Many activities that were once an engaging childhood pastime develop into a lifelong passion as we grow older. One of the most notable of these is racing RC trucks. A fascination that began with a tiny matchbox car fueled by imagination blossoms into a 1:6 scale monster truck that can devour any terrain at remarkable speeds.
You'll want an RC truck suited for your driving needs, durability, as well as weather- and water resistant. A fast-charging system and 4-wheel drive with a powerful motor are ideal for a pro, but beginners may want to start with something a little easier to control. Our top choice is waterproof and has 4-wheel drive, perfect for the serious user.
Considerations when choosing RC trucks
Although RC trucks have a wide variety of features, a few of the broader scope considerations need to be decided first to make sure that you are getting the vehicle best suited for your needs.
Kits or ready-to-run RC trucks
The biggest and easiest question you'll have to ask when considering purchasing an RC truck is whether you want a kit or a ready-to-run model? A kit is for the hardcore hobbyist who wants to build a vehicle from directions and parts while a ready-to-run RC truck arrives preassembled and, as you might imagine, ready to run.
The next critical question is a little tougher as it may not have a clear-cut answer. What kind of terrain will your RC truck be navigating? If it's indoors on a smooth surface or on a race track, you'll likely want something sleek, lightweight, and fast. However, if your RC truck will be traversing mud and sand and snow, you'll need knobby tires and an engine with more torque. Additionally, you'll want a durable build, so your truck can hold up when racing atop uneven terrain. Having waterproof electronics is essential, as well.
There are many features that will directly or indirectly affect your RC truck experience. Following, we've listed some of the most important ones.
2-wheel vs. 4-wheel drive
The debates are strong either way. If you are going off-road in mud, sand, or snow you'll want something that doesn't get stuck, so you should choose 4-wheel drive. In most other situations, a 2-wheel drive RC truck will be fine.
Does size matter to you? The scale is how big your RC truck is in comparison with the real thing. In other words, a 1:16 dump truck is 1/16th the size of a real dump truck. The smaller the second number, in general, the larger the RC truck will be.
If you really want to get the most out of your RC truck, you're going to want a powerful, long-lasting battery that recharges quickly. Unfortunately, most stock batteries only last about 10 minutes. If you upgrade, you may be able to get 20 minutes out of your battery pack. A better option might be to invest in back-up batteries.
Even if you're not going off-road with your RC truck, you'll want one that is durable - one slight miscalculation taking a high-speed turn and a low-quality truck is wrecked. If you'll be doing off-road driving, you'll need great suspension and waterproof electronics to help get the longest life out of your vehicle.
Speed and power
When you're starting out, speed and power may be intimidating. However, at some point, you are going to crave more. It's always better to get more power than you think you'll want so you're not disappointed with a low-performance truck.
If you're new to the world of RC trucks, you may want to consider a model that has a training mode or one that can limit your throttle. In this mode, it is easier to learn how to control your truck and, if you do crash, it will be less severe.
The price range that offers the most value is roughly between $75 and $150. In that zone you'll find the features you need along with the options you want. If you drop much below $75, you're looking at a toy. Conversely, if you look at models over $150, you're getting into nuances that aren't necessary for most part-time hobbyists.
Q. What's the difference between a brushed and a brushless motor?
A. Without getting too technical, a brushed motor has design limitations, such as brushes that make physical contact as they rotate, which make the motor wear out more quickly. Brushless motors, on the other hand, are more efficient, can be more powerful, and can operate at higher speeds. An RC truck with a brushed motor is typically priced lower than comparable models with a brushless motor.
Q. What is a 2.4GHz radio system?
A. Again, without getting too technical, a 2.4GHz radio system is simply how your remote and vehicle communicate. It is the preferred system because it involves less power consumption, reduced interference, can function with a shorter antenna, and offers a more reliable signal than earlier narrow band options.
RC trucks we recommend
Best of the best: Redcat Racing Volcano EPX
Our take: A solidly built RC truck that operates on a 2.4GHz radio system and includes a number of impressive features.
What we like: The 4-wheel drive and knobby wheels give this truck the power to navigate even the toughest terrains while the waterproof electronics make snow and puddles less hazardous to sensitive tech.
What we dislike: The charging system and battery life isn't as impressive as the vehicle.
Best bang for your buck: DOUBLE E RC Tow Truck Licensed Mercedes-Benz Acros
Our take: A highly imaginative and fun RC truck for individuals looking for something a little different than monster trucks that chew up the terrain at high speeds.
What we like: It is an engaging tractor-trailer with a bevy of interactive features such as lights, sounds, shoring beams that move up and down, and more. Additionally, the tractor can detach and operate independently of the trailer.
What we dislike: The tractor is only 2-wheel drive and the instructions can be a bit confusing, especially for younger users.
Choice 3: HOSIM All Terrain RC Truck
Our take: A fast, receptive RC truck that has an impressive amount of features for its price range.
What we like: This durable, shock-resistant truck is designed to withstand uneven terrain and be somewhat resilient to weather conditions. The vehicle is extremely fast and operates on a 2.4GHz radio system.
What we dislike: Since the run time is about 10 minutes and the charging time can be several hours, a back-up battery may be a worthwhile investment.
Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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