Kalahari and Kemora 1/14th 4wd by Horizon Hobby - RC Groups

Kalahari and Kemora 1/14th 4wd by Horizon Hobby



Product:Kalahari and Kemora 1/14th scale 4wd (available separately)
Price:$199.99 each
Length:13.19 in (335mm)
Wheelbase:8.27 in (210mm)
Weight:2.12 lbs (0.96Kg)
Drive:4wd shaft drive
Radio:Spektrum DX2L
Product website:Vaterra

Vaterra is a new brand from a well-established company, which has put them at the top of the list by producing some high performance on-road and off-road vehicles right from the start. Two of those in the off-road category, the 1/14th scale Kalahari and Kemora, are 4wd rally-inspired racers that share identical frames and drive components, and are equally at home on the tarmac or dirt. Both vehicles feature scale details that complement the high-performance Dynamite brushless motor and esc. Each vehicle package is complete with a high quality Spektrum DX2L transmitter and receiver, and a Ni-Mh battery pack and wall charger.

We're going to cover both cars in one review since they are almost identical under their lexan bodies. Notable differences will be discussed as well as each cars performance both on-road and off-road. Let's take a closer look at Vaterra's 1/14th scale offerings: the Kalahari and Kemora.

Kit Contents

The Kalahari and Kemora come packaged securely with the chassis zip tied to the cardboard, and two separate boxes for the transmitter, charger, battery, and accessories. They come 100% ready-to-run with the exception of installing the included AA batteries in the transmitter and charging the battery.

Named after the challenging rallycross track in Finland, the Kemora looks and plays the part of a true rally car. From the gravel spec tires on OZ replica wheels, to the driver figure, to the rear wing and side mirrors, this little 4wd screams rally. The fully painted lexan body is decked with Vaterra, Spektrum, Dynamite, and Horizon Hobby logos, and faux molded hood and roof scoops finish off the look.

The Kalahari 4wd desert-raider looks like it came straight from a Dakar Rally stage. The body sits higher on the chassis and that gives it a more body clearance, even though both vehicles run identical chassis and suspension setups. The Kalahari has more aggressive tread on the tires and also has all black wheels.

With the body removed we see that the Kalahari and Kemora have a black lexan dust cover to protect from dirt, debris, and the occasional splashing. The dust cover attaches to the body with hook and loop tape; theres no chance of it coming off while driving. A molded driver sits in the left seat for a little added realism.

The dust cover has been removed and we can now get a look at what makes these 1/14th scale off-roaders perform. Both feature a 380-sized Dynamite 4500Kv sensorless brushless motor with 16-tooth pinion, and a Dynamite Mini brushless esc.

Power is transferred from the motor through a slipper clutch attached directly to the steel driveshaft. The sealed differentials at both ends feature steel gears and dogbones. The drive cups on the wheels and the differentials are also hardened steel; the only plastic component in the drive system is the wheel hex.

The a-arms are unique for the front and rear set, and feature captured hinge pins. There are two shock position adjustments on each arm for adjusting ride quality.

Both the Kemora and the Kalahari are outfitted with four oil-filled plastic coilover shocks. Ride height and preload are adjusted by adding or subtracting the included plastic spacers above the spring.

The Dynamite Mini brushless esc is waterproof and features thermal, stall, and over-voltage protection. It's rated at 30A constant and 260A peak, with a max Kv of 6000. The Dynamite Mini esc will accept 23 cell Li-Po/Li-Fe and 4-9 cell Ni-MH/Ni-Cd. Its also programmable for two types of operation: forward only with brake, and forward/reverse with brake.

