QUICK SPIN: THUNDER TIGER E-MTA

Aug 31, 2013 No Comments by

PHOTOS HOPE MCCALL

Thunder Tiger goes big with a 22-volt, 12-pound, 4WD monster

1/8-SCALE ELECTRIC MONSTER TRUCK | RTR


To say the Thunder Tiger e-MTA is big may just be the under-statement of the year. Oftentimes when a car maker designates a larger scale to a vehicle, it could be argued that it really is just a slightly larger 1/10. The e-MTA doesn't just sneak in under the radar. A truck of this stature and in-your-face styling can't just be a lid-lifting disappointment; it had better pack a one-two punch of design and power underneath too. To push the e-MTA over the top, Thunder Tiger decks out the truck with a 2000Kv ⅛-sized motor, enough room to pack in 22.2V worth of power and a modular clamshell design chassis with massive horizontally mounted shocks. When I opened the box of the e-MTA for the first time, the gargantuan truck introduced itself to me with a heavy thump. This is the story of one of the most neck-breaking RC experiences of my life.


INNER HEXAGON CELL CONSTRUCTION (IHCC) INTEGRATED CHASSIS

The chassis' honeycomb bracing adds stiffness and strength without dumping on a ton of weight.

Yup, it sure is a mouthful, but the IHCC chassis design is super stiff and bulletproof, yet remains lightweight thanks to a hexagon pattern molded into the main chassis. The hex adds both thickness and torsional rigidity to the chassis to provide the e-MTA with a rock-solid backbone. Each component of the truck is encased behind its own modular cover on the chassis to keep things from getting dirty, wet, or, given the truck's wicked attitude, from being utterly destroyed. The entire assembly is very monocoque in style and makes the truck bulletproof. Hinged hatches open on either side of the chassis to access the twin battery compartment while the packs themselves are held in place by a simple battery retaining clip.

HEAVY-DUTY RUNNING GEAR

The e-MTA comes with an Ace RC 6S-capable speed control and 2000Kv brushless motor to deliver some serious power.

The e-MTA is certainly not all show and no go. With a truck this big, Thunder Tiger installed an Ace RC 2000Kv brushless motor and 6S-capable speed control. Although it's a tight squeeze, the truck is capable of housing up to two 3S LiPo packs for 22 heart-pounding volts. The batteries are housed inside a closed section deep inside the chassis but the body is cut out so you can remove and install them without taking the body off. Sitting atop the e-MTA's hilly chassis is a final cover for the Ace RC 150-amp speed control complete with cooling fan to keep things from getting heated. Finally, as the only component on the truck that isn't covered and protected within an inch of its life, the digital high-torque metal gear servo is of the waterproof variety. The DS2008MG servo deals out 130 oz.-in. of torque in .17 seconds on 6V to get the massive tires turned.

THE TRUCK (AND THE SPEEDO) IS CAPABLE OF HANDLING UP TO TWO 3S LIPO PACKS FOR 22 HEART-POUNDING VOLTS.

Each component on this truck is heavily armored underneath sectional covers.

VEHICLE SPECS

  • Length: 24.4 in. (620mm)

  • Width: 17.5 in. (445mm)

  • Wheelbase: 14.6 in. (370mm)

  • Height: 8.7 in. (220mm)

  • Item no.: TTRD8111 (red), TTRD8112 (yellow), TTRD8113 (green)

  • Scale:

  • Price: $500

  • Weight, as tested: 12 lb. 6 oz. (5613g)

  • Chassis: Plastic hexagon cell construction integrated chassis

  • SUSPENSION

  • Type: Upper and lower A-arm with pivot ball

  • Inboard camber link positions (F/R): 1/1

  • Outboard camber-link positions (F/R): 1/1

  • Shock positions, towers (F/R): 1/1

  • Shock positions, arms (F/R): 1/1

  • Shocks: Large diameter plastic coil over with clips

  • DRIVETRAIN

  • Type/ratio: Shaft drive

  • Spur gear/pinion: 55T/25T

  • Differential: Bevel-gear, fluid-filled

  • Driveshafts: Aluminum constant velocity style

  • Bearings: Metal-shielded

  • WHEELS & TIRES

  • Wheels: Bead-lock style, 17mm hex

  • Tires: Split-tread, chevron-style

  • Inserts: Open-cell foam

  • MOTOR AND ACCESSORIES

  • Motor: Ace RC IBL40/20

  • Turns/Kv: 2000Kv

  • Speed control: Ace RC BLC-150C (150A 2-6S)

  • Motor limit: 3000Kv (with 4S), 2400Kv (with 6S)

  • Battery limit: 6-18 cell NiMH, 2-6S LiPo

  • Battery: Two Onyx 5000mAh 11.1V 35C (not included)

HORIZONALLY MOUNTED SUSPENSION

The truck rides on a set of four horizontally mounted, fluid-filled shocks that are actuated via a system of pushrods and cantilevers to allow the suspension to work its magic from safely inside the truck. Not having exposed shocks means whatever the e-MTA can't drive over, it can drive through without breaking a sweat. Each corner of the suspension utilizes a single shock with the foremost shocks working the left side while the one behind the tower works the right. Long upper and lower suspension arms are mated to the hubs by externally adjustable pivot balls in both front and rear, which means the suspension doesn't have to hope a weaker camber link will take the beating that the truck deals it, and camber adjustments can be made without taking the wheels off. Since Thunder Tiger is the proud owner of Team Associated, you'll recognize the suspension arms from the MGT and Rival trucks; a nice touch for parts availability.

