Rock solid diggin’ machine!
Words: Paul Onorato
Photos: Walter Sidas
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s April 2015 issue.
Pickup truck body, a potent powerplant, four giant tires and plenty of ground clearance for go-anywhere ability are the main characteristics that make a monster truck a monster truck. In my opinion, this makes RC versions of these rigs a great vehicle for bashing and for someone just starting out. Fitting this criteria is the recently released Arrma Granite BLS 1/10-scale ready-to-run electric 2WD monster truck. Now the Granite is not a brand new truck, but it has been released as part of a new series of vehicles from the crew at Arrma named BLS. The BLS series of vehicles are a step up from the Arrma MEGA line of vehicles with some of the upgrades that include a brushless motor instead of brushed and improved electronics and waterproofing.
1/10-Scale 2Wd Electric Monster Truck Rtr
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: Arrma
WHO IT’S FOR: Beginner to advanced drivers
PART NUMBER: ARAD42
HOW MUCH: $249.99
BUILD TYPE: RTR
• Includes everything you need except “AA” batteries
• Brushless motor system offers plenty of performance
• 2-year limited warranty
• Convenient under chassis battery access
• Speed control could be smoother
• Instruction manual will not be helpful for beginners due to it being very light on text and it covers multiple Arrma vehicles.
Being behind the wheel of the Arrma Granite BLS brought me nothing but smiles during testing. Getting it ready to run and driving it was quick and effortless. It can tackle all kinds of terrain so it is great for transitioning between pavement and off- road on a whim, thus making it a great truck for bashing. The Granite BLS is a quintessential monster truck with its tough-looking pick-up truck body, huge off-road tires and wheels, is packed with plenty of power and is built to take abuse. All of this is a recipe for pure fun.
TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• Wall-type battery charger
• 18-tooth pinion gear for high speeds 4-way wrench
• Three “L” shaped hex wrenches
• Foam block
• Four “AA” batteries
HOP-UPS WE RECOMMEND
• Arrma ADS-7M V2 7KG waterproof servo, AR390136, $44.99. This is a more powerful servo that provides additional wheel turning torque and is built using metal gears for durability.
• Arrma aluminum front hingepin brace, AR320157, $24.99. The extra-large monster truck wheels and tires and the speed created by the brushless motor system places a lot of strain on the chassis and beefing up the hingepin brace with an aluminum unit will help keep the chassis solid.
• Arrma aluminum front tower brace, AR330148, $14.99, Like the hingepin brace mentioned above, the shock tower brace will help support the suspension and make the front end more bulletproof during front end collisions.
The chassis is composed of 2mm composite plastic which is designed to be a monocoque-like assembly. On the underside you will find an easy access battery tray which allows you to quickly and easily swap out the battery without the need to remove the body. A plastic post with a single body post holds the battery compartment door closed. The top side is a small access panel over the steering servo. At the rear, the gearbox with suspension arms bolts onto the chassis with hex head hardware.
Arrma made sure to give the Granite some tough shocks to handle off-road abuse and keep the ride as smooth as possible. Four composite plastic, oil- filled shocks are attached to each of the suspension arms. They are adjustable via preload spacers and by altering the viscosity of the oil. Lower H-arm suspension is used front and rear while the front upper link is a fixed wishbone design and the rear uses an adjustable steel turnbuckle. There are not a lot of adjustments that can be made for the suspension and that is perfect for what this truck is intended for.
The Arrma ADS-5 servo swings a dual bellcrank steering system for consistent and smooth steering. To protect the servo during hard impacts, a servo saver is built into the bellcranks. Spanning the distance out to the steering knuckles are adjustable steel turnbuckles so that you can easily adjust toe settings.
A metal motor plate securely holds the powerful Arrma BLS brushless motor. Inside of the 3-gear gearbox is a beefy composite and steel gear differential that should not have trouble handling the power fed by the BLS motor. The pinion and spur gear are protected by a plastic cover to keep dirt out of the transmission. Arrma threw in an optional pinion gear to give the Granite a speed boost. It is three teeth larger (15-tooth stock and 18-tooth optional gear) and is intended for running on hard flat surfaces and not for general bashing.
