We’ve Waited a Long Time for This!
Our RC Driver staff first heard rumors and saw early renderings of the Arrma Nero a little over a year ago on our annual pilgrimage to Champagne, IL.
The folks at Hobbico were very excited about this soon-to- be-beast, even in this early stage and at this point, it is clear why they were so pumped.
This truck is massive, it looks intimidating (especially with the body off), it boasts a series of innovative design features and is capable of some serious power.
Toss in the fact that it’s fully waterproof and capable of speeds up to and over 60 mph and you’ve got yourself the perfect machine for those looking to bash on a serious level. Add the fact that you can Blast, Wheelie, Drift or Climb in the four distinct driving modes and you’ve got four vehicles in one to suit any driving style or need!
Let’s Take This Beast Out for a Test Drive…
PROS & CONS
+ Diff Brain technology
+ Huge 16mm lay-down shocks
+ Capable of speeds in excess of 60mph
+ Fully waterproof electronics package
+ 17mm wheel hexes
+ Red alloy goodness everywhere
– Bottom-load battery trays
– No wheelie bar included
ON THE TRACK
We were surprised to see a single servo assigned to the steering duties. Further investigation revealed that while the Arrma ADS-15MG servo is an HV unit that is waterproof and features metal gears, it only packs just over 200 ounces of torque at 7.2 volts.
Still, the Nero has pretty darn good steering authority. In fact, the only time we were left wanting a little more muscle on the single post bellcrank was when we were climbing with the diffs all locked up. In all other driving modes, the ADS-15 does its job nicely and should be sufficient for all but the most power hungry steering buffs.
It’s our belief that the smooth action of the pillow ball suspension offers a resistance-free setup that allows the servo to transfer 100 percent of its power to the steering assembly.
Only under the most extreme of conditions, at very high speeds when entering a hard corner, did the servo waiver, but on anything but the stickiest of surfaces, it has great holding power. Of course, with the diffs all locked down in Climb mode, you have to be wary of using too much steering while on asphalt and that you’re also going to be looking at a fairly wider turning radius without the diffs in action.
Acceleration with the 3S packs and the ESC in default settings was excellent, especially for a sensorless system. Caution must be applied though when running on high traction surfaces as the Nero will roll straight to its back and then slide … for a long, long ways if you grab a fistful of trigger too quickly.
In Bash mode, riding wheelies is a little more manageable without the bar out back to keep the nose down. The reason being, the center diff unloads a bit of power to the front wheels off the ground. On 2S, keeping the shiny side up with the front wheels lifted was much easier in Wheelie mode.
Before getting our test truck all dirty, we swapped in the larger 17t pinion and gave it a whirl in a wide open parking lot. Again, careful throttle dosages were necessary and once the Nero was up to full speed, it was a blur. The mere fact that the tires were still as big as pizzas at full bore told us that it wanted more gear … but that’s for another day.
In stock trim, the Nero exhibits nary a cog on 3S and only slight cogging on 2S at very low speeds.
The brakes were a little soft for our test purposes, so we programmed the ESC for a bit more stopping power and were good to go. The ESC also has a reverse delay, meaning you must go back to neutral with the trigger after stopping, before reverse can be used.
In Climb mode, the Nero has excellent low speed abilities, especially on the 3S packs. However, we found it best practice to simply place our middle fingers a little higher up on the pistol grip to give the trigger a back-stop. This kept our lead “crawler fingers” from sending dirt and debris into our grinning mouths.
One of the best features of the Nero BLX is in the handling department. Just looking at it, you know it will perform. 16mm big bore lay-down shocks, plush pillow ball suspension on the end of each set of arms and butter-smooth power transfer from the steel/alloy driveline make the Nero sheer pleasure to drive. Throughout all of our testing, we were continually impressed with how the truck would respond, no matter what situation we put it into.
