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Crawler King Review

King of the rocks!

Words: Nate Myers Photos Walter Sidas
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s October 2015 issue.

I am a sucker for classic Broncos and the HPI Crawler King certainly caught my attention. The 2.2-inch crawler seems set to capture the imaginations of those new to RC and the more experienced hobbyist as well. Whether you’re testing the limits on the technical trails or just bashing in the backyard, the HPI Crawler King is at home in all off-road situations. The waterproof electronics open up an entirely new dimension of driving because you no longer need to worry about bashing in the messiest environments, including snow and mud! Everything you need to get started in the hobby is in the box, but since this is a full hobby grade truck, you can slowly upgrade your vehicle into your own masterpiece.

WHO IT’S FOR: Entry-level to intermediate rock crawlers and backyard bashers
HOW MUCH:  $289.99

• 100% RTR out of the box, everything is included.
• Waterproof electronics
• High torque 55-turn motor  2.4GHz radio
• Pre-glued tires

•  High center of gravity
• Chassis mounted steering servo

HPI has been making quality products for many years and the Crawler King does not disappoint. It is based off the popular and robust Wheely King platform, so aftermarket parts are plentiful and the vehicle is tough. The Crawler King offers 2.2-inch tires, oil filled shocks, and over six inches of articulation. The stock 55T motor lays down plenty of torque to muscle over the craziest trails with ease while the forward mounted battery keeps the wheels on the ground for exceptional traction. The Crawler King’s center-of-gravity is higher than others in the same class, but the vehicle is surprisingly forgiving to drive.

• 4-way wrench
• L wrenches
• AC Charger
• 7.2V 2,000mAh NIMH Battery
• 4 1.5V “AA” alkaline batteries

• This kit comes with everything, nothing else is   needed.

• No additional items needed.

• Reduction Gearbox Set, #87636, $20, the gear reduction unit provides an additional 1:7.4 gear reduction for insanely awesome torque.
• Axle Mount Servo Kit, Hot Racing WK24R01, $20, This will greatly improve steering and maneuverability.
• Peak Charger, Hitec X1 MF 44176, $80, While the truck comes with a basic wall wart style charger, a quality charger will improve run time and increase battery life.

‹Chassis: If you have ever looked at either the Wheely King or Crawler King, you will recognize HPI’s twin vertical plate (TVP) chassis. The chassis is made from a composite material and provides a tube-frame appearance in a rigid, ladder style frame. It protects all the components from damage while providing good weight distribution through the front mounted battery and center mounted transmission. The chassis is a unique, yet functional foundation for a wonderful vehicle.

‹ Suspension: The Crawler King incorporates extra-long aluminum lower suspension links with a plastic upper link. The 3-link setup provides impressive articulation, allowing the vehicle to crawl over most obstacles. The included oil-filled shocks dampen the roughest trails while providing stability at speed. The axles include numerous mounting locations for the lower links and the shocks to allow for superior adjustability. When compared to the Wheely King, the shocks are mounted in an angled configuration, slightly lowering the overall center-of-gravity and increasing suspension travel.

‹ Steering: If I had to pick one weakness with the Crawler King, it would be the stock steering setup. While I am a huge fan of chassis mounted servos, the SF-10W waterproof servo is mounted in the middle of the chassis and then a series of pushrods and cantilevers finally turn the wheels. The servo itself is slightly under-rated for a 2.2-inch vehicle at 36.1oz./in. at six volts. When you add the friction losses at each pivot point, the final torque at the front wheels is lacking. While this is a weakness in the design, it can be overcome with either a higher torque servo or an axle mounted steering servo and it can be upgraded with minimal time and effort.

Drivetrain: The HPI driveline is stout from the 55t 540 motor to the locked solid axles. The universal joints are large enough to take the most brutal punishment. The design allows for ample suspension travel without binding. The axles are clocked to ensure maximum contact with the ground on all four tires. Ball bearings are standard and reduce friction, increasing battery life and decreasing wear on components.
‹ Electronics: When the Crawler King was originally released, it came with an AM radio, a NiMH ESC, and the SF-1 steering servo. This version includes a glitchless 2.4GHz radio, a waterproof servo, and a waterproof LiPo ready ESC. The receiver is stored in an element- proof container, ensuring absolute protection of your electronics.

On our RC adventure, my boy and I proceeded to cover my normal urban crawling route. This consists of driving on all types of surfaces including pavement, dirt trails, sketchy embankments, medium size rocks, and some playground equipment, including a slide or two, at the local park. The Crawler King performed well in all the environments and was easy enough to control that I had complete confidence handing over the controls to a couple of six- year olds at the park. There is no doubt in my mind that if those kids weren’t breaking parts that truck was pretty well made.

In our local rock garden, the Crawler King is a very capable rig and handled some of the best trails out there. While the high center-of-gravity resulted in a fair number of rollovers, no parts were broken and the driver is forced to take their time and pick their lines more carefully. Utilizing throttle control and picking the correct lines kept the truck upright and it was hard to beat. If a driver learns to pick their lines in the beginning, then as the truck is modified, the driver will become more competitive. The soft suspension kept all four wheels firmly planted and traction was rarely a concern.

Finally with all the rain we have been experiencing, the waterproof electronics were put through their paces. I have taken this vehicle through some of the thickest, nastiest mud and the craziest water crossings I could imagine. With the locked differentials and no slipper clutch, the full torque of the 55t motor lays down the power. At the end of the day, the truck was saturated with mud and water. I took it home and hosed it down. Just remember to follow the instructions in the manual to ensure the receiver is dry and ready for the next trip. I also took the axles and transmission apart and was happy to see that there was no damage and with a little grease I was ready for the next trail.

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LENGTH: 17 in. (431.8mm)
WIDTH: 11.7 in. (297.2mm)
WHEELBASE: 9.4 in. (238.8mm)
WEIGHT: 4.2 lbs. (1905g)

BODY: Pre-painted and cut Ford Bronco
WHEELS: Black 8-spoke
TIRES: HB Rover Tires

TYPE: 3-Link solid axle
SHOCK POSITIONS: (F) 3-axle, 1-tower, (R) 3-axle, 1-tower
RIDE HEIGHT: Preload clips on the shocks

TYPE: Chassis mount, multi-cantilever

TYPE: Ladder style twin vertical plate
MATERIAL: Composite

TRANSMISSION: Multi-gear center mount
GEAR RATIO: Optional pinion gears
BEARINGS: Full set of shielded

Opinion: 8
Performance – Acceleration: 7
Performance – Steering: 5
Performance – Handling: 9
Performance – Durability: 10
Feature Breakdown: 8
Overall Value: 9

The HPI Crawler King has a superior heritage and performs well right out of the box. As an entry level rig, the vehicle is very capable and with minimal time and effort its shortcomings can be resolved. I was very happy with the overall quality and performance. There is no other name brand, 2.2-inch crawler on the market that can compare with the price point and overall value of the Crawler King. The fact that everything is included in the box is another plus for the novice or parents trying to introduce their kids to a new hobby because there are no surprise costs that you find out when you get home. The parts support for the vehicle is very good and most parts can be obtained at your local hobby shop for a nominal cost. If you have not tried crawling, you have to pick up an HPI Crawler King and hit the trails.

HPI Racing, , (949) 753-1099


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