RC Rock Crawlers are all the rage in the RC truck scene right now and if you are on the fence about purchasing a new crawler than read on! There are some key points to highlight and avoid making some bad buying decisions from the get-go. Weather you are just getting into crawling or shopping for a killer comp craw rig, you will want to invest in a quality truck with good aftermarket support. There are many directions you can go when looking for a crawler as some offer superior crawling capabilities while others offer good trail performance with higher speeds. For hobby use a good all round crawler or trail truck would be the most fun and practical.
Many trucks now ship RTR (ready to run) however there are still kit options you can build yourself. Consumers tend to be more inclined to purchase a RTR versions as they are ready to crawl out of the box with very minor assembly. Although this instant gratification is favourable by most, what about those who like to build their rigs? Well this is the beauty of RC rock crawlers. There is literally a infinite number of mods and hop-ups available for most of the popular models. So if you like to build then have at er’ and customize away!
Selecting a crawler doesn’t have to be that complicated as there are many awesome rigs available today and new trucks coming out fast and furious. We have spent hours researching, testing, following forums and getting feedback from members in our local RC Crawling Club to craft our new RC Rock Crawler Buyers Guide.
Based on our findings the Traxxas TRX-4 and Axial SCX II our the top pics for all round performance, quality and value. While the RedCat Everest Gen 7 and Exceed Maxstone offer the best budget trucks. For all other top 10 contenders continue reading.
Axial SCX10 II
- True To Scale Detail and Parts
- High Performance Components
- Rugged and Durable Design And Parts
- Faster Speed Output Than Traditional Rock Crawling Rigs
- Requires The Purchase of Battery and Charger For Kit or RTR Versions
- Only A Modest Amount of After Market Parts In Comparison To The SCX10 Original Model
Axial saw a lot of success with the release of their SCX10 model series for rock crawlers. While people were floored by the scale accuracy at that time for this series, the latest line (SCX10 II) offers even more detail and scale appropriate keen insight for the newest models.
These options are designed to appeal to the hobbyist as well as the fun-loving race enthusiast, as this new edition from Axial is available in both a kit you can build as well as rigs that are ready to run straight from unboxing them. Let’s take a closer look at what makes the Axial SCX10 II something that you should be considering for your own rig garage.
What You Need To Know Before Buying An Axial SCX10 II
Every electrical component to either the build or the RTR rig is protected against the elements and debris. The radio receiver, ESC and motor all feature water resistant components or casings, allowing you more versatility for where your vehicle can go and what it can do.
With all steel components, the transmission system far exceeds the original SCX10 in nearly every capacity. This compact design allows for a lot of adjustments, depending on if you want your RC ride to act more like a trail rig or a rock crawler.
As is usually the case with higher performance rigs, you have your choice of battery that works the best for you. You have to purchase this battery (and charger) before you can run your vehicle.
The C-Channel Chassis available on the Jeep models of the SCX10 II is true to scale and is constructed with hardened steel. This adds bulk to the model for sure, but stands as a very durable and rugged addition to the frame.
Having options like adjusting the wheel base give you more control over the performance of your machine. Ranges from 11.4” to 12.3” depending on your personal preference. At its heart, this vehicle is a rock crawler through and through.
Its ability to gain a higher top speed in the open and its functionality help it to lean heavily towards trail rig as well though. So, it sits somewhere in the grey hybrid area between the two camps.
Assembly depends on the type that you purchase. The SCX10 II comes ready to run in many of the models available through this line, but there are some also available in a full kit that hobbyists can assemble on their own at home.
To achieve the balance between a higher rate of speed and the power required for rock crawling, these kits come stock with a 35T brush motor. This is a water-resistant model, capable of withstanding long runs due to its integrated cooling system.
The Axial SCX10 II is reasonably affordable for those looking to get serious about RC vehicles.
The SCX10 II has improved on the former design in nearly every single way. While there are obviously more mods and after market parts for the original line, with a little bit of time, the new design will have just as many customizable options for the hobbyist to tinker with. Whether you choose to build the rig yourself or get an option that’s ready to go right from the box, you won’t be disappointed with this choice.
