Learning to fly – How to jump like a pro
Jumping is one of the most spectacular aspects of off-road RC racing. There is nothing more spectacular than a 1/8 truggy flying 20 feet. Seeing another 1/8 truggy flying the same distance with the throttle nailed with tires like pizza cutters and landing on the top is also spectacular but this is not the best approach to lower your lap time.
Jumping is not just throwing your vehicle as fast and as far or high you can. There are essential things you must consider to improve your jumping skills.
The approach is the most important part of a successful jump. If you can’t control your vehicle before it hits the jump, chances are your vehicle will take off in a randomize direction and will land (read crash) somewhere it should not. It is very important to control your vehicle to reach the required speed and traction before you hit the jump. You must have sufficient speed to clear the jump. If you can’t clear it, you better roll the jump. You’ll lose precious time if you crash. This rule applies to single and double jump. In the case of larger jumps like triple jumps, the approach is a little different. If you can’t clear a triple jump, you must imagine the triple jump like two different jumps. Depending of the amount of speed you can reach, you can imagine a triple as a single-double or as a double-single jump. However, to clear the last part of the triple jump, your landing from the first part of the triple should be perfect so you can get enough speed to clear the last section.
Keep in mind that 2wd vehicles are more subject to traction break than any others vehicles. Those vehicles are really sensitive to throttle inputs.
In the air:
Once your vehicle has taken off, put the throttle to the neutral position. Basically your vehicle should jump level. If your vehicle’s nose goes down, a little blip on the throttle will correct the situation. At the opposite, if your vehicle’s front end goes up, a slightly hit on the break will bring your vehicle level. The amount of throttle or break inputs required depends of the vehicle you drive. In fact, it depends of the total of the rotational masses (the tires) influenced by the brake and throttle. It means that a 4wd monster truck with huge tires will be more sensitive to throttle and brake inputs in the air than a 2wd 1/10th scale buggy. Because the monster truck is 4wd and has heavy tires, each time you hit the brake or the throttle it stops or spins the tires, representing a 4-5 lbs of rotating mass. Adjust your vehicle so it will be parallel with the landing zone.
How your vehicle will land is also important because it determines how you’ll accelerate right after the jump. The best is when your vehicle lands parallel to the landing zone. In this situation, you can get back on the throttle sooner. Overjumping is not the best avenue because when your vehicle is in the air, you can’t accelerate. In fact, you’re losing speed.
With those few tips and with a little practice, you’ll improve your jumping skills. If you have trouble to evaluate jumps, simply have a look to the fastest guys at your race. Pay close attention to their approach and how they jump the biggest jumps. If it works for them, it will work for you.