Whoa, ARRMA just dropped a 1/5th Scaler?!?! Yes indeed hardcore rc enthusiast, ARRMA has just announced their highly anticipated 1/5 Kraton 8S RTR Monster Truck. Yes it is huge! Yes it is designed for hardcore bashing! Yes it comes with a Spektrum 8S capable SMART speedo! Yes it has huge tires! Nobody reads this part anyways, LOL, so let’s just dive in shall we?
Review By: Cubby
Photography By: Tim Mohr
Wheelie on demand: No, has center diff
Backflip off ramps: Yes
Stability Control: Yes, Spektrum AVC
Sound Module: No
SMART Technology: Yes
Top Speed (measured by BSRC on 8S SMART LiPo): 42 mph
Runtime (capacity used, 5 min run, 8S 5000 LiPo): 2610mAh
Street Price: $899
Primary Competition: Going up against the big ARRMA are trucks like the Traxxas X-Maxx and the Losi Super Baja & Rock Rey.
What’s Needed To Complete: Shipping in RTR form, the ARRMA is completely pre-built, thus needing no assembly. You will need to pop 4 AA sized batts into the transmitter, then some LiPo power into the truck. Oh and, don’t forget a charger. Also, because this comes with Spektrum’s new SMART technology, you may also want to run the Spektrum SMART batteries and a Bluetooth module for the transmitter.
Build Quality: It is Really cool getting trucks before they hit the market, it really is. However, that means we see things that most consumers never get to. As our test truck was a pre-production unit, it seemed 100% perfectly assembled, except for its wheel nuts. The wheel nuts on our truck were significantly over-tightened. We used a “breaker bar” on the stock wrench to get the wheel nuts off. We then discovered that the wheels has been slightly melted by the over-tightened wheel nuts, making them hard to remove as well. We highly doubt this type of issue makes it into hobby shops, but now you know some of the issues we see on the media side of things.
Test Drivers: As we had to keep this one well hidden from public view, we only used a small handful of drivers. Hawaiian Chris is a long time large scale driver, long time racer, and more importantly, a super hardcore basher. T-$$$ is a legit track driver who also has deep roots in bashing. Then there is me, not such a great driver now days, but I would like to think I represent “an average Joe” for skill level. Brian and Jeremy also got in on the testing fun from our Chicago office.
Test Venues: We conducted all our testing at low-key areas that we typically don’t use for testing. We used a couple of smaller parks next to the St. Louis Dirtburners track, as well as a public, but secluded, park just outside of Fenton, Missouri. The park near Fenton offered loads of sand, mud, and grass for testing.
Set-up Notes: Stock, stock, and mostly more stock. We popped some MaxAmps AA batteries into the transmitter, as well as 8S worth of Spektrum SMART LiPos into the truck. Charging duties were handled by a Spektrum SMART battery charger. Btw, our test truck came with its ride-height set at “bones well above level”. That setting worked great when sending it, but we ended up going to a ride-height of “just above bones level” on the driveshafts to increase cornering prowess.
Turning: Speaking of cornering, we would argue that the Kraton 8S is the best turning large scale RTR ever. The 8S Kraton is essentially a scaled up truggy, and 1/8th truggies are one of the best handling/turning platforms on the market. And while the stock tires don’t have a ton of side-bite, the biggest of all Kratons turns quite well. Most of the time, regardless if the surface is low bite, or high bite, the Kraton corners in a fairly neutral manner. It also has a very low center of gravity. Which, when combined with the relatively low side-bite tires, keeps the Kraton from traction rolling. We very rarely traction rolled the truck and enjoyed fairly quick corner speeds with the beast. Even when doing speed runs on pavement, we didn’t have to worry about traction rolling.
The stock servo is huge, but isn’t all that fast. The stock servo saver is also massive, and seemed to do a great job of protecting the servo. However, it seemed a bit on the light side.
In most corners the 8S Kraton felt like what it was- a really big truggy. It felt nicely planted in corners, but it couldn’t pivot tight 180s like a smaller scale. No, the big Kraton didn’t feel nimble like a 1/8 Kraton, but it felt easy to drive, planted, and confidence inspiring.
Jumping: Hey, we love sending it as much as the next guy, so we can appreciate the stock shock settings. Out of the box, the daddy of all Kratons comes with quite firm shock damping, along with fairly firm springs, with a ride-height of well above bones level. To boil all that down, it is set-up out of the box in send-it mode! Once again, compared to other “large scale” vehicles, it just might be the best jumping on the market. It comes with a center diff, which makes the Kraton super easy to “level-out” in the air. The truck has plenty of power, and a lot of rotating mass at its corners thanks to its huge tires. Its general geometry worked well on jump faces, while its “entire package” worked well upon landing. Yes, you can bottom out the suspension by going big. However, the stock suspension settings work incredibly well for the size of leaps that the majority of users will be doing in their backyard. Big props to ARRMA here, great jumping machine, one of the best ever of any scale/type.
Bumps/Whoops: The firm’ish suspension on the 8S Kraton loves to pound gnarly looking bumps at speed. At slower speeds over smaller bumps, the firm suspension can give the truck a bit of kick. To boil it down, the stock suspension settings like to dive into the rough WFO.
On-Road: Fifth scale tires weigh a bunch, therefore they are typically formed of slightly harder rubber to prevent tire expansion at speed and excessive wear. While not super hard, the stock tires aren’t super soft either. Our test truck had a bit of slide on pavement, which was highly preferred over traction rolling. Yes, the Kraton had a bit of slide when driven on-road, otherwise, it was just a monster. Its huge size and decent overall speed made it fun to drive on-road.
Grass: The 1/5th Kraton was just a beast in grass. The stock tires give great traction and the truck’s power system had loads of power for flying around when the grass started to get deep. As many of our favorite dirt spots were mud pits this time of year, we did a lot of grass driving with the ARRMA and had a total blast.