Team Losi Night Crawler 2.0
- Very Detailed Design
- Easy Access To Interior Parts
- Lightweight, Rugged Aluminum Chassis
- High Articulation For The Body
- Stiffer Tires Than Many Rock Crawlers
- Axle Components Need To Be Greased
For the Ready To Run RC rock crawlers for sale across this expanding niche, one brand is determined to make a statement. Team Losi, and the release of their Night Crawler series ensured that their rig met the needs and wants of nearly every RC enthusiast out there. While there are some drawbacks to the upgraded mechanics of this machine, most users have found that the performance out in the real world more than make up for an inconvenience or two. If you are looking to upgrade your current set up, or want to have a leg up in the RC crawling world, this is a model that you are going to want to take a long, hard look at.
What You Need To Know Before Buying A Team Losi Night Crawler 2.0
Apart from the mods and upgradable after market parts that are available for this model, you can find a lot of versatility just in the stock components. The shocks, for example, are collared and can easily be adjusted to suit a particular performance you are looking for.
When you want to ensure that your rig can handle the rough terrain you have before it, the last thing that you want to worry about is the steering links. With the heavy duty design, you’ll find in the Team Losi Nightcrawler, it will in fact be one of the last things you have to worry about.
With so many companies opting to go with glued on tires, it is always a nice feature when you see true beadlock designs. This adds a little more versatility and can allow you to more easily exchange wheels and tires as you see fit.
For the fullest articulation when hitting the roughest of rock crawls, the Nightcrawler can sprawl out nearly 90 degrees from one tire to the next thanks to a centered 4 link suspension system.
This is billed exclusively as a rock crawling machine. While it might offer higher top speeds than some of the other models that exist in this niche, everything from the body design to its performance are exclusively designed for rock crawling.
This rig is ready to go straight from the box, but it does require the separate purchase of a NiMH or LiPo battery back and compatible charger.
This machine is fitted with the high torque Dynamite 35T. This single engine design offers a good boost of power, but does pale in comparison to dual motor designs.
For all of its features and wide advancements to the world of rock crawling, you can find this rig available for purchase for typically very competitive prices through hobby shops and Amazon.
The Nightcrawler 2.0 is pre-fitted with powerful LED lights for all day and all-night crawling. Its rugged and lightweight aluminum frame is solid and versatile, offering a lot more bang for your buck. Anyone who is seriously interested in competitive crawling might want to take another look at this model, as it can give you the power and performance you are looking for.
- Two-Gear transmission for high speed and crawling capabilities
- Highly Adjustable and Customizable
- Very Detailed and Appropriately Scaled
- Portal Axles offer more ground clearance and better performance
- Lot of individual parts that could warrant replacement over time
- Some lag in steering at full speed in second gear
It was an exciting bit of news for the RC rock crawling world when Traxxas decided to throw their hat into the ring. Improving on nearly every aspect of the traditional crawler, the Traxxas TRX-4 gave enthusiasts a reason to be excited for the versatility and advancements that were just on the horizon for whatever brand they deemed their favorite. From tech savvy connectivity to enhanced performance in gear ratios and axle components, the Traxxas TRX-4 has been turning a lot of heads lately.
What You Need To Know Before Buying A Traxxas TRX-4
Unlike nearly any other rig in its class, this Traxxas offering actually allows you to connect the electrical receivers to your phone via Bluetooth. From this panel, you can modify a slew of different behaviors for your vehicle to customize it to your liking.
Who hasn’t run into interference with their standard 2-channel remote control? Traxxas gives you 4 times the versatility and connection capability with your rig by offering a total of 8 possible channels.
From 1st gear serious rock crawler to the speed comparable to a low-end trail rig, your gear options with the TRX-4 put a lot of power into your hands.
With steel components making up the chassis and frame, the rig has a lot of weight and durability compared to other competitors in the crawling niche.
One of the cool features for the Traxxas TRX-4 is the waterproof encasement for electrical components. This allows you to hit all manner of terrain and get out in any weather to crawl to your heart’s content.
