RC Off Road Buggies VS RC Crawlers

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Hello, everyone.

How are you doing? In today’s post, we are 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 this hobby for sure!

We 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 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. At this point, we will share some useful and interesting facts about these RC cars!

If you ask us which to pick, I would suggest you get a rock racer.  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. The RC crawlers differ from RC off-road buggies in many ways! These differences are described in the following paragraphs:


When It comes to the design of an RC crawler, we will think of its durability. RC crawlers are not like any ordinary RC off-road buggies; these crawlers are designed to handle extreme off-road condition like mountains or any other rocky ground.

These crawlers are crash-proof, so they can be easily operated by a beginner also! They are designed in such a way that main body components have zero contact with the 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.

I tried upgrading an scx10 with a brushless motor in the hope that they can be a 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 turns.

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

Check out the price of a 1/8 DHK buggy on eBay.


The body for an original RC off-road buggies is usually made of plastic with an aluminum plate underneath in order to provide extra protection.

On the other hand, the body 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 main frame of the crawler. Thus the quality of the body does actually matters! In the high priced models, the frames are usually made of aluminum, while lower prices ones are usually made of plastics. As speed is not a consideration, we should get ones made of the strongest material.


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


The ordinary RC off-road buggies usually do not have a transmission as it is a very complicated system.  In fact, RC off-road buggies are usually for speed, so they do not need a transmission.   On the other hand, 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 powerful transmission, an RC driver switch between different modes of speed and power on their RC crawlers according to the current road requirements!


Usually, RC crawlers are not for speed, but for crawling power, so having a good amount of torque 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.

We usually use a brushed motor with a turn between 35 and 55. Any motor above 55T is too slow. While we can use a brushless motor 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 the sand with power.


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 ESC.  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.  There is a post about the very good RC rock racer/crawler in the Chinese market.


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 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! You can find many review posts about these RC racers on my blog. 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 the comment sections.

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