ARRMA 1/8 RAIDER XL BLX Brushless RTR Review
Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner
2s 5000mah lipo
3s 3300mah lipo
7 Cell 4600mah nimh
Stock tires then Pro-Line Badlands SC 2.2"/3.0" M2 Tires for the rear
- Great looking
- Big tires
- Great jumper
- Bottom loading battery tray
- Ability to drive on different terrains
- Nimh speed 36mph
- 2s speed 35mph
- 3s speed 48 mph
- Battery tray is long but shallow
- Tires lack grip
- Issue with the ESC
- Receiver box is small
- On/Off Switch hard to reach
After my wonderful experience with the ARRMA Typhon (review here), I was excited to explore more of the 1/8 scale ARRMA line of cars and trucks. My RC budget was a little anemic so I decided to go for the least expensive offering, which is the Raider XL, currently at $359.97. With my club coupon codes for Tower Hobbies, I was able to score the Raider XL for $314 shipped free. I had also always wanted a 2wd desert buggy and there have really never been many on the market. Vaterra had their Glamis Uno that discontinued within a year, but ARRMA's Raider XL seems to be one of their more popular items.
Out of the Box:
Tower Hobbies got my package to me quick and well packaged. As I do with most of my RC orders, I tore into the package as quickly as I could. Unlike most brusless RTR's these days, the Raider XL actually comes with a batter. It's a 7 cell, 4600 mah nimh and not a lipo, but hey, I'll take it. At least it's a 7 cell (slightly higher voltage than a 2s lipo) and with a decent capacity. The rig also comes with a charger, but, as I learned after buying my first hobby-grade RC, you will not enjoy RC without a good charger.
As for the Raider XL itself, it is a good sized vehicle with a really solid feel to it. It is also absolutely gorgeous. It has a very sleek look to it and turns heads every time I've had it outside. The tires are a bit on the hard side, which usually means two things, lower grip but longer life. I generally prefer tires somewhere in the middle of that equation. The Raider XL has a lot of aluminum in it too, adding to the quality feel of it. The shocks are just standard plastic body shocks with spacers for adjustment.
My one gripe just looking at it was the placement of the on/off switch. It is tucked off to the side toward the back. It is really hard to get to. I even had my wife with her long slender fingers reach back there and she found it hard to get to. I located it back in the drivers area for easier access.
So as I waited for the included nimh battery to charge, I started my testing with some 2s and 3s batteries I already had charged. First was the speed test. As listed in my pros, with a 2s battery, I was able to achieve 35mph. That is a remarkable speed for a stock vehicle on just 2s. On 3s, the Raider XL pretty much turns into a land rocket. 48mph!!! That is absolutely no joke. Be cautious when driving this fast as you will cover A LOT of area really quickly. Give yourself plenty of room to brake or you will find your XL slamming into a curb or other hard, stationary object. Finally, I tested the speed on the freshly charged nimh battery. The .2 higher voltage it has over the 2s lipo gave it an additional 1mph. 36mph is great for a stock battery, unlike lipo, you have a very angled discharge rates so as you drive through the battery back, you get slower and slower with less and less punch. If you haven't gone lipo, you really should.
After establishing speed, I charged back up to test handling. 2s, stock tires, and on pavement, the Raider XL handles pretty well and predictably. Of course driving 2wd is always different than 4wd and calls for a bit more skill and finesse when cornering and maintaining control. Off-road, I was surprised to find the tires lacking bite. It kind of felt like I had oiled the tires. This is where I thought the Raider XL would shine, but it wasn't the case. I still had a good time shooting dirt rooster tails every where but I wanted more control.
On 3s, pavement, and stock tires, it is way to easy to slip out of control. The torque and speed of the motor paired with the harder compound of the tires generally make you fishtail before you get a few feet of driving. You really need to ease into the massive speed or you will not be able to control your vehicle at all. Again, give yourself some good space before doing a speed run on 3s. The off-road handling on 3s of course is very similar to 2s, just much larger rooster tails but equal amounts of fishtailing as you try to drive straight and make some modest turns. My first crash happened when I did a short speed run and hit the brakes. The car slid about 15 feet before slamming into a large transformer. I broke an A-arm and popped a shock. I can't blame a durability issue on that damage as NO other car would have driven away from that crash, it so perfectly hit the A-arm that anything would have failed in a similar crash.