This has been billed as a rock crawler, but due to its two-speed transmission, it has a higher top speed than you might expect with the weighty rig like this. Arguably, this model sits somewhere in between trail rig and rock crawler, but more heavily leans towards crawling.
This rig is ready to roll right from the box. Just drop in your battery and it is ready for action.
This features a high performance 550 motor. This brushed engine is ideal for the higher speeds that this weighty vehicle can reach, but also for the power required to overcome serious hurdles out in the world.
The cost of these rigs with just stock items and no available upgrades still exceeds what you are likely to pay with even well-known brands elsewhere. This might seem high, but the vehicle also offers numerous options beyond what you will find in any other traditional RC rock crawler out there.
- Steering Linkages Are Incredibly Heavy Duty
- Nylon Tubing Body
- Beadlock Wheels For Versatility
- Incredible Articulation Between Wheels
- Many of the components require a Phillip’s head screwdriver
- Stock Tires Do Not Have Excellent Grip
The GMade company has offered a pretty nice-looking buggy to draw the eye of hobbyists across the globe. With its professional grade parts worth of competitive racing and courses, this build is sure to be one you are happy you’ve made when you complete it. From its wider wheel base to its high articulation potential, the R1 outperforms many of the kits you can find in its price range. It manages to be a cheaper option for enthusiasts while still offering an authentic experience into the world of rock crawlers for the budding RC racer.
What You Need To Know Before Buying A GMade R1
The build kit itself might be limited to its initial parts to complete the first design, but GMade and other companies have offered up a host of parts and upgrades to completely change the look and performance of this machine in any way you might care to.
Everything from the steering links to the chassis is reinforced and solid, offering you peace of mind to attempt climbs that you might have been sketchy about with less well-constructed RTR models.
While this is by no means the only buggy style design that you will find in the rock crawler world, it does have a lot of unique flair and its build is solid. Its wide wheel base aids in extensive articulation for overcoming steep obstacles.
This axle design allows for more ground clearance under the vehicle and more control in your steering from the added gears.
You can either go with a fully sprung suspension system or a droop suspension depending on the performance and look you are going for.
Unless you have taken advantage of some of the extensive aftermarket options available in this versatile build, you can consider this to be exclusively a rock crawler. The top speed is not one to measure up with trail rigs, but has a lot of power and torque for climbs.
Assembly is going to vary based on the amount of time and energy you want to put into customization of the rig. Bear in mind that this kit (usually) only comes with the components necessary to build the vehicle. The kit does not include a remote, batteries, or a charger.
The kit itself does not have a motor, though it is likely recommended to go with a 540 or 550 brushed. This will offer the kind of torque to get the most out of your rig in climbing and scaling situations.
The kit itself is fairly reasonably priced, though by the time you get the necessary components to operate the vehicle, you will have likely spent as much as getting a RTR option with the same competitive performance capability.
This is a great buy for the hobbyist, as there are not a lot of quality rock crawlers with this kind of unique buggy look to them. If you are into building kits as much as you are enjoying your creation’s performance out in the real world, this will certainly be a good option for you to check out on your own.
RedCat Everest Gen7
- Easy To Use Radio Controller
- Powerful 550 Motor
- Interco Super Swamper Tires On Beadlock Wheels
- Waterproof ESC and Radio Receiver
- Smaller NiMH Battery Comes Stock
- Metal Chassis and Roll Cage Make The Body Heavy
When you are looking for the best in RC rock crawlers out there, Redcat is a name that will be brought up time and again. With one of their most recent crawler models, the Everest Gen 7 PRO, they have pulled out all the stops to make a truck that enthusiasts have been waiting for. Taking a lot of cues from operator suggestions, this is the truck that even Redcat says was designed by the drivers. Loaded with helpful features and functions, this is a quality option for someone who is well versed in RC trucks as well as someone who is just starting to get their feet wet in this exciting new frontier. Let’s take a closer look at the Redcat Racing Everest Gen 7 PRO to help you better understand the things that sets this model apart from competitors.
The truck itself boasts an impressive 1:10 scale. It is fitted with detailed accessories that add authenticity to the entire look.
