Axial Wraith Review
Axial Racing is well known for their scale trucks and rock crawlers. In fact, Axial is the undisputed leader in rock crawlers and scale trucks. Recently, Axial has released a new electric truck, the Wraith. Axial announces the Wraith as being a rock racer which is also new in the industry. Considering the legendary quality of all Axial products, customers will ask nothing less than what they have been used to have from Axial in the past. This means, a high quality product, durability and exceptional off road capabilities. To know more about the Wraith, keep on reading!
The Wraith RTR comes with a new 2.4GHz radio, the new AX-3 radio is light and it feels comfortable in my hands. The radio has basic adjustments such the steering and brake trims and the steering dual rate. The transmitter also has the option to reverse the steering and throttle functions if you ever upgrade the steering servo or ESC. All adjustment trims and switches are protected by a small lid on the top of the transmitter. The radio uses only four AAs battery instead of eight usually required by others radios. As for all 2.4GHz transmitters on the market, the receiver and transmitter must be bound to operate. Axial did the binding process for us at the factory. The AR-3 receiver is light weight and compact.
The AS-2 servo is in charge of all the steering duties. The servo is good for 132oz of torque @ 6v, that’s enough torque for backyard fun but the die hard rock crawlers might want more torque.
A new ESC is included in the Wraith RTR. The AE-2 ESC has been developed in partnership with Castle Creations. The ESC features drag brake for extreme crawling. The ESC also shines with its built-in LiPo cut-off and it can be programmed via the Castle Link cable which is not included. The ESC supports 7.2v NiMh and 2S LiPo packs.
To move the Wraith, Axial uses their standard 20T brushed motor. By experience, I can confirm this is a good motor for such a vehicle and it should last many packs in mud, water and snow. The Wraith’s radio box is waterproof so no more worries with water and dust. The receiver is well protected.
Don’t do like I did, read the manual first, at least to know where the power switch is located… I searched 15 minutes to find it!
All electronics components included in the Wraith RTR are good quality and offer good performance. The programmable and LiPo capable ESC and the 2.4GHz radio system add a big plus to the package.
Body and tires:
The Wraith has a very unique style. At this moment, no other RC trucks look like the Wraith. Don’t be surprised to see others trying to copy the concept. This first starts with the body. Axial uses an extremely realistic tube frame made of composite plastic that will resist to any crashes and will protect the Wraith aswell. By the way, all composite plastic used on Axial’s products is always super strength and durable. To make the Wraith even more realistic, different plastic panels are screwed to the tube frame with hex screws to complete the body. At first, you might think this could make working on the Wraith harder but you can remove the entire cage by removing only few screws. Axial didn’t skimp on details, the Wraith’s interior is superbly detailed with Corbeau LG1 scale race seats, shifters and gauges.
The battery pack goes on the rear just behind the seats. This makes battery removal and installation easier. The battery’s connector passes through a little hole inside the truck which is a little tricky. For my tests, I’ve used a 7.2v NiMh pack which is quite heavy and added extra weight to the rear. It is cool to pop wheelies but can be problematic for crawling. Since, the Axial’s ESC supports 2S LiPo batteries, I suggest you to use a lighter battery configuration and go with a 2S LiPo. This will increase runtime and speed while removing unnecessary weight to the rear. The battery is well secured in place by two heavy duty Velcro straps.
The Wraith uses 2.2” Ripsaw tires glued on 8-spoke Rebel wheels. This combo does not just look well, it is also very aggressive. The tires are 5.5” high and increase ground clearance for more “let’s go over that thing” capabilities. The tread design and the very soft R35 compound give to the Ripsaw good traction on dirt, mud and also on rocks.
A complete lightning system with four LED’s for the front and two for the rear add realism and multiply the cool factor when driving at night. Extra light buckets are included with the Wraith so you can customize your truck. For even more realism, you can add the Axial Night Vision system that adds turn signals, break lights and tail lights.
Just like all others products from Axial, the Wraith’s drivetrain is built to take all the abuses of rock crawling and heavy off-road riding. This first starts with an adjustable slipper clutch that protects the drive train if the wheels lock between rocks or when landing a jump. The slipper clutch is attached to the transmission which is pretty much similar to what we can found on others rock crawlers from Axial. This means a super reliable transmission and of course, full ball bearings are used to make the whole drivetrain super smooth. The pinion and spur gear are now protected by a plastic gear cover. This adds extra protection to the gears and extends time between maintenances. An optional dig unit can be installed to the transmission for even more rock crawling performance.
