The Future of RC Rock Crawling

The Future of RC Rock Crawling

One could argue that RC rock crawling has been around as long as there have been RC trucks and rocks. There’s some truth to that, but true rock crawling with specific-built machines is still a relatively young segment. Rock crawling really started when conversions of Tamiya’s TLT-1 and Clod Buster began growing in number.  In those early days, however, crawlers had to be pieced together from multiple sources. The typical 2.2 crawler used Tamiya axles, a Traxxas Stampede transmission, a homemade chassis and the suspension links were often made out of various turnbuckles. The diffs in the axle and transmission had to be locked with JB Weld. There were a few different recipes out there, but every crawler was a little of and a little of that. And, that is what I’ll call phase 2 of RC crawling. If that’s phase 2, what’s phase 1? Phase 1, which was relatively unknown, was when small groups of scale enthusiasts hit the rocks and dirt with vehicles such as Tamiya Bruisers and Tamita CC-01 chassis with Pajero and Jeep YK bodies. This scale off-roading and crawling was small in scope because the vehicles were relatively scarce. Phase 3 is when the segment really blew up in terms of popularity and went completely mainstream RC. The release of Axial’s AX10 kicked off stage Phase 3 and 2.2 crawlers became far more popular than the larger and less scale looking Super class crawlers. Phase 3 saw the release of vehicles such as the Losi Comp Crawler and Venom Creeper. Companies such as Tamiya and Kyosho also released 2.2 crawlers. Phase 3 was a time of huge growth but also huge change for crawling. As the hobby took off, competitions also did, but eventually the scale aspect started grow. While some argue that the competition side of the segment is as big as ever and growing, others will say that it became too specialized and they lost interest and that, overall, the competitions aren’t what they used to be. Who’s right doesn’t matter. What matters is that the segment has evolved greatly. Now, we’re about to enter a new phase. Well, I predict we are. Axial will once again be the chief motivator, but this with its new Wraith rock racer. I seeing rock crawling evolve out of the 2.2 comp scene that made up most of Phase 3 into a mix of scale rigs and go-fast, go-slow scale vehicles like the Wraith. We’ll see even more Top Truck Challenge style trucks and even more comps with mixed obstacles. I say more because clubs are already doing this. I see less interest in the ultra precise and technical go slow crawling and more interest incorporating some speed and action. This is what I see as the future of crawling or at least a big part of what we call rock crawling.

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Updated: July 21, 2015 — 4:49 PM


  1. i agree with J, i too see crawling staying like it is, technical courses, go slow, but i also see those same people getting into TTC, tough truck, style races, enduro races, a mix of high speed sections and jumps with slower technical sections mixed in to test the skill of drivers and durability of the rigs. all in all i am excited that i got into crawling in time to see it grow. i love my venom creeper, and still want to run it a lot, but that new wraith is calling me as well.

  2. Hey Matt,

    I agree that Axial may once again lead crawling down the road of change with their new Rock Racer. However, I disagree that there will likely be “less interest in the ultra precise and technical go slow crawling and more interest incorporating some speed and action” and that “crawling [will] evolve out of the 2.2 comp scene”. On the contrary I see a fork in the road, maybe two. I see “Rock Crawling” “Rock Racing” and “Scaler” sectors diverging into independent and equally lucrative ventures. Smartly, Axial is embracing all three. Regarding “less interest”, Axial has a vested interest in go slow crawling, the XR10. This crawler by Axial is making crawling accessible to a larger audiences than ever before. It is actually quite competitive with the exotic hand built Berg-derived rigs and I’m interested to see if Axial can put one on the podium at Nationals in Vegas this year. Axial knows there is a future in go slow crawling and they have invested a lot in it. One the same note, this year local crawling event organizers are actually building courses that are more challenging and technical in order to challenge the rapidly improving drivers/rigs and to diverge from racing. Keep in mind that Crawlers are highly motivated fanatics and that crawling is not giving ground to racing or scaling. Case in point, this year, Axial initially shook up the 2011 Axial West Coast Championship schedule by planning the scaler event on Saturday thus bumping the crawler event to Sunday. Uproar from the crawler camp ensued and after the dust settled, the scaler event day was moved to Sunday allowing the crawlers to compete on the preferred day. With the XR10 in the picture and doing well, Axial can’t brush crawlers to the side. However, it’s obvious that Axial wants scalers (AX10) and soon racers in the spotlight as these segments may in fact have a larger market potential than crawling. We all love RC bashing after all. I think one stage is no longer big enough for Crawler/Scale/Race events and this recent AWCC schedule scuffle may be a sign of things to come. Separate events for the three disciplines may be where this goes. Regardless, Axial is slap dab in the middle of each one and is poised to capitalize. It is in their best interest that all three succeed so I don’t see one squeezing out the other(s). It would be like iMacs squeezing out iPhones and iPads. We need all three.


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