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RC4WD Gelande II Review

rc4wd gelande 2 opener

Price: $400
Top speed: 10 mph (completely dependent on running gear selected)
> New transmission and realistic transfer case
> Awesome body with full interior
> All metal parts
> Pre-assembled drivetrain components are awesome . . .
> . . . except when you have to open them to add grease

> No rear taillight pockets
> Interior doesn’t sit well over battery

RC4WD Dishes Up What Maybe The only Way You’ll Get A D90

There are a lot of off-road vehicles in the full-size world. If we made a list of the truly iconic, most desired examples such as flat fender Willys (or just Jeeps, in general), FJ40s, and early Broncos, most people would readily agree to also having the Land Rover Defender 90 towards the top of the list. If you have D90 dreams, RC4WD has the hook up. Behold the Gelande II. As you can probably surmise rather quickly by looking at the photos, it’s a highly detailed scale truck. And, since scale aficionados often want their trucks to look just as realistic with the body off as they do with the body on, the Gelande II is loaded with realism right down to the ladder frame, transfer case, and axles. It’s a bit of a spoiler, but I don’t mind telling you that this is RC4WD’s best release to date. Check it out.

> $400 (kit without electronics)
> Aluminum ladder frame
> New R3 single-speed transmission
> New Hammer transfer case
> 3-link front suspension with pan hand bar
> 4-link rear suspension
> Hard plastic body
> Full interior
> Behind the axle steering
> Chassis mounted servo
> Aluminum bumpers
> Aluminum suspension links

You probably know the 90 in the Land Rover Defender 90 denotes its wheelbase in inches (I thought Brits used metric). What you may not know is that the Defender 90 was originally called just the Land Rover Ninety–as in spelled out number and no Defender name. Its stablemate, the 110, was, likewise, originally called the One Ten. These trucks debuted in 1983, but in 1991 Land Rover added the Defender name and went with just numerical designations. You probably also didn’t know that the Defender 90 or Ninety never had a 90 in. wheelbase. It’s actually 92.9 in. The 110, however, did actually have a 110 in. wheelbase.

gelande chassis

As mentioned in the intro, the Gelande II (or Gelande 2 or G2 as it’s sometimes written) is a full-on scale truck right down to the chassis. Gelande II has a thick aluminum frame that fits together with no flex points. Besides being realistically styled, each part has either a corresponding notch or hole in the frame so that everything fits perfectly. RC4WD is well known for its machined aluminum components and accessories and its manufacturing style carries over to its complete vehicles. The “all metal” construction speaks strength and durability. As such, the bumper supports are made from metal, as opposed to molded plastic, so there is no bumper flex or weak points. If you think you know RC4WD vehicles, keep in mind that RC4WD changed up a lot from their TrailFinder 2. The Gelande II is a whole new animal and shows that they keep getting more refined with their offerings.

gelande receiver box

That last DID YOU KNOW? was a long one. Here’s a short one: Gelande is a German word that translates to terrain in English.

gelande front drivetrain

RC4WD steered away from the leaf springs and went instead with more functional dual spring oil-filled adjustable aluminum shocks matched with a linked suspension. Also worth noting, the shock loops are aluminum for less flexing and offer two different shock upper mounting locations. The Gelande II uses a 4-link suspesion in the rear and a 3-link with a pan hand bar in the front for less bump steer effect. You’ll notice during bench testing that the suspensions is smooth and offers good articulation. Even better, with the stock springs, it doesn’t flop around too easily, as a sloppy, excessively soft suspension on a rock crawler makes for an unstable ride. The links are all aluminum right down to the rod ends. There shouldn’t be any durability issues.

gelande rear suspension

The Gelande II has a wheelbase measuring in at 10.8 in. Wait a second. This is a 1/10-scale truck? Shouldn’t it have a 9 in. wheelbase (or 9.3 in. if you want to get technical)? Well, 9 in. is really short and would compromise performance, so we’ll say RC4WD took some artistic license. The real Defender series is 70.5 in. wide and the RC4WD model is 8.7 in. If it’s 1/10 scale, it should be 7 in. wide. So, the Gelande II with the D90 body is actually closer to 1/8 scale than 1/10 scale.

gelande rc4wd r3 transmission

Gelande II comes with a single-speed R3 transmission. This transmission is a complete departure from the R2. It features a cast aluminum case with wider gears than we’ve seen before. It also has a Delrin spur gear and an adjustable slipper clutch. The motor mount is machined aluminum and offers a wide amount of adjustment. The transfer case is RC4WD’s new Hammer transfer case. In addition to being super realistic, it’s mounted in what’s called a divorced arrangement, meaning a short driveshaft connects it to the transmission as opposed to being directly mounted to the R3. Speaking of driveshafts, the Gelande II uses a new plastic version of its Punisher driveshafts with metal universal joints.

gelande front transmission shot gelande hammer transfer case gelande motor mount

For axles, RC4WD stayed with the its popular Yota2 axles that offer looks and durability. The rear axle is a straight axle and the front features a closed knuckle design and an offset pumpkin just like a real front axle. Both axles have removable differential covers. Even though this is a kit and there’s plenty to assemble, the transmission, transfer case and axles all come assembled. That’s a nice bonus. The only downside to that bonus is that I found there to be too little grease used on all of these components, so while I had them opened up for inspection, I added high quality grease.

gelande closed knuckle

With the Gelande II being a kit, RC4WD doesn’t include electronics. Because you may be interested to know, I installed a Hitec HS-7954sh digital servo, Holmes Hobbies Pro Crawler 55-turn brushed motor with an Axial AE-2 speed control. A Spectrum DX3S radio system and a 2-cell LiPo finish things off. All said in done, even though none of this was top shelf racer gear, it’s a few hundred dollars worth of needed electronics.

