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Gmade R1 Rock Racer Review


“That’s pretty sick!” That’s the reaction most people have when they check out the R1. Then they often ask who makes it. The answer is Gmade. Located in Korea, Gmade is a relatively unknown company among non-rock crawlers—even though it has been around since 2004.  Some people—those uninitiated to crawling—also often ask what exactly is the R1. The R1 is a rock buggy modeled after what you may see competing at newly popular full-size events such as the King of the Hammers, and we decided to feature it here at RC Truck Stop because of its cool design, but also because Gmade includes provisions to mount a truck body.



> Molded plastic tube frame chassis

> High clearance portal axles

> Kit

> Approximately $240 to $280

> Plastic-geared transmission

> No slipper

> Plastic drive shafts

> 4-link suspension with aluminum links

> Internal spring shocks that can be built short (droop) or long (sprung)

> Phillips hardware

> Includes tires and plastic bead-lock rims




One of the most distinctive features on the R1 is its molded plastic tube chassis. The chassis consists of two main side plates and a molded plastic center skid plate that the transmission mounts to. The two side plates are connected and reinforced via aluminum tubes. So, despite its scale looking tube frame, the R1 isn’t all that different from the typical twin vertical plate chassis used on most crawlers. The R1 is skinned with four small Lexan body panels, a hood, two side panels and a roof, that will need to be painted. Instead of using the now more common hex hardware, the R1 uses Phillips screws throughout.


The R1 uses a plastic-geared transmission that is a little different than what you’d find on a 1/10-scale electric vehicle or, say, Axial’s SCX10 or AX10 series crawlers. Instead of having a sealed 3-gear setup with an external pinion and spur, the motor-mounted pinion connects directly to a stack of 32-pitch gears inside the transmission housing. With the included 12-tooth pinion, the final ratio is approximately 40:1. Gmade states the transmission is “dustproof.” It certainly isn’t waterproof, but the semi-sealed design will keep most mud, dirt and debris at bay. Two different size bearings are used: 5×11 and much smaller 5×8.


While the tube frame may be the first thing you notice on the R1, the real standout feature is the use of portal axles. The portal axle design drops the ends of the axle below the axle housing. This is achieved by using a two-gear stack. The Gmade R1 axles feature a small amount of gear reduction since the top gear connected to the end of the main axle shaft is 14-tooth and the gear attached to the output is 16-tooth. The housings are molded plastic, but feature a one-piece axle housing design that is made via a complicated multi-piece mold. This is similar to what Axial now uses for its Wraith axle design. Similar to the transmission, Gmade uses two different size bearings.


The R1 uses the typical 4-link suspension that is extremely common on crawlers. The links are aluminum and the rod ends are stout. The anodized aluminum shocks look great and feature two different length internal springs—one above the piston and one below. This means the shocks can be built in a droop or sprung configuration.


Gmade includes it 2.2 Bighorn directional tires and its own GT bead-lock rims. Standard, non-memory foam inserts are also included. The tires are fairly firm both in compound feel and carcass.

Running Gear Used

> Viper speed control

> Viper 21.5-turn brushless motor

> Spektrum DX3R Pro radio system

> MaxAmps.com 2-cell LiPo

> Team Associated XP servo

Optional Parts Tested

> Adjustable Upper Link Mount (GM51123S)

> Aluminum C-hub 7-degree axle carrier (GM51121S)

> Low CG Battery & Servo Plate (GM51107S)



Since I installed a 21.5-turn brushless system, I expected ballistic speed and further expected torque twist to lift the right front tire off the ground, but when I fired up the R1, I was surprised that when it took off with some punch but didn’t seem out of control at all. And, there was no dreadful tire lift. It seems that that’s to the low gearing and use of a 2-cell LiPo kept things in control.

I know many of you crave speed, but the 21.5-turn and 2-cell LiPo was a good match for the R1. I’ve seen videos of people running faster setups, but they are almost always constantly flipping and rolling over.

Out on the rocks, I was pleasantly surprised by the Bighorn tire’s performance. Given their firm feel, I didn’t have very high expectations. The tires did slip and spin on the rocks, but they climbed better than I expected. The Bighorns aren’t the next hot comp tire and I will replace them with stickier, softer tires, but it’s worth noting they work just fine for fun crawling and you won’t need to be in a huge rush to replace them.

When climbing, the R1 performed well as it was able to navigate a variety of steep obstacles. It sometimes needed a second try with a little more wheel speed, but it more than met my expectations for a shaft driven crawler running stock tires. I built my R1 in the droop configuration and found that it side hilled exceptionally well—and I mean exceptionally well.

There is some torque twist when trying difficult climbs and there is also some noticeable rear axle steer when the suspension is articulating. I’d say the rear steer was far more noticeable than the torque twist.

After running numerous times on the rocks, I was extremely impressed with how few scratches were on the bottom of the R1. The raised portal axles were nearly spotless. The benefits of the portal axle design is very real.

The R1 also proved to be pretty good at speed. Even though it didn’t have a lot of suspension up travel in the droop configuration, its stable stance helped compensate for its somewhat bouncing ride. It certainly has some rock racer potential.


Final Assessment

With a price tag between $240 and $280, depending on where you buy it, the bottom line is the R1 is well worth the money. The vehicle looks good, the axles are an innovative design and the overall materials quality is on par with the top brands in RC. The Phillips hardware is a bit of a let down, but still used on a few Asian brands. CKRC has the best price we’ve found on the R1. JunFac out of Soth Korea also large assortment of option parts for the R1.

I did notice the some front wheel wobble or slop, but it didn’t seem to impact performance at all. While I was disappointed to see the small 5x8mm bearings, the use of some small bearings didn’t seem to have any sort of negative affect on performance and only long-term testing (check back as we offer that at RC Truck Stop) will reveal if there is any issue with the bearings. It’s undeniable that there is significant potential for failure with the small bearings.

Overall, I see the R1 being a for-fun rock racer. It isn’t necessarily designed for competitive crawling and that segment is strictly dominated by motor-on-axle machines such as Axial’s XR10. With the right tires and a little tuning to reduce torque twist (which is no worse out of the box than any other stock shaft driven crawler), the R1 is a viable choice for a shafty-only class.


> Portal axles

> Scale looks

> Quality materials


> Phillips hardware

> Some small bearings used




CKRC Crawlers




Team Associated



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  1. The Gmade R1 is no doubt a very trick looking rig. Built for purpose and well designed. It’s well worth the affordable price tag, and deserve to play with the other big crawling rigs and setups. Nice crawler Matt, I really like the shiny differential covers.

  2. Love and satisfaction is all I have for the R1, the quality is on par or even better than most leading brands, hell even the box stands out. I agree to a little torque twist, but even that makes it look authentic. I have the rear steer kit on the car that is available separately which I would recommend other than that this pretty much is a great kit right out of the box.

    1. Glad to hear you like the R1. I was planning on installing the rear steer and making my R1 into a Top Truck Challenge type rig, but I am going to add Pro-Line shocks and keep tuning it as a rock racer.

  3. Thanks for the great info! There may be some improvements made by now, but this is still relevant. I’m just starting some recreational crawling myself with a Losi Night Crawler and was curious about this rigs capabilities. It sounds like a worthy outfit and really does look great!

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