RC Car Review: Serpent Cobra SRX8E 1:8 Scale Pro Race E-Buggy
Fasten Your Seatbelts, You’re About To Blast Off!
In today’s world of RC, there are always new products coming out quicker and quicker everyday. As tiresome as that could be, Serpent has waited for quite some time before releasing the next evolution in the 1:8 E-Buggy category. Although their past iteration of the platform worked very well, they have re-designed nearly every inch of the buggy, dubbing it the SRX8e. All I can say is this buggy is awesome and the competition isn’t going to have a ice cube’s chance in hell. Follow me on this little adventure, and let’s talk turkey.
Product: Serpent Cobra SRX8e 1:8 Scale Pro Race E-Buggy
Part #: SERP600018
Recommended For: Intermediate to seasoned racers
The SRX8e has taken queue’s from its little brother, the SDX4 1:10 4WD offroad buggy. The hard coated 4mm chassis is made from 7075 T6 aluminum, yielding superior strength and wear characterstics. Integrated, adjustable chassis stiffeners are bolted to both sides. There are a ton of holes in this chassis due to the simple fact that the layout can be altered, a feature more commonly used on current 1:10 platforms. Prior gen vehicles, like the Serpent 811, used a saddle pack layout which some preferred over the conventional “Brick” configuration. Serpent has given you the opportunity to make the decision for yourself.
Although the saddle pack is a tuning option, it is not provided in the box. The conversion comes with all required parts to make the switch; I, for one, love the saddle setup. I ran my 811 with shorty 4500 mAh LiPos without any trouble, making 12 minutes of runtime using a 2150kV/17t pinion. With the new buggy, a smaller spur gear is included (steel 44T) which will allow for smoother acceleration and handling. This also allows the motor to move almost fully inboard with a suggested 16T Serpent pinion gear (also not included). Remember you will need to have a hardened pinion – if not, be prepared to replace it quite frequently.
I think the engineers at Serpent said in the snake pit, “Who has the strongest buggy on the current market?”. Following the answer, they designed the beastly arms and inserts for extreme durability. While the kit inserts are plastic, Serpent also supplies optional carbon ones for a more rigid platform. I have repeatedly stated that Serpent’s suspension arms don’t break – heck they barely wear. I don’t see very many support parts in my bins for this mamba jamba.
Like the majority of parts on this hot rod, the shock towers are 4.5mm thick and made from 7075 T6 aluminum. They come with 4 upper shock tuning positions and 6 adjustments for roll center.
The front CNC’d castor blocks are 15° with 13° and 17° blocks available for tuning. There are plastic inserts that are interchangeable within the front/front and front/rear (aka FF/FR) for trackside adjustments to help squeeze extra tenths out of every lap. The steering blocks, like the castor blocks, are CNC’d and anodized black. All the edges are polished, giving them that extra bling look.
The rear uprights follow suit right behind the front suspension pieces – they look burly and pimp all at the same time. Spring steel CVD’S, hard anodized aluminum turnbuckles and pivot balls are used throughout the rig. Hard anodized suspension blocks include inserts in both the front and rear for each axle respectively.
Last but absolutely not least, Serpent has perfected the shock package for this land missile. They go together great and come with internal bladders, however Serpent does offer the option to build them as emulsion. I love these shocks but personally had one small gripe; the retainer clip holding the shock seal and guide from outside can be quite a pain. Some like it, some do not – I’m in the latter on that subject. Maybe we will see a running change in the future on this little part but aside from that little snafu, the shocks soak up everything.
As simple as the drivetrain on a 1:8 buggy is, Serpent has included some cool features. First, the center spur is smaller than the previous gen Serpent 811; from a 46t to a 44t steel gear. In addition, the steel material mandates the use of hardened steel pinions for extreme abuse. Unique to Serpent, as far as I can tell, is the use of foam volume compensators within the diff housing which allows more volume, lower diff temps and more track time between rebuilds. This is an unique feature that will probably catch on with future 1:8 scales from different manufacturers.
Serpent also includes gear oil and shock fluids in the kit. Accessing the front and rear diffs in the SRX8e has got to be one of the easiest of any platform to date. The center diff, however, is a little more involved. I’ve experimented and the process I came up with was to remove the battery tray and motor mount/center diff mount. This worked great for me but I’m sure owners will come up with their own shortcut.
The steering bellcranks in the SRX8e are mounted on a angle. The servo saver and steering rack include a clamping locknut and dust filter to keep debris out. Ackermann is adjusted via carbon plates bolted to the aluminum steering blocks. This setup is pretty common these days on new kits either on-road or offroad.
In the world of “race” electronics, today’s new product is tomorrow’s old news. That being said, I decided to give SMC the good ole’ college try. Danny and I have known each other for quite a few years so I was looking forward to run this system. The SMC system includes the V2 Pro 1:8 scale brushless ESC, 1900kV 4-pole brushless motor, program card and USB link – everything you need to get up, going and deep in the world of ESC tuning. For steering, I went with the Futaba S9372SV S.Bus Servo. I coupled that servo with Futaba’s 4PX and fed the entire system with a TrakPower 4S 5400mAh LiPo pack.
Body and Bumpers
Most kits supply wheels with the purchase, unfortunately Serpent does not. But as mentioned in other sections of the review, there are plenty of non standard upgrade parts the kit does come with; sacrificing some plastic for some aluminum suspension parts is a fair trade in my book. Pro-Line supplied their V2 wheels in white and their popular Blockades in M4 compound – their super soft sticky compound. As always the performance of the wheel/tire combo does not disappoint.