For the next part of the review, I slapped some Proline Badlands on the rear of the Raider XL. It is an immediate difference in driving. The day I shot the video for that segment, it was actually much colder than when I tested everything stock and they still gripped better. Speed runs on both 2 and 3s are much easier because you can hammer the throttle without the back tires breaking loose and swinging the back of the car around. Off-road with the new tires showed me a totally new side to the Raider XL. It really became an absolute pleasure to drive. It grips well on both loose dirt and grass and pretty much goes where you want it to. I don't normally like to get new tires before I wear the stock tires out, but here it is a great investment. The stock tires are adequate and fun, but with upgraded tires, you really get into a new level of handling on the XL.
The final test, and usually my favorite was jumping. The Raider XL and ramps go together like peas and carrots. The XL launches beautifully into the air and is easily controlled with throttle inputs. I am still teaching my son the art of jumping, so on one of his attempts he landed it perfectly on nothing but the bumper. That was our second breakage, but again, not one I would blame on the Raider XL's durability. The entire weight of the vehicle landed 100% on the little bumper. I replaced that with the T-Bone racing bumper. It's big and takes away a bit from the beauty of the Raider XL, but it provides some good coverage on vulnerable areas of the XL. I bought another stock bumper too because I know at some point I'll want it to look the way it is supposed to look. Back to the jumping though, the Raider XL jumps with the best of them, absolutely zero complaints there.
The video below gives you just a little look at a bit of my testing. Weather and lighting have been spotty lately and it was hard to get good footage. There are tons of other folks videos on youtube if you want to see more of the Raider XL running. I will try to add more footage when I can. When watching other people's videos though, pay attention to handling and the environment it is being driven in... even look at the weather. In my video, you can't tell, but the stock tires were shot on a warm day and the Proline's were shot on a relatively cold day. The Badlands really grip the pavement much better than my video shows.
As I mentioned, I did upgrade the tires. I wouldn't say it is absolutely necessary, but I think you will like the qualities of the Raider XL it unlocks. The bumper is also not a necessary upgrade, I just replaced mine because we broke it and I wanted to do some testing on T-Bone's quality.
I ended up upgrading the ESC. After a few 3s runs, the stock ESC stopped recognizing 3s batteries. I did some troubleshooting with the fine folks at Hobbico, but ultimately decided it was faulty and needed to be replaced. Hobbico is excellent about this kind of thing and though I was confident they would send me a new one, I had a solution already available here. One of my sons trucks runs on nothing but 2s anyway, so I put the Raider XL ESC in that truck (where it works great), and pulled the Hobbywing 70a esc out and placed it in my Raider XL. It is a bigger ESC so I had to readjust some things. I had already removed the receiver box because my big 4 channel receiver did not fit in it, so I was able to use that space for the new ESC. At that point I also moved the on/off switch to the front of the cockpit where it is easily accessible. Just to remind you, by not having my receiver in the sealed receiver box that is stock on the Raider XL, I have pretty much lost my water proof. That is not a big sacrifice for me as I never run in mud or in water... mostly because I don't like having to clean mud and water off of my rigs.
As for other upgrades, I don't know of many on the market. I really hope more third party companies catch on to the increasing popularity of the ARRMA line of vehicles and start pumping out more parts. ARMMA's 1/8 vehicles are pretty great out of the box, but most guys like to build on their RCs just for the fun of it.
The Raider XL is a pretty great, awesome looking vehicle made that can be made even greater by investing a few bucks into some after market rear tires. The vehicle turns heads when people see it and it makes you smile when you drive it. It is a pretty unique vehicle in todays current market as 2wd buggies seem kind of scarce. I feel the Raider XL makes a great addition to anyone's existing fleet of cars and trucks. If you are looking for a first brushless ride, you may want to start out with one of ARRMA's 4wd vehicles as 4wd is always easier to drive and probably more durable based on their design. That said, for me, the Raider XL is a keeper. Some vehicles I sell or give away after I finish a review, but this one will go on my shelf right next to my Typhon where it will await it's next dirt throwing bash session!