RCU Review: Team Losi Night Crawler

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    Contributed by: Matthew LeMay | Published: February 2010 | Views: 94067 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Losi Night Crawler rtr
    Review by: Matt LeMay
    Action photos by: Starla LeMay

    Phone: 877-504-0233
    Email: productsupport@

    Website: www.losi.com


    See the Night Crawler in action!


    See the Night Crawler in the Dark!



    Ready to run
    2.4GHz radio
    Smooth suspension
    Worm gear driven
    Use with LiPo or NiMH/NiCD
    Very durable
    4 LED lights
    45º turn radius
    True beadlock wheels




    The winter months are here and the days are much shorter now. By the time the average person gets off work, the sun has just about disappeared. How on earth will I get to do any rock crawling during the week?

    Check out the Losi Night Crawler. It is a capable crawler with the added bonus of well placed LED lights and it comes in a ready to run package. Thanks to the Night Crawler, rock crawling isn't just a daytime sport any more.




    Name: Night Crawler
    Scale: 1/10 scale
    Price: $339.99 varies with dealer
    Length: 17.5"
    Width: 9.875"
    Wheelbase: 12.3"
    Wheel size: 2.2" Beadlock
    Motor: Losi Night Crawler 55T/540-sized motor, Losi MSC-12L 4-mode Fwd/Rev LiPo-compatible ESC
    Drive Train: Direct drive transmission with gear reduction and worm gear drive axles
    Radio equipment: (Included) Losi Spektrum? 2.4GHz DSM® Radio system, JR Racing Z590M metal gear steering servo


    • 4- L shaped hex wrenches 3/32, 5/64, 1/16, and .050
    • Bind plug for binding receiver
    • 4- AA batteries for transmitter


    • 1- six cell NiMH or 2S LiPo battery pack
    • Compatible charger

    Left side
    Front view
    Right side

    First glance

    The box looks great and the Crawler was packaged securely. The radio was in a box within the box and everything arrived safely.

    The Night Crawler's Grappler pro body was painted, trimmed, and decals applied. An extra decal sheet was included in the box but the body already looks great so I found no need for them. The front and rear of the body are tapered for interference free suspension articulation. This body is competition legal and looks great.

    Included with the ready to run Night Crawler are the manual, product booklet, decal sheet, four L-shaped hex wrenches, binding plug, the transmitter, and four AA transmitter batteries.

    I am very pleased to see the included 2.4GHz radio system. This will provide great response without interference.

    Right off the bat I noticed the tires. Their aggressive scale appearance and beadlock rims add some bling to the crawler. I can't wait to get this thing on some rocks!

    Left angle
    Included literature
    Right angle
    Left rear angle
    Right rear angle
    Left angle
    Right angle
    Rear angle
    Rear angle
    Left angle bare
    Front bare
    Right angle bare
    Bare side
    Under side
    Bare angle
    Included extras
    Body posts
    Hinge pins with set-screw
    LED Light

    Wheels, tires, and drive train

    Rock crawling demands performance from a set of tires. That is why Losi equipped the Night Crawler with Losi Rock Claws. The compound is soft but not super soft. I like this because they'll grip the rocks and are durable enough not to tear while spinning over a sharp rock. The treads are aggressive, to say the least, and are molded with side lugs for that extra grip. Foam inserts are used in the four Rock Claws tires.

    The Rock Claws are clamped in place with three piece beadlock rims. The rims use a chrome wheel center and two lock rings, which are blue in color, to secure the tires. There is one locking ring on the inside and one on the outside of each rim. Each locking ring has counter sunk holes and is fastened with six hex head screws.

    Rock Crawlers need low gear ratios to "crawl" up and over tough obstacles. The Night Crawler uses a direct drive transmission with gear reduction which is mounted to the same aluminum plate as the motor. With the stock 20 tooth pinion gear, the gear reduction assembly gives the Night Crawler a final gear ratio of 62.51.

    Spanning the gap between the gear reduction assembly and the axles are steel drive shafts. On one end of the shafts a dog bone joint is used and the other end is equipped with a CVD joint. The CVD joint slips over the axle input shaft and is secured with two set screws.

    Inside both axles you will find worm gear drive systems. The worm gears consist of a regular cut worm gear spool and a spiral cut pinion drive gear. This method is super strong and does not torque the axles when accelerating like a conventional drive system.

