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The Helion Invictus 10MT turned out to be faster and tougher than I expected. The included radio sucke3d about as much as I expected.
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Helion Invictus 10MT

Ground-thumping performance and durability

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz.

Posted – 6-24-2016

Note: The Helion Invictus 10MT in the photos and video is dirty because my will power failed me and we went playing before doing the photography. I like to do real world reviews and thrashing the Helion Invictus 10MT before starting the documenting seemed to fit that process.

I have to admit that like many of you my RC world was centered primarily on aircraft. However, whenever I visited my favorite local hobby shop, Anderson RC (Thomasville, NC) I noticed the huge amount of floor space and inventory they devoted to RC cars and trucks. I also noted that the car/truck segment of the RC world had experienced dramatic advancements in technology and performance similar to RC flying. One of the attractive aspects of the cars and trucks is that I can run them in my yard when I can’t get to the flying field. And so my RC four-wheel adventure begins.

Ready-to-Run

I knew that I wanted to start with a mid-level car/truck and preferably a factory assembled one to hasten the first adrenalin fix. The Helion Invictus 10MT RTR (Ready to Run) Monster Truck comes 100% factory-assembled and includes a 3-channel, 2.4GHz Ikonnik steering wheel radio, an 8-Cell 9.6V NiMH battery pack, AC charger and multi-purpose wrench. All I had to come up with was 4 ‘AA’ batteries to power the transmitter.

One of the things I liked about the Helion Invictus 10MT is its compatibility with 3S LiPo battery packs for which I already had a great charger, the iCharger 306B with a 500-watt power supply. I set aside the included 1,800 mAh 9.6V 8 Cell NiMH pack and went to a couple 11.1V LiPo packs with 2600 mAh I had. After seeing what kind of run time the 2600mAh packs produce I can adjust the battery size as needed by my fledgling go-fast ego.

Big tires on long control arms (left) make for lots of handling options. The coil over shocks (right) are nicely done and very effective.
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The Helion Invictus 10MT comes with a 3000 kV Radient Reaktor 4 Pole Brushless, Sensorless motor and a 50A programmable, 3s LiPo -compatible ESC. The standard 8.58:1 internal gear ratio meant nothing to me before getting it outdoors where the Helion Invictus 10MT displayed a surprising load of speed right out of the box. The Helion Invictus 10MT dimensions are 422mm (16.61in) long, 196mm (7.72in) tall and 337mm (13.27in) wide. The wheelbase is 275mm (10.83in) and puts the sizable tires close to the corners of the truck to promote better handling and high-speed stability.

This Helion Invictus 10MT outfit comes with an IKONNIK 3-Channel 2.4GHz pistol grip style transmitter with a servo and receiver installed at the factory. The transmitter features an ergonomic grip, foam-padded steering wheel and the obligatory trigger-like throttle control. Steering and throttle have digital trims along with end point adjustments and dual rates on the steering. All of these adjustments are done “in the dark” so to speak because there is no LCD or other display on which to see your progress or the current settings.

It is important to remember that this is an “included” radio which means that it will work but at the lowest cost possible. In my extensive driving/testing the radio proved to be marginal at best. But, that is to be expected when we try to save money by getting a kit that includes a radio. The Helion Invictus 10MT screams for a quality radio system to unlock all of its potential so stay tuned. I have such a radio system coming and will include the Helion Invictus 10MT in the review of that radio system.

Chassis Features

For the Helion Invictus 10MT to perform it needs a rugged and fully adjustable chassis. It is easy (cheap) to make a chassis that looks cool but to create one with the necessary travels and adjust-ability is a completely different story. To add durability rubber-sealed ball bearings were used throughout. Those rubber seals preserve the low friction properties of the bearings by keeping the grit out and the lube in. That prevents excessive parts break downs while you keep running faster through longer run times thanks to a reduced drain on the battery.
A key chassis parameter for off road performance is ground clearance. The Helion Invictus 10MT boasts 3” ground clearance and a flat-bottomed chassis surface with flat metal anchors at both ends to secure the suspension components.

