Monster Truck fans have been anticipating the release of the CEN Racing 1/10 Solid Axle MT Series trucks for awhile now, and we’ve spent the last few weeks putting not one, but both of them (the HL150 and B50, to be more exact), through their paces. How do these rigs hold up? Read on to find out!
Review By: Doug Welker
Pictures By: Doug Welker
RTR or Kit: RTR
2wd or 4wd: 4wd
Shaft or Belt: Shaft
Electric or Gas: Electric
Length: 16 in (405mm)
Width: 12.2 in (310mm)
Ground Clearance: 3.14 in (80mm)
Weight: 4.85 lbs (2.2kg)
Wheelbase: 10.82 in (275mm)
Motor: RS-550 Brushed
Speed Controller: HobbyWing WP-1040
Low Voltage Cut-off: Yes
Radio: Mod 3S 3 Channel 2.4 ghz
Shocks: Oil filled, aluminum cap
Wheels: Deep Dish 2.2-inch (55mm) Monster Truck Wheel
Tires: Monster Truck V-Pattern Tire 55x136x74mm
Battery: Not included
Ford B50 1/10 Solid Axle Monster Truck #8960
1/10 Hy-Per Lube HL-150 Solid Axle Monster Truck #8965
Wheelie on demand: Yep, in low gear it wheelie’s with ease.
Backflip off ramps: On a monster truck style back-flip ramp, yep. If you put the truck on 3S, it can pretty much back-flip any time you hit full throttle, ha!
Stability Control: No
Sound Module: No
Top Speed: 22 mph on 2S while in high gear mode. The truck is pretty wild to handle on 3S, so we didn’t get a good top speed reading.
Runtime: 15 mins on 2S 5200mah / 30 mins on 2S 8000 mah
Street Price: $299 for the HL150, $329 for the B50
Primary Competition: Axial SMT10, HPI Wheely King 4×4, MST-MTX-1 and other solid axle monster trucks.
What’s Needed To Complete: You need AA batteries for the transmitter and a battery for the truck.
Build Quality: We disassembled the HL150 almost immediately so as to both make a gear change in the transmission (see below) and also just to see the internals. No issues whatsoever. Both trucks were built well. Good hardware and quality components throughout.
Test Drivers: Doug Welker, Claude Buster, Josh “Dig” Rhodes and a slew of Trigger King R/C monster truck racers.
Test Venues: Trigger King R/C Monster Truck Arena and various neighborhood locations
Set-up Notes: Both trucks were run identical, with the exception of the HL150 spending most of the time in “high gear” and the B50 staying at the stock “low gear” it comes with out of the box. The gear change is made by opening up the transmission and flipping the middle idler gear. We also installed the optional wheelie bar that comes in the box.
Turning: Ok, so we are going to start off with the elephant in the room. Both of these trucks just do not turn very well out of the box, as the stock servo can’t really handle the chassis-mounted steering linkage setup. The links themselves are stout, what-with an actual steel tie rod connecting both knuckles…there just isn’t enough oomph to sufficiently yank them. Because of this, it can be really tough to make sharp corners in stock trim. You need to finesse the vehicle by way of turning under braking, sort of like a Tamiya Lunchbox. This is really the only issue we found with the otherwise stout trucks- an aftermarket servo is necessary.
Jumping: These short wheelbase trucks can be touchy in the air, but they are balanced nicely. They are good jumpers, albeit they can be a bit unpredictable with landing rebounds thanks to a lack of tire foams.
Bumps/Whoops: The included oil in the shocks is maybe a tad stiffer than what we wanted, but is easy enough to fix. The stock tires don’t have foams so they actually do a lot of the absorption, and as such, it can be a bit tricky to pound whoops.
On-Road: A high grip paved surface allows the truck to ride power wheelies all day long as well going into a bicycle whenever you want. It makes for fun stunt driving terrain!
Grass: The torquey motor and overall light curb weight of the truck let it head through deep grass pretty easily. We actually tested in some nasty shrubbery and outside of getting some grass wrapped around the driveshafts that needed a quick pluck, it handled great.