A steel chassis and inner steel roll cage underneath the body offer a rugged durability that is not commonly found through even most high-end rock crawlers.
From your ability to modify the wheel base to a number of interchangeable parts, the stock is far from your only options. Utilize the handy prop bar to easily work on the rig.
While there is no doubt that dual motors offer more power and more responsiveness, this 550-brushed motor is nothing to scoff at.
Waterproof ESC and receiver is a feature that should be universal across every major RC company, but it is only recently finding its way into new models.
This vehicle is the quintessential rock crawler. It has a durable and rugged frame that is designed to take all manner of abuse that you might dole out, but also has the power and grip to overcome some serious climbs.
The truck itself, unlike many of the other options in the RC world comes fully assembled. There are options from the get go to modify the behavior of your rig, such as setting drag brake into 3 different modes (0, 50 and 100 percent). If you purchase an upgraded battery (like a LiPo option), you will have to install this new addition yourself.
The single motor design might offer a slightly less responsive and powerful output than dual motor options out there, but this truck has a powerful 550 brushed motor that can get the job done.
In regard to price, the Everest Gen 7 Pro fairs very well compared to the high-end options that exist on the market in this niche. Redcat Racing vehicles are often considered great starter trucks because of their lower cost.
Whether you are a seasoned professional in RC crawling or someone who just wants to get a nice truck to get started, this is a model that you owe yourself to take a closer look at. It is well built from the tires to the roof, so you can be assured that you are going to have a lot of hours out challenging your rig to the next impressive feat.
- Faster Than Traditional Rock Crawling Vehicles
- Chassis and Roll Cage Are In One Solid Assembly
- Lightweight and Rugged
- Have To Purchase Battery and Charger Separately
- Tires Are Pre-Glued and Not Beadlock
In the world of RC Off Roading options, the field has been split into two distinct camps: the trail rigs and the rock crawlers. Axial has always been one to push the envelope in terms of what their vehicles could do, and that was likely what spawned the creation of the Axial Wraith series. These trucks and side by sides were specifically designed to give the performance of the traditional rock crawler at speeds that could more closely be matched with trail rig options out there. While its overall top speed might not rival some of the faster machines out there, the Wraith is one of the best RC rock crawler options out there, even without its boost in MPH.
What You Need To Know Before Buying An Axial Wraith
This is a truly unique approach, and one that many rock crawlers can be expected to follow suit with in the future. This is a combination of both the increased speed you can expect from racing trail rigs and the durability and strength you expect from any solid crawler brand.
With a solid, single chassis/roll cage combination made from metal and composite materials, the Wraith is built to take a beating without adjustments.
While performance almost always trumps looks, it should be noted the keen eye and time spent detailing this rig down to the instrument panel inside of the cab.
From the titanium coated shocks to the Ripsaw stock tires that come with it, the Wraith is not made cheaply. Some of the best pieces were used as stock items, giving you high performance out of the box.
Never worry about getting caught and jammed in gear. The slipper clutch installed on this rig is designed for loosening gear grips to find the footing for the truck again.
While it would be easy just to classify this vehicle with other rock crawlers in competition with it, its overall top speed and maneuverability argue that it sits in the middle ground between the crawler and trail rigs.
Apart from requiring the purchase of a rechargeable battery for the vehicle, it will be unboxed ready to run. With many of its upgradeable parts and various components that come with the vehicle in the box you might be tempted to tinker, but the Wraith is ready to roll right away.
This is another single motor (20T Brush) design, but one that is unique in its own way. Much like many of the high-end rigs that you can get, the motor on the Axial Wraith is interchangeable with a 550 brushed motor.
While Axial vehicles might be revered among the best available to buy for all levels of RC enthusiasts, the price falls along the same lines as you would see many budget-friendly rigs out there.
The Axial Wraith is a solid vehicle for any RC operator. It has a high-end performance feel for a budget price bracket, but also features handy installed options like the vertically installed ESC and a protective enclosure for your radio receiver. These rides are a great stride towards bringing trail rigs and RC rock crawlers together into one impressive model.
