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As every kid who has ever owned a remote-controlled car knows, barreling down the street onto a ramp and watching it fly is among the most enjoyable past-times. If you are thinking of rekindling that nostalgia and getting into RC as a hobby, the child in you might be wondering just how fast an RC car can actually go?
How fast can RC cars go? A typical RC car will reach top speeds ranging anywhere from 1 mile per hour, up to as high as 70mph, depending on various factors. Premium enthusiast RC’s and DIY modified cars will reach speeds of 100 mph and over! The land speed record for a radio-controlled car currently sits at an impressive 202.02 miles per hour.
Today’s RC cars are pushing the limits of modern technology and breaking speed records. But be aware, if you intend to dive into RC as a hobby, it will cost a pretty penny if you want to reach speeds in excess of 100mph. However, if you are on a budget, there are plenty of ways to soup up your existing RC car to get there.
What Are The Fastest RC Cars?
While the fastest RC cars in the world can reach speeds approaching 200mph and over, for the most part, the world of regular consumer RCs are limited to around 100mph at their most expensive. On the other end of the spectrum, more reasonably priced, fast RC cars usually reach half that speed. Provided below is a list of five of the fastest RC cars you can buy.
1. Traxxas 64077 XO-1 AWD Supercar:
The Traxxas XO-1 is just about the fastest consumer RC you can buy without totally going bankrupt. It’s currently priced at $999.99 USD. This premium RC claims to reach 100mph out of the box, which means with a little modification, you’ll easily reach speeds exceeding that!
2. Traxxas E-Revo VXL:
Also produced by Traxxas, the E-Revo VXL is priced a little more reasonably at $579.95 USD. For your money, you will be able to reach respectable speeds of 70mph and over, and you won’t have to worry about puddles or snow, as this RC car is also fully weatherproof.
3. JLB Racing Cheetah MT:
Manufactured by JLB Racing, the Cheetah MT RC truck can reach a reported speed of 80KmH/49.7mph and is also completely waterproof with an official IPX7 rating. It is currently priced at $369.99 USD.
4. INGQU Off-Road Monster Truck:
The INGQ 4WD Monster Truck is a perfect RC car for beginners who still want to go reasonably fast. The truck reaches a top speed of 60KmH/37mph and comes in at a reasonable $159.99 USD.
5. Soyee RTR Monster Truck:
This RC monster truck produced by Soyee comes in at $129.99 USD and sports 4WD capabilities along with full weatherproofing. While it’s not the fastest of RCs, it still manages to reach a speedy 46KmH/28mph.
What Determines an RC Cars Top Speed?
Just like their full-scale counterparts, there are several different factors that come into play when trying to determine the top speed of an RC car. Listed below are a few examples of what makes for a speedy RC vehicle.
RC Car Top Speed Determining Factors
● The Scale of The RC Vehicle/Scale Speed
● The RC Motor Type
● The Type of Wheels Installed
● The Model of The RC Car
● The Type of Battery Being Used
● The Weight of The RC Car
The Scale of RC Cars and Scale Speed
If you are unfamiliar with the world of RC cars but are interested in purchasing one, the first thing you will want to consider before you put any money down is the scale of the car you want.
Just like every other model, RC or not, Radio Controlled vehicles are built to a set of scaled-down dimensions. Usually, most RC cars will range in scale anywhere from 1/8 , 1/10, 1/12, 1/14 actual size, and so on, with some even smaller and some larger.
This means that when you purchase an RC car, it will be, for the sake of example, 1/10 (one-tenth) the size of the full scale, real car. Knowing the scale of the vehicle you are purchasing will not only save you the hassle of exchanging your car for one of the desired proportions at a later date, but it will also ensure that you have a better understanding of the car’s top speed. As a general rule, if maximizing speed is your ultimate goal, smaller cars will travel slower.
Unfortunately for the uninitiated consumers, many RC car manufacturers like to advertise the Scale Speed of their vehicles, often for the sake of making the car seem faster than it is.
In simple terms, scale speed interprets the actual top speed of the vehicle and calculates for the relative scale of the model car in order to provide a number in mph that is proportional to the vehicle’s size.
This means that if you have an RC car advertising a top speed of 100mph with a body that is one-tenth of the scale of the full-sized car, then the actual top speed of the RC will be 10 miles per hour.
