How to buy your first RC


I received many emails from people asking questions about what they should buy as their first RC vehicle. There are so many choices on the market that picking the right truck for your needs may be difficult. If you want to enjoy RC, you better pick the right RC truck and this is why I made this guide!

Before you continue to read this guide, here are some of my thoughts about RC vehicles.

If this is your first vehicle, buy it NEW. You don’t need other people’s problems.

Almost all RC companies try to sell their vehicles by taking advantage of our need for speed. Don’t let their top speed ratings influence you. You really don’t need to go 50MPH !! Anyway 30-35MPH is fast enough for anyone, specially on a race track. Even top pro drivers don’t go that fast.

If you go with a Ready-To-Run (RTR) vehicle, be sure everything is included in the box. Some companies advertise their products as RTR but you need to buy extra stuff like glow starter, charger, … to be able to run the vehicle.

Don’t buy your first RC vehicle on the web like EBay or any online hobby shop. This is 100% sure that you’ll have many questions concerning your vehicle and they will only be able to help you with emails or by phone. Nothing beats real support. Go with your local hobby shop (LHS).

Talking about LHS, if you are lucky enough to have more than one LHS in your area, take the time to visit them and evaluate which one seem to be the best to help. Everybody can sell a RC vehicle but not everyone can help you later and be patient enough to answer all your newbie questions.

Go with a company that your LHS have parts in stock. If you choose a company that your LHS must order parts, this can take long before you receive your parts. There is nothing worst than waiting 2-3 weeks before getting a 2$ parts !

If you choose a nitro vehicle, be sure that you will not disturb your neighbourhood. Not because you like the sound of a nitro engine that means that all your neighbours like it too. RESPECT THEM. Also, remember that some cities have municipal laws concerning nitro RC vehicles.

Always run your vehicle safely. Almost all RC vehicles reach at least 25MPH, some can reach 50MPH. Imagine what can happen if you hit someone’s leg at 40MPH with a 12 pounds truck…

Don’t buy unnecessary hopup parts. For your first RC vehicle, forget about bling bling parts. Concentrate yourself on your driving skills and vehicle maintenance. Practice as often as you can to improve your driving skills. Other people will appreciate how serious you are and this will open you doors that you never expected.

Don’t go with the attitude that you are the best RC driver out there. Hey ! You are a novice, take time to learn and don’t be afraid to ask questions to experimented persons. We have all made mistakes and asked tons of questions when we started in the hobby.

RC can be frustrating for newcomers. Don’t let yourself be discouraged.

Buy good quality tools, especially hex drivers.

RCs are fun and they are a good way to share great moments and to make new friends. Personally, this is the best hobby. Have fun !

Identify your needs:

To identify what kind (2wd Buggy, Monster truck, Stadium, … ) of vehicle you need, The first thing you should ask yourself is what you will do with ypur RC vehicle ?

If you plan to mainly run your vehicle on grass or rough terrain, you should consider a vehicle with high ground clearance like a monster truck.

Category Bashing Racing Comment
2wd Buggy 1/10th How to buy your first RC Articles    How to buy your first RC Articles   Those buggies are really fun to drive but their low ground clearance makes them best suited for track racing. They don’t perform well on grass or on rough terrain. There are not the best basher out there. Almost all 2wd buggies are electric.
2wd Stadium Truck 1/10th How to buy your first RC Articles    How to buy your first RC Articles   There are very similar to 2wd buggies but with bigger wheels and this is why there are a little bit better bashers. There is as much nitro than electric vehicles in this category.
4wd Stadium truck 1/10th How to buy your first RC Articles   How to buy your first RC Articles   There are better basher than 2wd stadium trucks because they are 4wd. However they have the same ground clearance and prefer smoother surface. They are popular bashing machines but there is no really race class for them…
Monster trucks 1/10th and 1/8th How to buy your first RC Articles   How to buy your first RC Articles   There are the king for bashing, they can go everywhere, jump really high and are very impressive and spectacular. There are the best basher. A lot of aftermarket parts are available. There are few electric monster trucks but the most part of this category are nitro.
4wd buggy 1/8th How to buy your first RC Articles   How to buy your first RC Articles   1/8 buggies are very popular, they are fast, handle great and are durable. There are best suited on a track or on a smooth surface. They can be bashed but they are at their best on a race track. All vehicles in this class are nitro powered. If you choose a RTR and plan to race, be sure that your engine is race-legal because many race tracks don’t allow buggy with engine bigger than .21 in the 1/8 buggy class. Most RTRs come with .28 engines.
Truggy 1/8th

How to buy your first RC Articles

How to buy your first RC Articles

The truggy category is new in the RC world. A lot of monster truck racers sold their big trucks to join the truggy class. They are fast, handle great, durable and 4wd. They are based on a 1:8 buggy chassis but with bigger wheels, strengthen chassis and wider stance. All vehicles in this class are nitro powered.

