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You are here: Home > RTR R/C Car and Truck Buying Guide
RTR R/C Car and Truck Buyer's Guide
 
Get your R/C Fix in no time with these mini scale RTR vehicles-
 
If space is a consideration and youíre looking for an exceptional vehicle in a smaller package, a Mini or Micro vehicle could be ideal for you. Mini and Micro vehicles are cars or trucks that are smaller than traditional 1/10- or 1/12-scale vehicles and provide a hobby-grade vehicle in a smaller package. Mini and Micro vehicles include on- and off-road cars and trucks, monster trucks, sedans, and more. What really sets Mini and Micro vehicles apart from others is that, realistically, you can enjoy the same hobby experience that you would with a larger vehicle.
 
When deciding on what type of Micro to go with, whether on- or off-road, there are several key factors to consider. If you want to drive over rough terrain or jumps, then an off-road car, truck or monster truck would be better suited to your particular needs. If, however, you want to drive in your driveway, parking lot, or local on-road track, or if you enjoy drifting, an on-road vehicle would probably be best for you.
 
Losi Mini-T       Sportwerks Recoil    Micro RS4 Drift   Losi Mini LST 2
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On Road RTR R/C Cars
 
If you love exotic imported cars, you might consider an on-road sedan. On-road sedans are at the pinnacle of performance for 1/10-scale vehicles. Designed to be very low to the ground and featuring an aggressive, racy look, there are some very different features to check out, depending on what your needs are. Sedans can be split into two categories. Sedans that have been set up and designed to drive around a race course tend to be the most popular, but Drift Cars have become more popular recently. With Drift Cars, style and form are more important than all-out speed. Once youíve decided if you want to go "Grippiní or Driftiní," youíll have a few more decisions to make.

Many sedans share similar designs from car to car, but there are some key differences to be aware of. Some cars are going to have features that, while they may make a car look more aesthetically pleasing or realistic, will not affect the carís performance and handling. Some cars will feature incredibly detailed bodies that rival static models; some even include working head and taillights. While these bodies look great, they often are heavy and have details, such as rearview mirrors, that can be easily broken off in a crash. Other cars include bodies that, while lacking some of the scale detail, are more functional in terms of creating downforce and grip for your car.

 XXX-S Brushless II   Associated TC4 Touring 4WD   Tamiya BMW 320si
 
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1/10 Scale RTR Buggies
 
Always a staple of RC cars and trucks, off-road cars and trucks can be driven in more areas than their on-road cousins, yet are versatile enough to be converted for oval or on-road use. Off-road vehicles feature increased ground clearance, National and World Championship-winning designs, and some pretty cool groundbreaking technology. There are two different types of off-road vehicles that you have to choose from: two-wheel-drive buggies and stadium trucks. Trucks and buggies share many design similarities, but there are several key differences between them. The overall layout of a buggy is by far the same as a stadium truck. The battery pack is mounted along the centerline of the chassis, behind the steering servo, and a 3-gear transmission bolts to the rear of the chassis. Buggies are very sleek-looking machines and have a lower stance than their stadium truck cousins. A buggy is also narrower than a stadium truck, allowing a buggy to change directions faster. While a buggy may be more responsive and nimble than a stadium truck, a car that is very responsive can be difficult to drive and control over rough terrain

Stadium trucks feature a wider stance and more ground clearance than buggies have. These differences in design help stadium trucks handle ruts and bumps better than a buggy can, making stadium trucks a little easier to drive. Stadium trucks also have a full truck body that covers the entire centerline of the chassis (stadium trucks still feature an open-wheel design). This difference in body design helps to protect the shock towers on a stadium truck better than on a buggy, improving durability. Finally, stadium trucks tend to be more popular than buggies in most areas. If you think youíll eventually have a desire to race your off-road car or truck, youíre often better off going with a truck, as there is simply a better chance that you will have others to race against

 Sportwerks Raven BX   Brushless XXX-T Sport II   Sportwerks Raven ST 1/10
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1/8 Scale RTR Monster RTR Trucks

Nitro and large-scale vehicles offer intangibles that no other RC vehicle can match. From their impressive size to the sounds of the engines, nitro vehicles have seen an explosion in popularity in recent years. When deciding on a large RC car or truck, youíre generally going to be looking at vehicles that are fuel-powered. There are three different categories of large-scale vehicles to consider: 1/8-scale buggies, truggies, and monster trucks.

1/8-scale buggies are designed primarily with one thing in mind: winning races. Many of the 1/8-scale RTR buggies have been tailored to perform well on a variety of different surfaces from race tracks to backyards, open fields to parking lots. While some may look at RTR 1/8-scale buggies as cars designed for less experienced hobbyists, there are a number of excellent-performing 1/8-scales that could take you to the winnerís circle if you simply donít have the time to build a kit.

Truggies are basically 1/8-scale buggies that have a wider stance, larger truck tires and a truck body. Since they are based upon modified 1/8-scale buggies, they sit lower to the ground than a monster truck does, which translates into better handling and performance on a race track. While offering more ground clearance than a 1/8-scale buggy, truggies have less ride height than a monster, which can cause some issues over rougher terrain or in backyard-bashing applications.

Nitro monster trucks are by and large the most popular form of RC vehicle currently available. These giants have huge tires, bodies, and engines that put out a ton of power. Monster trucks are extremely versatile vehicles, in that they can be tuned for backyard bashing, tricked out with awesome-looking aftermarket parts, or tuned for killer racetrack performance. Monster trucks are truly the "go anywhere, do anything" RC vehicles.