While the practice of advertising an RC’s scale speed is not deceitful per se, for those lacking the knowledge, it is most certainly an underhanded marketing tactic. So, take care that you know exactly what you are getting before you pay for an RC that is woefully underpowered.
Types of RC Car Motors and Their Impact on Speed
In the world of RC, cars will usually use one of two different types of motor. The most common type found in hobbyist RC cars is a brushed motor, followed by the brushless motor.
This style of motor is a relatively older technology, though they still do the job admirably, albeit at the cost of efficiency. Due to the design of brushed motors, a small amount of energy is lost to the friction that is created between the brushes inside the motor, making them overall less efficient than modern designs.
The second most commonly used motor in RC vehicles is the aptly named brushless motor. As discussed above, brushed motors do not utilize their power effectively, and so brushless motors were invented with the clear advantage of being more energy efficient by a factor of about 15%
Because there are no brushes causing energy to be lost to friction, a number of extra benefits emerge as well. Brushless motors are quieter, require almost zero maintenance, and last longer.
The Wheels Can Make The Difference
Wheels are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about what makes a car fast, but in fact, the type of wheels that you use on your RC can be a notable determining factor in achieving its potential maximum speed.
On the surface, it may not be entirely obvious why, but it simply comes down to marketing and cost-effectiveness on the part of manufacturers, for the most part.
Why Stock Tires Don’t Cut It
Firstly, the stock tires that come with an RC car will not always be the tires that are best suited for it and will often be of lower quality. They scream, “upgrade me!”
In part, this is due to the cost of putting premium tires on every car but also functions as a sly way of getting the consumer to purchase upgraded tires in the future. While most customers are fine with putting up with less adequate tires, true enthusiasts will need to replace them if they want to reach an RC’s max speed.
This is because the lower quality tires installed on stock RC cars generally have poor traction, poor handling, and less durability than their premium counterparts. They’ll get the job done, but they’re not going to excel.
Solid handling, and traction, in particular, are necessary for maintaining and reaching the vehicle’s top speed. If you do not have proper traction, your car simply will not reach its potential max speed, as energy will be wasted on spinning the tires unnecessarily.
The Model of RC Cars in Relation to Speed.
Though it may seem quite obvious, the model of RC car you buy will largely determine how fast it will be capable of going. Simply put, if you buy a model of RC car that has an advertised max speed of 20mph, you likely won’t be going too much faster than 20mph unless you heavily modify the car and are willing to replace several key components.
While many enthusiasts enjoy the process of RC car modification, seeing a cheap RC achieve speeds it was never meant to is pretty amazing! If your goal is to get the fastest RC you can, then you will want to buy a car that advertises a high top speed right out of the box.
Currently, the most popular models of drag RC’s and speed-focused cars come from Traxxas, who are the self-proclaimed sellers of the world’s most powerful RC supercars.
Batteries and RC Cars
When it comes to RC vehicles, there are two different types of batteries which are predominantly used, Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMh) and Lithium Polymer (LiPo). While there are advantages and disadvantages to both styles of battery, if reaching and maintaining speed are your top priorities, LiPo batteries are the way to go.
Although NiMH batteries provide a number of benefits, such as their affordability, safety, and ease of maintenance, they do not function well for the purposes of speed. Unlike NiMhs, Lithium Polymer batteries are much lighter and maintain a constant voltage for the entire length of their use. This is crucial because while the weight issues of NiMh batteries can be worked around, the fact that their voltage decreases linearly along with battery power cannot.
Because the voltage of NiMh batteries decreases as the energy in the battery depletes, the power being provided to the motor lessens over time, and therefore, the max speed also declines. This means you can technically never reach the maximum possible speed of your RC as long as you are using NiMhs.
The Relationship Between Weight, Speed, and RC Cars
Though it may seem obvious, weight is a factor that can be easily overlooked when considering the potential top speed of an RC car. The heavier the vehicle, the slower it will go. At least to a point, without making any modifications to it.
This means that if you intend to go as fast as possible, you might want to consider stripping some weight off your RC car.
Much like their real-life, full-size cousins RC drag cars and race cars are both designed to be as light as possible, using the smallest, lightest components in the most efficient ways possible.
This is to reduce overall weight and reduce the drag, which is putting resistance on the vehicle. One simple way to make your RC lighter, as mentioned in the previous section, is to purchase LiPo batteries, which generally weigh less than other commonly used RC batteries.
