The latest in extreme sports is a life-size rock crawler, but now you don’t need a huge four by four to tackle a mountain. Mini rock crawler is the way to go while sipping on your lemonade in your back yard.
Gravel, sand, pebbles and dirt will be your extreme course and, you’re going to have a splendid time. Gather up your favorite group of friends and get ready to party mini rock crawler style!
Mini Rock Crawler Guide
What is Rock Crawling?
The name says it all; you crawl over harsh terrain including rocks and gravel. Now as fun as it sounds to crawl in a life-size vehicle, reduce that to a remote controlled mini version.
It’s fun to watch your radio-controlled crawler perform well over the rough and tough landscape. You need to have a high degree of skill to keep it properly directed on the course and moving forward without tipping over.
Structure of a Mini Rock Crawler
If you want to start with an assembled kit, these basic steps will help you understand the structure of a mini crawler.
• The front and rear axles need to be removed from the chassis. Building a gear differential will allow for the extended drive length and locking the differential. Pull the frame apart to remove the center ball differential and replace it with the newly built locked one.
• Re-install the frame (carbon is best) and the aluminum gear case motor. These will help to shift the weight to the needed lower center of gravity. Since speed is not an issue, a stock engine will be okay, and this lighter weight provides a longer running time as well.
• The ideal shock length after assembly are 91mm fully extended and 70.5 mm when fully compressed
• Remove both the front and rear axles and disassemble the front so you can lock it with an adhesive. The back also needs to be unassembled so the differential can be filled with grease.
• When you put both back together, the upper suspension stay should be reversed to face away from the chassis.
• Save the remaining 4-link rods and trash the cantilever rods, because the three by 57mm threaded shafts will become the cantilever suspension rods. They will use the same ball end adjusters as the other link roads.
• The length of the rods between the adjusters needs to be at 40mm. And all eight rods need a length of 78mm per rod between the adjusters.
• Mount the 4links to the chassis in the stock locations. Only use the center hole directly over the tapping screws attaching the axle. The rod will slide into the suspension stay and the side of the mount is secured with a flange nut.
• Put rubber O-rings on the out drives to prevent the center drive shaft from falling. Shift the axle and slide the center drive shaft to the outdrives.
• After you complete the drive shaft installation.
• Re-attach the bottom 4-link suspension rod.
• Select your tire and wheel combination.
• Make any customized adjustments you want to suit your personal tastes.
There are many parts options, and you may want to experiment with some variations to see which you like best and which perform best for your courses. You can pick from several chassis types and hop up options as well as tire/wheel combos.
How to Select the Best Mini Rock Crawler
If building your own doesn’t get you psyched for rockin’, use these tips to pick one ready made.
Remember, we’re not too interested in speed, we need power and cat-like navigational skills.
Remote control is a specialized category of rock crawlers. Features you want to look for in your new mini purchase follow.
• Power is necessary, but not for high speed, for high torque. You can use traditional electric motors and low gear set up to get consistent power to help you overcome the rocks.
• High with a low center of gravity is important because you can’t have your chassis scrapping up rocks on the bottom of your vehicle. And you also need to be conscious of tipping over in the middle of a steep rock climb. Big, fat tires will help ensure some clearance so be sure the weight is not all on the rear, or you risk pulling the vehicle back as opposed to letting it climb forward. For example, store the battery in the front, to support a more balanced weight.
• Quality Steering for optimum maneuverability like in a four by four steering column. Rock crawling will take you through all kinds of twists and turns; a stiff suspension is not your friend in this case. All four wheels aren’t always going to be on the ground, so locked differentials will help focus on the off-ground wheels where it’s needed the most.
• Traction because the tires aren’t running on an interstate highway. Look for tires with deep, bumpy, soft treads and bead lock rims are a nice addition over glued tires and rims. That will keep the tire from separating from the rim under stressful drives.
• You want the car’s body to be compact and durable. Thick plastic and aluminum with some rubberized components would be recommended.
When the sport was in its infancy, participants would build their rigs or assemble kits and modify them as needed.
As rock crawling continues to increase in popularity, manufacturers are getting deeper into the game and producing readymade options for you and giving them bad (and we mean that in a good way) names like poison, scorpion, Thor, Dragon, Blaze or Hercules.
Offerings are selling like hot cakes, so if you want something ready to roll, start shopping.
They are selling so fast as the technology is perpetually improving that you can likely find a great sale on a model, particularly if you want to crash one up as a beginner and get in some practice time to improve your driving skills.
Mini Rock Crawler vs. Micro Crawler
Mini crawler fit in the palm of your hand, are about 1/18th scale and weigh in at four pounds. Mini crawler rc dimensions are 18.6 x 14.6 x 9.2 inches. A micro crawler is a 1/24th scale and weighs about 3 pounds. Micro crawler dimensions are 9.5 x 8.8 x 7.2 inches.
Mini Rock Crawler Accessories
As in most any sport, there are several very cool accessories you can add to your mini, and they include:
• Oil Tank
• An accessory kit, complete with winch, gas can, shovel, ax and a pry bar
• Scale fender flares
• Foldable winch anchor
• Trailer chain kit
• Bungie cords
• Fire extinguisher
The only thing left is a little mini driver on a little mini cell phone, honking a little mini horn!
Crawling is a new and fun option for kids and adults, and it is a growing sport. Rumor has it that some husbands are using these little gems to terrorize their house cats.
Whether you decide to build your own customized monster crawler, purchase one ready to crawl or come up with a hybrid of the two, have a rockin’ good time!
Click here for other RC rock crawler reviews
Below are our recommendations
Traxxas 71054 E Revo Electric Monster Truck
Now onto the bad boys, although not a traditional rock crawler.This truck has some of the craziest moves imaginable, and it truly does climb a rock, “hand over hand.” This bad boy comes in electric blue,black and red.
When it comes with battery and charger, real life like monster tires, with real tread, aluminum capped oil filled shocks, this is like a real truck!Except that the electronics in this truck are waterproof!
- Motor Type – Electric brushed
- Powerful Titan 12T 550 motor largest in class
- TQ 2.4GHz radio system
- Waterproof Electronics for All-Weather, All-Terrain Driving Excitement
- Full-time 4WD traction and control
- Ready-To-Race With Included Traxxas Power Cell NiMH Battery
Exceed RC MicroX
MicroX Racing releases its smallest most compact remote control truggy to hit the market. Constructed on an molded composite chassis this truggy sports an agile 2WD drive train.
Realistic truggy styling and details keep things fun and exciting. The 1/28-scale electric RTR 2WD truggy has all the features you would want in a hobby grade radio control vehicle.
The vehicle is ready to run and comes with a rechargeable internal battery pack and USB charger. This buggy is fully equipped to attack your home made race course. All you need to do is take it out of the box, charge the battery and let it rip!
- A powerful brushed micro motor delivers tire spinning torque and speed to this already small and light weight chassis.
- Proportional digital throttle control, proportional digital steering control, high current electronic speed controller and lithium battery.
- Molded composite chassis
- Coil shocks for dampening
- Off-Road treaded tires and wheels