The Wraith uses fully locked differentials to increase the climbing and off-road capabilities by giving to the truck unmatched traction on any surfaces. The new AR60 OCP axles have offset pumpkins which allow more ground clearance and reduce driveshaft angles. Those new axles are really beefy and robust. Axial says the axles are made of low flex high strength composite material which is less brittle than than standard glass filled nylon. Differential gears are easy to access by removing four screws for maintenance and service. This also adds realism to the axles. The driveshafts use metal universal joints for more durability and less maintenance.
A truck like the Wraith needs a lot of suspension travel to perform well and this is exactly why Axial opted for a 4-link suspension design. The 4-link suspension minimizes axle steer while optimizing anti-squat and roll characteristic. The four threaded oil filled shocks are super smooth and they can be mounted at different locations to fine tune suspension setup. Since the shocks bodies are threaded, it is easy to set the ride height. The shocks use a 3.5mm nitride titanium coated shafts for smoothness and longevity. Axial offers full aluminum shocks kits for more performance but the stock shocks are excellent and they will last quite long before you need to replace them.
Let’s drive the Wraith!
The Wraith RTR comes assembled and all you have to do is to charge your 7.2V NiMh or your 2S LiPo pack, install it into the truck, add fours AAs in the transmitter, turn the truck and the radio on and you are ready to go. If your pack is already charged, count 5 minutes between the moment you open the box and the moment you start running the Wraith.
With a fully charged NiMh 7.2V pack, I first ran the Wraith in my living room just to make sure all the trims were correctly set at the factory and yes they were perfectly adjusted. I’ve then headed outside to test the Wraith in my backyard. As soon as I’ve nailed the throttle, the Wraith quickly accelerated to reach its top speed really fast. I estimate the Wraith’s top speed to be somewhere between 15 and 18MPH. That’s fast for such a truck but that’s too fast if you plan to crawl or if you plan to use the Wraith as a scale truck. Under hard accelerations, the Wraith pops wheelies easily.
With its high ride height and its big tires, the Wraith will tend to roll over on tight turns but the overall handling is quite neutral for such a big truck. The steering servo has absolutely no problem to steer the truck under any conditions, I never felt the need for more torque while driving the Wraith in rough terrain.
At low speed in the rough terrain, the Wraith is spectacular, this really where the Wraith shines the most, at least to my likings. In my backyard, I have few hills made of big rocks we use as steps (and to test my scale trucks!). This is where I like to run my scale trucks because climbing the steps requires good traction, good chassis flex and good low speed control. The Wraith has no problem climbing the steps. The soft tire compound really helps the Wraith to run over the rocks even if they were covered with sand. The Wraith has good suspension travel so it was easy to always keep all tires to the ground for extra traction. The front wheels extends the front of the truck, this greatly helps the Wraith to climb rocks. The Wraith ran over the rocks with ease, almost too much ease!
Now that I know the Wraith does well at slow speed going over any obstacles that I could find in my backyard, it was time to see what the Wraith can do at full speed on a rough terrain. I took my Wraith to a larger and rougher terrain. No matter at what speed the Wraith was going, the truck soaked all the rocks and bumps with ease. At higher speed the Wraith was a little more touchy to drive but it was fun.
At first, I was really sceptic about the Wraith because I had no (and I mean really no) interest into rock racing. I prefer to take my time with that kind of trucks. I own a Dingo and a Honcho trucks and what I like with those scale trucks is to go slow on rough terrain, just trying to make them look like real trucks.
When I first saw the Wraith, I immediately said “Wow what a nice truck!” but when I continued reading the press release and I have read it was a rock racer, I said “What? A rock racer… What’s that?”. Call me stupid or short minded but at this time I had absolutely no idea how cool it was to run the Wraith at full throttle on surfaces that my scale trucks usually get stock on.
The Wraith is one of the best trucks to buy for anyone who would like to get into RC or for any experimented RC enthusiasms who would like to touch to something different. It goes everywhere, it is durable and it is backed with tons of optional and upgrade parts. The Wraith is affordable (380$us street price) but the most important, the Wraith is incredibly fun to drive!
The Axial Wraith is unique and will open the door to a new segment in the RC industry. With excellent products like the Axial Wraith, rock racing might be the next big thing in RC.
For more information, visit www.axialracing.com