The Spektrum DX2L is a pretty decent unit to be included in a ready-to-run package. The transmitter features the standard 3 knobs for steering trim, throttle trim, and steering rate. There are endpoint adjustment pots on the top of the case, as well as reverse switches for the throttle and steering. The throttle limit switch on top of the case comes in handy when running a powerful 3s LiPo; the ability to adjust the gain on the throttle allows you to concentrate on navigating, and not just spinning the wheels endlessly. The transmitter feels very solid in your hands, and the foam steering wheel feels like it belongs on a higher-end unit. There's even a nifty bind plug compartment on the back of the pistol grip. The DX2L is compatible with all Spektrum DSM and DSM2 receivers. The unit is powered by 4 AA batteries.


Both the Kalahari and Kemora came bound to their transmitters from the factory. Suspension setups were also good from the factory and didn't need any adjustment for general bashing. You do, however, need to break-in the differentials before hitting the dirt (or tarmac). The manual states: While holding the chassis with only the left side tires firmly on the ground, give the vehicle about 1/8 throttle for 30 seconds. The right side tires should spin freely during this time. Do this with only the right side tires firmly on the ground, allowing the left side tires to spin freely. Repeat this 23 times.


Both the Kalahari and the Kemora pack enough power with the included 7.2v Ni-MH to satisfy most weekend bashers, but upgrade to the optional 11.1v Li-Po and they're just ballistic. Grab a handful of throttle from a standstill, and they will easily lift the front tires on pavement. Off road, they are borderline uncontrollable without some throttle management. Luckily, the transmitter has a low/medium/high throttle gain switch that makes them much more controllable. I did most of my off road driving with the throttle switch set to low. This allowed for a bit more finesse, but there's still plenty of power to throw out some roost from all 4 wheels.

The Kemora, with it's rally car body and wheels, struggles a bit on rough off-road surfaces. The tread pattern is aggressive, but less so than the Kalahari. Smoother, hard packed dirt surfaces is where the Kemora will excel. The body sits low on the chassis and can take some hits if you are venturing into rough areas. But fear not, the body posts and suspension ride height are adjustable, and you can dial in some additional clearance quickly. On road, it handles very well, but is sprung soft from the factory and exhibits a bit of body roll when cornering; it's easy to roll it over if you get aggressive in the turns. You can, however, easily stiffen up the suspension with stiffer springs, available separately. Top speed, checked with a Hobbyking GPS logger, was right at the advertised 45.5 mph. Top speed on the 7.4 Ni-Mh was 27.2 mph.

The Kalarari is more suited for off-roading in rougher areas, thanks to the knobby tires and higher body clearance. During high speed runs over bumpy terrain, the Kalahari seemed to glide over them effortlessly while the Kemora would snag the front body from time to time. Since they share the same chassis and electronics, top speed runs were just about identical. I would advise against running either of them in thick grass, because the drag can cause the motor to heat up excessively.

Video/Photo Gallery

Vaterra Kemora and Kalahari (1 min 56 sec)


The Kemora and Kalahari (available separately) are a pair of 1/14th scale off-road vehicles from Vaterra. They have great scale appearances and exceptional performance for their size and price point. The included 380-sized Dynamite 4500Kv sensorless brushless motor and Mini brushless esc is a bulletproof combo that propels them to over 45 mph on the optional 11.1v LiPo. For weekend fun on the tarmac or dirt, I would recommend either the Kalahari or Kemora. But picking one comes down to your personal preference. The Kalahari is a little more suited for off-road driving due to its increased ground clearance while the Kemora can handle smoother dirt roads easily.


  • Very fast on 11.1v LiPo.
  • Durable: no broken parts after weeks of bashing
  • Dust cover keeps electronics relatively clean.


  • I would love to see the optional 11.1v 1400mAh Lipo included, instead of the 7.4v 1200mAh Ni-Mh.


A big thanks goes out to RCGroups members pecanpatch and hojazz for their driving skills during the review.

