Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 – Cheap & Cheerful?
Relative to other brushless fare in this scale, the Rlaarlo SDKJ-006 is cheap! The value seems to get even better when you consider the buggy’s carbon fiber chassis and quality shocks. Excluding battery, the Rlaarlo buggy weighs just 923g (or 32.5 oz). This makes for a compelling buy at first glance.
Yes, it certainly looks good on paper. Fast steering, light weight for its type, four wheel drive and full metal drivetrain. So, what’s the catch? Join us for a closer look as we try to find out!
What’s In the Box?
Let’s start with what you get for your USD$199.99 (use 15%-off code RCTNT here for further discount).
- Rlaarlo #XDKJ-006 1/14 Brushless Buggy RTR
- Radio Transmitter
- 2800mAh 2S LiPO battery & USB charger
- Accessories bag with foam bumper, spares & tools:
- 1 x Front Bumper
- 4 x Suspension Arm
- 4 x Wheel Hub Kit
- 2 x Dogbone
- 4 x Body Clip
- 1 x Wrench
- 1 x Screwdriver
- 1 x USB Cable
- 1 x User Manual
Packaging is the same as what you’ll find in the 144001 and similar models. There’s no plastic aside from bags for the spare parts. All else is cardboard, which is great to see.
The Rlaarlo’s Power System
In an email, Rlaarlo told us the XDKJ-006 is the brushless version of their brushed XDKJ-001 model. The 001 is essentially a clone of the 144001 – not necessarily a bad thing. The motor is a 3200kv 2847 sized motor, with a max rpm of about 40,000 (that’s 3200 multiplied by the full-charge voltage of a 3S LiPO battery, 12.6v).
The ESC is a 45A unit that supports 2S and 3S batteries and is splash-proof (we tested that!). Whilst the ESC has a cooling fan along with overheat and overcurrent protection built-in, both it and the motor will run better and longer on a 2S battery. Lower voltage means less heat. It also means a longer run-time for the same rated capacity battery – and this buggy is plenty fast on 2S, honestly! We’d recommend keeping to 2S batteries unless you’re doing the odd speed run.
Let’s Talk Speed
Rlaarlo has made a few claims about this vehicle’s top speed. So, while we’re talking about speed, we should address some of their claims. On Rlaarlo’s website, the vehicle is advertised as being able to do “90KM/H+”. On the box itself is a sticker that says “100KM/H (on 3S battery)”. Bold claims indeed!
That said, we’d think the high 80s (50mph+) should be possible on 3S power and in ideal conditions – smooth road, no headwind, etc. The low-mid 60s (35-40mph) may be possible on 2S power. These are real-world estimations after having driven this thing on a track and on sealed road.
Theoretical Max Speed
Rlaarlo has this claim on their website: “Max 80KMH on 2S battery, 90KMH speed potentials on 3S battery”. From a theoretical perspective, this cannot be correct. Here’s why: remember above where we discussed RPM and motor kv? The unloaded speed of a motor at any given voltage is a function of its kv rating. In this case, a 3200kv motor has a definite maximum RPM of 26,880 with a fully charged, 2S LiPO battery (that’s 8.4v multiplied by 3200kv). That same motor has a maximum RPM of 40,320 with a fully charged, 3S LiPO battery (3200kv x 12.6v).
A 3S battery has 1.5x higher voltage than a 2S battery. We know that motor speed is a function of motor kv and battery voltage. Therefore, the max RPM on 3S should be 1.5x higher than on 2S. Let’s see: 40,320 / 26,880 = 1.5. Great, our numbers are correct! Now let’s get to what that means for our purple buggy vs physics!
Real-World Top Speed
Let’s say the car really can hit 80KM/H on a 2S battery (spoiler – it will top out at 60 to 65km/h). If it really could do 80km/h on 2S, it should be able to do a theoretical maximum of 120km/h (75mph) on 3S (remember, that’s 80km/h times our 1.5 multiplier). This is setting aside air drag, vehicle stability, effective radio control distance and being able to keep the front tires down. But if 2S will deliver 80km/h, we really should at least see 100km/h though, right? The box sticker says so, after all!
