Novak Crawler Brushless System

Words: RCCA - Matt Higgins

Brushless motors are well known for generating big speed, so these days, when someone wants to go fast, they often turn to this type of motor technology. But RC crawlers (as the name implies) aren’t interested in speed. Nonetheless, brushless motors are being used for crawling because of another performance quality they deliver in abundance—torque. Novak is the first company to offer a brushless system specifically designed for RC crawler applications. Let’s hit the rocks, and see how Novak’s Crawler Brushless System gets the job done.


narrow deadband. Novak designed the Crawler controller to have an extra-narrow deadband of only 3 percent for finer throttle control. This is 1 to 2 percent narrower than most sport-type speed controls.

Two driving profiles. To make this system compatible with Tamiya’s motor-on-each-axle Clod Buster, Novak built in two profiles. One allows standard motor rotation and the other reverses the motor.

No reverse delay. Novak’s Smart Braking II circuitry has been omitted to allow no delay or the double pump needed to activate reverse. This allows no-hassle highly precise driving.

Standard Novak features. This system includes all of the latest Novak features: an oversize front bearing, One-Touch Set-Up, locked-rotor-detection circuitry, direct solder tabs, ribbed aluminum endbells, a replaceable input harness and thermal-overload protection.



SS series motor
Length 2.08 in. (52.8mm)
Diameter 1.41 in. (35.8mm)
Weight 6.73 oz. (191g)
Shaft diameter 0.125 in.
Commutation Sensor-based
Magnet One-piece, multi-pole neodymium
Turns 18.5
kV rating (unloaded) 2,700
Voltage input 4 to 6 cells (4.8 to 7.2 volts)
Price $100 (item no. 3418)

Special crawler edition
super sport speed control
Case size 1.32x1.75 in. (33.5x44.5mm)
Weight (w/out wires) 1.7 oz. (48.2g)
Voltage input 4 to 6 cells (4.8 to 7.2 volts)
BEC 6 volts/3 amps
On-resistance 0.0019 ohm
Rated current 160 amps
Price $260 (no. 3018)


I bolted the Novak system into my Blew By You RBX rock crawler chassis. Like most crawlers, this chassis is tight on space, but the Novak motor and controller fit easily. If your rig has enough room for a standard 540 brushed motor, the Novak brushless motor will fit fine. The first things I noticed were the smoothness of the throttle was and how much torque and power it had at even the lowest rpm. I had previously only used brushless setups to go fast, so I admit that I had some reservations about how applicable brushless would be to crawling, but my first pull of the trigger eradicated my concerns.

This chassis will never see a brushed motor again. The narrower deadband is readily apparent and very much appreciated. This system feels great. I did find that the drag brake, even at the highest setting, wasn’t as strong as I’m accustomed to and that the locked-rotor-detection circuitry allowed the crawler to cut power and roll backwards if I held the throttle without making forward progress. This feature is designed to protect the motor, but some might find it disadvantageous in competitions. If you hold a little throttle, the locked-rotor-detection is less likely to be activated.

I got used to it pretty quickly, and after I had altered my driving style, I forgot it was there. I decided that the system was a definite keeper, and I headed off to a competition hosted by my local club, CT Rock Crawlers ( I entered the Novak-equipped RBX in the 2.2 class and finished in second, only two points behind the winner. The Novak brushless setup worked great all day. The motor stayed cool, and after continued use, its heat sink was only slightly warm. My rig has much more power now than it did when I ran a lathe motor. With the Novak system, my crawler has tons of torque, but it isn’t painfully slow anymore. Speeds vary according to vehicle and gearing, but my rig now tops out at 7.9mph; that won’t win any races, but it feels about twice as fast as my crawler ran before. I spoke with Team Novak’s Charlie Suangka, and I’ve decided to install Novak’s new sintered rotor (item no. 5908) to improve the drag brakes and the system’s already awesome torque.

The Verdict

This system is ideal for crawling. It delivers lots of power, fantastic throttle feel and a reduced deadband without reverse delay. Diehard competitors might not appreciate the drag brakes and locked-rotor-detection circuitry, but I think Novak knows full well that only a small percentage of people want a setup designed solely for competitions. For 90 percent or more of the RC crawlers out there, this system is perfect.

Rating = 4.5

Novak Electronics Inc. -