bashing. It’s a 1/10 scale 4×4 brushless monster truck that’s ready to go out of the box. We’ve heard good things about it and decided we should really test it out!

MT10 Berm Jump

Out With the Old

Story time! Back in 2012 we ordered a Traxxas Stampede VXL 4X4 RTR. It had similar specifications and overall dimensions to the MT10 Rival and accounting for inflation, was about 20% more expensive. It had a number of issues that needed sorting before it could be bashed with any level of severity beyond yard running. The truck flipped over a lot and the tires were not great. We put over $1000 into strength and handling upgrades (build log archived here) and eventually it was reasonably reliable and a lot of fun.

Stampede VXL Jump

Credit: sandman77, AusRC forums

In With the New

What a difference a decade makes! Many of the things we changed on the Stampede are included out of the box with the MT10 Rival. The tires are excellent, there are front and rear anti-roll (or sway) bars and there are even lights, both front and rear. There is a mesh cover to keep stones and dust out of the bucket chassis and there is a hard cover over the drive-shaft so wires don’t get twisted and ripped off – and it keeps the stones out from grinding through the shaft, too!

A Paradigm Shift

Probably the biggest improvement in the MT10 Rival over the Stampede VXL is something that we were not ever able to mod into ours: a center differential. This extra level of tuning and performance is what takes the MT10 Rival to the level of bigger, more expensive jump and bash trucks. Combine this with the low weight and flexible plastics used throughout the vehicle and you have an exceptionally durable, low-maintenance and high-performance monster truck.

We can’t really over-emphasise how big this is in RC: there are not many vehicles in any category of the hobby that give you all three of Cheap, Durable and Fast. The MT10 Rival may just be that elusive unicorn!

MT10 Rival Features

  • 2.4GHz 2-channel radio system
  • High-Torque digital servo with spring-style servo saver
  • Powerful Reedy 3300kV 4-pole brushless motor
  • Water-resistant high-power Reedy brushless speed control with T-plug connector and LiPo low-voltage cutoff
  • Three sealed gear differentials
  • 12mm hex wheels inspired by Method Race Wheels
  • Threaded, oil-filled, coil-over shock absorbers
  • 4mm heavy-duty adjustable steel turnbuckles
  • Durable slider-type drive shafts
  • Factory-finished RIVAL monster-truck-inspired style body
  • High-traction, all-terrain tires
  • Steel center drive shaft
  • Rugged, adjustable wheelie bar with LEDs
  • Four-wheel independent suspension
  • Durable, impact-absorbing front bumper with LEDs

MT10 Rival Specs

  • Length: 507mm (19.96in)
  • Width: 325mm (12.8in)
  • Wheelbase: 285mm (11.22in)
  • Weight: 2850g (6.28lbs)
  • Internal Gear Ratio: 2.85:1
MT10 Wheelie Bar
MT10 Rival Chassis Rear
MT10 Method Wheels
MT10 Rival Chassis Front

Our Test Drive

We cracked ours out of the box and got it immediately onto the skate park. The MT10 Rival never had a chance to do any tame driving; we had ours headed for the clouds straight away! The radio is comfy to use and getting the truck set up is easy. There is a T-connector on the ESC and it takes 2S and 3S power. We used 2S in our testing but will return to the skate park with 3S soon.

The vehicle was plenty fast and the suspension perfectly tuned to handle big air. It’s a lightweight truck and jumps well. The turning circle is rather massive – one of just two things we’d like to change on this machine. It’s forgivable given the price and otherwise stellar performance, but it would have been nice to have a tighter turning circle.

MT10 RTR Package

Air Authority

The other shortcoming concerns flight! That is, when the vehicle is not on the ground at all. When your truck is in the air, you can brake to drop the nose or accelerate to raise it. You can not only ensure you land on the wheels most of the time, but with practice, you can pull off various forward- and back-flips, all with the use of your throttle input. This is what we call ‘air authority’ in relation to controlling the vehicle in the air after a big jump.

The MT10 Rival is 4WD and has big monster truck wheels and tires. This should be a recipe for decent air authority – but this seems to be the one area the MT10 doesn’t quite deliver. Braking to drop the nose was reliably good, but we often found we couldn’t bring the nose up. It just didn’t have the power to generate the sudden wheel speed needed to raise the nose on many jumps.

There are two ways to address this: one is to put heavier wheels and tires on, such as the Pro-Line Trenchers we used on our old Stampede. Those tires weigh a lot more and it gives you ALL the air authority! But with such heavy wheels you then start breaking drive shafts. The better and simpler way will be to go to 3S (12V) instead of 2S (8V). This should have the desired effect. We’ll post the follow-up video here when it’s done.

