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TESTED: Gmade GR-01 GOM Rock Buggy

TESTED: Gmade GR-01 GOM Rock Buggy

Korean manufacturer Gmade has been on a bit of a tear lately. After chugging along in the 1.9-inch trail scene with variations of the Jeep-flavored Sawback, the brand turned up the heat with the Komodo, a new pickup truck–style rig that takes its cues from the Ford Super Duty—nice truck (see our review in the May 2017 issue) but still a GS-01 chassis underneath, like the Sawback. For something completely new, look no further than the GOM, Gmade’s first release on the new GR-01 rock-buggy platform. GOM (Korean for “bear,” and pronounced so it rhymes with “home”) is a new rig aimed squarely at the Axial RR01 Bomber and high-performance 2.2-inch trail work. Out of the box, the kit includes a high-low transmission and dig-equipped transfer case to set it apart. And as I’m sure most of you will agree, the completed GOM is a looker, even in one-shot orange. What about on the trail? Keep reading.

Gmade GR-01 GOM - Specs

Gmade GR-01 GOM - steel shaft

A 5mm steel shaft joins the transmission and transfer case. The thinner rods actuate the shift forks that operate the high/low transmission and dig system.

 

2-Speed Transmission & Dig Transfer Case
Gmade really went for it in the drivetrain department. The transmission is styled to look like the sort of gearbox you’d hang off the back of a full-size V8, and joins the transfer case via a 5mm steel shaft. Inside, plastic gears spin on ball bearings, and shift-forks slidedrive dogs to select high or low gear in the transmission and engage/disengage the transfer case’s dig function. One servo does all the shifting, as long as you’ve got a three-position third channel on your radio to let you click between high gear, low gear, and “dig.”

Gmade GR-01 GOM - Engine cutaways

These cutaways show the drive dogs (in yellow) that engage the high/low ratios and dig system.

 

“Locked-Diff” Axles
Naturally, the GOM gets solid axles front and rear. Attractive white-metal diff covers are the standout feature, with metal ring and pinion gears underneath. The ring gears attach to diff cases, but there are no gears inside; instead, metal lockers are installed. The front axle’s C-hubs can be rotated for zero or 10 degrees of caster, and the kingpins tilt in toward the chassis to reduce scrub radius. What’s the axle ratio, you ask? It’s 39/13, for a 3:1 ratio.

Gmade GR-01 GOM - Axles

The axles look trick with their angled metal covers and supporting trusses.

 

2.2 Bead-locks & Nitto-Look Rubber
Gmade doesn’t shout out Nitto, but if you know your off-road rubber, you’ll pick out the MT-2202 tires as ringers for Nitto Trail Grapplers. The tires have thin carcasses and are filled with soft foams, so the treads can conform easily over obstacles. The tread depth is pretty shallow at about 1.7mm, which should be good for grip on smooth rocks but less effective when finding traction requires grabbing edges—we’ll see how they work on the trail. The plastic rims sandwich a sleeve to squeeze the tire beads, and they’re easy to assemble. Attractive hub covers increase realism, but you’ll have to remove eight screws to get at the axle nuts. I cheated and installed the covers with just two screws since they’re purely cosmetic.

Gmade GR-01 GOM - Tires

Gmade GR-01 GOM - Chassis Details

Gmade GR-01 GOM - Battery Access

Battery access is clip-free—the pack slides in via a latched door.

 

Gmade GR-01 GOM - Driver Figure

A driver figure is not included, but a Tamiya Wild Willy figure fits nicely.

 

Gmade GR-01 GOM - Threaded Body Shocks

XD Threaded-Body Shocks
The GOM gets a set of deluxe dampers. In addition to looking good with their gunmetal-colored bodies and red-anodized bleed screws, the shocks have sturdy 3.5mm shafts. The seals are installed as cartridges, and everything builds up easily into a smooth-operating set of shocks. Two of the dampers, however, wept oil past the cartridge threads. It wasn’t a big deal as a wrap of Teflon tape fixed the problem. The cartridges are molded two per parts tree, so one must be slightly off-spec. Best advice? Wrap ’em all with Teflon tape and you won’t have to worry about it.

