Which RC Car Is Faster, Shaft Driven or Belt Driven?

Which Type of Drivetrain Should I Pick?

As the industry of RC cars is developing, there are lots of new things related to RC cars for the hobbyists to learn. For example, there are various parts of RC cars that have more than one type to use according to different applications required by the users and the road conditions.

In the market, there are different types of RC cars.  They usually use one of the two driving mechanisms we discuss today.  They are either driven by a central shaft or a belt.

This is a piece of important information for hobbyists who want to pick the right RC car for their defined purpose.  Generally, an RC car used for off-road conditions is driven by a shaft.  On the other hand, many RC on-road cars for serioius racing are belt driven.  The different drivetrain has different advantages and disadvantages so you will have to choose the right one for yourself.  This post is going to examine their differences.

Shaft-Driven RC Cars

When you first go to buy your first RC car as a beginner you won’t mind picking up any type of drivetrain because, in the beginning, you are not aware of the differences between these 2 types of drivetrains.

In the RC cars which use the main Drive-Shaft to provide power and force to the mechanism that runs the car are known as shaft-driven RC cars.  The shaft-driven RC cars have two gearboxes, one in the front, and the other in the rear.  The two gearboxes are connected by its central shaft which is usually made of aluminum.  In the rear of your RC car, you will find a pinion gear that is directly attached to your motor that gives power.  You also will find a spur gear that is driven by the pinion gear.  This spur gear on one side is attached to the central shaft, and on the other hand, is connected to the rear gearbox.

The Shaft-driven RC cars are heavier and noisier than the belt-driven cars as they simply use a drive system that has more parts in it.  This system usually can provide more torque on the roads.

Shaft-Driven Cars On The Roads

  • If you are one of those RC hobbyists who like to play with their RC cars in not so smooth surface with better handling then shaft-driven RC cars are the ideal choice for you.  In fact, in the market, most of the off-road cars are shaft driven except the Tamiya xv01; it has a reinforced belt installed.
  • When you need more acceleration power with improved efficiency, shaft-driven RC cars are the best choice for you.  In order words, shaft-driven improves the response time of your RC car.
  • You will not need to replace the central shaft as often as you do to the belt as the central shaft is usually well protected in the car.  In order words, the shaft-driven system improves the durability of your RC car.  There is much less maintenance.
  • By choosing the shaft-driven RC cars you will have to keep an eye on the internal gearbox part of the system. Because the shaft-driven mechanism creates more stress on the gears compared to belt-driven RC cars.  In extreme road conditions, you can strip your gears.
  • Shaft driven cars usually use 13.5t+ brushless motors.
  • Shaft driven cars are not appropriate for modified racing.

Belt-Driven RC Cars

As its name suggests, this type of drive train uses one or more pulleys and belts instead of gears for transferring all the power to wheels easily and quickly.  As usual, the spur gear is driven by a pinion gear.  Then, next to spur gear, there two belts, the long one works like a central shaft, attaching to the front differential, and the short one is attaching to the rear differential.  The belt-driven RC cars are completely different from shaft-driven RC cars.

I often see belt-driven drivetrain used in RC on-road cars, but some of the off-road cars do use this type of drivetrain as with this type of drivetrain, the weight of the car can be significantly reduced and a hobbyist can better fine-tuning his/her car.    The Tamiya xv01 is one of the off-road RC cars I heard of that is running on a protected belt drivetrain.  In my opinion, the main reason behind people avoid using belt-driven RC cars for off-road racing is that they are open from many areas so the small pebbles and debris can easily damage the belt.  But the Tamiya somewhat solved the problem

If any part of your belt-driven mechanism fails because of these problems then it could be a game-changer in any off-road race. More importantly, if you decide to start using belt-driven RC cars then always prefer to use your cars in smooth surfaces without any debris or pebbles.  In fact, many people use belt-driven RC car in modified on-road racing.

Belt-Driven Cars On The Roads

  • Belt-driven RC cars put less stress on the gears so there is a lower chance for getting stripped gears.
  • They perform far better with very low turn motors (brushless) which are not possible with shaft driven RC cars (as low as 3.5T can be used).  If a hobbyist wants every drop of power out of his RC car, he definitely needs to consider getting a belt-driven car.
  • In this mechanism, the chassis of the RC car is more balanced compared to the shaft-driven system.  The belt-driven system provides additional control and stability.
  • When compared with shaft-driven RC cars, belt-driven cars are quieter because they use belts instead of gears.
  • Apart from being an awesome choice for on-road RC cars the belt-driven RC cars also have some disadvantages like their belts need to be replaced from time to time.  Replacing a belt is not as easy as you need to take apart the car in order to do the work.  That can happen very often.
  • In a belt-driven mechanism, the body of the RC car is a bit open, which can cause many problems in the main system.  Small pebbles and dust can get stuck between the parts from open areas and damage them. So you will have to look for a place without pebbles or debris.  Usually, hobbyists drive this car only on a race track.

Which One Is Faster? Belt Driven Or Shaft Driven?

Both of them are really good according to their usage but when it comes to the speed, power and more acceleration which one is best? Well, it depends upon your requirement because the shaft-driven RC cars are considered to be a great choice for those people who do higher turn motor and off-road racing.

Whereas the belt-driven RC cars are ideal for the people who do lower turn motor racing (more speed compared to the shaft-driven cars). So the choice is yours as always if you like more acceleration and bashing then go for shaft-driven cars. And if you like to race at higher speeds with smooth experience then belt-driven cars are made for you.

If you found this post helpful then please share it with your friends and don’t forget to comment down any queries or suggestions you have in the comment section.  You can also participate in my forum on this RC blog.


Written by Sidharth Kushvah

Edited by Carlos Santos

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