Discover the Differences Between Conventional and Rock Crawling RC Cars

By Steven Harrisson, January 24, 2018

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Rock crawling is one of the newer RC hobbies that has drawn a lot of attention in the past couple of years. Nowadays, there are many competitions that are focused specifically on rock crawling all around Australia, USA, Canada and Europe. Rock climbing RC cars require a completely new set of skills and present a new challenge for RC hobbyists, such as learning how to drive through rock formations, steep hills or trails, obstacle courses, and much more. These are all things that regular RC vehicles usually can’t handle.

What separates rock climbing RC cars from conventional RC cars are the following features.

  • More Torque – Rock crawling RC vehicles need more torque to drive over uneven and steep rough surfaces. For that reason, they feature low gear ratios and one or two electric motors to deliver steady power at low speeds;
  • Higher Ground Clearance – Higher clearance is required in order to drive over obstacles without getting damaged or stuck. This is provided by the higher suspension and tyres that are set in place. Additionally, the center of gravity has to be lower so that the car doesn’t roll or tip over;
  • Improved Steering – Rock climbing usually involves quite a bit of steering around different types of obstacles. That being said, rock climbing RC vehicles require more torque steering servos to be able to turn the large tyres in limited spaces. They should also feature 4×4 steering for a better performance as that provides multiple modes to steer both the rear and front wheels, allowing the operator to perform more challenging maneuvers and turns around obstacles;
  • Wheels – The wheels are usually soft with treads which extend to the sides of the tyres for maximum traction. They’re typically bead locked to the rim to prevent them from going loose from the rim when under stress. As is the case with all other RC vehicles, crawlers come in various scale sizes, with the two most popular ones being 1/8 and 1/10 scales. You’ll also frequently come across 1/5 and 1/16, but these are mainly used for indoor obstacle courses;
  • Locked Differentials – This is a necessity for rock crawling simply because it’s essential that no power is diverted to wheels that are just spinning or off the ground. This significantly improves traction when crawling over obstacles;
  • Modes – RC rock crawlers usually have four steering modes: only the front wheels turning; the front and rear wheels turning in the same direction; the front and rear wheels turning in opposite directions; just the rear wheels turning.