With all the diffs unlocked, cruising over rougher terrain had the chassis of the Nero looking almost like it was gimbal stabilized. The 16mm shocks were just gobbling up whatever we threw at them and 99 percent of the time, the chassis stayed firmly planted.
Skying the Nero off of giant BMX jumps, the preload collars needed to be tightened down a bit for the flat landings, but some heavier shock oil will remedy any sort of chassis slapping in such cases. Even when we got a little silly with the throttle on the jumps, a quick yank of the trigger produced multiple back flips, transferring into a level landing stance with a stab of the breaks to stop the rotation landing on anything but four wheels each time. But … each time the Nero would settle onto its paws and continue on.
Climbing with the diffs all locked up was a welcome change to blasting, drifting and wheelie-ing away. The slow speed power delivery is much smoother on 22.2 volts than 14.8, but again, you must be cautious with the throttle. The lay-down style shocks that are actuated through the rockers produce massive amounts of travel, allowing us to put the Nero into some pretty hairy situations.
Each time we got it stuck, we simply switched back into Wheelie mode and blipped the throttle to dislodge the truck from the grasp of the rocks and logs.
Third only to the innovative features of the Nero and the performance it hands out is the durability of the truck. The high-grade alloy used to construct the chassis and motor pod doesn’t only look great, it provides a rigid backbone for the rest of the truck.
The composite exoskeleton provides ample protection for the onboard electronics as well as the internals of the truck. The driveline, including all metal gears and the beefy steel drive shafts that key into alloy sliders means you can keep pouring on the power and not worry about anything breaking loose.
Throughout all of our testing, we sent the Nero tumbling at high speeds, landing on its roof or front bumper after catching some big air and even rolled it in a super deep puddle. Even so, our test truck showed no signs of weakness and kept coming back, ready for more. With the open pinion/spur assembly inside the chassis, we were also worried about debris working its way into the gears, but again, not a single issue through dozens of runs.
Even more surprising, the Nero is surprisingly quiet for a huge, heavy truck running steel on steel Mod 1 gears. Toss what you like at the Nero. It will only gobble it up and ask for more.
The truck proved to be rugged, but we did manage to break something several days into our testing and after our print magazine where the Nero was featured went to press. We managed to pull the rod end off of two different pushrods after two different major crashes. With some 5-minute epoxy shoved into the ends and the rods reinserted along with a soda brake, we were able to get the truck back in action without a trip to the hobby store.
HOP-UPS WE RECOMMEND
– Arrma Nero Wheelie Bar Set (AR320255) $17.99
If popping wheelies is your thing, you might want to think about replacing the stock rear bumper with this wheelie bar from Arrma. In driving mode number two, the truck isn’t just capable of lifting the front tires off the pavement, it will also roll straight on to its back if you’re not too careful with the throttle. This wheelie bar will keep the truck firmly planted with the shiny side up. If you’re using 3S packs, the wheelie bar is almost mandatory.
– Arrma Dirt Guard Set Nero (AR330414) $9.99
The Nero is fully waterproof, so that means it’s probably going to see some mud for a lot of users. To keep things clean and moving freely, we recommend the purchase of these mud guards for your truck. They easily mount to the front of each arm to keep anything to the rear of them dirt and debris free. (The mounting holes on the arms are also perfectly located for a DIY sway bar kit!)
Well, there you have it. The most highly anticipated bash vehicle of the year has hit our store shelves and it’s a beauty … and a beast! The Nero does really combine the best of four different vehicles into a single platform for tons of RC fun no matter what the given driver is into. Whether you’re into high speed and big air, wheelie popping madness, sideways sliding action or low and slow climbing, the Nero can do it all and do it all extremely well. A pleasant side effect is the fact that the truck just looks plain killer … and that’s with the body off! For those of you looking to bash and thrash in a purely traditional sense with an MT, Arrma is also offering up the Nero without the Diff Brain and servos for 100 smackers less than the fully outfitted version we tested. Click here to visit ARRMA’s website.