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There are many approaches to the RC vehicle hobby, from casual driving to hardcore racing, but few are as instantly gratifying as RC car jumps and other tricks. RC trick exhibitions are some of the most popular video content in the hobby, but many casual owners write it off as something best left for the pros.
That couldn't be further from the truth. While the most accomplished exhibition tricks take years of practice, some very cool RC car tricks can be executed with much less effort than one might think. With a little background research, you can enjoy showing off impressive tricks to friends and family -- and maybe even start your journey towards performing at those exhibition shows you've been spectating for so long.
Which Types of RC Vehicles Are Best For Performing Tricks?
Any RC vehicle is technically capable of pulling off some impressive tricks. You might own one already. But not all chassis are built for handling the same types of tricks, and some are best left to the smallest ramp jumps. On the other hand, there are RC vehicles -- especially trucks -- that can handle jaw-dropping tricks in the roughest terrain.
Here are the main types of RC cars, and their best trick applications:
- Standard RC cars, meaning the less modular, more entry-level small cars, are actually capable of simple tricks. While you shouldn't go for big air with these, at any exhibition show you'll still find some more casual hobbyists' rc cars doing tricks. Battery, motor, or chassis modifications can greatly help these less targeted trick cars handle some bigger action.
- RC trucks are a go-to for tricks, given their rugged builds. They generally have much more powerful engines and batteries by default, as well. They can handle rough terrain, including exposure to water and mud, much better than other RC vehicles. The only drawback is their weight, which means less opportunity for fancy airborne moves.
- RC rock crawlers are pure off-road RC vehicles. They're meant to handle sand, rocks, snow, mud, pretty much anything you can throw at it. Tricks are not part of the playbook of the designs of these devices, although savvy operators may find some impressive ways to leverage interesting terrain.
- RC monster trucks are also angled towards off-road use, and can handle mudding extremely well. It's impressive to see these bulky machines pull off tricks, but that's best left to experienced users. These are not built for agile trickery, but for heavy-duty displays of power.
- RC buggies are the crossover vehicles of the RC vehicle space. Positioned right in-between a standard RC build and a bulkier truck build, they gain many of the rugged features of RC trucks while targeting a smaller build size that allows for big air. This is the best category to start with if you're looking to get into RC vehicles specifically to work on tricks.
What to Know Before Performing Tricks with RC Vehicles
Learning how to make a RC car jump is surprisingly easy. Complex tricks come with some fairly big experience, knowledge, and even expense barriers. But starting with a simple, entertaining trick like a safe ramp jump is great -- and fun! -- place to start.
Low Jump Ramp Tricks Are the Best Start
A beginner can enjoy simple tricks immediately after setting up their RC vehicle. It all starts with a simple, low RC car jump ramp. Even experienced hobbyists tend to try out new RC cars by first putting them through their paces safely in this way before escalating towards different ramps and trick styles. You'll always want to start with the basics.
Make Sure Your RC Vehicle's Suspension is Up to the Task
RC car jumps, no matter how small they seem, require a decent suspension system. For hobbyist-level RC vehicles, jump-readiness is an out-of-the-box deal. But for those reading this article who are using lower-end, alkaline battery-based RC cars, further research and testing is required. Consider either doing jumps on softer surfaces, like on carpet, or upgrading to an enthusiast-level RC vehicle.
Real-World Experience is the Best Way to Build Your Trick Repertoire
If you are ready to upgrade to tougher tricks, like flips, you'll have to adjust your ramp height accordingly. There is, unfortunately, no simple formula outside of complex calculations. Outside of some PhD-level physics, your best bet is to become familiar with the capabilities of your RC vehicle through repetition.
This is also a good opportunity to consider getting more involved with your local RC vehicle scene. You don't have to reinvent the wheel on your own! Getting tips from other hobbyists can save tons of time and prevent accidental damage to your vehicles. Consider:
- Joining a local RC vehicle club
- Posting questions on an RC enthusiast forum
- Watching videos of tricks performed on a similar vehicle to your own
Which kinds of Tricks Can RC Cars Perform Besides Ramp Jumps?
