Team RedCat TR-MT8E Monster Truck Review
What do you think of when you hear the name RedCat Racing? For some it means low-end cars with questionable durability, for others it means affordable cars that don’t break the wallet. The truck we recently tested from RedCat is the TR-MT8E Monster Truck, the very first vehicle in RedCat’s new high-end line of Team RedCat bash vehicles. Is Team RedCat a real improvement over previous offerings? How hard can you drive the TR-MT8E before it breaks? Does it have much power? Most importantly, is it worth your hard earned cash? Read on to get the entire scoop…
Review By: Cubby
Photography By: Tim Mohr
RTR or Kit: RTR
2wd or 4wd: 4wd
Shaft or Belt: Shaft
Electric or Gas: Electric
Motor: 2500kV sensorless brushless
Speed Controller: Hobbywing 100 amp, 4S max
Low Voltage Cut-off: Yes
Radio: 2.4GHz Team RedCat R-X1
Stability Control: No
Sound Module: No
Differential: Two gear diffs
Driveshafts: Metal bones center, CVD style at arms
Shocks: Oil filled, plastic bodies and caps
Servo Saver: In rack
Screws: Metric, hex
Tires: K-Factory 3.8
Battery: Not included
Front wheel travel: 3.3″
Rear wheel travel: 3.25″
Wheelie on demand: Yes
Backflip off ramps: Yes
Top Speed (measured by BSRC): 44 mph
Runtime (measured by BSRC): 14 minutes
Street Price: $439
Primary Competition: Some pretty heavy hitters like the ARRMA Kraton, Thunder Tiger MT4 G3, HPI Savage Flux, and Traxxas E-Revo.
What’s Needed To Complete: Not much. You’ll need a pair of 2S LiPo packs for the truck, a charger, and four AA batteries for the transmitter.
Build Quality: We passed the RedCat around the room and let everyone give it a close inspection. We found nothing wrong with how it was built. The shocks were well filled and not leaking, the pinion/spur mesh was spot on, and we didn’t find any loose or stripped screws.
Test Drivers: Iron Mikeee, Robbie G., Sam The Noob, T-Mohr, and yours truly.
Test Venues: Minnie Ha Ha park in Fenton Missouri, St Louis Dirtburners off-road track, and a CostCo parking lot.
Set-up Notes: We didn’t make any changes to the suspension or chassis while testing the truck. However, for power we used a pair of Duratrax Onyx LiPo batteries, Duratrax AA batteries in the transmitter, and we let a TrakPower VR-1 handle the charging duties.
Turning: The MT8E has a lot of steering, yet, the rear doesn’t tend to step out in corners. The ultra-soft tires yield loads of mechanical grip on most surfaces, which is great for keeping corner speeds up, but because of its overall high center of gravity and those uber soft tires, it does like to traction roll. On loose surfaces like gravel or loamy dirt you can turn the RedCat fairly hard, but on higher grip surfaces you have to take it easy on the wheel or risk traction rolling.
Jumping: Oh yes, the MT8E does love to launch, its big powerplant and firm suspension do a great job of getting enormous airtime. Take offs are typically uneventful and well mannered, but once launched into space it was easy to tell that it doesn’t use a center diff. This makes the RedCat extra sensitive to trigger inputs and a bit harder to keep level than other trucks in its class that use a center diff. Also, while the spring rates and rebound damping on the shocks seemed good, they were a bit firm on compression damping, causing the truck to bounce on bigger landings. But hey, we would much rather a truck come a bit too firm in the suspension department than too soft. Lastly on the subject of jumping, while the lack of a center diff makes it harder to keep level, it really makes it easy to pull off back and front flips, something that most bashers live to do.
Bumps/Whoops: With loads of ground clearance, big tires, and firm suspension, the RedCat was an absolute animal in the rough. For instance, where an E-Revo might bottom out like mad and bounce to the side, the RedCat could pound through an breakneck speed. In fact, we found ourselves searching out the roughest/gnarliest sections that we could, just to see how fast we could blow through them. Very impressive and well done in this category.
On-Road: The RedCat is crazy fun to drive on-road. Yes, it traction rolls a lot when cornering aggressively, but it has the ability to ride infinite wheelies, it can do standing backflips, and it can easily pull small wheelies in reverse. It also blows right over curbs and generally performed like a beast when driven on-road.
Grass: Those super-soft tires, no center diff, and high ground clearance make the RedCat mow through grass as good, or better, than anything else in its class. We keep referring to the RedCat as a beast, but that’s exactly what it was in grass, it simply hauled ass.
Tires: We had a love and hate relationship with the stock tires. We loved how much mechanical grip they gave, but we hated that they were so soft that it worked against the truck at times. Doing speed runs was not limited by the amount of power in the truck, it was limited by the tires expanding too much, making the truck hard to drive at higher speeds. The tires also caused excessive traction rolling on high grip surfaces. Fortunately they were the absolute bomb on gravel and in grass.
