Modern look, with more control!
Photos by Walter Sidas
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s October 2015 issue.
On July 12, 2015 TLR picked up yet another ROAR national championship in the 1/8 electric off-road category. The car, the 8IGHT-E 3.0, is a proven, durable, easy-to-drive off-road piece of art. As I am sure you know, this race machine has a little brother, the 1/14-scale Mini 8IGHT! Originally released late in 2011, Losi has refined an already great little vehicle, making it more durable, better handling, and sharper looking. If you did not want one previously you sure will now!
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: Losi
WHO IT’S FOR: Everyone
PART NUMBER: LOS01004T2
HOW MUCH: $269.99
BUILD TYPE: RTR
• Comes standard with AVC (Active Vehicle Control) technology
• Very nimble
• Outstanding jumping characteristics
• Waterproof Dynamite brushless ESC
• Very quick with the NiMH battery, FAST on 2S
• I really like the new cab-forward body style
• Everything you need comes in one box
• The new chassis and gear cover are great but small debris can still get into the pinion and spur area.
I thought the original Mini 8IGHT was nearly a perfect ready-to-run mini but once again Losi has upped their game and made it even better. With AVC you can drive it harder, the waterproof ESC means you can take it anywhere, the gear cover helps keep the spur safe and the new body is quite eye-catching. While all that looks great on paper, it performs like bigger, much more expensive vehicles, making it a huge value.
TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• 4-way wrench
• 1.5mm hex “L” wrench
• Slipper adjustment wrench
• Turnbuckle wrench
• Not a thing
ADDITIONAL ITEMS USED
• Not a thing
HOP-UPS WE RECOMMEND
• 2S 7.4V 2000mAh 30C Dynamite LiPo battery pack, DYN1476, $39.99 – If you want to go faster and increase run time the addition of a LiPo battery pack is a must. This pack is a direct fit for the Mini 8IGHT chassis and really improves performance.
• Carbon Fiber Upper Deck Chassis Brace, LOSB1875, $22.99 – If you want to add some cool looking carbon fiber and improve performance this is the right part. This replacement upper deck is much more rigid than the stock composite piece it replaces and looks awesome.
• Aluminum Front Suspension Mount Set, LOSB1885, $25.99 – The front end on any vehicle takes the majority of abuse in driving mishaps. These suspension mounts are super tough and the inserts can be changed to tune handling or if slop starts to develop.
A new 2.5mm thick aluminum chassis is employed on this version of the Mini 8IGHT to accommodate the inclusion of a new gear cover at the back of the chassis. A composite battery strap secures the included 1100mAh NiMH battery pack in place on the left-hand side of the chassis while the 4500Kv Dynamite brushless motor, AVC enabled SR4201 receiver and waterproof steering servo line the right-hand side of the chassis. Since room is somewhat limited on the main chassis plate, the waterproof Dynamite ESC with bright red heatsink is mounted on the composite upper deck near the steering servo.
The shocks Losi equipped the Mini 8IGHT with are exceptionally smooth and consistent. They feature dual seals at the bottom to keep oil from leaking out, a bladder at the top and bleeder type caps to make shock oil changes painless. The black anodized aluminum bodies are threaded to make preload adjustments simple, and they attach to tough, 2.5mm thick aluminum towers that are also black anodized and feature two mounting holes to help fine-tune performance. Each suspension arm has a 1.5mm droop screw so ride height can be set without altering the preload of the shock springs. Thick, adjustable turnbuckles are used on the front and rear of the Mini 8IGHT so setting camber is a breeze, helping to make the Mini 8IGHT as adjustable as any vehicle on the market.
A dual bellcrank steering system is employed by Losi on the Mini 8IGHT. Each side rides on a pair of smooth, metal shielded ball bearings and they connect to one another by way of a curved aluminum black anodized drag link. Adjustable turnbuckles with ball cup style ends attach to either side of the bellcrank and extend toward the left and right steering knuckles respectively. The 500WP steering servo has plastic gears that are well protected by the attached servo saver.
A near friction free, shaft-driven drivetrain is employed on the Mini 8IGHT. To start, the 16-tooth pinion gear on the 4500Kv Dynamite motor drives a plastic 58-tooth spur gear that is sandwiched between two slipper clutch plate pads. This version of the Mini 8IGHT uses the same gear cover as the Mini 8IGHT-T and does a great job keeping larger bits of debris away from the gears. Still, small bits can get in so remove the cover and clean this area from time to time. Both the front and rear differentials are of the sealed gear variety, are filled with a nice thick grease and utilize tough metal gears. Power is transferred to the front of the Mini 8IGHT by way of an eye catching red anodized dogbone style shaft.
It is rare to buy a hobby level radio controlled vehicle, even an RTR, and not need another thing. The Mini 8IGHT from Losi is one of those rare vehicles, though. It comes with everything you’ll need to get going including four “AA” batteries for the transmitter, a 6-cell, 1100mAh NiMH battery pack and charger. The Dynamite 4500Kv brushless motor with red anodized can makes the Mini 8IGHT plenty quick with the stock battery pack but should you decide to upgrade to a 2S LiPo battery pack you’ll feel an immediate jump in speed that is sure to please. The Spektrum DX2E radio is paired to a SR4201 AVC enhanced receiver to help maintain ultimate control, especially when traction is low. The amount that the AVC assists control of the Mini 8IGHT is fully adjustable via the steering dual rate knob and can be even turned off for racing or on high traction surfaces. The Mini 8IGHT is topped off with a cab forward style body that has a paint scheme from the mind of the one and only Bradley Farmer of Bradley Fine Line Design.