What’s the top speed of the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006? You could reasonably expect 60km/h (37mph) on a 2S battery and maybe, maybe 90km/h (56mph) on a 3S battery. Real world variables will harm these potentials – surface, temperature, air speed, and so on. Would the motor and ESC handle the required current draw for such speed runs? We’d think it would be okay if you did it once or twice. Drive on 3S regularly and ESC and/or motor burn-out will be likely.
Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 Running Gear
That’s the electronics out of the way. What about the drive-train that has to get all that juicy brushless power down to the road? Rlaarlo claims ‘powder cast’ metal gears. We’re pleased to report at least that this powder casting system seems to be much better than the pot metal mold and cast process that was so common in the hobby over years past. We’ve had a similar experience with the RGT Rescuer gears, recently. It turns out their gears are actually quite strong – here’s our recent Q&A post about that. The gears in the Rlaarlo look to be of similar quality. Awesome!
All gears in the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 are powder metal – the new, stronger kind, not that older pot metal casting. The drive shafts and axles are all steel and the front CVDs and dog bone axles and cups are all of stainless steel as well. Ball bearings are metal throughout, though unshielded. For a cheaper vehicle that packs brushless power, all of this is good. You might break something eventually, but it’ll be a LOT stronger than the ‘cheapie’ cars of just a few years ago. Double awesome!
The 006’s Radio System
Things are a bit less rosy when it comes to the radio transmitter. As we said in our video review (embedded further down this page), the radio looks like the FlySky Noble’s ugly younger sibling. It clearly has design cues from the Noble, which is a gorgeous transmitter, by the way, but it misses the mark. For our grown-up hands it was cramped to use. The dials are minimal but functional and the unit takes 3x AA batteries, which is good to see. Range is sufficient for the vehicle’s size and steering was predictable.
Probably our least favourite element of this radio is the throttle feel. The first half of the throttle trigger’s pull gives nearly no feedback from the car – it starts rolling, but only just. It’s as if there’s a high degree of exponential programmed into the radio. The second half of the trigger pull gives very rapid response – so rapid that on any surface other than carpet or bitumen, you’ll spin the wheels and then spin out! We’d love to see that expo effect dialled back – you’ll need to replace the radio system and ESC entirely for that. Worth it? Maybe, maybe not. (But if you do it, consider the FlySky GT-5, which comes with the gyro-equipped FS-BS6 receiver, and the HobbyWing QUICRUN 16BL30 ESC.
As with other cheaper 14-scale buggies, the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 comes with an all-in-one radio receiver, ESC and BEC. It features a cooling fan and a spare port for another cooling fan for the motor and a simple button-press for power. The BEC outputs 5V 2A, which is sufficient for this vehicle. The servo is a 3-wire, 1.7kg unit and has plenty of speed and sufficient strength to turn the buggy, even on rough terrain.
The motor got warm on 2S running, but far from hot. If you decide to run just on 2S with this buggy, the entire electronics package should reward you with long and reliable life. Ours hasn’t missed a beat – so far!
There’s an included 2800mAh 2S battery. Note, the battery capacity seems to be labelled with the same enthusiasm as the buggy’s top speed. We think it is more likely to be about 1500mAh, based on charged capacity and runtime, compared to various other 1000mAh, 1500mAh and 2200mAh 2S batteries we have here.
The buggy accelerates best on high-traction surfaces. It holds a straight line at speed and brakes well. The tires hold on sharp turns on bitumen and the plush suspension can be firmed for road use with stiffer shock oil if you so desire.
Acceleration on 3S power is where things go a bit wrong. The buggy’s short wheelbase and low-ish kv motor means there’s a lot of torque on tap. 3S power on flat surfaces is really where that exponential feel we discussed earlier may be a strength – the only time it’s welcome, really! You’ll want to bring the throttle on gradually, as the buggy can wheelie even when its already travelling at speed.
The best advice we can offer after driving this thing for a while is to keep it on 2S power. The buggy is happiest at 8v rather than 12v. You have less undesired wheelies, lower heat, longer runtime and better overall handling at 40mph and below. Stick with 2S and you’ll get a lot of value from this buggy.
How does the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 handle off-road? Not well, at least, not in stock form. The rear bottoms out too much. The tires spin, struggling for traction on clay and dirt surfaces. The shorter wheelbase only adds to the twitchiness.
