PHOTOS JOEL NAVARRO
1/8-SCALE ELECTRIC MONSTER TRUCK | RTR
Team Associated's first electric monster truck aims to crush the competition
It's no secret that the monster truck is one of the most popular classes in RC, with both incredibly versatile performance and instantly recognizable styling, which explains the acclaim received by Team Associated's original Monster GT. It's that rock-solid MGT DNA that provides the basis for this new backyard superstar: the Rival, Associated's first electric 1/8-scale monster truck. The A-Team engineers started with the proven MGT platform and tweaked it to meet the advancing performance of brushless systems to harness the fun of its fuel-burning predecessor with the plug-and-play functionality that only electric power can provide. AE's Qualifier Series of sport-level RTRs was in desperate need of a big, bad monster truck, and the formula for the Rival looks great on paper—did they nail it?
Item no.: ASC20510
Width: 17.7 in. (450mm)
Height: 9.5 in. (241mm)
Ground clearance: 2.25 in. (57mm)
Length: 23.4 in. (595mm)
Wheelbase: 15.5 in. (394mm)
Weight, as tested: 13 lb. 3 oz. (5990g)
Chassis: Extruded aluminum tunnel
Type: Independent dual wishbone suspension with pillow balls
Inboard camber link positions (F/R): 1/1
Outboard camber-link positions (F/R): 1/1 (pillow balls)
Shock positions, towers (F/R): 1/1
Shock positions, arms (F/R): 2/2
Shocks: Plastic, oil-filled with ride height clips
Type/ratio: Shaft driven 4WD, 3.31:1
Spur gear/pinion: 56/15
Slipper clutch: None
Differential: Oil-filled bevel gear differential
Driveshafts: Steel CV-style driveshafts
Bearings: Rubber sealed
WHEELS & TIRES
Wheels: Rival MT wheel, black with blue bead-lock ring
Tires: Rival MT tire with open-cell foam insert
Body: Rival MT body
Transmitter: Team Associated XP3G 3-channel 2.4GHz
Receiver: Team Associated TRS403SSi 4-channel 2.4GHz
Speed control: XP SC1300-DB
Motor: Reedy 1515-SL 2000Kv sensorless
Steering servo: XP DS1510MG metal gear
Battery: Two Reedy WolfPack 7-cell 3000mAh NiMH packs
*Price varies by dealer
A big truck deserves beefy suspension arms. Check!
The nitro-burning Monster GT served as the basis for the Rival monster truck, and its long-travel dual wishbone suspension at all four corners is right at home in this application as well. Two oil-filled coilovers at each corner (sporting faux reservoirs for added style) provide plenty of support for the pillow ball-fitted arms, and together with adjustable toe-links (made with new 5mm alloy turnbuckles and rod ends for extra durability) at both ends, the Rival benefits from a considerable amount of tuning options. Another great feature of the truck's suspension is the use of parts that are universal left-to-right and front-to-back, lowering the number of specific spare parts you'll need to carry with you.
The XP3G is both comfortable and functional.
An XP Digital servo handles steering duties and keeps the truck tracking straight.
Reedy 7-cell WolfPacks provide the juice. Batteries in the box are always a nice touch!
With a truck tipping the scales at over 13 pounds, a high-quality power system and controlling components are a must and Associated didn't skimp. The new XP3G radio system is not only light and comfortable to use, with important features like trims and dual rate easily adjustable via large dials, but it also provides a glitch-free signal thanks to its FHSS transmission. The XP3G's steering wheel sends its commands to an XP DS1510MG digital metal gear servo with a .15 sec. transit time and torque rating of 138.9 oz.-in. When the trigger is squeezed, the pair of included Reedy WolfPack NiMH batteries send voltage to the sensorless Reedy 1515-SL 2000Kv 4-pole torque monger via the XP SC1300-DB speed control, which can automatically detect LiPo batteries (it's compatible with two 2S packs) and adjust the cutoff accordingly. That motor churns aggressively treaded monster truck tires mounted to bead-lock-style wheels, and the whole package is topped with a racy monster truck lid.
The one-piece battery hold-down strap is easy to use without any body clips or threaded nuts to lose; simply twist the locks for battery ingress and egress.
Front and rear pivot ball suspension offers both adjustment and smooth suspension movement, while new wheel hexes increase the truck's width.
When converting a nitro truck to electric power, it makes sense that the extruded aluminum tunnel chassis, designed in such a manner for superior rigidity, would change as well; in addition to creating mounting locations for the new truck's various components, like the new water-resistant receiver box, it was stretched an inch for improved stability and less front-to-rear weight transfer. The swing-away battery strap is held in place by thumb tabs and located in front of the beefy motor mount needed to hold the new powerplant in place. A heavy-duty 5mm roll bar/carrying handle and new bumpers at the front and rear keep the truck safe during hard collisions and tumbles.
