Basic Driving Techniques from Full-size Off-road

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The trail ahead has an off-camber turn with a mix of some large rocks and loose dirt—a bad combination. You have to side hill precariously while turning to the right. To the left is a drop off that will be impossible to climb back up. Two similar trucks try the same obstacle. One makes it and one doesn’t. If you’ve attended a competition or have even just been out crawling with some friends, you may have noticed some drivers make it look easy and others are left scratching their heads wondering what went wrong. Most people almost always turn to their rig, thinking they need new tires or a whole new setup or more hop-up parts. Odds are it isn’t your vehicle. Odds are, it’s you. No worries. There’s no need to give up. Follow these tried and true driving tips from the full-size off-road world and you’ll soon be the RC king of the hill.

rubicon look ahead

Look Ahead
There’s just driving along and there’s driving with purpose, or more specifically, a strategy or plan. When you’re on the move, where you look makes a big difference. Most people instinctively look right at the vehicle with a point of focus that is usually the hood. However, the more we move the focus forward of the vehicle and expand our field of vision, the better we can plan our route. Full-size off-road instructors routinely teach new drivers to look ahead. Look ahead and pick your line. When a driver looks ahead he can see and account for obstacles as opposed to trying to figure out what to do when you’re on top of trouble. One type of driving is proactive and the other is reactive. Proactive off-roaders are successful off-roaders.

wraith wheel  placement

Tire Placement
When an obstacle such as a rock is encountered on the trail, most people understandably don’t want to hit the rock and carefully straddle it when there isn’t room to go around. This makes sense, but is actually not the correct approach. While it may seem counterintuitive to some degree, it’s far better to place a tire on an obstacle and slowly roll over it. This ensures you won’t smash the low hanging differential portion of the axle right on the obstacle. As the tire goes up and over the rock, the solid axle also raises. Just like full-size off-roaders, RC rock crawlers frequently make the mistake of straddling obstacles and end up getting high centered.

ax10 slow and steady

Go Slow
The throttle on your Axial Racing vehicle is proportional for a reason. Sometimes wheel speed is needed, but the key word is “sometimes.” Too much speed usually results in less precise driving and that is the exact opposite of what you want when driving to conquer difficult obstacles. When driving off camber along the side of a hill, a super slow approach will often be the only way to keep the vehicle from rolling to the downhill side. Don’t be afraid to creep. While far more practical than pinning the throttle the whole time, going super slow isn’t always the right move. When the ground is rough, a slow and steady approach will maintain momentum and help you cruise over the terrain. It’s not about going fast, but instead, the idea is to use just enough throttle to keep a consistent speed and not have a stop and go action. In full-size off-roading, too much speed often leads to broken parts or, worse, rollovers. It’s the same in RC. If you want to keep your vehicle in one piece and keep it all four tires on the ground, slow and steady is the way to go.