Gmade GR-01 GOM - interior

Lots of detailing opportunity here.

 

Cage-and-Panel Body with Full Interior
The GOM’s “body” is comprised of seven flat panels that Gmade thankfully die-cuts for you. The hood is the eighth panel, and is vacu-formed like a regular RC car body for you to cut and trim, along with a radiator detail panel. All the mounting holes are marked on the panels, and they lined up perfectly. Ditto for the full interior, which drops right in. I simply painted mine black and added the supplied dashboard decal, steering wheel, shift knobs, and seats—and it looks great. But if you want to detail it out, there’s plenty of space to work with.

Gmade GR-01 GOM - Action

Behind the wheel
Before getting behind the wheel with the GOM, you’ll need to spend a few hours behind the workbench. The line-art manual is clear and thorough, but this is definitely a kit that should be built at a leisurely pace. There’s a lot of hardware and steps, and many parts can easily be installed upside down or backward (or just plain missed) if you aren’t paying attention. Get a snack, put on some tunes, and enjoy the build. I spread it out over a few nights with no hitches—at least not until it was time to install the electronics, and I discovered the space for the speed control was too tight for my Tekin RX4. Note also that 540-size motors fit better than 550s—FYI as you consider what gear to install in your GOM. Build complete, the first thing I did with my freshly painted rig was flip it over in the driveway as I checked the steering with a hard turn. The axles have a ton of articulation (RTI score is 1316) and the truck doesn’t have swaybars, so watch those high-traction turns or you’ll roll the GOM onto its lid. The hike to my test spot was a good opportunity to test the 2-speed transmission. Actual speed will vary with the motor you choose, but the second-gear ratio is 53% taller than first gear. It’s definitely nice to have the extra scoot between driving spots. In action on rocks and in rugged terrain where it belongs, the GOM generates impressive climbing grip. Carrying 62% of its weight over the front axle certainly helps, as do the Nitto look-alike tires. The relatively shallow tread is a good match for smooth rocks, and grips even better if they’ve got some texture. One test I give all the trail trucks I review is a sprint up a 43-degree concrete embankment, and I actually laughed out loud at how ridiculously easily the GOM shot up it without a hint of tire spin
or any sense of effort. I expected the tires to be a letdown on sandy, silty climbs up the creek bed at my driving spot, but the soft carcasses and foam inserts made the most of the Grappler design. When traction did fail, the GOM still found a way up with wheel speed thanks to the 3100Kv Tekin motor I chose. Nothing but good things to say there. Rock beds and gnarled root clusters did little to stop the GOM, as the tall 2.2 tires and ample articulation simply let the rig roll up, over and through. Though I didn’t need to use it, I did experiment with dig, and it works well. A flip of the 3rd-channel switch locks the rear axle to help the truck pivot when a rolling turn doesn’t do the trick. Gmade’s got a fun and versatile machine here.

Gmade GR-01 GOM - Test Gear

Gmade GR-01 GOM - At a Glance

Final Word
Gmade packs a lot of features into the GOM. The high-low transmission and dig transfer case are the biggies, and then there’s the premium XD shocks, aluminum links, metal diff covers, and full interior. There are clever design touches too: I like the slide-in battery access, and being able to separate the roll cage from the main chassis without reducing the GOM to a pair of axles and flopping links makes the truck easier to wrench on. I’d like to see universal-joint or CV-style front driveshafts and metal joints for the center shafts, but their omission didn’t seem to hinder the GOM on the trail. It’s a worthy competitor for the Axial RR10 Bomber (which it is clearly aimed at) on its own merits, and having something different on the trail adds to the fun—you don’t see a lot of Gmades out there. With the GOM, I suspect we’ll begin to see quite a few more.

Updated: February 17, 2018 — 5:03 PM
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