Debating between an electric or nitro powered RC rock crawler?
Firstly, lets cover Electric powered Rock Crawlers. (Just to note, i’m furious about the misinformation floating around about electric powered RC cars)
Although silent (almost dead quiet), it is a common misconception that electric is much less effective compared to the gas powered rock crawlers. Rock crawling is a slow speed affair, so we can take advantage of using very low gearing. Even at high speeds, with brushless motors these days, electric RC cars are outperforming their nitro powered counterparts in every way. This means that the motor spins fast and the wheels will turn slow. Just like a low gear on a car or bicycle, this equates to a lot of torque at a low speed. Electric rock crawlers are much easier to maintain and a lot less messy too! The lack of noise will also please the neighbors for sure.
The disadvantages of the electric/battery powered rock crawlers are the batteries run out very quick, so you’re looking at around 15 minute sessions on average. This is not too bad, considering ni-cad batteries used to only provide us with about 7 minutes. Lithium polymer batteries are really a godsend! Therefore I would recommend some backup batteries. I personally like to charge one battery while I’m using the other. On the bright side, you can keep recharging instead of keep buying fuel.
Now for the nitro powered rock crawlers.
The advantage of RC rock crawlers are the same advantage of any nitro powered RC car. No matter how low on fuel you get, you will have the same performance. When a battery starts to go dead, you will lose power. Again, not a huge deal for electric due to the mechanical advantage provided by taller gearing. But to some this may be a deciding factor.
This can be a pro or a con, but nitro rc crawlers make a ton of noise. Some people enjoy the experience, the smell, the noise. Who are we to judge based on someone’s experience. If you are unaware of the sound of an RC engine, check out this video to find out. You may get annoyed quickly if you don’t know what you are in for!
Another con is that you will need to keep re-buying fuel from your hobby store, especially since you cannot order this stuff through the mail (obvious reasons). This can get a bit annoying depending on how often you run your vehicle. I personally prefer to charge at home instead of running to the hobby store twice a month (like of my buddies do)
To summarize, there is nothing a nitro powered rock crawler can do that an electric powered one cant do. I may sound a little bias, however, most people who run rock crawler competitions are using electric. I believe this is for good reason too! You can focus on your lines instead of keeping your engine properly tuned.