- Highly Customizable With A Lot of After Market Parts and Kits
- Simple Radio Design Ideal For New Users
- Batteries Upgradeable To Higher NiMH or LiPo Options
- Not Waterproofed at Stock
- Louder (Rattling/Motor) Than Many Other Brands
Exceed has long been known to RC enthusiasts as a budget-friendly option for those not looking to fully commit to the larger price tags associated with high-end offerings. What you might not realize, though, is that the Maxstone series has actually offered users a realistic look at crawling in an affordable way, without compromising on the quality of the experience that you could hope to have. In many ways, enthusiasts have had more fun customizing and working on their Exceed rigs over some of the other more recognizable names that you might notice on this list.
What You Need To Know Before Buying An Exceed Maxstone
Through a composition of different materials, the Exceed Maxstone line of trucks has a durable and rugged frame that can withstand a lot of punishment without the need for much adjustment.
The 4-link suspension system allows the truck to articulate in a wide range, offering more than 45 degrees of play between the tires.
Don’t like the stock body that comes on the rig? This pick up and drop on design allows you to change up the style of the entire vehicle at your discretion easily and quickly.
One of the benefits for having a cheaper truck on the market like this is that it makes it much more likely that you will find aftermarket upgrades and gear for it.
While the radio far exceeds old school RC cars, it is a simple design that is intended to be easy for beginners to grab and use right away with little to no instruction.
The entire Maxstone line, in all of its ratios, is exclusively intended to be rock crawlers. While there are certainly ways to modify them for higher top speeds rivaling lower-end trail rigs, at stock, they are a well-comprised rock crawling machine.
Apart from the battery you will have to install (that is included with most purchases from this line from various retailers), this rig is Ready To Run right out of the box.
The brushed 540 motor offers the kind of torque and power you want to see in a rock crawler that isn’t meant to have an overwhelming top speed.
The true definition of a budget crawler, this rig can be purchased for much less than most of the other rock crawler options available to you on the market right now.
If you are on the fence about RC rock crawlers and the whole versatility of this realm of racing and competition, the Exceed Maxstone is an excellent way to get your feet wet. Without the hefty financial investment that you might find in some of the other great machines on this list, the Maxstone is the most affordable that you are likely to find with the quality that rivals the more expensive competition.
- Rugged Metal Body and Components
- Expertly Detailed To 1:10 Scale of Toyota FJ Cruiser
- Powerful 35T High Performance Motor
- Only 3-Link Suspension System Allows For Less Maneuverability
- Less Mod And Upgrade After Market Products
The HPI Venture was a true to form representation of the Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV. The components are not cheap, leaving a weighty and realistic feel to the entire build. This unit comes truly Ready To Run out of the box, leaving little for you to do but install a battery and head out the door with it. While HPI might not be as well known and highly regarded as companies like Redcat Racing or Axial, this is a solid rock crawler that you should take a little bit of time to get to know if you are looking to add another crawler to your collection or just get one started.
What You Need To Know Before Buying A HPI Venture
In order to remove the body, you have to take the spare tire attachment from the back of the vehicle and swing it to the side. This unlocks the entire body, making exchanges or tune ups simple and easy.
Even with just having the added weight of mostly metal components being a plus for many rock crawler enthusiasts, this also adds durability and strength to the entire build.
There is nothing worse than having to replace electrical components that got wet on your ride because they shorted out. With full encasement waterproofing of these components on this rig, water is the least of your worries.
If you want to have options in your wheels and tires, beadlock is the way to go. In addition to this versatility, the stock tires are impressive to say the least with the Rock Thorn S-Compound Series soft tires. You are ready for anything.
There are a lot of components that you can modify to change the way the vehicle sits or behaves when you control it. For example, you can lengthen and shorten the shocks to raise the bed up higher or bring it lower to the ground at your discretion.
While this truck can really perform under pressure, it is not even close to top speeds seen with professional grade trail rigs. The HPI Venture is powerful and fast in its own right, but falls squarely into the category of a high-end rock crawling machine.
While you are going to have to install the NiMH batteries yourself, everything you need to get started is ready from the moment you open the box. With everything down to the batteries for the radio also included, this rig is truly a Ready To Run unit.
