If you’ve had the same RC Car for a while now, you might be thinking it’s time for an upgrade.
What might have been the ideal car for you as a shaky beginner with questionable piloting skills can now seem amateur in comparison to your buddy’s brand new supercar.
If you feel you’re not realising your potential as an RC pilot and in fact, it is your vehicle that is holding you back, there’s a few things you can do to give it some extra oomph.
Whether you’re planning on entering a few races or simply want that adrenaline rush that comes from driving at higher speeds (with virtually no threat to life), making your RC faster is a great way to not only have more fun, but also get to know your car and the mechanics around RCs slightly better.
The best part? It doesn’t have to cost an arm or a leg!
If you’re serious about giving your RC an extra boost, check out our top tips.
1. Adjust the Gear Ratio
One of the cheapest and easiest ways to increase the speed of your RC is by adjusting the gear ratio.
There’s two gears on your RC, the pinion gear and the spur gear. Both can be upgraded to give your RC either a faster top speed, or better acceleration.
This is the gear which is attached directly to your motor. It is usually made from aluminium, steel or titanium.
They come in many different sizes and pitches and can easily be removed by a hex driver.
In general, the higher the teeth count on your pinion gear, the faster the RC will go.
This does not refer to acceleration, but instead the fastest top speed your RC can reach.
When changing the pinion gear, it’s important not to increase by too many teeth at once, as this can mess with the temperature of your RC and potentially do some damage.
Instead, increase the size of the pinion by one or two teeth at a time, and periodically check the temperature of your vehicle.
If you want a faster acceleration, go for a smaller pinion gear with less teeth.
This will help your car accelerate quicker off the road and, another advantage, won’t compromise the temperature of your car.
However, the trade-off is you’ll have a slower top speed – although it’ll take you less time to get there!
A smaller pinion gear is ideal for smaller spaces where you won’t have as much time to get up to speed, so need to get there fast!
This is the larger plastic gear which the pinion gear turns.
Adjusting the spur gear can also give you either a higher top speed or quicker acceleration, although the difference will be less noticeable than it is from adjusting the pinion gear.
Decreasing the size of the spur gear will give you a higher top speed but less acceleration, while increasing the size will result in faster acceleration with a lower top speed.
For best results, change both the pinion and the spur gear.
2. Change Your Tires
Using the wrong tires for the surface you are driving on will almost certainly slow down your vehicle.
If you want to make your RC faster, it’s imperative that you use the right tires for the surface.
If you are driving on road or tarmac, slicks are your best bet.
For slippery grass or mud, full spikes are the better option and mini pins are best for carpet. For an all-round good grip, mini spikes are the ideal choice.
Ensure you are using high quality tires. Using cheaper tires will not only mean the traction isn’t as good, they are also less durable.
This means you may end up spending more money in the long run, and you’ll be unlikely to reach those top speeds. Premium tires will ensure you can go faster and handle corners better.
This will massively reduce the likelihood of your RC spinning or rolling if you hit a corner too fast – again saving you money on maintenance which you can put towards upgrading your motor or other parts.
In terms of what to look for in a tire, bigger is generally better, although of course there is a limit to this.
Tires with a bigger diameter can cover more ground per turning which will increase the speed – although it should be noted that bigger tires will also weigh more.
3. Reduce the Weight
Reducing the weight of your RC is one of the best and simplest ways to get it going faster – replacing heavy parts with lighter pieces.
Lighter materials include light carbon, graphite or aluminium.
While the difference may seem marginal, especially if you are only replacing one or two parts, lightening your vehicle even a small amount can make a surprising amount of difference – especially when combined with some of our other suggestions!
Another way to lighten your vehicle is to switch up the batteries.
If you are currently using a Ni-Mh battery pack, swapping to a Li-Po pack will drastically reduce the weight of your RC.
Li-Po batteries are the future of RC battery packs, so these will also make your vehicle a little more modern!
However, they are expensive and slightly trickier to use, so may not be the best option if you’re on a tight budget.
While reducing the weight is a sure-fire way to increase the speed, the downside is that reducing the weight will also decrease the traction.
While this isn’t too much of an issue if you’re just going to be driving in a straight line at high speeds, corners will prove slightly more difficult.
Without as much weight pushing through the tyres onto the road through the corners, your RC may flip and could end up damaged.
To prevent this happening, we’d recommend adding a little weight to the front of the car.
4. Upgrade Your Motor
Depending on what sort of motor you currently use, you might want to consider upgrading.
While brushed motors are best for beginners, we’re assuming if you are wanting to get to higher speeds you have built more experience as an RC pilot and are probably ready for something brushless.
Upgrading to a brushless motor is a great way to increase the speed of your car – albeit for a price.
Brushless motors are technically more efficient than their brushed counterparts.
Less energy is lost through friction meaning the vehicle can travel faster and with more power.
This is the opposite of brushed motors, in which the brushes convert electricity into motion with some of this energy lost through friction.
While upgrading to a brushless motor is a guaranteed way to increase the speed and power of your RC, they are slightly harder to drive, so inexperienced drivers should be a little more careful.
They may have more complicated steering, responsiveness or suspension – plus they are more expensive to both purchase and maintain.
If you want to reach some seriously high speeds, you might be looking at more money than the cost of the RC itself!
Cheaper systems can be found online – check out motors by Hobbyking or Turnigy which, although not quite as hardcore as the high-end motors, perform well for the money and will certainly increase your speed.
5. Upgrade the Batteries
We touched on this point earlier on, but upgrading your battery from a Ni-Mh to a Li-Po pack will certainly speed up your vehicle.
Not only are Li-Po batteries lighter, they also boast more power.
The downside is they are slightly more difficult to use, more expensive and you will need to purchase a suitable charger.
When purchasing a Li-Po pack to replace your Ni-Mh, it’s important to make sure you buy a suitable replacement.
Read the manual, speak to someone at your local hobby shop (ideally someone who works there!), or check out any of the RC online forums to make sure the battery pack you purchase is suitable for your car.
If you have a 2-cell Li-Po battery, you could consider upgrading it to a 3-cell. The 3-cell pack has a higher voltage output, meaning you will end up with more power.
The downside of this is that the 3-cell weigh slightly more.
Vehicles powered by a 3-cell Li-Po pack are also much harder to control, you will feel the increase of power quite strongly when you first upgrade!
While this does make for a faster vehicle, be mindful that you could do some serious damage to your car if you don’t know what you’re doing!
Remember that these RC batteries are in no way comparable with the AAs slotted into your TV remote!
They must be handled, charged and disposed of with care and following manufacturer guidelines.
If you’re unsure whether a battery is suitable for your RC, ensure you get professional advice – as the wrong battery in the wrong vehicle can be dangerous.
Possibly the most cost-effective way to make your RC car faster is to practise!
If you’re suffering from a case of ‘all the gear but no idea’, it’s worth looking at your racing technique.
Too many people spend large amounts of money on upgrading and changing their RC car to reach better speeds, without actually knowing how to handle it properly!
The winners of races often aren’t those with the most expensive or best RC cars.
Instead, the winners are usually the people who have perfected their technique and can navigate the track in a way others can’t.
It’s not just about going flat out (although we would agree that this is fun).
Instead, it’s knowing when to push your RC and when to hold back a little.
Reading some racing forums will help you get to grips with your RC, while driving it regularly will help you get used to the feeling of extra power and put you in good stead for race day.
For more cool ideas about upgrading your RC car, check out this article!