RC Off Road Buggies VS RC Crawlers

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Hello, everyone.

How are you doing? In today’s post, I am going to talk about an interesting topic which is about the differences between RC off-road buggies and RC crawlers. This topic is going to be awesome for those who are new to RC off-roading driving for sure!

I have heard of or played with different models of RC off-road buggies and RC crawlers. However, there are many people who might have a misunderstanding that RC off-road buggies and RC crawlers both are the same things!

Let clarify that the RC off-road buggies you used to play with and the RC crawlers we are going to talk about are totally different things.  If you ask me which one to pick, I would suggest you get a rock racer.  A full explanation is provided in this post.

Which Type of RC Off-Road Car Should I Get, RC Buggies Or Crawlers?

While RC off-road buggies can run at high speed, RC crawlers are not built for this purpose.  When we talk about RC crawlers, we should immediately think of something that crawls steadily, right?

It actually does! The term “RC crawlers” are referred to those RC off-road trucks which are basically made for rock crawling or to use in off-road terrains like rocky areas and other uneven surfaces. These RC crawlers usually are on big wheels. For 1/10 cars, their wheels can as big as 128mm.  These big wheels can improve stability while climbing over obstacles.  The RC crawlers differ from RC off-road buggies in many ways! These differences are described in the following paragraphs:

Design Purpose

When It comes to the design of an RC crawler, we will think of its durability for overcoming extreme rocky roads.  RC crawlers are not like any ordinary RC off-road buggies that are designed for speed racing on somewhat less uneven terrains.

These crawlers are crash-proof, so they can be easily operated by a beginner also! They are designed in such a way that the main body components are far from the ground surface! As their center of gravity is high, they can roll over easily when they are at high speed.   Usually, they will not be damaged after rolling over.  Their big and heavy wheels can help stabilize these RC crawlers.

I tried upgrading an Axial scx10 with a brushless motor in the hope that they can be a speed racer.  However, later, I found out that it rolls over so easily.  Without differentials on these crawlers, it is very hard to hold them on the ground whenever it runs at full speed.  You can upgrade your SCX10 (a popular brand for RC crawlers) with a differential transmission though.

On the other hand, RC off-road buggies are for high speed on less uneven surfaces, so their bodies are usually much streamlined and near the ground surface – to lower the center of gravity. With a lower center of gravity and differentials, the RC buggies can reach their full speed with good stability.


The chassis for higher-quality RC off-road buggies are usually made of plastic with an aluminum plate underneath; in general, plastic is lighter than aluminum.  They use this design to keep the RC car lightweight and protected for high speed running.

On the other hand, the chassis of an RC crawler is usually made from very sturdy material to provide longer life and extra protection. All of the important parts like a receiver, motor, electronic speed control, and the required wiring are kept in the mainframe of the crawler. Thus the quality of the chassis does actually matters!  All components of their frames are made of aluminum or high-quality and durable plastic.  As speed is not a consideration, we should get ones made of the strongest material.


The tires of these RC crawlers are very different from the ones of the ordinary RC off-road buggies. These crawlers’ tires usually are bigger in size and made of softer materials so that they can crawl over steep slopes much easily. There is a post discussing the right types of tires used for these RC cars.


The ordinary RC off-road buggies usually have a differential transmission.  In fact, RC off-road buggies are usually for speed basing/racing so they need a differential for staying on the ground as they turn.  Here is the article explaining what differential transmission is.

On the other hand, RC crawlers usually do not have differential transmission.  That gives 100% traction for crawling with no slipping.  Only the good RC crawlers let you lock or unlock the different transmission.  In these RC crawlers, you can drive them at a good speed and climb up hills according to the current terrain they are on.

Moreover, the higher-priced RC rock crawlers do have a 3-speed transmission. With a 3-speed transmission, an RC rock crawler can have a shit load of power on different road conditions. With such a powerful transmission, you can switch between different modes of speed and power on their RC crawlers according to the current road requirements!

Take a look at a very good RC crawler here on YouTube.   Its name is Yikong YK4101.  You will find out how good it is.  It has a remoted controlled 2-speed transmission and lockable differential.

You can order the truck here on Banggood.


Usually, RC crawlers are not designed for speed, but for its crawling capability, so having a good amount of torque from their motor is necessary. RC crawlers usually run at a speed of about 15KPH (human walking speed) while an RC off-road buggy can run at a speed over 55 KPH or higher.

For RC crawlers, we usually use a brushed motor with a turn count between 35 and 55. Any motor with a turn count above 55T is too slow. While we can use a brushless motor (under 3000 KV) for our RC crawlers, but it is unnecessary. Most hobbyists use brushed motors as they are cheaper than brushless motors.  If you really want to use a brushless system on your RC crawlers, you need to buy a sensored one which is quite expensive.

There is one point worth noting that there is one type of rock crawlers that can run very fast with a very powerful brushless motor.   Axial Yeti is one of the examples of these rock racers.  While some less capable buggies have a problem running in sand, rock racers usually can run in sand with a lot of energy.


The main power source for your RC crawler is the batteries, so always use high-quality LI-PO batteries which will provide better performance of your RC cars. For RC crawlers, we can use 3s LI-PO to increase its crawling power (low gear and high gear ratio) while hobbyists use only 2S for RC off-road buggies.  If you are using 3s LI-PO, be sure that you are using at least an 80A ESCm(120A is preferred).  If you use 3S LIPO and a brushless motor, you also need to consider the quality of the gear installed in your RC car.  Here is a post discussing how to set gear mesh for RC cars.

Our Expectations vs Reality

We have talked about every basic element about RC crawlers.  As a newbie, we may be expecting that we have to pay a lot for RC crawlers as they are more complicated than most original RC off-road buggies. But in reality, they are not too expensive to afford. Chinese manufacturers are making many good RC crawlers in the market.  HSP 94180 is one that you should consider getting. 


Some people think that getting a brushless buggy is the way to go as a buggy can be run on and off-road and there are option parts on many models. They think that a rock crawler limits us as to what can do with it.  However, they forget that actually there are 2 types of crawlers; some of these are actually very speedy; we classify them as rock racers.

These RC rock racers are really awesome and fun to play with because they can be run on almost any terrain you want!  If you found this article useful then please share this article with your friends. And let me know which of the RC crawler you choose as your first Buddy in our forums.

Watch a YouTube video to check out how a rock racer perform.



Thanks for reading this post. Hope you enjoy reading it.
Written by Sidharth Kushvah
Edited by Carlos Santos, your webmaster.


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