with express permission and consent of
MapleGate Media Group dba RC Driver Magazine
By: RC Driver Team
all began with a phone conversation with Rob from Robinson
Racing. ?Dude, I?m gonna send you this car that
I have. It?s an electric 1/8-scale buggy, and the thing
just plain rips. Call me after you drive it!? Not more
than a week later, the car in question arrived at the Driver
office; it was a Team Losi 8IGHT that had been converted to
electric power. There was a large brushless motor where the
bigblock engine would have been; where the pipe and throttle
servo should have been, there were two lightweight LiPo battery
packs; and a Castle Creations Mamba Max ESC sat in place of
the nitro car?s fuel tank. With packs charged, we headed
to the parking lot to rip some laps (judging by the condition
of the supplied tires, Rob had already spent quite a bit of
time doing the same). Punch and speed were off the chart,
and the car could be made to wheelie at nearly any speed.
What was most impressive, however, was how smooth the powerband
felt: it was like driving a bigger version of a 1/10-scale
off-road buggy. It didn?t take long for us to hatch a
plan to compare Rob?s E-8IGHT with Frank?s nitro
8IGHT to see whether this emerging battery and motor technology
is really ready for primetime.
have seen a number of 1/8-scale vehicles
converted to brushless power, but this particular conversion
strikes us as being the most commonsense for a number of
reasons. First, the E-8IGHT weighs exactly the same as its
nitro counterpart, so all the setups, shock oils and springs
that work on the nitro car will work on the electric version.
When much heavier battery packs are used, ?known?
setups can no longer be relied on. Balance is also a critical
factor, and this conversion very closely mimics the balance
of the nitro 8IGHT. Last, the Mega brushless ACn Car8+ is
a relatively low-rpm motor, but it seems smoother, and it
definitely produces enough torque to create speed through
gearing (as shown by its blistering 47mph speed run). Some
brushless motors spin at very high rpm and must be geared
down to produce torque and extend run time; the Mega takes
an opposite approach. When paired with the 11.1V LiPo batteries
(wired in parallel to provide 4400mAh at 11.1 volts), the
Car8+ spins at only about 14,500rpm, although the motor
is rated at between 20,000 to 30,000rpm.
The installation uses laser-cut plywood parts from Mega
Motor USA. Universal reaction to the plywood by RC racers
has been negative?
even after we explained that it?s light and strong
and does the job. Car people want aluminum or carbon; we?ve
spoken to Mega
Motor, and they may well release the parts in aluminum to
meet demand. The Car8+ motor is simply bolted to the chassis
in place of the nitro engine (the motor is designed to fit
a Kyosho chassis, but it can fit other cars with the use
of an adapter plate). The motor?s 5mm output shaft
accepts Mega Steel Mod 1 pinions (made by RRP), which mesh
perfectly with RRP?s steel spur gears. An optional
12V cooling fan is bolted to the motor?s finned aluminum
heat-sink case. Plywood trays serve as mounts for the twin
packs and for the (optional) fan that sits above the ESC.
The batteries are secured using Velcro, but we would prefer
a more secure and precise mounting system.
Losi?s 8IGHT is the first 1/8-scale nitro
buggy produced by an American company.
Ripe with the innovation we?ve come to expect
from Losi, the 8IGHT has been incredibly successful during
its short career, and in the hands of Losi/Trinity?s
Adam Drake, the 8IGHT recently became the ROAR national
champ. Chief among the 8IGHT?s numerous innovations
is a radical drivetrain that allows the engine to be mounted
very close to the chassis? middle, keeping the weight
centered for nimble handling and exceptional stability.
The car used in this comparison is the kit we tested way
back in the November 2006 issue. Apart from a few equipment
changes, each and every part of our nitro 8IGHT is original
and has seen dozens of race days. Our has a powerful O.S.
Engines .21VZ-B Vspec mill, high-performance JR Z9000-series
servos and a Futaba 3PK transmitter using a 2.4GHz Spektrum
Pro system (we also used this radio combo for the E-8IGHT).
Losi?s Nitrotane 30 percent fuel provided the necessary
do you top a potent O.S. Engines .21VZ-B Vspec and
a Jammin? JP-3 pipe?