ON THE TRACK
The Mini 8IGHT drives as if it were on rails, seriously. I ran it on a fairly well groomed off-road track and I was able to put the Mini 8IGHT wherever I wanted it. I could drive it into corners hard, staying on the throttle until the last moment, and was also able to get back on the throttle quickly, pulling it back without fear of a hard push. I am sure the outstanding steering feel and response was due in part to the AVC helping out, but the Mini Kingpin tires, 4WD drivetrain, and cab forward body also played a part in this. The steering servo was plenty quick too, with decent torque so getting the tires to go from side to side, even when under load, was not an issue.
Before hitting the dirt I took a spin up and down the street to get a general feel for the Mini 8IGHT. I immediately noticed that this little buggy lunged forward and took off like a shot when I pulled the throttle back even with the stock NiMH battery pack. Acceleration when I slowly went for the throttle was very smooth and linear as was the brake. On the track I could get up enough speed quickly so clearing most jumps, even when cutting through tight sections of the infield was a non-issue. When the pack started to feel soft I took the Mini 8IGHT off the track and swapped out the NiMH pack for a Dynamite 2S LiPo battery pack. I hit the asphalt again to get a general feel for the speed and was extremely impressed with how much quicker it was with this battery. There is nothing wrong with the stock pack, but with a 2S LiPo the Mini 8IGHT really gets up and flies! On the track it was even more impressive with the LiPo battery pack with more than enough juice to clear doubles intended for 1/10-scale vehicles with ease.
With a well-tuned suspension, great weight distribution and a 4WD drivetrain I wasn’t surprised at how well the Mini 8IGHT handles. It felt extremely planted as I drove it hard through the infield and it transitioned from corner to corner quickly with minimal body roll. While some vehicles may push when cornering or hook when pushing too hard, the Mini 8IGHT held strong wherever I wanted to put it. It did bounce just a touch on rough sections of the track but this was to be expected as the ruts and bumps were put there by big 1/8 vehicles. As the day progressed and the track dried out, traction fell off but the Mini 8IGHT still performed like a champ, thanks in part to the assistance of AVC. I turned the AVC off for a few laps at the end of my test session and while I could still get around the track fairly well on my own there were a few spots when I cornered too hard that caused the Mini 8IGHT spin out, something that never happened with the AVC on. As for jumping, the Mini 8IGHT takes to the air as if it has wings. It jumps with a completely level attitude nearly every time, regardless of approach and lands smoothly with next to no bounce. When the approach was not perfect, causing the Mini 8IGHT to be somewhat out of shape in the air, applying the throttle or brake as needed and turning the wheels in the proper direction almost always set things right.
The Losi Mini 8IGHT is one tough customer. I ran it for about half a day using the stock NiMH battery pack and a 2S LiPo pack. Over this time there were several crashes where I hit corners hard and misjudged a jump or two (or three!). On one occasion the Mini 8IGHT was sent cartwheeling. The only thing that happened that even remotely slowed the Mini 8IGHT down was a steering ball cup popped off. I simply popped it back on with finger pressure and was back on my way.
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SPECS AND TUNING OPTIONS
LENGTH: 11.49 in. (292mm)
WIDTH: 8.03 in. (204mm)
WHEELBASE: 7.32 in. (186mm)
WEIGHT: 2.15 lbs. (.98kg)
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
BODY: Pre-painted cab forward style
WHEELS: Yellow dish
WHEEL ADAPTER TYPE: 12mm hex
TIRES: Mini Kingpin Tread
TYPE: 4-wheel independent
SHOCK POSITIONS: (F) 2-tower, 2-arm, (R) 2-tower, 2-arm
CAMBER: Adjustable turnbuckles
ROLL: Various locations on the shock tower
RIDE HEIGHT: Threaded shock collars and droop screws on the suspension arms
TYPE: Dual bellcrank
TOE: Adjustable turnbuckles
TRANSMISSION: Shaft driven 4WD
DIFFERENTIAL: Sealed metal gear differentials
GEAR RATIO: Optional spur and pinion gears
BEARINGS: Full set of shielded
CLUTCH TYPE: Adjustable slipper
Performance – Acceleration: 9 (But a 10 when used with a 2S LiPo)
Performance – Steering: 9
Performance – Handling: 10
Performance – Durability: 9
Feature Breakdown: 10
Overall Value: 10
Over and over again Losi has proven that they can produce a mini vehicle that is packed with features, at a great price, that people will love. To me, the Mini 8IGHT is as good as, if not better than any other mini vehicle on the market. It is indeed packed with features like a waterproof electronics package, and is exceptionally well priced, making it appealing to large and small scale fans alike. The inclusion of AVC will help younger drivers get around with ease and since it is fully adjustable more seasoned users can turn it down or completely off. Head to your favorite hobby shop today and check out a Mini 8IGHT for yourself, but beware, if you pick one up, you’ll have a hard time putting it down!