The brushed 35T motor is high torque for tough challenges that you place in front of your vehicle. It has the power to overcome some serious obstacles, but doesn’t have quite the juice in the motor for excessive top speeds.
This is among the more inexpensive of the rock crawlers that you can find out there, primarily because of its overall lack of model specific aftermarket options.
For a hobbyist or rock crawler enthusiast, the HPI Venture is worth looking into. It has a lot of features designed to make outdoor action more fun as well as customizable options to modify the experience to your liking.
- 45 Degree Turning Radius
- Completely Customizable and Upgradeable
- Stock With Interco Super Swamper Tires
- Single Speed Gear Transmission
Vaterra is known for putting out high end builds for RC enthusiasts. With the Vaterra Ascender, you are getting an entire kit to build a lifted 1986 Chevy Blazer just how you would like it to be. With all of the innovations and metal framework to the chassis and drive parts, this model can handle anything the full-sized version would be able to and then some. With this build kit, you have a full range of options just in the initial build, and even more when you delve into aftermarket model specific parts to help you customize your new rig just how you have dreamt about it.
What You Need To Know Before Buying A Vaterra Ascender
Along with the original build kit, you have a number of different ways that you can build up your truck. In fact, Vaterra has made it so that you do not even have to worry about tracking down parts necessary to change up the body design and other key components. For example, you can find modifications in the build kit to change the wheelbase between 4 different sizes.
While the added weight is certainly a bonus to the crawler enthusiast, the steel C-Channel chassis and other metal components offer a rugged durability that shows staying power and a build that is going to last through some harsh treatment.
While usually these kinds of upgrades have you moving pieces all over the frame of the build, this kit comes with added space to include a servo winch and the appropriate cable to go with it. Now your Blazer can handle any terrain and climb any steep crag.
If you wanted a truck that had a lot of articulation from wheel to wheel and could handle rough terrain with ease, you can certainly appreciate the multi-link solid axle suspension included in this build kit.
This machine is a rock crawler through and through. From the look of the completed kit to its rugged functionality and single speed transmission, this is a build that is meant for hill climbs and rough terrain, all while looking awesome.
Assembling this kit is part of the allure for many hobbyists. There is no available RTR option available through retailers. On average, the build is said to take anywhere from 5 to 7 hours to complete.
The motor is a brushed 540, offering a lot of torque and power to your hill climbs. With just a single speed transmission, this motor fairs very well against the power demands.
Compared to most of the other rock crawlers that are in its class performance wise, this model is very reasonably priced, especially considering your aftermarket options and customizations.
There are plenty of build kits out there for RC machines, but this is likely the best RC rock crawler kit that you can spend your money on. It has a solid design, ample power, and all of the functionality you will find from a truck with the customization options to take it several steps further.
RedCat Everest 10
- RTR Model With Everything Needed In The Box
- Over 45 Degrees of Articulation
- Bead Lock Wheels
- Convertible To 4 Wheel Steering
- Comes With Trickle Charger
- PVC Body Makeup
Redcat Racing has been known by enthusiasts everywhere for their innovative builds and unique advancements that make them a competitive brand. While they might struggle against some of the steeper competition in a stock to stock head to head comparison, they typically win out in the long run because of their commitment to offer reasonably priced rigs to those who are interested in rock crawling both recreationally and competitively. The Everest line has gotten a lot of attention due to its unique features and overall sturdy build, making this a vehicle that you should take the time to get to know a little better.
What You Need To Know Before Buying A Redcat Racing Everest 10
With the multi-link suspension system, this unit is able to get better than 45 degrees of articulation from wheel to wheel. This can easily help you to handle any kind of terrain that you put before it.
One thing that you are sure to notice about this rig is how high it sits off the ground. This kind of clearance gives it a pass to go to places that you might not even take more expensive builds that sit lower.
While the tires included with this lower-end model are not going to win any performance awards by any means, they far exceed some of the stock options for even the other models that made it onto this list.
While the stock option for this vehicle is a modest NiMH battery, many users want to upgrade to longer lasting LiPo options. This is easy to do and the rig can support up to a 3s.