As anxious as a kid on Christmas morning, I headed to my local track to get some action shots and see this beast in action. Upon arrival, I was disappointed that the track was under construction, but thankfully it still had a driveable surface and most the jumps were intact. I took one last glance over the SRX8e to make sure everything was in order, turned on the radio and ESC, installed the body and locked it down with the body clips.
With the howl of the metal drivetain in the air, I got all four tires spitting red clay everywhere. Between blistering acceleration and straight line braking, I found myself having to make some unorthodox end point adjustments to keep the car on all 4 wheels! I didn’t think flipping over while braking into a turn was supposed to happen, but apparently the SMC system has brakes for days! With the proper adjustments, I tried it again and was able to find a happy medium that made the buggy crisp, nimble and agile.
I have read others comments on the SRX8e and now I can relate – the kit build of oils and settings was very comfortable to drive. I was thrilled at how well it was handling but didn’t feel I could fully push the car to its limits. For this, I headed south to a race called the Wicked Weekend in Gainsville, GA.
On my way, I stopped by ROCCK Raceway in Knoxville TN to get a few packs under my belt before showing for racing. This was, after all, a brand new car straight out of the box. The surface was similar surface to the track at the Wicked Weekend, so I spent a afternoon there testing. Their track had a nice flow with great grip – if you’re in the area, you need to check them out for sure!
Speed and Braking
Something I never thought I would say, but this buggy was almost too fast for me to handle. I kept finding myself dialing out power, but managing to go faster in the process. The buggies acceleration is incredible and I found myself clearing jumps with little effort. Jumping on the tone at the start of the race was tricky as well, and I found myself almost rear ending others coming out of the turns. The SMC combo was also no slouch in the braking category as well. It begged for more as I pushed it to its limits, which honestly I don’t think I never found. The SRX8e worked flawlessly all weekend long.
Steering and Handling
The kit build for handling was as close to perfect as you’ll get for a blanket setup. Steering is crisp and precise throughout the hairpins or sweepers, allowing for inside lines all day long on your competition. I found the rougher the track became the quicker my buggy was, soaking up the ruts, holes and chewed up surfaces. Small changes in the setup made big differences, but I found I needed very few suspension tweaks throughout the weekend. Two of the major changes were to thicken the oil for larger jumps and move the rear hub inward to slow the rotation down. Both did exactly what I expected them too.
On a side note, I didn’t add any parts to the car other than what came in the kit; I wanted to push and prove what a stock buggy could accomplish in a stacked field. I am quite pleased with my results, as I am sure you will be too.
Durability and Maintenance
Well, the durability of a 1:8 buggy is important; broken cars don’t finish races. There was a long sweeping turn leading onto the high speed back straight into a 90* right turn. Somehow I managed to clip the white picket railing at full speed coming up to the right hand turn. My car stumbled, tumbled, spin and spun like Cole Trickle in “Days of Thunder”. Instantly, I thought “OH #%* it’s got to be broken!”. I proceeded to walk off the stand but the marshal quickly got my attention and waved me on – it was still in one piece! I continued on, finishing the qualifier. While getting ready for my next heat and giving the SRX8e a once over, I noticed a gouge in the suspension arm and crack in the plastic stiffener for the arm. Upon disassembly, however, the only thing cracked was the insert – the arm was not broken in any way, shape or form. If you’d seen the crash, you’d think this was quite amazing!
Aside from changing shock oil trackside a couple of times, maintenance was almost non-existent. I just drove the buggy – shock oil and diff fluids were clean! I have to give some of the credit to the internal diff foam compensators – the more fluid allows for cooler, longer time between service.That’s a win-win in my book!
Aside from the ability to have multiple layouts for battery placement, the tuning windows are top shelf. Serpent has allowed us to change all angles and positions of almost everything throughout the car. I would expect nothing less than this from such a company.
The kit setup was consistent, but I like a little more sedated-style of driving. I quickly thickened up the oil in the shocks and diffs and took out some droop in both the front and rear. These changes immediately made the car easier for me to drive, timing my lap times and making me much more competitive.
• Steering servo
• Servo lead extension
• Brushless ESC
• Brushless motor
• 4S LiPo Battery
• Radio System
• CA glue
• Computer nearby to access the manual
• Futaba S9372SV S.Bus Servo
• SMC V2 Pro 1:8 Brushless ESC
• SMC 1900kV 4-Pole Brushless Motor
• TrakPower 4S 5400mAh 50C LiPo Battery
• Futaba 4PX
• Pro-Line Racing V2 Wheels
• Pro-Line Racing Blockade M4 Tires
• Pro-Line Racing CA Glue
Power Source: Electric
Width: 12.01″ (305mm)
Wheelbase: 12.99″ (330mm)
Material: 7075 T6 aluminum
Type: 4-wheel independent
Camber: Adjustable links
Wheelbase: Adjustable with shims
Shocks: Threaded aluminum bodies
Steering: Dual bellcrank
Clutch: Slipper none
Differentials: Oil-filled gear
Bearings: Precision sealed
Gearing: 32P, optional pinion gears
Body: Cab-forward Avenger
Wing: Molded plastic
Wheels: Not included
Wheel hex: 17mm hex
Tires: Not included
• Adjustable chassis layout
• Sharp looking body
• Small spur gear for better ratios
• Kit setup handles very well
• Plenty of droop for different track situations
• Car feels heavy, but drives like a 2WD buggy
• Difficult to access center differential
• Shocks use lower retaining clip, not a cartridge
Growing pains for any new product would be expected. There are some, but some can be overlooked, and others cannot. Overall a step in the correct direction, but always room for improvement. Also by time you read this, there will be optional parts available I’m sure.
Performance – Speed & Braking: 10
Performance – Steering & Handling: 10
Performance – Durability & Maintenance: 7
Performance – Tuning: 10
Overall Value: 8
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