Last edited by Matt Gunn; Jul 10, 2013 at 11:58 AM..
Thread Tools
Jul 10, 2013, 07:18 PM
Wandering IT geek
ronin4740's Avatar
If there were a like button I would click it.
Jul 10, 2013, 08:06 PM
RCGroups Editor
Matt Gunn's Avatar
LOL. thanks!
Jul 14, 2013, 08:17 PM
Home of "Golf Cart Flying"
pecanpatch's Avatar
Thank YOU Matt for letting Ho-Jazz and myself wring them out, what a blast!
Jul 21, 2013, 02:38 PM
Registered User
livinma1's Avatar
Originally Posted by webdr
LOL. thanks!
Nice review... Do you think this is durable for my 5 year old ?
Dec 07, 2013, 11:29 PM
Hawk Fanatic
SkylineFlyer's Avatar
Originally Posted by livinma1
Nice review... Do you think this is durable for my 5 year old ?
If my 3 year old can handle it, I'm sure your 5 year old can. Of course, I have it tuned WAY down for him as he is just learning to steer.

I am having second thoughts about letting him keep this. I really like it.
Dec 17, 2013, 01:48 AM
Registered User
livinma1's Avatar
Originally Posted by SkylineFlyer
If my 3 year old can handle it, I'm sure your 5 year old can. Of course, I have it tuned WAY down for him as he is just learning to steer.

I am having second thoughts about letting him keep this. I really like it.
Skyline --- I pretty much abandoned this and went with a hK car since no one replied to me on this thread.

Thanks so much and I will consider it for his next car.
Dec 17, 2013, 04:40 AM
Fan of just about anything RC
SoloProFan's Avatar
According to info on the HH website, these cars are discontinued. That might explain some of the low activity here.
Dec 25, 2013, 10:25 PM
Wishing I was at Torrey Pines
dee-grose's Avatar
Santa brought a couple of Kalaharis for my boys (ages 10 and 7) today. We took them out and ran them a couple of times. Man, these boogers are quick! We were running them on a dirt road with short grass and they did fine. When they got out in the thicker grass of the yard, they stalled down pretty quickly.

One thing I was wondering about...when you try to give it just a bit of throttle to start easing forward, the gears seem to "grind" a bit until it hooks up and goes. Almost like the gear mesh isn't tight enough or something. Any tips for me or is that normal?

Also, what are alternative battery packs for these cars? Horizon seems to be out of stock on the lipo packs. And these things are fast enough for my boys on the stock NiMH pack that I can't imagine them on the 3S packs. I'd like to have the 2S lipo for more runtimes though.

I'm totally new to RC cars, so this is a whole different ballgame to me. Looks like I'm about to learn a whole lot!

Dec 25, 2013, 11:03 PM
Hawk Fanatic
SkylineFlyer's Avatar
Wrong info.
Last edited by SkylineFlyer; Dec 26, 2013 at 03:09 PM.
Dec 25, 2013, 11:30 PM
Wishing I was at Torrey Pines
dee-grose's Avatar
Slipper clutch, huh? I guess that makes sense. Good to know.

BTW, I forgot to say in my first post....That Matt guy sure can take some snazzy pictures, can't he? Top shelf stuff for sure!

Dec 26, 2013, 01:16 AM
Video Juggernaut
Wingbreaker's Avatar
Yeah the noise is normal. Reminds me of early brushless days with foamie planes. Throttle up too slow it would make a similar sound. Anywho these thing are great. I snagged a Lenora and kalahari during Black Friday. We've been pounding the out front, no issues. Tires are wearing on the kalahari and the body on the Lenora is taking a beating. Other than that, solid. Definitely worth 99 bucks.
Dec 26, 2013, 07:59 AM
RCGroups Editor
Matt Gunn's Avatar
actually its not the slipper. That jerky motion on very low throttle settings is called cogging. Its normal for brushless motors.

Dec 26, 2013, 08:32 AM
Hawk Fanatic
SkylineFlyer's Avatar
Wrong info
Last edited by SkylineFlyer; Dec 26, 2013 at 03:10 PM.

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