The stock body (left) looked good and shocked me with it's durability. T here were few runs where the Invictus (right) did not roll, cartwheel, flip, endo or other gyrations, many on the body.
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To make use of the ground clearance the Helion Invictus 10MT comes with long suspension arms dampened by adjustable oil filled coil-over shocks fitted with bladders. By spacing the springs downwards on the shock bodies with included spacers you can increase wheel weight at whatever corner you need to set the Helion Invictus 10MT for the track or surface being run on that day. While you increase wheel weight at the corner you also increase ride height somewhat. One of the key aspects of coil-over shocks is that they work so well and allow for fine-tuning to precisely dial in the chassis to fit your surface and driving style. It is well worth your time to learn to use these performance adjustments.

The body and its mounts have both proven to be very tough by surviving in a nearly unblemished state despite my excess application of power, steering or both. There also have been a few major-league head-on impacts with stuff that didn’t move and the Helion Invictus 10MT bounced off needing nothing more than a toe-in adjustment once. The body mounts are height adjustable so you can get the look you want or fit other bodies to the chassis.

On the "Track"

Out of the box the Helion Invictus 10MT wasn’t set up very well. The gear mesh was way loose and under power it wandered all over the place largely because the toe settings on all four wheels needed help. Trimming on the Ikonnik steering wheel radio was marginally helpful and that was making it painfully clear that the biggest liability of the Helion Invictus 10MT is the radio system.

You need to pay close attention to the throttle trigger as the Helion Invictus 10MT has gobs of power that can just as easily flip it over backwards as propel it down the track. The large, soft tires provide enough grip to let excess throttle in the corners to flip the Helion Invictus 10MT to the outside. Because the throttle tries to mimic an on/off switch you have to waste time in the corners before trying to apply the available power.

I am convinced that the radio included wit the Invictus (left) does more to hinder its performance than anything on the truck itself. The radio has the buttons and such (right) but without any kind of graphic help there is no way to quantify the adjustments being made. The truck gets and A, the radio an F.
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The suspension on the Helion Invictus 10MT is well done and balanced nicely. The long suspension arms dampened by the coil-over shocks lets the chassis float over irregular terrain which keeps the tires biting the surface better. That translates into more speed and better handling. On a flat surface like the street you can see the chassis floating between the wheels in response to bumps or changing G-loads in the corners. The bottom mounting point for all four coil-overs has two holes so you can move their bottom attaching point outwards a little to lower the ride height and center of gravity on smooth, high-speed tracks.

The ball joints at the end of each control arm had enough adjustment in them that I could set camber the way I want it and still maintain smooth operation of the dog bone drive shafts at each corner. There is also adequate toe in adjustments to keep the Helion Invictus 10MT running fast and scrubbing off less speed.

The steering servo seems to have plenty of power and sufficient speed so as not to inhibit quick changes in direction when needed. There is a good amount of slop in the steering that demands your full attention even on the straights. I expect that the steering could be tuned much better with the capabilities of a better radio system.

The electronic speed control does work reasonably well and does produce impressive speeds. Try as I did to soften the throttle application I never did get the speed control to calm down to make throttle application off of the corners without spinning out or flipping easy to do. Despite adjustments to the radio I still got the feeling that the speed control wanted to act more like and on/off switch.

Braking was OK but trying to go to reverse seemed to require stopping altogether before the speed control would change to reverse. That might be intentional to protect the drive line but it makes recovering from an off-track incident harder and slower than it needs to be.

Conclusions

Video Tour

Things didn;t get much better on the dirt. The radio still makes controlling the power and handling a real chore.
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The Helion Invictus 10MT is overall an impressive entry level RC truck with potential for greater performance when paired with a modern radio system. Out of the box performance after initial setup has been impressive as is the money-saving durability. With a street price of $309.95 (3-31-2016) for the radio-included kit the Helion Invictus 10MT is not a bad investment to get into the truck hobby. I would strongly suggest getting the Helion Invictus 10MT on its own and adding a better radio system to save money down the road.

Overall the Helion Invictus 10MT is fun to drive in the wide-open spaces. Speed and a capable suspension will let you enjoy ripping around the yard or park. Combined with a good radio the Helion Invictus 10MT can be a strong competitor in novice classes at your local track.

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