OPTIMIZED TRANSMISSION

The tranny is low-slung and lightweight for maximum performance. Thunder Tiger also throws you a spare spur gear just in case.

Rather than pick up a previous design from their nitro trucks, Thunder Tiger headed back to the drawing board to design an all-new transmission to put the power down. The e-MTA feeds power to its tires through a transmission that features small diameter gears to keep the center of gravity as low as possible in the very tall truck. To keep things in one piece, the transmission uses a stepped gear reduction to reach the center diff before sending the power out to the fluid-filled differentials on either end. The entire drivetrain is very lightweight and has a low CG, which is crucial to keep the truck from torque steering under acceleration.

TOP-SHELF TRANSMITTER

Ace RC's Cougar GP3 2.4GHz radio gives you plenty of trim and travel adjustments to do anything you want with the e-MTA.

The e-MTA comes with an Ace RC Cougar GP3 2.4GHz radio system installed. While the radio keeps it simple, it's certainly on the high side of simple. What I mean by that is while the radio doesn't feature a digital screen, Bluetooth, Tetris, or any other fancy gadgetry that a computerized radio would have, it does give you a lot more than your everyday RTR radio. It has all the usual suspects: dual rate, trim, and servo reversing, and you'll also find throttle/brake ATV travel adjustments as well as a low battery alarm that lets you know when the transmitter's pack is dying.

BEHIND THE WHEEL

THIS TRUCK ISN'T JUST BRUTISHLY STRONG; IT'S AMAZINGLY QUICK FOR ITS SIZE.


The e-MTA's brute power can be described as nothing less than spectacular. Even on loose dirt, the truck is powerful enough to do backflips from a standstill simply by yanking on the throttle. I discovered this on pull number one and it became a game for me to try and master the finesse needed to land the truck back on its tires. Games and parlor tricks aside, rolling off with the truck is done carefully. The 2200Kv system is brutal and can power the e-MTA over, around, or through anything that gets in its way. With 22.2 volts on tap, this truck isn't just strong; it's quick for its size. After just a handful of runs for photos and a little fun, I managed to blast clear through the hexes molded into the wheels and spun them clean into circles. This truck could certainly stand to have a set of metal wheels or at least ones with metal hexes in them to survive. Aside from that and an ejected driveshaft pin, the e-MTA managed to keep it together under some downright torturous driving.

When I first removed the truck's body, I was stunned to see horizontally opposed shocks. As a driving purist, I've never really appreciated this type of suspension in anything other than F1 cars; they always allow for a ton of chassis roll and everything just seems like it's damped way too soft. On the e-MTA however, the shocks are located close to the shock tower for good reason, so it would be nearly impossible to break them. The shock settings and fluid choice out of the box work well, and while the truck does roll like a monster truck will, it's not as excessive as I suspected; it's certainly not enough to put the shocks in front of an errant rock or perilous landing that could snap one in half.

On the plus side, the e-MTA comes with colossal tires that look cool. On the minus, the body leaves a lot to the taste of the specific owner, and honestly, I happen to like it. Its low-slung, chop-top-type looks are sporty and sleek, but also functional too. Because the relatively featureless body has really no discernible roof line, you won't be crushing in the cab's ceiling in when you discover the backflip game like I did. Its styling may not match perfectly with a large-tire monster truck's stature, but the e-MTA is all about performance and survival and that shows from the radio holder's point of view.

+

It's HUGE!

More power than you're ready for

Rock-solid chassis design

-

Battery compartment is too tight on 3S packs

Lots of covers means lots of screws to remove for maintenance

Wheels need metal hexes to hold up to all that power


TEST GEAR

DURATRAX ONYX 5000MAH 11.1V 35C LIPO, ITEM NO. DTXC1966, PRICE $90

FINAL WORD

My love affair with electric monster trucks runs deep in my history in this hobby; they were all I wanted when I was a kid. When Thunder Tiger designed the e-MTA, they opted not to just convert a nitro platform but to truly start from the ground up, taking into consideration not only what was needed to make the truck work, but also what would make it keep working. More than just stuffing a huge powerplant inside, Thunder Tiger went to work making sure that every little part of the truck was spot on and either strong enough or placed correctly to stand the test of time. The e-MTA isn't just another big truck with oversized tires and a silly amount of motor, it's a monument to RC, one meant to be there year after year to astonish all that stare at it in wonder.

SOURCES

Performance Tests

About the author

Associate Editor I can say that I’ve never done ANYTHING as long as I’ve been into RC. I got my first car when I was 11 and never looked back. Since then I’ve owned hundreds of cars and trucks and raced everything from Off-Road to Boats but I’m an Oval racer at heart. Whether I’m down siding a jump or going fast and turning left, it’s all on and my foot is to the floor! I love seeing new people discover our hobby and helping anyone I can enjoy it more. When I’m not racing or writing, I like to restore vintage RC cars and organize the Vintage Offroad Nationals. I’m also a dad and enjoy teaching my son how to drive and watching him get into this hobby on his own.
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