Rock crawling is a test of driving skill, mechanical and fabrication creativity, and one’s ability to conquer terrain. However, not everyone can afford to go get themselves stuck in the woods every weekend.
This fun sport can become an expensive headache quickly. Thankfully, you can still fulfill the desire to flex a sweet vehicle through gnarly terrain by building your own custom RC crawler!
Stay tuned and find out how you can design and build your dream truck to fulfill your crawling needs. From scale rig to pro RC rock-dominating, you can get outside and on the trail with these tips to get you in remote control of your own rig!
What Makes Up a Custom RC Crawler?
Like full-size rock crawling, remote control crawling is a hobby and sub-sport that puts a driver through a serious of technical challenges.
The goal is to get your rig through a tough route that pushes the truck to its limits, putting it through its full range of motion and getting out of situations other vehicles would be immobilized by.
This means having the right parts for the right trails.
Wheels & Tires
RC crawlers have large, soft, and often times relatively narrow tires with deep tread. The narrower tires — like the ones on full-size rigs, let you maneuver through tight trails and between rocks easier. Think of a goat’s hoof!
The wheels responsible for the tires used are often times beadlocks. Even in the RC crawling world, beadlocks exist. However, they exist not to keep inflation steady as the tires contain foam, but rather to keep from slipping inside the tire and for easier tire changes as you don’t need to glue the tire to the wheel.
Having the right tires is crucial for your crawler and your budget. There are a couple other specs that separate the artists from the racers, but we’ll get into that later! Let’s look at the rest of the RC crawler makeup.
Chassis & Suspension
While the chassis of RC crawlers can vary even more than the wheels and tires, there are some factors that are required to make crawling happen. Wheeling means being on various surfaces and objects that might damage a vehicle.
Chassis need to be strong and allow for a suspension system that keeps them and the vital components they carry up off the ground while the axles and wheels do the work.
A four-link system is the most commonly used style of RC crawling linkage set up you will find. This means that the suspension system and axle are held in place with four rods or links that allow for articulation as the suspension compresses.
The suspension that pairs with a four-link system allow for as much compression and decompression as the link system (and steering system) allows, as well as your tire size.
Your truck’s capability and articulation angle are as much or as little as you want it. The more you flex, the bigger the rock that wheel can clear without a roll!
We’ve seen the two main factors that make RC crawlers different from other remote control cars like these trucks, but there are other differences within the remote control wheeling scene that set trucks apart.
Unlike the ultra-capable competition trucks, scale crawling is the building and driving of trucks that look and function like full-size common wheeling rigs. Scale RC cars have been made from the factory for years by companies like Tamiya.
With more people seeking the look and feel of a real-world crawler, scale crawling has taken off. The imagination really is the limit when building these vehicles.
Scale crawlers can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. There are tons of parts being sourced from model kits and current scale RC crawling parts alike. 3D printing and CNC has produced lifelike axles, wheels, props, and even suspension systems.
The over-the-top addition of vehicle sound replications can even be added.
With more life-like parts comes more cautious driving. Scale crawlers are more to satisfy an overall appreciation for offroading vehicles. That doesn’t mean they arent capable, though.
These trucks can tackle any trail a real one could — scaled down, of course — and without the risk of serious damage, injury, and being stranded.
Whether it’s a scale leaf spring and frame or a scale tube chassis build, scale crawling is as close as you can get to the real thing.
Competition and Rock Tackling
While the scale builds are incredibly fascinating, some opt to build the best rock crawler they possibly can. Competition rock crawling is just as much an art form. These vehicles outperform scale rigs and are designed to take on the toughest trails.
Low center of gravity, extreme articulation, and a wide range of stead power is paired with the right tires and wheelbases to handle things that most motorized vehicles could never conquer.
The goal is to finish the planned route without failure and in the shortest time possible.
Though not a scale specific vehicle, the inspiration comes from competitive crawling and rock racing. Both motorsports pose a high risk to wallet and limb.
Competition RC crawling will get you a podium finish without breaking your budget and without the risk.
Build Yours Today
RC crawling is an ever-expanding hobby that calls folks of all types. Whether you’re a seasoned wheeler or just driming of your own rig, theres a custom RC crawler build to suit your needs.
It doesn’t take much to learn the basics. It doesn’t take a huge budget to build your dream crawler either, and it doesn’t require extensive knowledge.
Want more content? Check out our other posts for more great articles, including tips for financing your hobbies.