Tires: Yes, we’ve touched on the tires a couple times already. Overall, they are a decent tire for a RTR like the Kraton. They give decent traction on a wide variety of surfaces, and did not seem to wear too quickly. The aftermarket has more grip out there, but the stock tires do a decent job and don’t need immediate replacement.
Power: For a large scale vehicle, the Kraton 8S had good power. However, it did not have what we call “crazy” power like the 1/8 6S Kraton. Large scale vehicles do everything a bit more leisurely than smaller scales and the stock power system seems well mated to the chassis.
Right off the very bottom from a dead stop, the power system is quite smooth for a non-sensored unit. We could detect no cogging. The power then went into a smooth, controllable low end. The mid-range was also super smooth, then it eased into the top-end without a big hit. The power was super smooth and easy to drive, even seemingly tame enough for newer drivers (there is a three setting limiter on the top of the transmitter as well). The truck tops out at over 40 mph, which feels decent, but not “crazy fast”. At the end of the day, the power has plenty of raw wattage for the massive truck and is easy to drive, but does not “feel” insane like some 1/8 and 1/10 vehicles.
With all that said, of course “crazy” power is easily enough bolted in via the aftermarket if you truly feel like sending your 1/5 Kraton to the moon.
About gearing. We saw a motor temp of around 110 F after our 5 minute mAh test run. Ambient temp was right at 55 F. We feel the stock gearing is a bit conservative when driven in our cool ambient temps. That is good news for consumers. You shouldn’t have to worry about cooking the motor right out of the box and you should be able to add a few teeth to the pinion to gain more power when needed.
Radio: The included Spektrum DX2E ACTIVE performed without error for us during our test period. Range was more than we ever asked of it and we never experienced a glitch. You can also add the Bluetooth module to really take advantage of the included SMART technology speedo.
Broken Parts: So far, so good with the ARRMA. We’ve had numerous high speed tumbles, and simply sent-it over multiple jumps and the 1/5 Kraton has been soaking up everything. We have managed to strip a wheel hex and break a shock end under some extreme conditions, but overall the ARRMA has proven very durable.
Is the Kraton really 1/5th scale? The word “scale” gets thrown around pretty loosely in rc sometimes. Yes, the Kraton is a large scaler, meaning it is a lot bigger than a typical 1/8th truggy. Otherwise, the 8S Kraton is a bit larger than the X-Maxx and the SBR, but all three are definitely in the same rough “size category” to us.
Yes, the big Kraton has a center diff that really helps improve handling in the corners and over jumps.
The battery boxes are hard plastic and use Velcro straps to secure your packs. The footprint can be adjusted to fit multiple size packs. We ran a pair of 4S 5000 Spektrum SMART LiPos in series with good results.
The 8S Kraton comes with not only a tower-to-tower brace, but also large chassis braces that mount to the center diff case. They use body pins for quick release when needed. We like ARRMA giving these options and adjustments for the guys that really like to send-it. Some people love T2T (tower to tower) braces, while others despise them, the more tuning/durability options for hardcore bashers, the better.
The stock body clips are enormous and come with body protectors. Ours became hard to remove after driving in mud.
The motor comes with plenty of cooling and it shows. Motor temps were quite reasonable during our test period.
The shocks are enormous. Like seriously huge.
Favorite quote during testing- “Throw on some Badlands and a bigger pinion, and this thing would be LIT.” Iron Mikeee
(*note: we have not tested this yet, we need to make sure they fit.)
Best Mod: So far our test truck has proven fairly solid. Our first planned upgrade at this point is to give Mike over at Hitec a ring for a killer servo. The Kraton already handles well, we can’t wait to see how much handling improves with a high-end servo.
A = Outstanding/Best in Class, B = Above Average, C = Average, D = Below Average, F = Horrific
Time To Bash: B The ARRMA comes completely assembled, just pop in some batteries and hit the backyard.
Workability: B Overall our Bash Crew had an easy time doing routine maintenance on the Kraton. Basic tools are supplied to work on its metric/hex hardware.
Car Show Rating: B With a big bold look, the 1/5 Kraton was well liked by our Bash Crew.
Bash-A-Bility: B Large scale vehicles can be hit or miss for durability. We found the ARRMA quite durable.
Fun Factor: A With easy to drive power and an enormous chassis that could breeze through sections that would stop an 1/8th scaler dead in its tracks, yes, we had a fantastic time with the Kraton. In fact, it just might be the “most fun” rc vehicle that we’ve driven, of any scale. The large size of the Kraton allowed it to go places that many rc vehicles simply can’t, plus it was loads of fun to drive on simple pavement.
Handling: A The 8S Kraton is perhaps the best handling large scale RTR of all time. The stock suspension works well for hardcore bashing and its chassis geometry gives the driver loads of confidence.
Value: A While most large scalers float north of the $1,000 price point, the 8S Kraton comes in at under $900. For your cash, you are perhaps getting one of the all time greats for backyard bashing.
Parts Availability: N/A As we are testing a unit not even known to the public yet, we will have to hold off on a parts availability score.
BigSquid Rating: A- Without having a shootout, we can’t honestly say that the 1/5 Kraton 8S is the best large scale RTR basher of all time. However, we know first hand that it is indeed an exceptional bash machine. It has good, usable power. It has incredibly capable suspension from right out of the box. It has top shelf handling. Only time will tell how the 1/5 Kraton goes down in history, but we can tell you right now that it is easily one of the best trucks we’ve ever tested, of any scale. If you are into hardcore bashing and are looking to take it up a notch, the 1/5 Kraton 8S is exactly the truck you need in your rc garage. We are huge fans and can very highly recommend!