It’s a wonderful day for crawling. You have found the absolute perfect rock pile, and you can’t wait to climb to the top.
However, your crawler needs new tires. It doesn’t have the traction to get over even the first rock. All the power your crawler is known for is being wasted as the wheels just spin. It’s obviously time to get some new tires. But what kind should you choose?
If you put the wrong type of tires on your car, it is a situation that’s not easily rectified, and there are a lot of factors to choosing the best ones. That’s why I’m here.
By the time you finish this article, you’ll know everything you could ever need to know about RC tires and have my picks for the best crawler tires on the market today.
The Importance of the Right Compound
The softness of an RC car tire is called the compound. Every manufacturer has a range of tire rubber, so therefore a range of compounds.
They give names to these compounds to make it easier to find what you want. However, if you’re a newbie to all of this, it can be really annoying and overwhelming to discern what you truly need for your car.
Though it may be tempting just to snag tires that look as if they’d fit your car, this isn’t a good idea. This is not the time for trial and error, so let’s discuss some compounds and the situations they work best for.
Though the temptation may be to choose the softest compound you can get, it is important to make sure that is what you need. Super-soft compounds are best on rock-hard racing surfaces where there is no dirt at all. These are known as blue-groove conditions because the racing line comes up blue from deposited rubber.
You should only use super-soft compound tires when that particular compound generates traction, for example when you are crawling.
Soft Compound Tires
Soft compound tires are a bit harder than super soft tires. They work best when there is some loose material on the track surface, or if the track is dusty.
Medium compound tires are best if your racing surface is bad. For example, if there is a lot of loose material on the track surface, or it’s becoming rubble.
Another time when medium compound tires are useful is if weather conditions are poor. For example, these tires are great to have if the racing surface is moderately wet or muddy.
Hard Compound Tires
Most people don’t use hard compound tires. In fact, they’re only two times you’ll ever need them. Use hard compound tires only if the track is incredibly wet, or if it is a grass track. Otherwise, these are not good choices and could cause your car to spin and slip.
The profile of your tire, or carcass shape, comes in two main types though there are other profiles between the two extremes. Square tires have a flat crown. This means you can stand a tire up on a flat surface without attaching it to the car and it will stand on its own.
These tires are best when you are on a relatively smooth surface. They give great forward traction because most of the contact patch touches the ground at all times. They also give excellent traction through corners.
However, these tires fail in any situation where the car slides sideways a lot as they can get caught up in ruts and cause the car to flip or get out of shape.
Rounded tires will not stand up on their own when not attached to the car. They are excellent when the track is rough and rutty. However, they do not get good forward traction on smooth surfaces.
Another factor to consider when choosing tires is the tread pattern. Certain tread patterns are best in certain conditions.
Micro-spike tires work best when track conditions approach blue groove status. The track needs to be dust-free and relatively smooth for these to be your tire choice.
Though these tires sound like they would be furry, they aren’t, of course. They are another tire that works well in blue groove conditions. However, this type of tire can work on looser track conditions as well.
Mini-spike tires are the best compromise tire. They will work in almost all conditions except blue groove. However, they are a risky choice if you’re racing in blue groove conditions as low contact patch can cause them to lose traction.
Stubbies are best when the track surface is broken up. If there are ruts and loose debris, these are excellent tires. They have also been known to work well when the track surface is hard-packed.
Step Pin Tires
Step pins are another great compromise tire. They work wonderfully in broken, messy tracks. However, the Mini Step will work in anything up to blue groove surfaces.
3D Treads are excellent tires. When they are half worn out, they still have the same traction as when they are new. This is because of the tread design.
The last layer of tread on the tire is designed in such a way that it’ll still catch onto the track surface, even if the outside layers of the tire are worn away. This tire longevity helps you get more money out of each set of tires.
If you are going to buy tires for your rock crawler specifically, it’s important to pick the right size tire. There are two different sizes, 1.9 and 2.2.
These sizes refer, of course, to the wheel size they are made to fit and the inner diameter of the tire. Though that may not seem much of a difference, it tends to be.
You can put 1.9 tires on a crawler made for 2.2 tires, or vice versa, but you are going to have to make modifications if you do. That’s why it’s important to check out the size before you buy.
However, there is another aspect of the size you need to know about. The height, width, and diameter of the tires are important too.
Though taller tires increase ground clearance and wider ones give more of a contact patch, bigger isn’t always best. If you want to use bigger tires, you’ll need to change your body alignment and gearing. Heavier tires also put more wear-and-tear on your drive train.
If you are planning on using a monster truck, truggy, or stadium truck for all your off road fun, you will need to choose the type of sidewall you want.
A higher sidewall provides more flex and therefore makes cornering a little more difficult. Lower sidewalls have little to no flex. This means corner speed is greatly improved.
Inserts act like air in a full-scale tire. They are molded to the exact inner shape of the tire’s carcass. Because they are like full-scale tires, they can help with cornering and acceleration.
