4-cell fully decked out Beast!
Photos: Walter Sidas
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s April 2015 issue.
In the grand scheme of things, 1/8-scale truggy platforms are the beasts of RC, combining speed and power in a nimble package that is primed to conquer any race course or bash area. The Team Basher SaberTooth by HobbyKing packs all the great things about 1/8 e-power and they’ve done it all for well under 300 bucks fully outfitted! Quite impressive considering similarly equipped vehicles can run upwards of a thousand dollars or more. Those that have passed up earlier offerings from HobbyKing due to the lack of local parts sup- port might want to give a second look at this truggy. The SaberTooth was designed with durability and speed in mind as it features a 4S capable power system and the entire drive train is made out of steel. Strap a pair of 2S packs into the saddle boxes and put the power to the pre-wired series harness to let the fun begin.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: Team Basher by HobbyKing
WHO IT’S FOR: Bashers & club racers
PART NUMBER: 9249000121
HOW MUCH: $234.92
BUILD TYPE: Receiver Ready Roller
1/8 truggies and buggies haven’t necessarily been tops on my list in the past and the primary reason for that has always been the dollar figure. Sourcing out a good kit and fully outfitting it with the best electronics on the market can often lead to a hefty dent in the bank account … that is, until the SaberTooth was announced. This 1/8 beast is sold as an ARR (Almost Read to Run) as it only requires a radio system and some batteries to get it running. Utilizing the Turnigy GTX3 for this review, our total cost for the package rings in at just under 280 dollars minus the batteries. Don’t let the price fool you, though. This truggy is fully loaded with goodies and boasts a respectable top speed with excel- lent handling characteristics. I have a feeling there are about to be a bunch of SaberTooth models on the club racing scene as well as bashing areas across the globe.
• 2 channel transmitter and receiver
• (2) 2S 4000-5000mAh LiPo
• Compatible charger
• Turing GTX3 AFHDS Radio System (9114000003) $45.34 (US Warehouse)
• Turnigy 5000mAh 2S1P 30C LiPo (T5000.2s.30HC) $23.60
The manual recommends using two 2S 4000mAh LiPo batteries, but we opted for the longer runtimes of the 5000mAh packs. They are only slightly heavier than the sugtested batteries and their 30C continuous discharge rating should provide plenty of grunt for speed and power in the SaberTooth.
• Turnigy P403 AC/DC Charger (9070000039-3) $24.50
Turnigy’s new P403 charger is the perfect match for the batteries we selected for our SaberTooth test truggy. The maximum charge current of three amps means our 5000mAh packs won’t charge super fast, but the rock bottom price means we can buy more batteries for our truggy with the cash we saved on the charger.
HOP-UPS WE RECOMMEND
• TrackStar Silicone Shock Oil (assorted weights) $2.34 each
The gigantic big bore alloy shocks on the SaberTooth seemed a bit under-dampened from the factory so after the first couple of runs we ripped them off and re-filled them with TrackStar 1000 weight fluid. The heavi- er weight won’t do us any justice on the rough stuff, but other oils can be swapped into the shocks and we had nothing but big air maneuvers planned for this rig.
• Traxxas Receiver Box (5624) $9.99
All of the electronics on the SaberTooth are waterproof with the exception of the GT3XR receiver we chose to control the truggy with. This 10 dollar add-on can eas- ily house and protect almost any receiver on the market and can be mounted to the top deck on the chassis with screws or zip ties without much work.
• Novak Mod 1 5mm Steel Pinion 3-Pack 15/16/17T (5122) $22.99
The stock pinion gear is a 15 tooth unit, but for those who might be thirsting for more speed, Novak offers a wide assortment of individual pinions as well as three-pack sets. This way, you can always have the right gear ratio for whatever track or bashing grounds you’re running your SaberTooth on.
The stock wheels on the SaberTooth have a mighty wide offset. This gives the truggy unparalleled balance when traversing through your favorite bash area, but they’ll have to be changed out in favor of some zero offset wheels for track duty.
The entire drivetrain of the SaberTooth is constructed from steel, meaning there will be less downtime for maintenance. From the 32 pitch pinion gear, through the steel gear diffs and onto the beefy drive shafts which transfer the power to the stub axles, there isn’t one bit of plastic or alloy. That means this truggy will stand up to some serious abuse before anything needs to be cracked open for repairs.
The inclusion of sway bars, droop screws and fully adjustable links are a hint of the SaberTooth’s track abilities. Sure, the stock wheels are a bit wider in their offset than is allowed by the rules of the class, but a simple swap to some legal wheels and tires is easy. Such tuning options are often omitted when considering the few RTR truggies available, but are a welcome sight on this machine. Add to that the fact that HobbyKing offers up a full line of replacement and hop-up parts.
The front mounted motor and saddle pack configuration gives the SaberTooth a low CG for great handling and the weight distribution translates to great handling whether pacing through the corners or mid-air. I’ve always been a big proponent of running dual 2S packs even in vehicles with a dedicated 4S tray. Very rarely have I had a cell go bad, but it has happened and it’s always a little easier to swallow buying a new 2S pack rather than a 4S LiPo.