Jumps work on nearly any RC vehicle. All of the categories listed above, as well as other niche vehicles, can generally handle a leap off a small ramp onto flat, safe surfaces. Beyond that, you'll need to put some thought into what your vehicle is designed to do. You'll have to research and decide how far you intend to push it. And, above all, you'll need to make sure you have modified your vehicle to handle pushing it into new frontiers of complex tricks.
Learning New Types of RC Vehicle Jumps
Here are a few RC car jumping tips, from the easiest to the most difficult. Basic jumps are as simple as accelerating before hitting the ramp, driving over the ramp as straight as possible, and landing straight. Not much to it, right? But for higher jumps, you'll need to focus on maximizing acceleration, as well as laying off the brakes until your RC car has lost a little momentum.
Reverse jumps are the next trick to attempt -- if your RC car can handle it. Many hobbyist RC cars are four-wheel drive, but those that aren't will have trouble with this trick. You'll need to focus on exactly how your car moves in reverse before attempting to jump and landing properly in reverse.
How to Execute Flips With RC Cars
For flips, you'll want to start with the backflip. Keep in mind, this whole category of tricks is intended for four-wheel drive RC cars. But with some practice, certain flips might be possible on other types of cars. To execute a backflip, hit the throttle moderately as the vehicle hits the ramp, rather than before. As it smoothly moves forwards, hit the acceleration hard, near the end of the ramp. With enough speed, two full flips are possible.
The frontflip is more advanced, and only recommended for RC vehicles that can withstand some trial and error as it gets bashed around. For this trick, the technique is the same as a normal jump, with full speed over the ramp. Then, hit the brakes right when the front end leaves the ramp. It will cause a sudden shift in momentum that flips the RC vehicle forwards -- and is incredibly hard to control from here on out.
Get Front-End Air Without Leaving the Ground With a Wheelie
Wheelies are a classic RC car trick that works on many types of vehicle, but can be difficult on some. Heavier cars, with lower centers of gravity, might only be capable of minor wheelies if they can pull them off at all. That said, most common RC cars can do this fun move.
The best way to get a wheelie going is to go backwards for just a moment. Then, abruptly hit the throttle to shift the weight of the car to one side, achieving a wheelie. Practice this technique regularly, as similar operations apply to other tricks.
Yes, RC Vehicles Can Do Donuts Too
Donuts in RC vehicles work just like they do in full-sized cars, but with far less risk. Simply gun the accelerator and turn sharply, adjusting your turning radius to control the tightness of the donut. Make sure to use a large space for this trick until you become experienced enough to control your donut acutely.
Mastering the "Tree Flip"
The tree flip is an RC enthusiast catch-all term for using nearly vertical objects that have a small natural "ramp" at the bottom, like tree trunks. With the right speed adjustment just before impact, many RC trucks can smoothly transition from gripping the small incline at the bottom to rapidly climbing the vertical surface. Then, with a properly-timed brake, they'll fall straight back down -- ideally, in a perfect flip.
RC Car Tricks Open Up a Whole New Aspect of the RC Hobby
The RC vehicle hobby space is exciting because there are so many aspects to it. Casual drivers can enjoy simply driving around in a cleared-out garage, maybe hopping off a small ramp here and there. Racers can focus on timing, learning difficult drifting maneuvers and mastering control across many surfaces. Trick enthusiasts can pull off wild tree flips into double backflips, to audience applause.
There's no one way to get into this hobby. If you think tricks are for you, but you don't have the patience or want to spend the money for the best trick cars possible, that's fine! RC vehicles are for everyone. And with the preceding tips, hopefully you can make your investment in the RC vehicle hobby more fulfilling than you thought possible.