Inserts are either hard or soft. The harder the insert, the more stable your car will be when turning, cornering or crawling.
Many inserts are made of foam. This foam comes in two types, standard foam and memory foam. For most of you, the standard foam will be the best. It will work well on most all track types and provide a lot of stability.
However, it’s important to keep your track in mind. If you are going to be crawling on rocks exclusively or if you plan on competing in rock crawling tournaments, memory foam is what you need. This special foam contours to the shape of the rocks, preventing slippage and increasing your climbing ability.
Tread or Foam: Which is More Important?
If you have been in the crawling hobby for any length of time, you’ve probably heard a number of mixed opinions about tread and foam. Some people think the tread is most important, and others think the foam is. With all this dissension, you are likely pretty confused.
The truth of the matter is far simpler than the disagreeing parties would make it out to be. In reality, you need both tread and foam. Foam won’t fix the problems bad tread design causes. Also, tread design won’t fix nonexistent foam.
For that reason, when comparing tires, it is always necessary to consider not only the compound but the tread and foam as well.
Camber is the angle of the wheels on your RC vehicle, and making sure that this is properly adjusted will make all the difference in performance.
Having a badly-adjusted camber will mean that the wheels are angled, which means that less of the surface patch of the tire has contact with the track.
This results in your vehicle losing traction when going straight.
If you adjust your camber properly, however, you will increase the area of the surface patch to contact the track, increasing your traction while cornering and making sure that your vehicle drives smoothly and handles predictably.
Balance Your Tires
Just like full-sized tires, RC tires need balancing. Unbalanced tires can lead to wobbling and vibration. Vibration can lead to many problems in your car, including bent parts and wear on your shocks.
If you make sure the tires are properly balanced, your car will drive smoothly and handle well. Also, the tires won’t wobble which will increase the longevity of your bearings.
Best RC Crawler Tires Reviewed
Now that you know how to pick the tires for your crawler, let’s discuss some of the best tires on the market.
SkyQ 4pcs 108mm RC Crawler Tires Tyre and Wheels Y Shape for 1/10 RC Crawler Buggy Car
These are super high grip tires, designed for most crawlers. They are made of a soft, super sticky compound with wide, deep lugs that will grab onto any rock you should choose to climb.
They are designed for traction and stability, not for speed. So, it isn’t wise to put these on anything but a crawler.
These tires come with everything you need. This includes the tires themselves, the foam inserts and the wheels. Literally, all you need to do is glue the tires, and you are ready to start crawling.
Even better, the quality and price are excellent. If you buy these tires, you can be assured that you’ll get the best bang for your buck.
Duratrax Deep Woods 1.9 Inch RC Rock Crawler Tires with Foam Inserts, C3
These Duratrax tires are suitable for crawlers with 1.9-inch wheels. Duratrax tires are designed to crawl, and they feature four different tread patterns for the customization you need. This particular set are Deep Woods tires, which means they feature an aggressive tread for extreme off road bashing.
Beyond that, they feature a super soft, sticky C3 compound so you can get traction on loose, loamy, sandy surfaces, mud, water and whatever other conditions you might encounter, and the lugs are deep enough to plow through almost any terrain. They will even maintain their excellent performance if you’re in a parking lot or in your back yard too. These really are amazing off road tires.
For added sidewall support, the Deep Woods tires also include CA-safe firm foam inserts. These inserts will conform to the tire’s reinforcement ribs.
Perhaps the best part of these tires is that you don’t even have to mount or glue them. They come premounted on 1.9-inch eight-spoke wheels.
Pit Bull RC PB9003NK 1.9 Rock Beast Scale Crawler with Komp Kompound
These Rock Beast tires are miniature versions of Pitbull Rockers. They feature varied tread design for both forward and lateral traction and bite all across the tire footprint. Furthermore, these bad boys are designed to increase your speed and control as you drive. They feature great lateral bite excellent stickiness and amazing traction.
Sadly, there are a couple of downsides on these tires.
Firstly, they only come two to a bag, so you’ll need two bags, one of the front tires, and one of rear if you want to entirely pimp out your crawler. Secondly, though they stick well to most surfaces, they do not do nearly so well in snow.
RC 4WD Mud Slingers 1.9″ Tires (1 Pair)
Do you want some soft tires for your crawler? If so, these just might be right for you. The compound on these is really soft, which allows it to grip any surface.
However, you will need to use the included foam inserts as without them, the tires will buckle. The inserts are wonderful, though. They are just firm enough to support while still giving the tire enough flex to grip the rocks and mud.
The tall lugs with side biters provide aggressive traction on most surfaces.
Do be aware of the downsides, however. Firstly, these are not waterproof. This means you can’t take your crawler through puddles with them. Secondly, they are sold in packs of two. This means you will need two sets.
Crawling can be a lot of fun. However, you need the proper tires for your track surface. If you don’t have the proper tires, you will find yourself unable to properly crawl.