If you’re an RC enthusiast, you probably know by now just how many things you can do with an RC. A very popular style in the world of RC cars is rock crawling. Basically, it means you can creep, crawl or climb rocks using a special type of vehicle, which is the RC rock crawler.
This is not a sport based on speed but on engine power and handling. This is where you can prove your skill in navigating along with obstacles and riding on uneven, rocky surfaces. You’ll also need an RC car specially designed for rock crawling, as most usual RC vehicles can’t handle the rough terrain. Of course, some RC monster trucks and truggies will do just fine on such surfaces, but RC rock crawlers perform a lot better in this sport.
As I said earlier, you don’t necessarily need a specialized RC rock crawler, unless you’re thinking of practicing this sport on a more serious level. But when you’re just starting out, you’ll find that a stock RC monster truck will handle casual rock climbing pretty well. For pros, there are special RC rock crawlers available, which get more and more complex and advanced every day.
Because RC monster trucks have a lot in common with RC vehicles used for rock crawling, you can modify them to fit the requirements of this sport. Here are the most important characteristics of RC rock crawlers:
Power. This is essential for rock crawling. In any RC vehicle designed to handle this sport, you need more torque, rather than speed or high RPMs. When modifying your RC rock crawler, you can keep your stock electric motor and choose a lower gear setup. These features give your RC vehicle steady power at low speeds and help your car climb those rocks.
High clearance. In rock crawling, your chassis cannot drag over the rocks. But you have to make sure that your RC car won’t tip over either. To get the necessary ground clearance, you need large tires. But if you raise the car too high, you’ll only get an RC car that tips over at every rock. This means you need to balance the high clearance with a low gravity center. Also, make sure the weight is not all in the back of the car. Otherwise, it will pull your RC car backward, instead of letting it move forward. Try putting some weight (the batteries, for instance) in the front, in order to get a better weight distribution.
Steering. Rock climbing or crawling involves running on uneven and rocky surfaces. This means you’ll have to practice your steering. You’ll have to do a lot of twisting and turning, which requires soft suspension and steering. RC rock crawlers have 4-wheel drive (4WD) and, often, 4-wheel steering (4WS) too. 4WS gives better maneuverability, especially in small areas and on uneven surfaces. It also means better traction.
Traction. Most RC rock crawlers use narrow off-road tires and rims. With a narrower rim, you’ll have more tread on the sidewall. This helps your RC rock crawler get better traction all around. When buying new tires for your RC rock crawler, choose softer tires with deep, chunky treads. Sometimes it’s best to use bead-lock rims, instead of gluing tires and rims, because this way, the tire won’t separate from the rim while crawling.