An ESC (Electric speed controller) is the brains of any scale electric rc car. The main difference will be the current and motor ratings. 1/8th rc cars especially off road require an ESC which has a higher constant current and burst current rating than 1/10th scale cars.

Over the years I have used a wide range of ESC’s in off road and on road rc cars. I have tried the best ESC’s on the market such as Orion and Tekin. My personal favorites are the Hobbywing MAX8 for 1/8th scale cars and the HobbyWing XERUN-120A for 1/12th scale & 1/10th scale cars.

Why Hobbywing MAX8?

Hobbywing are a well known manufacturer in the RC industry. The MAX8 is actually the RTR (ready to run) version of the Hobbywing XR8.

So why do I recommend the MAX8 instead of the XR8? -The main selling point for me is the MAX8 is waterproof and the XR8 is not. Unless you are very lucky and live in a country that hardly ever rains. Having a waterproof ESC is a godsend. You won’t have to come into the pits when it starts raining, its just one less thing to worry about.

While the XR8 has more bells and whistles and is targeted more towards the racing scene. You simply don’t need all the features to be competitive. My buddy has an Orion Vortex r8.1 paid nearly $300 he is no faster on the track.

I purchased my MAX8 in 2015 and raced it in an Sworkz S350 BE1 and then a Tekno EB48.1. After a couple years I found my skill level improving. I thought the only way to get any better was to spend more money on my ESC. So I purchased a Tekin RX8.1 GEN 2, thinking this would shave tenths of seconds of my lap times.

I raced with the Tekin for a year and did not see my lap times improve much. I would say they were improving more due to the track time. Long story short I went through a puddle and destroyed the ESC. I ended up throwing back in the MAX8 and have never looked back.

This ESC is bullet proof, in my eyes. I even put it in my DIY electric skateboard here is a short video of me driving down the road. Apologies for the bad camera angle, its very hard to ride an electric skateboard and film at the same time.

Features of Hobbywing MAX8.

  1. Waterproof.
  2. 150a current rating.
  3. 3-6s lipo batteries. – In racing you will only ever use a max of 4S in 1/8th however it’s great to know you have reserve or could run 6s at the local park.
  4. 10 programmable options – you can change the program options using the set/reset button. I prefer to use the program card which is sold separately. For $10 its well worth it.
  5. 7.4v BEC this is rare in ESC’s so you will be able to run your high voltage servos.

HobbyWing XERUN-120A

This ESC has such a small footprint I have used it in 1/10th drift car, buggy, touring car and 1/12th scale pan car. It’s very versatile and works with sensored and sensorless motors.

The Xerun 120a has 10 programmable features and is extremely reliable. Just like the MAX8 it’s not the top of the line ESC that has more options and settings than you know what to do with. But for less than $70 you have a very capable ESC which will run with the fast guys.

Whilst you do need a reliable ESC that can efficiently provide power to your motor. This is a rare area in RC where you don’t have to spend a fortune to be competitive.

Program options:

  1. Running mode – FWD with break, FWD/REV & FWD/REV (rock crawler).
  2. Drag brake – 0%, 5%, 10%, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% & 100%
  3. Low voltage cut-off – no protection, 2.6v/cell, 2.8v/cell, 3v/cell, 3.2v/cell, 3.4v/cell
  4. Start mode (punch) – Level 1, level 2, level 3, level 4, level 5, level 6, level 7, level8 & level 9.
  5. Max brake force – 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%
  6. Max reverse force – 25%, 50%, 75% & 100%
  7. Initial brake force – same as drag brake, 0%, 20% & 40%
  8. Neutral range – 6% narrow, 9% normal & 12% wide
  9. Timing – 0.00, 3.75, 7.50, 11.25, 15.00, 18.75, 22.50, 26.25
  10. Over heat protection – Enable, disable

You can change these options using the set/reset button. I highly recommend you follow the instructions to enter the setup menu. You can purchase a program card which tweaking the ESC easier.