There is hope, however. We swapped the rear shock oil for 45wt. and dialled in the pre-load on the rear to about 70%. We dialled the front to about 20%. Lastly, we packed the rear diff full of moly grease, inducing an LSD (Limited-Slip Diff) effect. All of this worked together to increase the available traction on bumpy and slippery surfaces. The buggy certainly still suffers with a short wheelbase, but it’s a lot better than in the stock configuration at least!
Check out our short ‘Three $3 Fixes’ video for more detail on that:
How’s It Jump?
The buggy is well balanced. It gets a little unsettled on bigger jumps, but with 4WD and brushless power, there is ample air authority if you get the throttle inputs right. If you accelerate whilst in the air, the nose comes up. If you brake, the nose drops. It’s all fairly predictable and this is one satisfying part of the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006’s design.
The balance is well distributed on all four wheels, too. We found it consistently landed flat and even if you get out of control in the air, there is time to recover and land with grace. It’s not amazing, but for a cheap, short wheelbase buggy, it’s pretty good!
Is the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 Waterproof?
It’s splash proof. We tested that with a watering can and then a garden tap. No problems there, the 006 took all the water in stride and kept going. Puddles might be an issue, but for rain driving at least, the news is good. You can get it wet. Just don’t go swimming with it.
It’s Cheap. How’s the Quality?
Overall, it feels cheap. But it performs like it’s more expensive than it is. Be aware that the carbon fiber chassis has its limits and you absolutely can break this model if you abuse it. There is an alloy chassis available and Rlaarlo sells replacement and upgrade parts (here: https://rlaarlo.com/collections/xdkj-011-parts-amp-replacements).
For the asking price, we’d rate it as Good Enough. The alloy model is a little cheaper than the carbon fiber model and it might last a bit better. For the extra weight, the added durability may make sense to you. We received our unit from the manufacturer to test and review, but if we were buying it ourselves (as we’ve done for most of our RC garage here), we’d probably go for the alloy one.
The dogbone cups will wear out. The servo will die. The front shock mounts will break after a few bad landings. But all of this is par for the course on even expensive RC buggies. For what you pay, this machine is definitely good enough. Not great, but absolutely satisfactory.
Rlaarlo have a catalogue of parts available from launch day for this buggy. They also claim parts compatibility with the 144001, brushed power system aside, obviously. This bodes well for the model’s longevity.
What we don’t see on their site yet is the all-in-one ESC-receiver-BEC unit. We emailed today to ask about that and they’ve said they’re available. We’ll also note that if you have an electronic failure outside of warranty, and/or if you want to upgrade for better radio features or other reasons, the FlySky and HobbyWing combo we covered above wouldn’t be a bad way to go.
Certainly, you’re covered for breakages, then. We’ll repeat ourselves here to recommend that you run this thing on 2S power. You’ll reap the benefit of a more controllable buggy, longer run time and lower wear and tear. For the Rlarlo XDKJ-006, 2S is the sweet spot.
Is It Worth Buying?
If you like the WLToys 144001 and similar buggies and the idea of a brushless version appeals, then the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 should be on your short-list. You should be aware that the LC Racing EMB models are far and away better in quality and performance, but they’re also 33% more expensive than the XDKJ-006 here.
We’ve tried to frame the Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 as a half-way point between the brushed 144001 and the brushless EMB-T (or the EMB-1 for similar money). The performance and quality is about right for the price, relative to these vehicles. And to be fair, to get anything like this kind of performance even just a few years ago would have been easily twice the money it is today.
With that in mind, this one is easy to recommend. What do you think? Check out our video review below where we make this comparison and even compare the EMB with the Rlaarlo on our rocky track. See what you think!
Where To Get It
Grab yours here, direct from manufacturer: https://rlaarlo.com/?ref=uDkKyZb6JFa7v
Our thanks to Rlaarlo for providing an XDKJ-006 for our review and testing, and especially for welcoming our proviso that the review would be honest, even if that meant it might be negative. That was an integrity move.
The Rlaarlo XDKJ-006 isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good – and for the asking price, that’s not a bad deal!
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 🙂