What Is the Best Beginner RC Car?
If you’re looking for the best beginner RC car, you’ll soon find that there are many radio control cars and trucks available that can give hobby newcomers a successful start. Singling out just one as the best for all entry-level drivers would be impossible. Not everyone browsing at a full-size auto dealership wants or needs the exact same vehicle, and the same is true about people shopping for remote control cars.
But if you have no prior experience with RC cars, there some important characteristics that your choice of first RC car model should include. Here are a few thoughts to consider while you’re deciding which is the best beginner RC car for you.
Characteristics of the best beginner RC cars.
First, be aware that the RC cars and trucks on the shelves of toy and department stores are manufactured with low cost as the top priority. They’re also designed for maximum kid appeal with outrageous, unrealistic styling. Built mostly of brittle plastics, these RC toys often break quickly under normal use. When they do, there are no parts available to fix them.
The RC models sold by hobby stores and online hobby retailers belong in an altogether different category, often simply called “hobby-quality.” Their construction, engineering, and performance are all far superior. Hobby-quality beginner RC cars combine an affordable price with durability, easy operation, realistic looks, and an endless supply of fast-paced fun.
Best beginner RC car feature 1: Value.
If you’re like most RC car hobby newcomers, you want to start driving as soon as possible. That means choosing a ready-to-run (RTR) model rather than a build-it-yourself kit. Your initial cost for an RTR will be higher than a kit, but the overall value of the RTR is arguably much greater. The leading RC vehicle manufacturers, including ARRMA, Losi, and Axial, all produce significantly more RTR cars than kits.
The best ready-to-run beginner RC cars include most or all required accessories, such as the motor and radio equipment. You don’t have to shop for those items separately. RTR vehicles also come factory-assembled and painted, saving you time and providing the confidence that your model is put together properly. You may need to purchase batteries and a charger separately on some RTR models. The bottom line, however, is that RTR beginner RC cars are worth the price. All you need to think about is learning how to drive.
Most of the best beginner RC cars are 1/10 scale, or roughly 1/10 the size of a real vehicle. Most are also capable of speeds in the 20-30 MPH range. That’s plenty big and plenty fast for a first-time RC driver. You’ll see radio control cars for sale in sizes up to 1/5 scale, but at that point the price becomes quite expensive. You may also have trouble finding suitable places to run a vehicle that’s nearly three feet long!
Best beginner RC car feature 2: Durability.
One of the biggest differences between hobby-quality beginner RC cars and RC toys is durability. Hobby radio control vehicles feature aluminum and composite parts that have been tested to withstand hard impacts. They’re sturdy enough to last while you learn the basics of RC control and accidentally run into things now and then.
You’ll often see RC cars and trucks described as either “bashers” or “racers”. Undoubtedly, the best beginner RC cars are found in the basher group. Racing vehicles are sleek, lightweight machines engineered to hit high speeds right off the line. Bashers are built to survive abuse and typically have a higher ground clearance to run well on uneven surfaces. With a basher beginner RC car, you’ll be able to make jumps and tear across dirt, gravel, sand, mud, and more without worry.
Best beginner RC car feature 3: Easy operation.
The options you have in a beginner RC car might seem endless. Should you get an electric RC car or try gasoline or nitro power? If electric, should you use a brushed or brushless motor? Is it better to have a 2WD or a 4WD transmission?
Given that a beginner RC car should be easy to run, these questions are relatively easy to answer. By most accounts a 4WD RC vehicle is easier to control than a 2WD, just as it is in full-scale. One drawback is that a 4WD chassis requires more parts. However, that’s not a huge issue if you’re buying your RC car ready-to-run.
Gas and nitro engines have the advantage of realism, but they’re also oily, high maintenance, and loud enough to annoy sensitive neighbors. Electric RC cars are cleaner, quieter, easier to operate, and can be just as fast as gas models. Understanding battery sizes and chemistries may take some time, but again, problem solved if you’re buying an RTR that already includes the battery you need.
If cost is a concern, your best electric beginner RC car will probably have a brushed motor. But if you want to go fast, the more expensive brushless motors are capable of higher speeds. It’s also worth noting that if your radio transmitter has a throttle limiting feature, you’ll be able to limit the motor power to 50% or 75% of its maximum until you’re ready to handle it all. So if you can afford it, there’s no reason your best beginner RC car shouldn’t have a brushless motor. Otherwise, you can always upgrade later.
There’s a best RC car for every beginner.
Ultimately, the key to having the most fun with your RC car hobby is getting together with other hobbyists and living out your wildest dreams. Is there a certain type of full-scale motorsports that you enjoy watching and would love to try? You CAN participate in radio control form with other hobbyists who love it as much as you.
A huge variety of RC cars and trucks are available. There are excellent RC cars for beginners in off-road, on-road, buggy, monster truck, short course, stadium truck, rock crawler, and many other styles.
Be sure to check out the ARRMA, Losi, and Axial brands for a wide selection of the best RC cars for beginners in nearly all of these types. These popular hobby manufacturers also support their beginner RC cars with replacement and optional parts. You’ll be able to keep them in peak running condition and to upgrade them for increased performance as your skills grow.