In 2011, we featured our original review of the Gmade R1 rock crawler/racer. After a few months of extensive testing (in more than one country no less), driving on a variety of terrains and just generally putting this truly unique truck through its paces, here are the end results of the long-term testing of the Gmade R1 Rock Racer.
> Adjustable Upper Link Mount (Item no. GM51123S). In addition to being stronger than stock, these aluminum mounts offer more axle tuning adjustments.
> Aluminum C-hub 7-degree axle carrier (GM51121S). Again, the aluminum adds durability, but the parts also increase caster angle to improve universal shaft angle while maintaining proper caster angle.
> Low CG Battery & Servo Plate (GM51107S). The mount moves the battery low and forward–always better for a crawler. For rock racing and bashing around, I do, however, most often mount the battery outback. If you’re using a small LiPo, you can get away with that.
> Delrin Skid Plate (J20011). Going over sharp rocks is dirty business and can rip up the undercarriage of your rig. Adding the Delrin skid plate adds strength and allows the R1 to smoothly slide over the rocks thanks to the slicker Delrin material. It also allows you to triangulate the lower links to a inboard position.
> Pro-Line Power Stroke aluminum shocks. The stock shocks are cool and work okay, but are limited. The dual internal springs are a neat concept, but are not easy to tune on the fly. Pro-Line’s Power Stroke shocks look great but also make tuning much easier thanks to the thread bodies. They also handle the go-fast setup I’m using better than the stock shocks.
> Axial 2.2 Ripsaw tires and wheels. The stock Gmade Big Horn tires worked better than expected, but Axial Ripsaw tires in their soft compound take the R1 to a whole new level. Nothing beats new kicks for improved performance. I did have to switch the stock hexes for narrower hexes to ensure enough of the threaded axle made it through the rim. It was close, so I added some thread lock under the lock nuts for added security.
> 3-cell LiPo. The R1 was cool on 7.4v, but really comes alive as a rock racer on a 3-cell 11.1V setup.
In the area of Manitoba, Canada that I live, we have a fare amount of flat land, but we also have a couple rock quarries nearby. This unforgiving terrain is where the R1 was tested. The rocky terrain was sharp in some areas and well packed in others. It can be considered very inconsistent. I like this unpredictable terrain because it can really test your driving skills and the limitations of a rig.
My latest outing with the R1 was with a fellow crawler and his modified Axial AX10. While watching both rigs take on the rocks we threw at them, I was surprised that what one rig could do, the other sometimes couldn’t. Both vary in setups. The R1 outperformed the Axial in some areas and the Axial also came out on top in other areas. Overall, they both performed very well.
Big rocks, little rocks, groups of rocks, the R1 climbed them all and kept up. Trail driving and high speed runs were also enjoyable with the 3-cell lipo I was using.The R1 is made for bashing around and has been said not to be considered a competitive crawler, however, it did surprise me and I would certainly consider competing with it in a 2.2 shafty class.
The Viper 21.5 brushless and 2-cell LiPo setup was a good setup at first, but when I plugged in a 3-cell, the R1 was much faster. With good throttle control, it powered over the rocks and, where I needed it, it throttled up some higher hill climbs with wheel speed to spare. The 3-cell setup did contribute to some noticeable torque twist and the right front tire lift off the ground, but there is a price to pay for having that extra power and it’s not that hard to tune out the torque twist–especially since I added Pro-Line Power Stroke shocks.
The first thing I noticed throughout my long-term testing was the sound of the 32-pitch geared transmission. It’s louder than most, but that’s not really a flaw. Gobs of low end torque is the end result of such gearing.
Moving down the drivetrain, the R1 features universal joint driveshafts. These feed the axles which are all metal geared and feature the very cool portal axle design. The portal axles drop the ends of the axles below the center live of the axle housings. This was achieved by using a two-gear stack system at each end of the axles. Further gear reduction and torque is also achieved here by having the stacked end gears sitting at 14T on top, and 16t on the bottom. The portal axle design also allowed for more ground clearance over the terrain.
The R1 is well priced at around $240 to $280. The key point here is the R1 is well worth the money. The R1 looks sharp and turns heads. The axle designs are truly unique and deliver a real performance benefit. The innovative design and quality is comparable, in my opinion, to more popular crawlers out there. While I too was disappointed about the small 5x8mm bearings at there location in the drive-train, this didn’t totally break me on my assessment of the R1. Sure, bigger would have been better…but what can I say? So far, so good. From start to finish, I consider the R1 a truly fun rock racer. It isn’t necessarily designed for competitive crawling right out of the box, but with a little customizations like done here, it has serious competitive potential.
About the Author: Christopher is our Senior Editor and a professional automotive technician by trade, he has been a RC enthusiast for over 20 years and has hobby store experience under his belt. He has closed off many racing seasons with top podium finishes. His favorite is the Canadian National Championship series. He resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Good old fashioned competitive racing, scale crawling and some Sunday afternoon parking lot bashing is just some of his favorite ways to enjoy RC. When he isn’t writing, racing or bashing, Christopher spends his time with his wife and kids. Christopher also finds time to contribute other articles and RC tech on a variety of topics around the web. Christopher has his own personal RC project showcase website “R/C Modz Full Throttle” where you can find some of his own personal custom rigs. You can also follow Christopher on Twitter for up-to-date project's and review notifications at @RCTrkStp_Chris If you ever have any questions or comments, email Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org