OF THE TAPE
Brushless ACn Car8+
2200mAh 11.1V LiPo packs
of 30% nitro fuel
Creations Mamba Max
Z9000T digital servo
oz. (w/out fuel)
to 15 min.
hour (approx. w/fuel stops)
includes everything on rolling chassis except receivers
Does not include appropriate battery chargers.
cells are reliable and safe when used correctly. But as
it?s always better to be safe than sorry, we?ll
reiterate a couple of key rules for handling them:
only a charger that has a specific LiPo mode.
cells should be charged at a rate of 1C (in the case of
our 2200mAh packs, the correct rate of 1C would be approximately
batteries can ignite if overheated, overcharged or
shorted, so it?s always good to use a charging/storing
such as the Li-Poly Sack from Racers Edge (racers-edge.com,
item no. RCE2007, $28).
For the sake of equality, we set both cars up as closely
as possible (using a slight variation of Mike Truhe?s
2007 Nitro Challenge setup:our cars used thinner diff oil:
3/5/1, instead of Truhe?s 5/7/2). GRP mounted Cubic
tires (GMH03A) to each car, and we tested them over several
days at Wolcott Hobby & Raceway in Wolcott, Connecticut.
We had no doubt that the E-8IGHT would clearly win in this
category, and there weren?t any surprises. Electric
motors make maximum torque at their lowest rpm, whereas
a nitro engine must build rpm to increase torque. So an
electric power system will always out-accelerate a nitro
system of comparable output. In a real-world application,
the E-8IGHT is more of a handful to drive: it is less efficient
at translating its considerable torque into traction at
lower speeds, so it takes a gentler approach?and more
concentration?to avoid unwanted wheelspin. By contrast,
the nitro 8IGHT is more forgiving of an aggressive trigger
finger, although it required more buildup to clear larger
jumps. The E-8IGHT cleared virtually everything from a dead
stop, including the Wolcott track?s quad-jump section?a
feat out of the nitro car?s reach Winner: E-8IGHT
This is the most subjective category in this comparison,
as gearing plays a large role in any vehicle?s potential
for speed. That being said, with both cars geared for the
track, the E-8IGHT?s best pass yielded a flat 47mph
past our Stalker radar gun. The nitro 8IGHT blazes by just
a tick below at 44.55mph. That?s a draw in our book,
as both powerplants are capable of pulling taller ratios
that would undoubtedly push them both well past 50mph. On
the track, the E-8IGHT?s ability to get up to speed
more quickly was negated by its reduced traction under hard
acceleration, making its marginal speed advantage a wash
against the grip of the nitro car.
This was a very difficult category to call, but in the end,
the acceleration of the E-8IGHT gave it a very slight edge
over the nitro 8IGHT. Both cars flew well and were easily
adjusted midair by using the throttle and brake, but the
E-8IGHT consistently cleared larger jumps, even if the length
of the approach was diminished by a bobble or by an altercation
with traffic. As mentioned in the acceleration category,
the E-8IGHT cleared a long quad-jump section (which everyone
else considered a triple-single) that the nitro 8IGHT just
couldn?t complete. To translate this into an advantage,
the E-8IGHT is more forgiving of driving error when precise
timing is needed to complete technical jump sections. Winner: E-8IGHT
Traction boils down to three variables: surface grip, tire
grip and the forces that try to separate the tire from the
surface. Of these forces, the one that comes most into play
when comparing the nitro 8IGHT and E-8IGHT is torque. Torque
is what produces wheelspin and loss of traction when applying
the throttle, and as the E-8IGHT produces maximum torque
at the lowest rpm, it?s natural that it would have
less traction than its nitro counterpart. The Mamba Max
ESC does its best to curb the initial hit of the motor (it
also helps to dial the radio?s throttle channel to
a negative value), but there?s just so much tire-shredding
spank available that only a judicious throttle finger provides
a workable solution. Driving the E-8IGHT simply requires
more attention and a smoother application of the throttle
to get the power to the ground. Winner: Nitro 8IGHT
Even with its electric powertrain, the E-8IGHT has virtually
the same handling traits as the nitro 8IGHT, so the two
cars are virtually identical in terms of steering response.
