Often I get asked, “Which RC brand is best?” As much as I would like to nail it down to one specific RC brand, it’s somewhat of a loaded question. Everyone has preferences and in the age-old truck wars of Ford vs Chevy, I can find one Chevy fan for every Ford fan…but that’s a whole different blog!
Let’s take the category of 1/8th scale electric buggy kits. You have offerings from most every manufacturer including Team Associated, Team Losi Racing, Kyosho, Tekno RC, Mugen, Team Durango, Serpent and X-Ray. Then there’s some of the not-so-heard-of brands like Hobao, Hong-Nor and Intech.
Four main questions I always ask:
1. “What do the fast guys (non-sponsored) run at your track?”
This question will give you some key answers directing you to what works at your track. Most likely those guys have already done the research and will help you gain not only some crucial information, but eventually tips, tricks and maybe even spares (parts) if you get to know them well enough!
2. “What does your track’s hobby shop or your local shop carry as for parts?”
There’s nothing worse than making the trip to the track after hours of building, setting up, inspecting that gem of a car but to attempt that first triple by the driver stand and “lawn dart” it bending a $1 hinge pin. If your track’s hobby shop can’t get you back on the track, it might not be the right brand that makes you pack it up for the day and do the “I hate the hobby” drive home. Case in point: Last fall, I was running my Brand New Team Associated B44.3 at OCRC. Of course, we know about the front arms (I had already ordered a pair of RPM arms and had them waiting), but I didn’t know about was that wall that would not only rip the arm apart, but bend the front hinge pin, just slightly. A quick walk into my track’s shop and $6 later, I had a full set of hinge pins for not only the B44.3, but also every B44, B44.1 and B44.2!
3. “What’s the cost of ownership going to be?”
Everything in the world has a cost and owning a Buggy that has an initial high price tag, but in the long term will need very little as far as wear and tear/upgrades might trump the $299 bargain basement last year model that you have to dump $300+ in upgrades and inherits that dreaded “noise” that just won’t go away. Then, does your brand new kit come with wheels, shock oil, differential oil, grease, thread-lock, etc? Those are all things that start to add up.
4. “What position does your brand (that you’re looking at) have in the market or what Jason Snyder calls ‘Global Value’?”
Outside of what’s offered in the box, what value do you get from that brand? How much of a network of racers are using the car? The best way to gauge this is to check out the forums like “RCTech” and see exactly how much traffic that brand/model has going on. Next, are there Set Up sheets for the various tracks/environments to get your car tuned at least in the “Ball-Park” of perfect?
In the end, the choice is yours. RC is a hobby that should be enjoyed and not stressed about. Do some homework, answer the questions above, choose your RC brand, and last but not least, Have Fun! What RC brand do you prefer?