BEEFED UP, TUNED UP DRIVETRAIN
Those beautiful blue driveshaft couplers are attached to a new center diff that helps the truck power through the rough stuff.
New and tougher CV-style axles at all four corners key into new wheel hexes that increase the Rival's width by a half-inch in comparison to the MGT to add stability over tricky off-road terrain. Whereas the MGT had a two-speed transmission to best harness the powerband of the glow engine, the Rival's new tranny case and gears incorporate a third oil-tuned gear differential that appropriates power between the front and rear tires. Because of the positioning of the new tranny, new center driveshafts (both fore and aft of the case) were needed to complete the installation.
WITH A TRUCK TIPPING THE SCALES AT OVER 13 POUNDS, A HIGH-QUALITY POWER SYSTEM AND CONTROLLING COMPONENTS ARE A MUST AND ASSOCIATED DIDN'T SKIMP.
LiPo batteries vs. NiMH
The Rival comes equipped with two NiMH battery packs to get you rolling, but the Rival really comes to life with LiPo power. Lithium polymer batteries offer several advantages over NiMH cells of the same capacity rating: lower internal resistance, longer run times, lighter weight, and more power. LiPo batteries can't be completely discharged, however, without ruining them. To prevent this, most modern speed controls have a low-voltage detection system cutoff to prevent over-discharging. The Rival has this feature and automatically activates low-voltage detection when LiPo batteries are installed.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
Like the MGT, the Rival's tires are slightly larger than those of most trucks in its class, giving it a menacing stance and the ability to cope with exceedingly treacherous terrain; that's what makes the truck's wheel-spinning launches so impressive. The tires balloon into narrow wafers, the rear of the truck squats, and it shoots forward with a blast of sand and gravel in its wake. There's enough power on tap to unweight the front of the truck over ruts and propel it off of big jumps, but watching the tires and suspension actively soak up undulating ruts and rocks at speed is perhaps the most rewarding part of keeping your left fist tightly clenched. The truck's stability over the rough stuff, no doubt attributed to a combination of the suspension setup, pliable treads, center differential, and larger footprint via the longer chassis and wider wheel hexes, begs for the Rival to be driven harder in a quest to find obstacles it can't simply swallow.
The Rival doesn't show its heft until it's time to turn, but it rotates well enough to provide entertaining cornering performance on flat ground and is right at home shredding big berms. Deliberately abusing the throttle and brake in order to shift the truck's weight to either its front or rear tires is definitely the best way to navigate corners. You can make it turn as tightly or broadly as you'd like, and you can do so without fear of the truck tipping or traction rolling. The truck goes where you point it, and is happy to oblige.
Once airborne, those four large tires make the Rival reactive to throttle and steering inputs in order to bring it in for a controlled landing. The huge suspension travel soaks up almost any orientation of its reconnection with Mother Earth. Again, the Rival masks its weight with its leaping ability as it pops off the lip of the jump and soars through the air. Perhaps the truck's biggest need for LiPo batteries stems not from the additional power, but the run time between charges so you can continue driving the truck for longer periods of time. I couldn't get enough of driving the Rival at our favorite SoCal testing site, which is why I was especially bummed when I drove the truck hard into a rutted out berm and unexpectedly lost steering—the servo horn snapped, the lone victim after a rough day of driving. That'll be the first item that I upgrade to get this big beast back out on the trails!
Incredible off-road stability
Perfect suspension setup for jumping
Sluggish servo dampens agility
Flimsy servo horn for an otherwise bulletproof truck
Brushless system really deserves LiPo batteries
YOU CAN MAKE IT TURN AS TIGHTLY OR BROADLY AS YOU'D LIKE, AND YOU CAN DO SO WITHOUT FEAR OF THE TRUCK TIPPING OR TRACTION ROLLING. THE TRUCK GOES WHERE YOU POINT IT, AND IS HAPPY TO OBLIGE.
My experience with Team Associated's Rival monster truck was indicative of what every budding RC'er hopes to achieve every time he presses “Start” on his charger—an ear-to-ear grin while giggling at the guilty fun of punishing a worthy vehicle through a jaunt that no full-size machine (or human) would survive. More importantly, though, the Rival stands up to the definition we all relate to “RC monster truck”—fast, fun, and tough. I got a kick out of driving the Monster GT when it debuted years ago, but in every aspect—from ease of use to sheer fun factor—the Rival exceeds its predecessor in every way.