Arrma has the Granite set up with some quality electronics like its BLS brushless motor system which is fully waterproof and reduces maintenance requirements compared to a brushed vehicle. It is also equipped with a waterproof steering servo that is strong enough to turn the big monster truck tires. To power the system is an included a 7-cell 3300mAh NiMH battery pack with wall charger. Since it is a 7-cell instead of the more typical 6-cell pack that is included with most RTRs, the extra voltage is a bonus and will get the Granite moving out in a hurry. Controlling the Granite is the Arrma ATX-100 transmitter with 3-channel r eceiver. The transmitter is very comfortable to hold with steering wheel dropped down to be in line with trigger.
ON THE TRACK
A vehicle like the Arrma Granite BLS monster truck is right at home tearing it up pretty much everywhere. I ran it on gravel, dirt, grass, pavement and whatever else I could find. The power of the Arrma BLS brushless motor system is essential to making this ruck a lot of fun to drive. Quick acceleration and top speeds hitting the mid 30’s will keep the newcomer and even the seasoned RCer running the Granite over and over again. Depending on the type of surface I was driving on that provided decent traction, the front end would lift off the ground with quick throttle input. These wheelies are mild and easy to control. Up at full speed the truck soaks up ruts and bumps without getting out of shape. When those ruts and bumps get bigger, the Granite becomes harder to keep on its path and that is a large part of what makes it fun to drive. You need to modulate the throttle and stay on top of the steering when driving the truck fast. If you didn’t have to do this, driving the Granite would get boring quickly.
On pavement, the dBoots multi-surface tires did well. The sidewalls of the tires held up to fast turns and did not collapse and cause the truck to flip. I was able to drive the truck at a good clip and give it a lot of steering input without issue. On high speed runs I had to dial down some of the steering dual rate because the truck would wonder a bit and not hold its line. A trait you would find on most vehicles, especially a monster truck. I did find that the brakes were a bit weak and did not stop the pick-up quickly. When the truck is stopped and you give slight input to the throttle, it seemed to me that the speed control was not very smooth and a bit jerky. Is this a deal breaker? Not at all. This truck is not something that requires precision because it is all about fun and not high-end competition.
Besides driving fast, launching an off-road vehicle off of jumps is the next most common activity bashers like to do. The Granite BLS is quite good at jumping even if the ‘ramp’ you are using is not perfect because its large tires and smooth suspension will compensate. Once airborne, lay off the throttle or else the large wheels and tires will cause the truck to fly nose up and land on its rear. After a few tries, I was able to get the Granite to fly nice and level. I then started hitting the jumps with more and more speed to see how far I could jump it and still nail a good landing. There were a few crazy tumbles and the truck came back for more. I inspected the truck and found that the rear plastic motor guard took a beating and showed signs of wear, but nothing broke. The durability of the Granite is definitely good.
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SPECS AND TUNING OPTIONS
LENGTH: 16.5 in. (420mm) WIDTH: 13.8 in. (340mm) WHEELBASE: 11.5 in. (292mm) WEIGHT: 4.38lbs. (1,987g)
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
BODY: Pre-painted and cut monster truck WHEELS: 7-spoke black chrome nylon WHEEL ADAPTER TYPE: 12mm hex TIRES: dBoots multi surface
TYPE: 4-wheel independent
SHOCK POSITIONS: (F) 1-tower, 2-arm, (R) 1-tower, 2-arm
CAMBER: Adjustable turnbuckles, rear ROLL: Non-adjustable
RIDE HEIGHT: Pre-load clips on the shocks
TYPE: Dual bellcrank
TOE: Adjustable turnbuckles
MATERIAL: Plastic composite
TRANSMISSION: 3-gear rear-mounted
GEAR RATIO: Optional pinion gears
BEARINGS: Metal shielded
CLUTCH TYPE: Adjustable slipper
Performance – Acceleration: 8
Performance – Steering: 6
Performance – Handling: 7
Performance – Durability: 9
Feature Breakdown: 8
Overall Value: 9
Arrma continues to offer great RC vehicles and the new BLS series will quickly gain popularity. I had a lot of fun with the Granite BLS 2WD monster truck. It has plenty of speed with the brushless motor system that is paired up with the included 7-cell NiMH battery pack. Newcomers will appreciate how forgiving it is to drive thanks to the large tires, ground clearance and durable construction that also makes it perfect to conquer all types of terrain. What would be beneficial is a better instruction manual that is better suited to someone just starting out and other than that, this is a very good truck right out of the box
Arrma, arrma-rc.com, (217) 398-3630