Losi LST2 RTR   Losi 8ight 1/8th Scale RTR   8ight-T RTR   Sportwerks Mayhem ST
 
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Key Features:
 
Losi LST Shocks compared to 1/10 scale shocks Losi Mini-T Shocks Sportwerks Raven shocks

Different shock types from top to bottom: (Top) Mega Shocks from the Losi Muggy ; (Middle) Friction shocks from the Losi Mini-T ; (Bottom) aluminum body shocks from the Sportwerks Raven BX.

Once youíve decided the type of vehicle you want to go with, there are several standout features that can help set one vehicle apart from the crowd. Perhaps the biggest deciding factor is whether to buy a vehicle that is battery- or fuel-powered. Battery-operated cars and trucks feature a lower initial price tag, but you will need to purchase additional support equipment such as battery packs and chargers to get running. Electric vehicles are also very quiet, making it possible to run an electric vehicle practically anywhere. Nitro vehicles will cost more initially, but generally everything you will need to get up and running, minus fuel, is in the box. Nitro-powered vehicles are faster than their electric counterparts and thanks to the ability to be refueled on the go, nitro vehicles offer longer run times. Nitro vehicles do produce noise, however, which may not be conducive to running in places with noise ordinances.

While many RTR cars and trucks include oil-filled shocks, some vehicles come out of the box equipped with friction shocks. Friction shocks are functional, but owing to their lack of dampening, a car with friction shocks can get tossed around or be less surefooted over rough or inconsistent terrain. Vehicles that include oil-filled shocks will have a more sure-footed feeling as you drive over imperfect surfaces.

Oil-filled shocks can improve the handling of an on-road car as well. Oil-filled shocks can be tuned by altering the thickness of oil used, changing the dampening characteristics to further get your car dialed in. Beyond the friction versus oil-filled design differences, some cars include aluminum shocks, while others feature molded bodies. Aluminum shocks operate smoother than molded shocks and at times can feature threaded shock bodies. Threaded bodies provide infinite ride-height adjustments when compared to molded pre-load clips. Other key suspension features to be on the lookout for include adjustable camber links, swaybars, and optional camber link locations, just to name a few.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Radio Waves
 
To be classified as a Ready-To-Run, a car or truck obviously needs to include radio gear. There are differences between the type of radio system and radio gear that comes with a car or truck that can affect the overall performance of your vehicle. Some RTRs include basic AM radio systems that, while functional, are more susceptible to RF interference and glitching. Additionally, AM radio systems tend to have fewer programming features, when compared to higher-end radios. FM radios are a step up in performance, compared to an AM radio system. Much like the quality in sound of an FM radio station versus an AM radio station, an FM radio transmits a higher integrity signal that is less susceptible to glitching and interference. FM radios found in RTRs can feature advanced software and programming, along with multi-model memory. Both FM and AM radios are available on either the 27MHz or the 75MHz frequency bands. The 75MHz band has 30 different frequencies to choose from, making it easier to find an open one to use. 27MHz systems are only available on six different frequencies, meaning only six 27MHz vehicles can run together at any one time. Finally, there are Spektrum-based radios that utilize cutting-edge 2.4GHz DSMģ technology. Spektrumô radios are virtually impervious to interference and, because of the frequency band they operate on, frequency control is not necessary.
 
JR XS3   Spektrum DX 2.0   LOSI LSR100 FM Transmitter
 
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 Advanced Motors
 

For electric-powered vehicles, the type of included motor can drastically impact your runtime, torque, and top speed. Some kits include a basic motor that cannot be serviced called a closed or sealed endbell motor. Not being able to service a motor means you cannot change the brushes or clean the inside of the motor optimally. Next is a traditional open-endbell motor. With an open-endbell motor, you can change the brushes and clean the commutator with a commutator cleaning stick. Some can be disassembled, allowing you to remove the armature to cut the commutator on a motor lathe. Some motors feature oilite bushings for the armature to spin on, while others include ball bearings for reduced friction. When looking at the included motors, the lower the turn of a motor, the faster it will be. For example, a 14-turn motor is a faster motor than a 20-turn. Keep in mind that a lower-turn motor will drain your battery pack more quickly, reducing your runtime.

Beyond brushed motors, some kits include advanced brushless motor technology. Thanks to the elimination of friction and drag-inducing brushes, brushless motors are much more efficient than brushed motors. This increase in efficiency will also extend your runtime and enjoyment of your car or truck. Brushless motors require a very special speed controller to operate. At this time. there arenít any RTRís that include a speed controller that is compatible with both brushless and brushed motors.
 
Komodo Dragon 19T   Traxxas Titan 550, 23T
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Final Preperations
 
One of the major reasons why RTRís have grown in popularity is that people have less and less time to dedicate towards hobbies. An RTR offers you the ability to get up and running with very little time invested. Going from the box to running can normally be done in a just a few minutes. Before you run, there are a few things you should be aware of and some extra steps that can save you headaches in the future.

Before you run any vehicle, inspect the tires to ensure they are glued properly. Tires that arenít properly glued can cause erratic handling or, in extreme circumstances, the tire can be pulled off of the wheel. Taking a few moments here and touching up the glue job with some quality CA can save you time and aggravation down the road.

Nitro-powered vehicles need some extra attention before you really run them for the first time. Youíll need to run several tanks of fuel through your engine with the carburetor tuned to be fairly rich to ensure that the parts all fit properly. Make sure you read your engine manual on the recommended break-in process. Youíll typically run two tanks of fuel through your vehicle with it at idle before you can start driving slowly and leaning the settings out. Expect to spend an hour or two breaking in your engine before you can really drive it hard.

Electric vehicles are slightly less labor intensive to get running but there are some keys to success here too. If your car didnít include a battery pack, youíll obviously need to pick one up. Battery packs do not come from the factory charged, so youíll need to charge your battery pack before using it for the first time. Using a high-quality peak-detection charger will ensure that your battery pack will get a complete charge without overcharging or damaging it.