Setting Ride Height to Optimize Your Suspension
One of the simplest ways to make your new RTR or KIT Radio Control Vehicle to perform better is setting ride height. Simply adjusting the amount of spring tension in the shocks will allow the vehicle to raise or lower to the perfect amount of ride height to optimize your suspension for most terrains. Read on and check out the video below.
Two Types of Shocks
In RC, there are two types of shocks that can be easily adjusted on the fly.
Shock Clip Shocks
Found in many RTR and beginner level vehicles, smooth bodies shocks allow for small plastic clips to placed to add or subtract spring tension. In the case of my Team Associated Pro Rally, it came with a bag of additional clips to have an infinite amount of adjustability. Adding clips will raise the height and removing or adding smaller clips will lower it.
Found on intermediate to advanced vehicles, the bodies of the shocks are threaded and a simple adjuster dial will determine the amount of tension. Dialing the adjuster down on the shock will raise the height and dialing it up will lower it.
Setting Ride Height Tools
It’s not necessary to measure the amount of ride height you have, but it does help especially in higher grip terrains like asphalt, concrete, astro turf and clay. In the professional world of RC, racers measure ride height before every run and will makeover small millimeter adjustments to improve handling. Here’s two tools I have used that come in handy when trying to measure ride height:
Performing the “Drop Test”
To accurately measure the amount of ride height you have, you’ll need a solid, flat and level surface ,and have all items installed in your RC (wheels/tires, body, battery, etc) as if you were running it. You’ll want to raise the vehicle up 4-6” and drop it squarely on the flat surface. This will give you the perfect amount of “suspension sag” for the measurement. Measurements should be taken at the front and the rear of the vehicle (since rear shocks and front shocks can have different spring rates/weight bias).
What does your Ride Height Effect?
Ride height effects the way your vehicle handles on any terrain. Vehicles running on flatter or higher grip surfaces typically benefit from lower ride heights since there’s less obstacles like dirt/rocks to get in the way. Vehicles running on dirt or outdoor environments typically utilize a slightly higher ride height to clear different obstacles.
The 30% Rule
A general rule of thumb is you want your vehicle sitting at least 30% into the suspension travel of your shocks. This allows for not only bump absorption, but also the reverse – void absorption. Think pot holes while driving your real vehicle.
Center of Gravity
Lowering your ride height will lower your center of gravity. Yes, lowering your vehicle will make your vehicle perform better especially in corners and turns. It’s lower to the ground and will have a less chance of rolling over and flying off the track. Lowering your ride height too much can negatively effect your suspension, so it is a fine line of perfect suspension vs perfect center of gravity
So there’s your beginner tip for the month of March. Go out there, get your RTR or KIT vehicle, check that ride height and make some adjustments! It’s pretty simple to do and everyone can benefit from a better stance and performance! Check out the video below and please comment with questions below.
Each month The RCNetwork will be featuring a new topic for those starting out in the RC hobby and lend a few tips to seasoned hobbyists. Be sure to check out all the posts in our RC Beginner Series.
RC Beginner Series Topics
Jan. – Tools needed for your new RTR/Using your Owners Manual
Feb. – Battery Safety/Lipo rules/Battery Choices
Mar. – Ride Height Adjustment/Shock Collars
Apr. – Trims and Dual Rate on your Radio
May – Clean Your RC – Compressed Air
Jun. – Changing your Pinion/Gear Mesh/What Gearing does/Heat
July – Adjusting Body Posts
Aug. – Adjusting Turnbuckles – Camber/Toe
Sept. – Adjusting Slipper Clutch
Oct. – Inspecting Bearings/Free Driveline
Nov. – Inspecting Suspension/Free Suspension
Dec. – Shock positions
Be sure you’re subscribed to The RCNetwork newsletter to get the RCNewbie Tip that is featured with each edition. Click here to subscribe.