Final Thoughts

The 3300kv motor is a perfect size for this size and weight of vehicle. There’s plenty of punch on tap and battery life is quite reasonable too. The MT10 Rival is easy to drive, takes bad landings and other abuse very well and looks great doing it. We heartily recommend this as a budget, big-name, durable basher. Go grab one, you won’t be disappointed!

 

Manufacturer’s page: https://www.associatedelectrics.com/teamassociated/cars_and_trucks/RIVAL_MT10/RTR/

MT10 Front-Under
MT10 Chassis Uncovered
MT10 Rear-Under
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it's all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! ...You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂

Remo Hobby 10275 – World’s Cheapest 1/10 Crawler?

Remo Hobby 10275 – World’s Cheapest 1/10 Crawler?

The Old Adage

The Remo Hobby 10275 is interesting for its features and price. There’s a real promise of value in this most budget of 1/10 scale RC crawlers – IF it performs! There’s an old adage in the motoring world that goes, “fast, cheap and reliable: pick two”. Apply it to RC crawlers and it may be something like, “capable, cheap and reliable: pick two”. The Remo Hobby 10275 may be attempting to cover all three of these measures – and honestly, on paper, it looks like there may be something to it.

Remo Hobby 10275 Top-Down

Trust, But Verify

As always, we test our 1/10 scale rock crawlers on our 6-problem course. This gives a decent, broad-level indication of performance relative to others. We’ll get to performance in a bit. First, let’s take a closer look at what you get when you buy a new Remo Hobby 10275.

Remo Hobby 10275 Unboxed

What’s In the Box?

Aside from the car itself, there’s a radio transmitter, manual USB charger, 1500mAh Li-ion 7.4v battery and a handful of basic tools and spare body clips. The manual is pretty good, for a cheapie. It includes basic operations, troubleshooting steps, exploded parts diagrams and a list of spares and upgrades available for the vehicle. The package is well assembled, protects the vehicle nicely and is attractive. This is about as nice as one ever might expect of cheap RC vehicles – five stars on inclusions and packaging here.

Remo Hobby 10275 Transmitter

Power Play

The radio transmitter requires just two AA batteries. You’ll need to supply these yourself, but that’s the only thing you’ll need to bring to this party. Remo has you covered for the rest. The Li-ion USB charger is slow but it’ll get the job done in a few hours. The Li-ion battery is made of two 18650 cells and is appropriate for this type of vehicle. As far as power and charging is concerned, this is a well-rounded package.

Remo Hobby 10275 Manual EPD

Assembly Required?

The wheels are not attached to the vehicle in the box. There are spacers on the axles to ensure the metal wheel hexes and drive pins remain in place, so you’ll have to remove them. Also note the tires are directional, so pay attention to that when putting the wheels on. The wheels are plastic, three-part bead-lock design with 5 self-tapping screws each. It’s easy to get the tires mixed up – evident in the photo below! – but otherwise, that’s it for assembly. Easy!

Remo Hobby 10275 Front Axle

About the Vehicle

The Remo Hobby 10275 has steel chassis rails and fibre-infused plastic spacers throughout. There is a standard 4-link design with plastic links with nylon ball ends on each end of the vehicle. The servo is chassis-mounted, with no panhard, so steering is imprecise and worsened when suspension is articulated. With a 4-link setup, you’d want the servo mounted on the axle itself rather than on the chassis in order to preserve steering accuracy and full throw. We modified ours after initial testing – more on that below.

The driveshafts are plastic, telescoping universals with E-clips holding the unis together. They’ll be strong enough on this vehicle to never need replacing, we think. There are unshielded ball-bearings are the pinion end of the diffs and brass shims on the rest of the vehicle. Though this is seen often as a negative, for this cheap, lightweight rig, shims could well be a good thing. They don’t seize up as readily after exposure to mud and water – something to consider!

Remo Hobby 10275 Chassis

Remo Hobby 10275 Suspension

Suspension on all corners is plastic bodied, oil-filled shocks with metal caps and coil-over springs. The springs are too firm for the low weight of the rig, but the shocks do not leak and some articulation is still possible. We modified ours after the initial rock test – again, we’ll cover mods in a bit.

Remo Hobby 10275 Shock

Body & Lights

The body is a single-piece, polycarbonate shell with through-holes for body posts and basic stickers applied on top. Our unit’s stickers were not applied with much care and things are poorly aligned in several spots. This is forgivable, given the low price of the model, we think. There are light buckets at each end for 2x 5mm white LEDs up front and 2x red LEDs in rear.

Remo Hobby 10275 Body

Remo Hobby 10275 Electronics

The company claims the Remo Hobby 10275 sports a 40A ESC (Electronic Speed Control). Under moderate throttle, our unit kept cutting out with the included 390 motor and stock gearing. We suspect the ESC is more likely to have a limit of somewhere around 20A, but this is unconfirmed. There is a way to address this – we’ll cover this in the Mods section, below.

