MRC Minis Tested
We are seeing a new vehicle size growing in popularity. 1/16-scale vehicles provide the performance of larger 1/10-scale vehicles in an easier–to–drive–anywhere smaller package. ZD Racing has added to the choices in this new popular scale, and it has three different vehicles from which to choose. We received the ZMR-16 and the ZMT-16 for review.The ZMR-16 has a monster truck stance and the ZMT-16 is a mini truggy (the ZMB-16, which we did not review, is a buggy). These vehicles come with brushless systems and include a lightweight LiPo battery pack. They come as a complete RTR package, so the only thing you need is eight AA batteries for the transmitter. The best part is that these models are highly affordable. It doesn’t get any better than that! Take a look at the great features that this series of trucks has to offer.
Out of the box, the ZMR-16 and ZMT-16 vehicles were significantly bigger than the 1/18-scale class of vehicles that we are used to by now. The ZMR is a monster truck version which sits slightly higher than the ZMT truggy. The only difference between the two is the wheels, tires, and prepainted bodies, so you can convert to a different model if you need some variety in your life. If someone asked me which one I liked better of the two, I couldn’t answer as they’re both great, and the handling differences are what make owning them fun. The chassis appears to be a very durable FRP (fiber–reinforced plastic) design. The FRP chassis will remains stiff and strong enough for anything you throw at it, and because it retains the stiffness, it makes an excellent platform for racing. Another great feature is that the top plate is of T6 aluminum construction; most of the minis I see now all have plastic pieces. Since the top plate covers some critical components (steering servo, motor and driveline), having a strong piece is a real plus. The shock towers are also made out of the same grade aluminum—something that would have to be bought as an aftermarket piece for most other vehicles.
The suspension utilizes a double-wishbone C-hub design, with plenty of adjustments. Other minis require you to purchase aftermarket turnbuckles, but in the ZD Racing trucks, almost everything is adjustable. On the front you can adjust the steering linkages for toe settings, and the upper linkages for camber. The rear has a fixed toe setting (slightly toe in for stability), and the camber is adjustable. The steering setup is reminiscent of larger RC vehicles. The bell–crank design allows for quick adjustments of the servo saver. The fluid-filled shocks come with an aluminum cap to prevent the shocks from breaking or pulling off (again usually an aftermarket part).
The brushless motor powers a center differential that powers the front and rear diffs. They are not sealable, but for cars like these, every little tuning option would be overkill. The center diff really is noticeable during my testing, it allowed the vehicles to rotate very well. However, it does limit your wheelie ability, and if tha
t’s something you’re into, some JB weld or putty can lock up the center diff.
The included electronics are fantastic! It’s not very often that you get a brushless system stock in this price range. The 40–amp brushless speed control powers a powerful inrunner brushless motor. The brushless motor is a 3900kV motor, which seems to be the perfect speed for these trucks. Anything faster would be a hard to control, and that would take away from the fun experience I had driving these trucks. A powerful steering servo turns the wheels, and it had no trouble turning the wheels in all instances and no aftermarket servo is necessary. The included radio system is a basic AM 27MHz unit, but it offers more adjustability than most RTR radios. It allows you to change the end points of the throttle (not necessary on this model, but useful if you use the transmitter in future models), and the steering. You can adjust the trim, and it also has a dual–steering rate adjustment. Lastly, a 1500mAh 15C 2-cell LiPo is included. I have yet to see a mini RC vehicle that includes such a powerful battery. It really gives these vehicles unrivaled punch.
After I charged the batteries with the included battery charger and installed AA batteries in the transmitter, it was time to head out to a bashing site to test out the trucks. From the first pull of the trigger, I was super impressed with the awesome power that the ZM series of trucks exhibited. They had tons of low–end punch, and due to the center diff which helped distribute the power between the front and rear tires, it seemed very controllable. The center diff did have a habit to “diff out” under heavy acceleration which did allow the front tires to balloon up. The top speed is around 25mph, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but due to the size of the vehicle, it is more speed than you need; they look very fast.
Handling is where I noticed the biggest difference between the monster truck version and the truggy. Due to the tires, the monster truck rides slightly higher and they weren’t as grippy as the truggy tires. Because of the lower stance of the truggy, it handles a bit better in the dirt and on the track. I handed the transmitter over to another driver and he agreed; he felt that the truggy felt more responsive. This also could have been due to the tread design on the tires. The truggy tires had a traditional block design, something you would see on 1/10- or 1/8-scale off-road buggy and truggies. The monster truck, however, was able to traverse higher obstacles and was able to handle the grass better than the truggy. Speaking of grass, it is quite rare to have mini vehicles so easily able to cross grass terrain. This makes the monster truck an extremely versatile vehicle.
At the end of the day, I had a big, stupid grin on my face. I had more fun with these minis than I have had with any RC vehicle in a long time. They really are the complete package, for a price less than most minis on the market. The kicker is that the minis that are in the same price range lack the brushless system and power LiPo battery that the ZD Racing minis include. If you are looking for a high-quality, portable vehicle and one of the best bargains in the RC world, you have to look no further than MRC’s ZD Racing line of 1/16-scale vehicles. They have quickly become some of my favorite vehicles, and they will certainly see the most runtime!
ZD Racing ZMR Truggy and buggy (each): $180-190