Decisions, decisions. There are so many varieties out there – different look, size, specialisms, fuel source, handling… – but you can only get one! So what’s right for you? On-road or off-road, trick-jumping or time-trialling, mud-fest or tarmac? Read on, and get sorted.
When choosing which class of vehicle to get (car, buggy, truck or even ‘truggy’), it’s about positioning yourself on a scale based on where you want to drive it. To put it simply, cars run on the smoothest surfaces, whereas tough trucks handle the roughest, with buggies somewhere in between. So if you know that you want to stay indoors or on tarmac, and get an RC vehicle that’s going to have the look for it, you’re best off getting a simple scaled down sports car that will thrive on the smooth, open road. On the other hand, if you’re looking for some serious off-road terrain handling and mud-splashing, gas-guzzling adventure, there’s nothing for it but a monster truck to get you over those lumps and bumps and to the finish line in trails of glory.
Of course, those are the extremes, and most people’s preferences are going to fall somewhere in between them. So if you think the first car sounded a little bit restrictive, then you can disregard sports car replicas altogether because – not to talk them down – that is what they’re best for. Great while they’re at it, but pretty specialised, so if you’re unsure, look elsewhere!
One step up from this is a really popular category of RC vehicles: buggies. Why are they so popular? Well, there’s a number of reasons, not least the fact that they can look quite a lot like F1-race cars, so have a strong following among tarmac track racers as well. But it’s their added durability – and with it the flexibility to run in more places, on more surfaces – that really does it. While grass or gravel might completely floor a plain old car, a decent buggy can handle them both with ease. So if you’re not quite sure where you want to drive, they’re pretty much perfect; taking light off-road driving in their stride as well as producing excellent results on firmer surfaces such as concrete.
The way they tend to be structured give them a low, stable centre of gravity and pretty well balanced feel (especially on electric models with no fuel sloshing from side to side in the tank), so they can make for easier, more nimble handling than classic cars too. This reinforces their reputation as a great ‘gateway’ category for rookies; adaptable, robust and highly usable.
They can still have a number of problems off-road, though, and if you’re leaning slightly more in that direction, you might find that pushing them to their limits on a rougher off-road track doesn’t actually get you very far. If those pot-holes are just that bit too deep or the jumps a bit too sharp, your average buggy is going to struggle. Getting different tyres can help, but there’s a point at which a buggy just can’t take the battering.
A relatively new class of vehicle has stepped into the breach here, looking to help those for whom a truck is just too far, a buggy not quite enough. Known as a Truggy, it’s getting more common, because despite not being quite as versatile as a buggy (they struggle to be as quickly manoeuvrable, which are key in firm-surface driving), they certainly are tougher, and handle better in the winter on tracks that a buggy couldn’t take at an inclement time of year.
But if that still doesn’t sound like what you had in mind, there’s only one thing for it. Trucks are for those who couldn’t give one about tarmac racing and just want to get down and dirty on the most challenging surfaces there are. All-weather, all-year-round vehicles, they will seem slow compared to smaller, more nimble classes on the flat, but are unbeatable on rough terrain. So if that’s where you get your kicks, the choice is made.
Of course, vehicle class isn’t the only thing to look at, and the power source an RC racer runs on can make a big difference. A brushless electric motor can wring the most speed from a little RC, and is an excellent choice for flat, firm-surface racing, where there’s little resistance and little other work for the motor to do. For something heavier, however, and where getting down and dirty with your RC hobby is part of the fun, nothing can beat a hyper-realistic nitro or even petrol-fuelled engine, with its awesome sound, feel, and even smell. If you want more detail, we’ve got the full story here: “RC Cars: The Electric vs. Nitro vs. Petrol Showdown. Who Wins?” to get you in the know and empowered to make your choice.
Now, feeling more confident about deciding? Good. So pick your product, get it working, and get out there to enjoy your new RC vehicle!