How to Make Your RC Car Faster
One of the great things about owning an RC car is being able to try daring and dangerous driving maneuvers at speeds you could never even think about reaching in a real car. So, if you can go even with your RC, why wouldn’t you? If you are thinking about modifying your RC car for maximum speed, consider the examples provided below for some quick and easy tips.
- Reduce the weight: By reducing the weight of the vehicle, your RC car will experience less drag and will, therefore, be capable of reaching higher speeds. This can be achieved by using lighter batteries, replacing metal components for lighter materials, or even by simply removing parts of the vehicle.
- Use the right batteries: The battery your RC car came with will not always be of the best quality and may not provide enough power, will run inefficiently, or perhaps even provide too much power, causing voltage issues. Choosing the correct model of battery, which provides adequate, steady voltage, and which weighs the minimum amount will increase the potential max speed of your RC.
- Replace the motor: Not all RC cars are created equal, and if you have purchased a not particularly expensive model, it is likely the motor is not the most efficient. By upgrading to a more power-efficient model, such as switching a brushed motor for one that is brushless, you will be able to reach higher top speeds.
- Put better tires on your RC: By replacing or upgrading your RC car tire’s with ones that are made of higher quality rubber and which are designed to provide better traction, you will be able to reach and maintain faster speeds. Just make sure you buy tires that are made for your particular model of car, and make sure they are the appropriate size.
- Give your RC car a boost with Nitro: Although there are already some RC cars that are designed to run with Nitro as their fuel, playing handyman is always an option too. Adding a nitro system to your RC will undoubtedly give your car a rapid boost in top speed without having to worry about any other smaller modifications.
These are just a few of the ways you can make your RC car faster; there are plenty more ways out there. The RC community is an active and strong one and filled with inventive people always coming up with new and creative ways of pushing the limits of their cars.
Of course, if you do not have the time to mess with building your own RC supercar, you can always reach into your wallet to purchase the speed you desire.
Electric vs. Nitro RC Cars: Which are Faster?
Before the refinement of current technologies, the undisputed kings of speed in the world of RC were Nitro cars. The powerful Nitro methanol engines in which the cars run off of function and are built nearly identical to the engine of a real car, right down to the spark plugs.
The Edge of Electric Tech
This style of design provided an obvious mechanical advantage for RC cars until fairly recently, but as of the last couple of decades, current battery technology has allowed electric RCs to reach speeds unmatched by Nitros.
However, nitro RCs have seemed to remain fairly popular and still pack a punch, with some cars able to reach speeds of 70 miles per hour and over. But if you simply will not settle for an RC that goes less than 100mph, you will want to buy electric.
Maintenance Issues of Nitros
While nitro RCs have an inherent cool factor with their loud, miniaturized, liquid fuel-guzzling engines, they, unfortunately, come with a host of potential issues that modern electric RCs do not suffer from.
Unlike electric RCs, Nitros have an actual engine that requires constant maintenance and is more prone to breakage, as well as oil leaks. Not only does this mean a certain level of knowledge and proficiency is automatically required for ownership, but it also means you will likely end up spending more on repairs over the long run.
Cost Advantages of Nitros
Not everything about Nitro RCs is terrible.
Due to electric RCs dominating the market, the prices of Nitros have become more affordable and provide a solid deal for those looking for a cheap but fast RC.
While the fuel may be relatively expensive, Nitro RCs will last longer on a single tank of fuel than most battery-powered cars. If being the fastest car on the track is what you desire, your only real option is purchasing electric.
Until current battery technology prevailed, every world land speed record made by an RC car was by a nitro powered vehicle, nowadays, the current speed record is held by an electric car which reached just over 200mph, making the sub 120mph records made by nitro cars look quite paltry.
Watch this short video of the fastest rc cars in the World!
More Fast RC Cars
Technology has been evolving ever more rapidly throughout the ages and shows no real sign of slowing down. Needless to say, the list of lightning-fast RC cars is ever-growing, and so are the ways to make them even quicker. If you love cars, technology, and the thrill of speed, there has never been a better time to take up Radio Controlled cars as a hobby!
While owning RC cars has never been the most popular of hobbies, the world of radio-controlled vehicles is full of talented and friendly people who are always excited to help bring a newcomer into the fold.
If you would like to know more about RC car ownership, or if you are interested in diving deeper into it for yourself, we recommend visiting the various RC forums scattered throughout the web.