The radio system is integrated with the ESC, along with a 5V 2A BEC (Battery Eliminator Circuit) that powers the steering servo. This 3-in-1 device has a single Futaba-style plug for the 3-wire servo and another micro-JST plug that outputs 3V to power LEDs. We installed a set of LEDs in ours and they powered perfectly from this second port, which is otherwise unused in the default configuration.

The radio transmitter is small in the hand but will suit kids very well. There’s a 50% throttle limiter button on the radio, as well as steering trim and steering dual-rate dials. It’s a basic unit but fine for this vehicle.

Steering

The Remo Hobby 10275 gets an entire section for steering, and that is unfortunately not for good reasons! The trim and dual-rate dial system on the radio creates an unnecessarily low limit to steering end-points. There is more throw available in the throttle than what the radio allows, in other words.

We tested this by maxing out the dual-rate dial first, then steering fully left and/or right, then holding the wheel and adjusting the trim further in that same direction. For both left and right we found there was more throw available in the servo. There’s no way to fix this without replacing the ESC with a discreet ESC and radio receiver, which would also mean a new radio transmitter too. Not ideal given this is possibly one of the world’s cheapest 1/10 RC crawlers – there will not be a budget for all that in most cases, we’d think. This is especially unfortunate given the CMS (Chassis Mounted Servo) and 4-link front setup already limit steering and so the car needs every bit of throw it can get from the servo!

Remo Hobby 10275 Servo

Fit For Purpose?

This is a very cheap RC car. It’s certainly not a bad vehicle – just search the web for “cheapest RC car” or “best cheap RC car” and you’ll find many blog and store sites loudly proclaiming how good this or that cheap model is. In our experience, most of these “best cheap” models really aren’t so good.

The Remo Hobby 10275 gets really close to being a good choice for bargain-basement 1/10 RC crawling. The electronics and components are not terrible! There are imperfections and limitations by design and everything is made to a price. Much is forgivable at this price-point.

However – and this is the kicker – the Remo Hobby 10275 is not a rock crawler in its stock form. The ESC cutting out is an issue, as is the poor steering and low traction. There’s a poor drag brake and a throttle delay when changing directions. See all of this in our video series below:

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Our Test Course

If you’re not familiar with how we test RC rock crawlers, we have a course that challenges any 4x4 RC crawler in many ways:

  • Approach and departure angle: these  are challenged on Problems 2 and 3;
  • Side-hill ability: tested on Problems 1, 3 and 5;
  • Breakover (skid clearance): tested on Problems 4 and 6;
  •  Suspension articulation and centre of gravity: challenged on problems 2 and 5; and lastly,
  • A punishing ascent on problem 6 tests all of balance, break-over, articulation, tire traction and approach and departure angles.

Put together, we have a gnarly, challenging set of problems that challenge all crawlers. If a rig can conquer 3 or more of them, chances are you have a reasonably high-performance rock crawler. There are some machines that can claim all success on all six in stock form – but not many!

As you've seen in the video above, our Remo Hobby 10275 only managed to finish Problem 1. Still, one is better than none, right?

What Is It Good For?

All is not lost with this model! For all the challenges we found with rock crawling, keep in mind that we tested this vehicle on the same course that challenges vehicles costing fully ten times this amount! The car is durable in its stock form and materials used are fully appropriate for its intended purpose.

Yes, it’s a poor rock crawler. But it will make a fabulous backyard basher. It’ll handle puddles and creeks and it’ll deliver fun while doing so! The light weight and bouncy suspension combined with the tall-ish gearing and fast 390 brushed motor mean this thing is a hoot on bumpy ground.

Remo Hobby 10275 Mods

Keeping in mind this is a very cheap new RC crawler, any changes we’d make to this model need to be low-cost. We can’t just rip out all the electronics and replace them with high performance gear and do the same with wheels and tires. That would defeat the purpose entirely!

No, for the Remo Hobby 10275 we want only to change or upgrade things whilst keeping the price as close to $0 as possible. We wanted to lower its center of gravity, slow it down, improve its steering and address that ESC cut-out issue. We managed to achieve all of this for about $15!

Remo Hobby 10275 Crawling II

Our Verdict

For the price, we think the Remo Hobby 10275 will deliver on both longevity and fun, particularly in the hands of kids. For this purpose, we recommend it. However, if you’re after a rock crawler first and foremost, look elsewhere.

Where To Get It

We have a 10% discount coupon available care of Banggood, who also graciously supplied us with the Remo Hobby 10275 for review and testing.

Remo Hobby 10275 Underneath
Craig Veness

Craig Veness

RC-TNT

Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it’s all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! …You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