RC4WD was founded in 2001. They are now known for their rock crawling and scale parts, but got started with monster trucks. It was a one-man operation until 2006. In 2007, RCWD offered its first dig transmission for rock crawler, which it states was the first commercially available dig transmission.

gelande 3

Tires, Wheels & Body
The Gelande II rolls on RC4WD Dirt Grabber 1.9 X3 soft compound all-terrian tires on RC4WD’s Black Stamped Steel 1.9 internal bead lock wheels. Since these are an internal bead lock design they look like traditional wagon wheels, but no glue is required. Possibly best of all, the tires are pre-mounted and that should put a smile on anyone’s face that has put bead locks together (it gets old about halfway through the first one).

gelande tires wheels

It’s impossible not to appreciate the body on the Gelande II. Everything else about the truck is cool, but the shell is arguably the star of the show. RC4WD uses its popular D90 hard plastic body. It’s absolutely loaded with details right on down to body panel rivets. How crazy you get detailing the body is entirely up to you–and your available skills. And, if the body wasn’t enough, a full interior finishes off the package. Again, you could get crazy detailing this rig out. The body comes with a “clear” window kit that have a noticeable bright blue hue. Light buckets are included, so adding illumination is easy. Oddly, provisions to add LEDs to the rearward lights are not included. Chromed grill, headlights and hood vents are included to bling out the body.

gelande 2

Now, on to the excitement of driving and testing the Gelande II. I had expectations of my own on handling and the overall performance, but preconceived judgements don’t add up to much. Real testing is what reveals the real results. So, I loaded the Gelande II up and headed to my local hobby shop, RC Madness in Enfield, CT. They host numerous scale events, so I knew it would be an ideal place to see what this truck could and couldn’t do. I know the RC Madness terrain well, so as I was driving to hobby store I was wondering how this would compare to the popular Axial Scx10 and RC4WD’s own Trail Finder 2. But, before I could hit the dirt, as I pulled up, I saw some fellow scalers. To be honest, as much as I wanted to get to testing, I couldn’t wait to see their reaction and response when they saw the Gelande II.

After the show-and-tell session, I dropped the Gelande II down and pulled the trigger. I was happy with the throttle response. That’s not too surprising since I was using a brushed setup, but it also meant the gearing was in a good spot. Driving up to a scale course, I keep swishing the steering from left and right to see the stability and see if it would roll over, but there were no rollovers regardless of how hard I tried. That’s a good sign since hard plastic body equals top heavy.

The first part of course was a dirt hill and the Gelande II cruised right up. I continued on the course up taking on tight corners. I was impressed with how great the steering was. The suspension worked perfectly with good flex over the rough terrain. I had been highly skeptical of this truck’s ability to handle any off-camber situations, but it wasn’t tippy at all. The only Achilles heel the Gelande II seemed to have was driving off ledges. If you weren’t careful, the back of the truck could come up and over the front–not good. Some experimenting with weight distribution will help fix this, but careful driving pretty much solves it too.

As I was finishing this round of testing, more scalers stopped to check the Gelande II out and asked if it was box stock or if I had modded anything. I answered that it’s straight out of a box. Since I put the truck through a solid amount of trails, I checked to see if anything was broken. As you ‘d expect, or hope, I guess, I found nothing. I didn’t exactly go easy on the truck either, so I feel confident in saying it has great durability.

gelande 1

After building and testing the RC4WD Gelande II, I have to say I am impressed. It was a fun build and it’s a great all around truck. My personal thought is that it will give its fellow RC4WD Trial Finder 2 and the Axial SCX10 some legitimate competition on the trials and scale courses. And, I think its perfectly priced at $400 (not all that much more than the Axial SCX10). So, I can easily sum up the whole review by saying I would recommend this vehicle. It’s not just a fringe scaler item, it’s a legitimate option for anyone interested in a scaler.

Holmes Hobbies

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    1. I got a chance to drive the truck used for the review and I was very impressed. I even found that I liked the stock tires. Sometimes a little (and I mean just a little) wheel speed was needed. The tires weren’t great in silt (there was a hill with a lot of loose powdery dirt), but that’s where many tires will struggle. Overall, I was impressed with how stable the truck was.

  1. I got to see the G2 at the Pioneer Valley Hobby Scale build off last weekend and compare it to my original Gelande. RC4wd definately improved on the first kit! Maybe my Gelande will be ready for action the next time we meet up Tony.

    Nice write up Tony, and I like the “Did you know” facts. Keep up the great reviews!

    1. Hey John. I know this post I am replying to is a few years old, but here goes. I am just about ready to purchase a Gelande II, but I just found a nice looking Gelande I on Craigslist with Tekin FXR, WP Hitec 646WP, receiver and stock 45T motor, ARB front bumper, arms, and windshield cage. Price is $300, but might be able to get it for a bit less. Assuming it’s in good condition, are the updates to the stock G2 over the original G1 worth buying the G2 in your opinion? I can’t find any specs online for the G1. Thanks.

  2. I’m Happy to hear everyone likes the review. I Ran the G2 last sunday and once again it was the wow factor. If it was trail riding or on the actual scale course it amazed me over and over to climbing the dirt hills to rock crawling it was working its magic

    I wanna thank Matt Higgins For everything and thanks and nice meeting you john M last weekend at the Scale truck Build off

  3. I bought the gelande 2 recently and added some mods, I replaced the shocks a added some beefier tires. Over all it’s an excellent truck

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