Tires: The included V-tread tires certainly look the part of a full size monster. They don’t have foams though, so expect a somewhat unpredictable ride if you are hitting rough stuff. The truck is a featherweight though, so this isn’t as bad as maybe you’d expect. The wheels look awesome and the bead ring is easily removable if you wanted to ditch it or paint it a different color.
Power: This truck absolutely rips for having a brushed motor. The included 550 size can provides gobs of torque for this lightweight machine, and when you put the transmission into high gear it seriously screams. We normally like to go for a brushless upgrade quick on most of our trucks, but not this one. Excellent ESC and motor load-out from the factory. Plenty to both be controllable and fun. Just know that if you bomb around in high gear for the full duration of a large capacity lipo (like when testing our 8000 mah setup), the electronics get very toasty.
Radio: We were big fans of the included radio. It has digital features and a rubber wheel- that’s more than most stockers can say. We aren’t exactly going to trade in our high end remotes but still, this is solid for a ready-to-run.
Broken Parts: By the end of our testing, the rear end of the B50 was getting quite crunchy. Outside of that though, these trucks proved to be quite tough.
The B50 features a body with a lot of hard plastic details, and due to this it’s quite a bit more top heavy than the standard lexan-bodied HL150. The B50 will tip over relatively easily and the body can cause the body mounts to sway, so if the Bronco cosmetics don’t matter to you, the HL150 is what we’d recommend.
Speaking of cosmetics, it should be noted that a myriad of monster truck bodies fit this truck. All Stampede sized offerings from Pro-Line and JConcepts fit the truck pretty much dead nuts, and many stock Clod Buster-sized bodies from Parma also fit. The body mounts are vertically adjustable as well, so many appropriately sized shells can be used without needing aftermarket mounts.
The included front and rear sway bars on this truck are totally BOSS. Seriously. Very heavy duty, no slop and they look realistic as well. Very, very nice. Kudos to CEN for making these factory equipped.
The general “feel” of this truck is that it’s a well engineered product. The plastic is a nice and thick “RPM-style” material that feels very strong. Our testing would prove that to be true!
The transmission here is very well designed. Featuring machined gears and the ability to run a high or low transfer case, it’s a stout unit!
You are going to loose the protective covers on the light bar of the b50 pretty quickly. You can try gluing them on to be more permanent.. but if you don’t glue them, don’t expect them to be there at the end of the day.
Best Mod: New Steering Servo. You don’t need it to be expensive, the Hitec we added retails for around $30 dollars. Seriously though, get a servo. This truck rocks with one. If you want to add a set of new 2.2 wheels and tires from JConcepts, Pro-Line or Duratrax as well, you’d have a heck of a rig, then.
A = Outstanding/Best in Class, B = Above Average, C = Average, D = Below Average, F = Horrific
Time To Bash: A Pull it out of the box and go. It comes with Deans plugs already soldered up, which I know many hobbyists will really appreciate. (Have you seen our Unboxing Race Video?)
Workability: A This truck is extremely simple to work on. We took the entire thing apart to see the internals and to make a gear swap, and it was cake. Most assemblies are just a couple screws away, and the hex hardware is nice.
Car Show Rating: B+ Both of these trucks are officially licensed and have great proportions. They look like full size monster trucks!
Bash-A-Bility:B Being lightweight, tough, and having a lot of power makes for a fun basher. The B50’s plastic accessories on the body won’t be long for this world under heavy bashing, though.
Fun Factor:B Plenty of power on tap here combined with a realistic chassis/suspension makes for a fun solid axle monster truck.
Handling: C The trucks have great suspension components right out of the box, but the servo holds it back.
Value: B We feel that, minus the servo, you are getting a lot of monster truck for your money. Having actual sway bars right from the box is something all solid axle monsters should have. The machined gear transmission, metal steering links and aluminum capped shocks are also very nice. Again, with a couple tweaks you have a truck that’s a ton of fun.
Parts Availability: C The CEN solid axle trucks have a full line of aluminum hop-ups on the way, but right now you need to order everything online.
BigSquid Rating: BThe CEN Racing HL150 and B50 are legit additions to the rc solid axle scene that offer a lot of fun and bang for the buck!