Having quality fun with an RC buggy. Starter kit
You probably won’t start out racing buggies right away unless you’ve already found a group of local racers or a competitive circuit near you. If this is not the case, you’re going to want to find alternatives – of which there are many – to having quality fun with your RC buggy.
First off, if you live in a city and rarely get out of it to more rural areas with different off-road environments, then you’re going to want to find local gardens and parks near you for RC driving. Either that or you might want to consider other RC cars (on-road options) – check out our pick of the best RC cars under $100 or under $200 for some ideas. If you want to take your RC toy off the ground, also look into getting an RC helicopter. Buggies are the most fun with a mix of environments, from muddy riverbanks to stretches of smooth rock mixed with intermittent boulders.
Start out finding different environments near you to test out your buggy, mostly because its fun to make your RC car compete against nature and the elements. It will also help train you for driving buggies in dry to wet environments, and from mountainous to flat environments.
If you want, progress to getting a buggy for a friend or partner, even your kids could handle one, and then start testing yourself against other learning racers. Try jumps and sharp corners, try shallow puddles and then deeper puddles. The goal is to learn the limits (if any) of your buggy, and it’s honestly one of the most fun parts of the experience.
Finally, you might even want to progress to designing your own race tracks, though this does require a large enough environment to create a circuit. The best circuits feature multiple kinds of alternating terrains, each more trying on your buggy and racing skills than the last.
What type of buggy fits which type of area?
Rocky environments are best for buggies, which have larger ground clearances and stronger shocks for collision and jumps. The best car on our list for rocky areas and mountains is the Gmade 51011 R1, which has insanely good shocks and an adjustable ground clearance up to a max of 3.7 inches – another great option for this functionality is an RC rock crawler.
Wet environments with small lake areas, muddy stretches, drive-through puddles, are best for buggies which have waterproofed components. Especially waterproofed electrical components with a speedo, cover, or just waterproof materials. All the cars on our list are waterproofed.
Desert environments can be great for low-ground buggies, like the Kyosho Inferno MP9e TKI, but they tend to have a mix of flat stretches and rocky or plant-filled courses so the best cars should at least have 2-inch medium ground clearances. Other environments, such as the artificial turf and carpet some race courses use, typically require speed and turning control over ground clearance. A car which will work great on really any course, with technology that can sense the environment under the buggy’s wheels and automatically adjust the RC’s minor functions, is the Team Losi DBXL-E 2.0.
Features to consider while choosing an RC buggy
The following features are all important parts of your buggy and will alter the way it performs and even competes against other RC’s.
Size, also known as ‘scale’ is the number (often listed as a fraction) which denotes how big or small a buggy will be. The ideal buggy might actually depend on the circuit/track you’ll be on, such as a larger buggy for larger rocky tracks or with deeper puddles. The scale is discussed right below, but here we’ll list first the largest and then the smallest of the buggies on our list: Team Losi DBXL-E 2.0 and Kyosho Ultima RB6 RS.
What’s the scale?
The larger the scale, the smaller the buggy is. For example, a 1/10 scale buggy is smaller than a 1/8 scale buggy, which is in turn smaller than a 1/5 scale. Before making your purchase and picking the scale of your buggy, it’s important to pick the track you’ll be racing on. Check with the track to see what scale of buggies they allow, and which ones are forbidden.
It is also always advisable to check your terrain type. For instance: a course with large dirt mounds, where it might be wise to choose a buggy that can handle those kinds of hills without flipping over backward.
For racing-specific needs, you’ll really only want buggies which are lightweight and fast. It’ll be up to you to learn when and how to decelerate, and improve your technique of drifting around corners. However, with high-speed tracks that often have boulders, hills, jumps, and other components which can be hard on your car you’ll want lightweight cars which still have all-metal components. Don’t pick buggies with heavy-metal gears, chassis designs, and casings, unless the track you’re on is very intense – rocky, wet, sharp turns, obstacles, etcetera.
More speed = more fun?
Definitely! There are some racers who think that having too much power and speed will compromise your ability to race because making turns will be more difficult. However, the majority of professional racers argue that increased speed can actually assist with turning so long as you know how to handle your buggy. As well, long stretches where speed is essential can be so much fun when you’re racing against your own ‘best time’ or another racer. One of the fastest RC buggies on our list is the Kyosho Inferno MP9e TKI which the manufacturers have made easier to drive with technological increased control and precision handling.
When it comes to operating radio-controlled (RC) vehicles, frequency is the specific radio signal sent from the transmitter to the receiver to control the vehicle. GHz is the measurement used to describe frequencies. These pulses will move a vehicle forward and backward on single-function toys, however, with full-function buggies (all on our list are operated at 2.4GHz) the vehicles can be turned left or right while moving forward or backward.
Does it all depend on the engine/motor?
No, your entire race won’t be dictated by something as small as the engine/motor, though this can make a major difference. Many engines operate with nitro or gas, though all on our list are gas operated and electrically run by batteries. Often two things matter about your engine: the speed it can generate, and its weight capacity/position in your car. Most engines are closer to the back of the car and create a better balance while racing.
Picking the ground clearance
Often this decision will be made off of the terrain you’ll be driving on the most. The majority of the buggies you’ll look at having a ground clearance a little more than 2-inches. These buggies will be slower than buggies closer to the ground, but they’ll also be able to navigate most (if not all) terrains. One of the trickiest terrains to gauge are water terrains (such as puddles) where you will risk driving through the sides and center of the puddle, even though you’re not quite sure how deep the water might go. Some buggies, like the Gmade 51011 R1, have an adjustable ground clearance which can be set for all kinds of different racing experiences.
This will depend on your preference because some tires are designed for speed while other tires are designed for grip or climbing potentiality on dirt or mud hills.
The chassis is the base frame of your vehicle and its where most of the weight is located fore and aft along the buggy. It holds your battery pack as well as your engine, and it can be made up of lightweight plastic or tube components (lighter but easier to damage) or full-metal components. Consider the Team Losi Racing 8IGHT-XE as one of the prime examples for a good chassis which will not only improve your racing but will balance your car along with all environments.
All cars and remotes on our list utilize battery power, though some of them can be recharged and need chargers and charger-chords purchased separately. Before a race, always check that your power source is full or close to full, otherwise risk going dead in the middle of a high-speed neck-in-neck.
Typically, a good warranty will give you protection for larger purchases, especially if a buggy comes with a manufacturing defect (though this is rare and unlikely). With RC cars warranties tend to cover only the electrical components, and the only two cars on our list with specified warranties are the Axial Yeti XL and the Gmade 51011 R1.