Apart from an on-power oversteer that?s absent from
the nitro car, the E-8IGHT exhibited initial and mid-turn
steering on par with it. In contrast to the nitro 8IGHT,
the brushless motor system provided a slightly noticeable
coast-braking, which most drivers viewed as a positive trait
and one that reduced the need to manually apply brakes when
slowing for turns. With similar weights, balance and suspension
setups, the electric and nitro 8IGHTs are essentially twins
in terms of how they steer, although the E-8IGHT felt more
aggressive. Winner: Tie
We had reservations about the E-8IGHT?s braking ability,
as the Econversion eliminates the mechanical dual-disc setup.
The ESC applies brakes to the transmission?s spur gear,
at which time, the stopping force is transmitted through
the car?s center diff and apportioned to the front
and rear wheels according to available traction and the
shifting of the chassis? weight. As a result, braking
balance changes with conditions, and most of the stopping
itself at the rear wheels. Surprisingly, the E-8IGHT stopped
quite well and didn?t lose grip even when braking deep
into turns. A stiffer center diff improves front-to-rear
braking balance, while the opposite is true when the center
diff is set more loosely. As expected, the powerful dual
discs of the nitro 8IGHT proved superior, but both systems
exhibited only minimal fade?a testament to the excellent
Mamba Max ESC. Winner: Nitro 8IGHT
Superior acceleration, blistering top speed, quieter
and cleaner than nitro, fewer moving parts to wear,
no engine vibration.
LOWS. Brakes through center differential, cannot
complete longer Mains without battery swaps, recharge
time, more susceptible to heat issues.
VERDICT. The electric-powered 8IGHT has more
punch than its nitro cousin, and it?s actually
a bit faster on the straights, but it takes a lot longer
to ?refill? a battery pack than to fill a
nitro vehicle?s fuel tank.
Makes great noises, easier to drive,
runs as long as there?s fuel and voltage, front
and rear disc brakes.
LOWS. Loud, messy, expensive fuel, more moving
parts to wear, engine vibration wreaks havoc on electronics.
VERDICT. It?s hard to beat the sound and
excitement of a nitro-powered 1/8-scale buggy, but
some people are turned off by the smell, noise and
mess associated with nitro engines.
AND THE WINNER IS ...
Although the scoring indicates a dead heat, we unanimously
picked the nitro 8IGHT as being
superior for track duties. Like all 1/8-scale buggies, the
8IGHT was designed around the power delivery of a .21 nitro
engine. Its drivetrain, clutch and even its suspension and
chassis layout are optimized for nitro power. While the
electric powertrain is, on paper, a match for a big-block
nitro engine, the increased torque of the brushless system
did, at times, overwhelm the vehicle?s dynamics and
reduce stability and grip. We?ve concluded that spending
more time on setting up the chassis and suspension would
narrow the gap. To be sure, it takes a different style of
driving to pilot the E-8IGHT; the ?blip-blip?
throttle action used for nitro must be replaced by a smooth,
consistent pull of the trigger to avoid wheelspin.
result of all of this is a keen look into the future
of the RC hobby. We have no doubt that brushless-powered
larger-scale vehicles will be the next big trend,
and the E-8IGHT shown here is proof-positive of the
potential of 1/8-scale electric. Based on our time
driving the nitro and electric cars back to back,
it would take only a little more refinement of the
brushless package to seriously challenge the established
nitro class. We hypothesized that some sort of mechanical
brake system, and perhaps even a nitro-style clutch,
might bring the drivability of the E-8IGHT in line
with the nitro car?s.
this comparison, we think we have glimpsed the future
of the RC car hobby. Looking at what is happening
in 1/10 scale, it?s clear that brushless motor
systems are here to stay. But until very recently,
brushless power systems were limited to the smaller
scales. While nitro continues to dominate the market,
breakthroughs in brushless motor, ESC and LiPo battery
technologies have made the larger scales more accessible
to those who prefer their power to come from battery
chemistry and not combustion chemistry.
these words: you will see electric-powered 1/8- scale
vehicles such as the E-8IGHT coming from major manufacturers?
and sooner than you think.
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.