Using a combination of materials from aluminum to hard plastics, the framework and drive train system for this truck far exceed what you would expect from a low-cost option like this.
This vehicle does not offer much in the line of trail rig speeds, but it does perform very well in its primary rock crawler functions.
There is no assembly to speak of for this model, it is ready to go right from the box. You will have to attach the NiMH battery to the frame and hook it up, but apart from this step, the rig is ready to ride.
This RTR machine comes with a 70T motor. This offers a lot of power and performance that far exceeds what you would expect from a truck with this low of a price point.
This is one of the cheapest options that still offer a lot of quality components in RTR rock crawler rigs out there. If you are just getting started with this hobby, this is an excellent price point to see if it is for you or not.
Redcat Racing products have always been dedicated to the person who ends up holding the radio, and in this regard, they have offered up a truly impressive low-cost option for those that are looking to get their feet wet with rock crawling. While it might not have all the bells and whistles that other models (for hundreds more) might have, it does have all of the functionality and performance that you will love.
Key Points to consider before buying a crawling rig
- Budget – You budget will determine what models you can afford and what build quality or features it has. If you can stretch you budget and get a quality, trusted truck you will be happy in the long run.
- Advanced Crawler or Beginner – A good all round RTR beginner but quality crawler is a good move for starters. More advanced operator a comp ready rig would be worth a look.
Chassis and Suspension
Crawlers demand a very particular type of suspension. The primary idea is to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible while getting the ideal level of unsprung weight. Maintaining a low centre of gravity keeps the crawlers balanced and reduces the risk of rollovers. You want to take any serious incline with the upmost stability and control. Of course a low centre of gravity is great but your crawler needs the clearance to avoid getting hung up or high centred. This can he achieved with high clearance links and long travel shocks. Crawlers grip hard and exert a high level of toque twist.
This can be drastically reduced buy using a 3-4 link set-up. Upgraded link kids cab be purchased for a reasonable price and make for a great first mod.
Tires and Wheels
Upgrading tires could possibly be the number one RC crawler mod. Upgrading tire size can provide more ground clearance and better grip while giving your rig a aggressive look. Many of the newer trucks are now coming with larger comp worth tires. Wheels are not just for looks. Serious crawlers will used weighted wheels. Adding weighted front wheels can provide more down force in the front to reduce roll overs and increase overall traction when climbing steep inclines. Foam filled tires can provide added side wall support and prevents or reduces tire rollout.
Brushless or Nitro / Shaft Driven or Motor On Axle
Out with the old and in with the new. Brushless is the most popular solution as they offer great efficiency, moisture / dirt resistance and low maintenance. While brushed is still an option on entry level rigs a brushed solution is far more favourable. As for gas or nitro. For crawler you need as much control and bottom end torque as possible. Nitro is great for high speed rigs but not ideal for rock crawlers. Also anyone who has owned a nitro RC knows how finicky they can be. Electric is clean, quiet and just works. Motor requirements differ from rig to rig. Some are motor on axle while others are drive shaft driven. Motor on shaft would require smaller sized motors as there are two motors where a shaft driven set-up would require more power and torque as its solely propelling the truck. Either way crawlers usually demand high torque motors.
There are advantages and disadvantages to shaft driven vs. motor on axle. The big plus to motor on axle is that we are able to get the weight down low and lower the COG. The disadvantage to this set up is the additional components such as 2x motors and 2x esc’s. Also to control the motors can be more complicated. With the single motor drive shaft set up you have only one motor and esc to wire and simplifies the overall set-up. If you are not comp crawling a axle driven single motor rig would be the way to go.
Radio Functions and Electronics
Radio channels and functions are a important consideration. Spare channels can add functionality such as radio controlled lockers, winch control, lighting and more. Many RTR trucks come with radio’s but can be easily upgraded later if additional channels are required. Large tires and heavy trucks require beefy servos. These usually can’t be powered off the trucks motor esc and will require an external high powered BEC or power supply unit. When purchasing a RTR kit this will be engineered into the unit and won’t be a problem unless your upgrade path calls for it.