The powerful 1845Kv brushless motor might not have the RPM of some other options on the market, but it has tons of torque for cool running temps and you can always gear up if needed. The WP-S8A ESC boasts 100 amps of continuous running and features tuning options for any bashers or would-be novice racers. Programming for Running Mode, Drag Brake, Voltage Cutoff, Punch and Brake Force is easily accessible and tweaked to cater to the end user’s liking.
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ON THE TRACK
On high bite surfaces such as asphalt and hard packed clay, the SaberTooth exhibits excellent steering abilities … given careful throttle application. The rear arms are factory set with a few degrees of toe-in so the truggy will try to “square up” under heavy acceleration. We also noticed that the inside front wheel would always leave the ground when pushed to full travel, but this was mostly negated when the heavier shock oil was added. Slow speed cornering was outstanding, given the extra wide stance of the SaberTooth with the stock offset wheels. Once the track width is closed up a bit with some race legal wheels and tires, the steering might suffer a bit, but there are a number of aftermarket servos that’ll be sure to up the turning factor.
The factory installed 1845Kv brushless motor puts out a tremendous amount of torque, giving the SaberTooth a smooth, almost sensored feel while accelerating. There was a noticeable amount of fore and aft chassis roll right out of the box, but this was much less pronounced when the shocks were re-filled. The default settings on the ESC felt great so we didn’t do any tweaking whatsoever. Even the brakes were smoother than we expected, giving the stopping prowess of the SaberTooth a nice, proportional feel. One thing we did take notice of was how quiet the truggy was under heavy acceleration. The steel on steel mesh of the pinion and spur didn’t make nearly as much noise as we thought it would. Obviously great care was taken in designing these gears and the mesh was set perfectly at the factory.
Perhaps the best part about the SaberTooth was its handling capabili- ties. The saddle pack design creates a nice low CG so the truggy can be tossed into the hard corners without fear of excessive chassis or traction roll. Jumping with the SaberTooth was also a no brainer. No matter how a takeoff was approached, the machine flew straight and true every time is was sent skywards. At first, the hard landings result- ed in a bit of a chassis slap, but once the shock oil was changed over, the truggy had no problem keeping the metal off the road. Traversing through the rough stuff also posed no threats as the sway bars and big bore shocks soaked up virtually everything we tossed at it and gladly asked for more.
One spot of contention regarding HobbyKing vehicles is that it’s often tough to source parts out locally. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to order a few spares when making the initial purchase. Parts such as arms, steering knuckles and rod ends are always good to have on hand, but the SaberTooth might not need them after all. We put this vehicle through a series of battery packs and we were not gentle in the least bit. Of course, the low CG tends to keep the truggy firmly on all four wheels, but we did manage to send it tumbling across the track and field on more than one occasion, fully expecting parts to have been lost or broken. Each time we righted the SaberTooth, we were delighted to find no compromised components. This is one tough truggy!
SPECS AND TUNING OPTIONS
LENGTH: 22.23 in. (590mm)
WIDTH: 17.13 in. (435mm)
WHEELBASE: 14.80 in. (376mm)
WEIGHT: Varies with batteries used
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
BODY: Pre-painted, cab forward Lexan truggy body
WHEELS: Black dish
WHEEL ADAPTER TYPE: 17mm front and rear
TIRES: Pre-mounted spikes
TYPE: 4-wheel independent
SHOCK POSITIONS: (F) 3-tower, 3-arm, (R) 3-tower, 3-arm
CAMBER: Fully adjustable links
ROLL: Adjustable with spacers
WHEELBASE: Adjustable with spacers in the rear
RIDE HEIGHT: Droop screws and threaded pre-load spacers
TYPE: Bell crank with drag link
TOE: Fully adjustable links
TYPE: Flat pan
MATERIAL: Anodized Alloy
TRANSMISSION: Center bevel diff with mounted spur
DIFFERENTIAL: Bevel gear diff
CLUTCH TYPE: N/A
GEAR RATIO: N/A
BEARINGS: Full set of shielded
Performance – Acceleration: 8
Performance – Steering: 7
Performance – Handling: 8
Performance – Durability: 8
Feature Breakdown: 8
Overall Value: 9
The SaberTooth might come at a rock bot- tom, basher price and even the company’s name (Team Basher) hints at the intended purpose of it, but this beast could be so much more. The sway bars, big bore shocks and other tuning options on the chassis are practically crying out for some track duty and all that’s needed to make it legal is a set of zero offset wheels and tires. Even if hitting the local track for some club racing isn’t in your plans, the SaberTooth will keep you grinning from ear to ear while you’re putting the screws to it. The potent blend of speed, size and power give consumers some- thing a little bigger and badder, for less money than you’d expect to pay for a 2WD 1/10 truck.