Simple, Easy Vehicle Upgrades
So, you’ve purchased a ready-to-run (RTR) truck and have had quite a bit of fun romping around the streets in front of your house. Maybe you’ve even taken it over to the local park or field and given it some proper air time. Your tires are worn, suspension pieces are nicked up, shocks are blown and your body looks like it’s been through a meat grinder. I’m sure, at this point; you’ve been bitten by that little guy that seems to get everyone at one time or another; the upgrade bug. It’s time to take a look at the stages of upgrade, and I’ve put together a little guide for those that want to get their hands dirty. This list is in order of importance and assumes your current equipment is still working.
1. Rolling Rubber
Tires are, by far, the most important tuning option on any RC vehicle. While the kit tires probably work okay and last a long time, you’ll be blown away by how much better a set of racing rubber makes your truck. Most tires are available in pairs, come un-mounted and are available in a variety of different compounds. You can get everything from a mini-pin design for hard, compact dirt all the way up to a paddle tire for some sand-flinging action! You’ll also need to pick up a set of wheels for your truck, and thankfully there are quite a few options out there to help make your ride unique. Oh yah, don’t forget the glue!
2. Upping the Power
In the world of RC, it’s common to hear people say ‘there is no such thing as enough power’. Depending on the RTR you purchased, you may already be near the limits of your vehicle’s drivetrain. For those that aren’t, you’re in luck. Companies like Castle Creations and Tekin both offer stellar upgrade packages that will turn your mild RTR into a fire-breathing land missile! Everything needed to install your new power package, like double-sided tape and zip-ties, are included with these systems. All you need is the will power to pull the throttle to full!
3. Controlling the Direction
While not high on the list to upgrade, a new servo and transmitter are items that should not be overlooked. Both of these items can dramatically increase the control you have over your ride. A heavy-duty servo can help keep the wheels pointed in the right direction without any deflection and also survive some massive jumps I know you’re about to launch your truck off! A full-featured transmitter can range from moderate to overkill and allow you to fine-tune your truck’s performance without breaking out any tools. It also looks pretty cool to your friends when you show up with a transmitter that looks like something out of Transformers!
Recently, the RC world has been introduced to the wonderfulness of LiPos. Lightweight and HUGE power, these packs have been popping up in everything from micros to 1/5-scales. Their construction allows you to have a ‘larger’ pack in the same size footprint as the now-obsolete NiMH packs, so dropping one of these into your ride will certainly give you some insane speeds. Every battery company out there now offers LiPos, so there’s no shortage of sizes and types to choose from. Want to go big without spending a lot more? Check out the speed control you are using. In some cases, the RTR speed control (or even the one you’ve upgraded to) will allow you to use a 3S battery (instead of the standard 2S LiPo), providing a TON more power! Yippee Ki Yay!
RTR chargers are great if you have an RTR battery, but as soon as you upgrade to a pro-style LiPo pack, you’ll want to make sure you protect that pack with a pro-style charger. LiPo packs, if abused or not monitored, can have catastrophic failure during the charge cycle, ending in not-so-pleasant results. An upgraded charger, like the Hitec X4 shown here, has built-in circuitry that monitors the pack’s performance during the charge cycle, keeping it and you safe. I definitely recommend a new charger if you’re going to pony-up the bucks for some new batteries.
6. Suspension Stuff
A dialed suspension can turn your RTR into a thoroughbred. Upgraded, aluminum-bodied threaded shocks not only help fine-tune your vehicle’s ride height, they scream ‘Pro Ride’. Lightweight, titanium turnbuckles help drop some weight off your vehicle, provide some extra durability and make adjusting camber and toe a breeze. Stronger plastics (like suspension arms and shock towers) can add a major role in the durability department while you’re out jumping for the Gold. Finally, some key aluminum components (motor mount, hub carriers, steering knuckles and arm mounts) also provide added durability, heat dissipation and just the right amount of ‘look at me’ bling.
If you’re like me, you make sure your RTR sees all different types of terrain, including an occasional dip in a puddle or two. While fun, this can cause havoc with the ball bearings. Luckily, there are a few companies out there that supply bearing kits for just about every RTR (and pro-level vehicle) out there. Depending on your vehicle, there can even be different levels of bearings; basically the quality of the bearings. The better the bearing, the more it cost, but that cost translates into less friction (equaling more speed) and less maintenance (equaling more trigger time!) So go find their site, search for your ride and pay the man the money.
So you like trucks, huh? Oh, a Jeep guy? What about scale realism? Lucky for you, the RC world has one of just about everything you can imagine; vintage heavy metal, short course trucks, Jeeps and scale. Most of the bodies come clear so your imagination can take over and create something truly unique. Not a painter? No problem; decals and wraps are available for those that don’t want to take on the painting process. Not one to even deal with that business? Then check out the internet for some fanatics that LOVE to put the paint to the plastic.