Power: There is a ton a on tap. It seems RedCat took a fairly burly power system and geared it to put out serious power on just 4S. In fact, the RedCat feels faster out of the box than the other trucks in its class when run strictly on 4S. From a dead stop it isn’t the smoothest thing on the market, but it erupts with a potent low end blast which transitions into a solid mid-range that ends with a ton of yank on top. Very impressive power on just 4S. But does it have the yank to match the other trucks in its class when they go to 6S? No, it doesn’t, the other trucks on 6S are a bit more insane, but the RedCat still has more power on tap than most normal drivers can ever use.
Radio: First off we are going to say that we had no issues with the included radio, it didn’t glitch and had more than enough range for our needs. Its wheel/trigger/grip relationship felt good and our testers liked its rubber covered wheel. The one thing our testers didn’t care for was the shape of the grip. It just wasn’t as comfortable as most other RTR radios on the market.
Broken Parts: There is no doubt, we really pounded on the RedCat. Normally we hold back on the crazy torture testing until we’ve run at least a few packs through a truck, but that went out the window early with the MT8E. I mean, how could we resist? The truck just loved to be driven hard, it loved to wheelie, and it loved to backflip. With that said, we were very impressed with how durable the MT8E was. It took a whole lot of abuse before it finally broke. It survived dozens of backflips, huge ramp hucks, and a two story roof jump with zero breakage. Finally we landed a double backflip a bit off-axis and snapped part of the rear hub.
You pretty much never have to worry about a wheel coming off by accident on the MT8E. It uses serrated wheel nuts, thread-loc, and splined 17mm wheel hexes to assure that.
The RedCat comes with its wheelie bar already mounted, and we can assure you that you will use it. The truck loves to hold block long wheelies and its wheelie bar was smartly done. The wheelie bar mounts up high enough to keep out of the way for most off-road driving while keeping the truck at a great angle for riding wheelies.
Stock on the truck is a 200+ oz Savox waterproof servo. Needless to say we really liked how it performed.
Also stock are LED lights in the front bumper. Not only do they look nice, but ours lived the entire duration of our testing.
Ya know, we love to gripe about body pins, they are an item that a new buyer constantly uses, therefore they shouldn’t suck. The body pins on the RedCat are large and work quite well.
Unfortunately, RedCat chose to use small body pins on its two battery boxes. The small pins should be lost and replaced with larger units immediately. Some of our testers didn’t like how the battery box lids fit, but once you got used to how they went on, they seemed to work fine.
The manual was easy to read and very well done.
Now a word about the body. Some RTRs come with paper thin bodies that get destroyed in no time. The body on the RedCat was plenty heavy, plus it had thick plastic pieces on top to soak up road-rash. Very nicely done.
There are “real” monster trucks, then there are truggies, the RedCat doesn’t have a center diff, therefore it is the real dealio. It has been a while since we have reviewed a true MT and had forgotten just how fun they are. The RedCat was easily able to pull off all sorts of crazy tricks that are really hard to do on other truggy/trucks.
Best Mods: We didn’t get a chance to experiment with shock oil, but we would recommend going a bit lighter than what comes stock. That would lighten up its compression damping allowing its suspension to work better. We would also drop its ride-height a bit to help fight off traction rolling in corners, then spend some bucks on harder compound Pro-Line tires (like Trenchers). Otherwise, the truck is pretty dialed.
A = Outstanding/Best in Class, B = Above Average, C = Average, D = Below Average, F = Horrific
Time To Bash: B You will have to mount up the wheels/tires after cracking the box open, but a tool is supplied. Otherwise, we found the MT8E fast and easy to get up and running.
Workability: B The RedCat uses a nice open layout that we found really easy to wrench on.
Car Show Rating: B While all of our testers liked the beadlock wheel/tire combo, they were split on the looks of the body. Some liked its aggressive look, while others were not a fan of a the “cab-forward” design.
Bash-A-Bility: B There is no doubt that in the past RedCat has put out some iffy vehicles in the durability department, but the MT8E is not one of them. We bashed the daylights out of the truck with very little breakage.
Fun Factor: A The ability to pull block long wheelies, standing backflips, reverse wheelies, and double backflips put the smile factor through the roof with the MT8E. Seriously, our testers were fighting over the controller at times.
Handling: B The RedCat is a set of tires and change of shock oil away from being the best handling truck in its class.
Value: B Have you priced monster trucks lately? With the E-Revo going for north of $750, we believe the RedCat is really good value for its performance.
Parts Availability: D If there is one major downside to the MT8E, that would be the ability to get parts. Yes, they are available on-line, but most hobby shops don’t stock them and are unlikely to order them for you.
BigSquid Rating: B If the TR-MT8E is any indication of what the new Team RedCat brand has coming in the future, we can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeve. Sure, the MT8E is priced somewhat higher than what RedCat is known for, but it truly has top-of-the-line performance and durability. If you are looking for a true “no center diff” monster truck with crazy brushless power under the hood, give the TR-MT8E a shot, our test unit made a believer out of us.