    The worm gear drive system supplies the type of braking required for rock crawling. What I mean by braking is, you can't turn the tires by any means other than the drive shaft. When the motor spins it spins the front and rear drive shafts which spin both worm gear systems and as a result, all four tires spin. It works great. When you grab hold of the tires and try to spin them by hand, you cannot. This works perfectly for rock crawling. When you let off of the throttle, the vehicle stops and stays there, even on steep hills.

    Both front and rear axles are locked solid. There are no differentials in the Night Crawler because they are not desired for rock crawling. Rock crawling demands as much traction as possible and because of that, locked diffs are necessary. This ensures power is always delivered to all four tires.

    Drive shaft joint
    Tires with Beadlock rims
    Rear axle
    Axle shafts
    Front axle exploded view
    CVD joints
    Worm drive gears
    Opened Axle
    Worm drive gears


    The radio included with the Night Crawler is a Losi LSR-3000 with Spektrum? 2.4GHz DSM® technology. I am pleased to see Losi using the 2.4 GHz platform for this rtr vehicle. The radio is bound to the receiver right out of the box. If for some reason the radio and receiver become unbound, there is a binding plug included in the extras bag.

    The Losi LSR-3000 radio operates on the 2.4GHz frequency and uses 79 unique channels. These channels are automatically selected when both transmitter and receiver are turned on. The radio will not interfere with other radios operating on 27MHz, 75MHz, or other 2.4GHz frequencies. It's great avoiding the hassle of matching crystal pairs. With this system you don't have to worry about someone running on your frequency and taking control of your vehicle.

    The receiver is the Losi MXR-3000 which also uses Spektrum? 2.4GHz DSM® technology. One of the many benefits of this technology is a short receiver antenna so there is no need to drill a hole in the body.

    There are four ports in the Losi MXR-3000 receiver. These ports are the binding port, steering channel, throttle channel, and auxiliary channel. The auxiliary channel is used for the lights.

    Four adjustable lights are mounted to the crawler's chassis with one directed at each tire. This will make it easier to see where you are placing the tires in the dark.

    The steering servo is a JR Racing Z590M metal gear servo and is rated for 85 oz-in torque @ 6 volts. The metal gears should hold up well to the demands of rock crawling.

    2.4 GHz receiver

    2.4 GHz Transmitter

    Steering servo

    Motor and ESC

    Powering the Night Crawler through obstacles is the Losi 55t/540 fan cooled motor.

    Delivering the throttle inputs to the motor is a MSC-12L electronic speed controller. The ESC uses a 4 cell (4.8 volts) to 6 cell (7.2 volts) NiMH/NiCD or a 2S LiPo (7.4 volts) as a power source.

    The ESC has four user selectable modes.
    1. Forward/reverse
    2. Forward only (race mode)
    3. Practice mode (slow acceleration)
    4. Crawler mode (applies brake when forward throttle is released)

    The on/off switch is located on top of the ESC and is easily accessible with the body on the vehicle.

    A single button controls all functions of the ESC like setting battery type, selecting a mode, and setting the throttle end points. The ESC uses red and green flashing lights to let you know what mode you are currently in. The manual goes over this in step by step detail and is easy to follow.

    The battery tray is located at the top of the chassis and can be configured two different ways. The stock configuration is for NiMH and NiCD battery packs. The other way is to arrange the straps for a crawler LiPo pack. You can mount the LiPo pack toward the front or rear of the battery tray.

    Mounted Motor
    Electronic speed controller
    Mounted Motor
    Motor and Gear Assembly
    Motor with cooling fan
    Motor and Gear Assembly
    Battery tray for NiMH
    Electronic Speed Controller
    Battery tray for LIPO


    The Night Crawler is able to maneuver those rocks thanks to its ultra smooth 4-link suspension. The beefy looking plastic lower links have some side flex but no up/down flex. Since most of the rock pressure will be from the bottom, I don't see a big problem with this.

    The plastic upper links, or track rods, have a metal core and very little flex. There are three different mounting options for the upper track rods. The stock position is in the middle of three holes for well balanced performance. The lower hole is best for loose or slippery rock and the upper hole is best for high traction rock.

    Controlling the suspension's movements are four aluminum oil filled shocks. An adjustable sliding collar is used for setting spring tension and is secured with a hex head screw. The shocks can be mounted in two different positions. The lower position gives the vehicle more clearance and is best for jagged rocks. The upper hole will lower the center of gravity and is best for sidehilling and steep rocks. The stock position is the lower hole.