Nitro or Electric ?

For newcomers or inexperienced persons, I suggest an electric vehicle. Their are less complex, more affordable and require less maintenance then nitro vehicles. Electric vehicles are basically plug and play. All you have to do is charge the battery pack and you are ready to go. Electric is the easy way to begin in RC, they don’t require special knowledge and their simplicity of utilization will let you time to learn how to tune and fix them.

Electric vehicles may be less spectacular than nitro vehicles because there is no smoke and no hi-revving engine sound but at least you are sure that your inexperience will not stop your engine from running.

In the case you have friends that own nitro RC vehicles and they are willing to help you to get started, a nitro vehicle can be a good choice for you because you’ll have resources willing to help you.

Here’s what you should know about nitro and electric:

Nitro Electric
  • Runtime is around 10 minutesNitro vehicles are loud and may disturb your neighbourhood
  • Nitro engines require carb adjustments
  • Nitro fuel is a bit messy
  • A gallon of fuel costs 25$US
  • Runtime is around 10 minutesDoesn’t make a lot of noise
  • Eventually you’ll have to rebuild your electric motor
  • A battery pack can take 1 hour to charge depending if your charger
  • Having 4-5 battery packs will let you run while your packs are charging
  • Most electric vehicles on the market are 1/10th scale
  • Electric monster trucks require 2 battery packs to run
  • There is an infinite number of motors available on the market for all your needs

Respect your budget

You saved enough money to buy your RC vehicle and you are ready to visit your LHS, always keep in mind that you may need some extra items. Some RTRs are not really Ready To Run and you’ll need few extra items. Manufacturers don’t have the same definition of a RTR vehicle, double check what’s the manufacturer included with his RTR.

Here’s some items you may need:

Nitro Electric
  • Fuel (No manufacturer includes nitro fuel with their RTRs)Glow starter
  • AA batteries (8 for the transmitter and 4 for the receiver)
  • Fuel bottle
  • Air filter oil
  • 7.2v battery pack if your vehicle is shaft started
  • Charger for the 7.2 battery pack
  • Temp gun
  • 8 AAs batteries for the transmitterCharger
  • Few 7.2v battery packs

Ready To Run or Kit ??

Some vehicles are only available as Ready-To-Run, some are offered as kits and some can be purchased as RTR or as kit. Choosing between RTR or kit depends of your need.

Once again, if you are new to the RC world, I’ll suggest you to go with a RTR.

Here’s what you should know about RTRs and kits:

Ready-To-Run Kit
  • Fully assembledGreat for newcomers or for those who don’t have the time to build themselves
  • Some manufacturers must cut on quality to offer competitive prices
  • Most RTRs are fully upgradeable with racing quality parts
  • There are some really good quality RTRs that can be raced right out of the box
  • Some kits are pre-assembled, the vehicle is assembled but you’ll have to buy and install the engine, electronics and tuned pipe yourselfSome kits are totally not assembled, you’ll need to build the vehicle from A to Z.
  • You’ll need to buy a motor or engine
  • You’ll need to buy an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) if your kit is electric
  • You’ll need to buy a steering servo
  • You’ll need to buy a throttle servo if your kit is nitro
  • You’ll need to buy transmitter and receiver
  • You’ll have to paint and cut the body
  • You may need to buy a header and a tuned pipe if your kit is nitro
  • You’ll have to glue the tires
  • Most of the time, kits are already upgraded with racing parts.
  • Building your RC yourself is the best way to learn how to fix it
  • You may need extra items such as shock oil, tire glue, paint and tools to assemble the vehicle.
Sylvain Lafrance

Sylvain Lafrance

Hello, my name is Sylvain Lafrance and I am the man behind MyRCBox.com. I have bought my first hobby grade RC in the early 90s. With years, what that started as a simple hobby, quickly became a strong passion. I am so much passionate about R/C that I have created MyRCBox.com in 2006 to share my experiences with R/C products that I use for racing and bashing. Follow me !

One thought on “How to buy your first RC

  • Avatar
    May 4, 2009 at 10:33 am
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    Im new to rc the only tune-able rc I have owned is a cheap little xmod mustang but now I found this whole world of rc cars & trucks online. The reason im sending this is Im really interested in crawlers they’re big but slow and almost unstopable, I didnt see any category for this type of truck/buggy on your site. I have questions like motors should I go 35t,45t,55t… etc. should I use a brushed motor at all or go brushless? what kind of radio should i buy if i want front/rear and 4wheel steering and 2 speed trannie and rear “dig” unit up to 4 different servos? I guess my question is where could I find a book “rc crawlers for dummies” ?
    thanks
    Dave

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