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The Basics of RC Rock Crawlers

RC rock crawling isn't fast-paced.

The game is more about power and manoeuvring, about overcoming obstacles and extremely uneven terrain. Most other RCs aren't built to take the kind of terrain a rock crawler was meant to cover.

Yes, monster trucks might be able to do the same, but rock crawlers have the edge of being built for it. Monster truck RC tends to focus more on using size, rather than manoeuvring, to get past obstacles.

With that in mind, today we'll spend some time helping the amateurs and beginners out there. We're going to take a look at what makes RC rock crawlers what they are, and some ideas on what makes some good and some bad.

We'll be focusing on the core elements of their design that make them stand out.

Power is indispensable.

Rock crawlers have a lot of controlled power – torque. High speed and RPM are less of a concern. Electric motors are standard, along with lower gears. The setup allows for constant power at low speeds.

A combination of high clearance and low centre of gravity is integral.

A chassis that's too low means that it's dragging over rocks. Too high and it'll cause the crawler to tip over when climbing something steep. Large tires give ground clearance, while the distribution of weight allows it to rise.

The battery will end up in the front, rather than the rear, for weight distribution purposes.

Steering and manoeuvrability are essential to a rock crawler.

Rock climbing involves uneven surfaces. Twisting and turning are pretty standard things. You need the suspension and steering to be soft, rather than stiff.

Both four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering show up on most climbers.

For RC rock crawlers, four-wheel steering gives it better traction and manoeuvrability in small areas. Not all models have this sort of steering, but they're a standard upgrade. If you have a good setup, you can even try side stepping or crab walking with your RC.

With rock crawlers, you want locked differentials.

Not all the wheels are going to be touching the ground all the time. If you don't lock the differentials, you'll be sending power to wheels that aren't on the ground. You don't want that.

Traction is important.

Tires and rims tend to be narrower on rock crawlers. Narrow rims put more tread on the sidewall and provide better traction. You'll want that because it keeps your RC on the ground, something that most RCs has difficulty with the outside of smooth surfaces.

So there you go. A simple look at the essential features of an RC rock crawler. We hope we've helped you get into an incredible hobby!

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