    The zero ackerman steering allows both front tires to turn 45 degrees in either direction. With a race car, ackerman is necessary. When you turn the race car to the left, the left front tire will turn sharper to the left than the right front tire. If you turn to the right, the right front tire will turn sharper than the left front tire. This is because when turning, the inside front tire has to follow a tighter arc than the outside tire. On rock crawlers however, you need both tires to turn the same amount to get the tightest steering possible. Losi has incorporated zero ackerman steering into the Night Crawler and should turn sharply.

    Aluminum shocks
    45º of Steering
    Control arms
    Zero ackerman steering
    Rear suspension mounts
    Action shots


    Performance & Handling

    As I'm sure you can imagine, I was eager to find some rocks for the Night Crawler. I took a charged 4200MAH NiMH battery pack along with the Night Crawler and headed for the rocks.

    From the first rock I climbed, I could tell I was going to have a blast. The suspension worked great. As you can see in the videos the suspension articulated up and over the rocks while keeping the vehicle upright. Occasionally a front tire would stay suspended in the air, but letting off the throttle and wiggling the steering wheel usually brought it back down.

    I know it's difficult to tell by the video but I was on some pretty steep rocks. The Night Crawler held its own. It occasionally rolled over and fell six feet to the bottom of the gully, but it held up well. What I'm saying is this thing is tough. I can tell by the abuse it withstood that the materials used to make this truck are high quality. As you can probably tell by now I like to put these vehicles through much abuse when I test them and the Losi Night Crawler took my abuse and kept crawling.

    I attacked some steep hills both up and down. The crawler just sits where you leave it. I gave it a little throttle and it creeped up the hill. When I let off the throttle it stayed where I left it, unless the tires slid of course. I even had it sitting on the rear wheels only and it stayed there. The worm gear drive system was a great choice by Losi!

    Steering was amazingly sharp and helped in maneuvering through the obstacles. The zero ackerman and 45º of steering throw was very noticeable in tracking a course or just turning the vehicle around. This is definitely one of the best steering vehicles I've operated. The JR servo held up great from the pressures of crawling as well as being jarred from the falls.

    The tires hooked up great. As you seasoned crawlers know, throttle control is crucial. Just when I thought I wasn't going to make it over an obstacle I changed tire speed and crawled over. The beadlock rims worked as expected. The tires stayed properly secured at all times. Not to mention they look cool!

    The motor and ESC combo performed well and kept me crawling over some tough obstacles. The motor stalled a couple times when I was wedged in some tight places but that was to be expected. It's possible if it hadn't stalled I might have stripped a gear. I think this motor is a good match for this crawler.

    I wasn't on the throttle constantly but I got at least 45mins of play time from the 4200MAH six cell battery pack. That was 45mins of trouble free enjoyment.

    The Losi LSR-3000 Spektrum 2.4GHz DSM® radio worked flawlessly. There was no interference and it signaled the controls exactly as I wanted it to. The trims were easy to adjust and foam steering wheel felt good in my hand.

    After crawling for a while, I checked all the screws and everything was still secured tightly.

    Night Crawling

    An added bonus of the night crawler is the lighting system. Each of the four tires has an adjustable light aimed in it's direction. When I tested it I was near a street light which worked out great. The street light allowed me to see what was ahead of the vehicle and the LED lights allowed me to get an even better look at what was beneath it. When crawling in pitch black I needed a flash light to allow me to plot my coarse. The optimum night time crawling conditions would be at dusk or with a secondary light source.

    See the Night Crawler in action!

    Download and Watch in Windows Media Player here!

    See the Night Crawler in the Dark!

    Download and Watch in Windows Media Player here!


    I am impressed with the performance of the Losi Night Crawler. I don't see one thing I would have to change. It's kind of humorous how I look for rocks every where I go now. I guess I'm hooked.

    The Losi Night Crawler will make a great vehicle for anyone, especially someone wanting to get into crawling for the first time. Maybe you're someone who wants to try your hand at night crawling or just looking for a crawler to play with or compete with. I am confident you will be pleased with the looks, quality, and performance of the Losi Night Crawler.


    manu and credits

    Losi, a division of Horizon Hobby
    4710 E. Guasti Road
    Ontario, CA 91761 USA

    Phone: 877-504-0233
    Email: productsupport@horizonhobby.com
    Website: www.losi.com

    Horizon Product Support
    4105 Fieldstone Road
    Champaign, Illinois 61822

    Phone: 877.504.0233
    Website: www.Horizonhobby.com

    Comments on RCU Review: Team Losi Night Crawler

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    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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