Popularized by the Fast and the Furious franchise, drifting is a cool driving technique that relies on the combination of smooth surfaces and smooth tires to reduce friction and perform a sideways glide. There are lots of sleek RC cars designed specifically for drifting, but you don’t have to buy a whole new car to perform impressive drifting tricks. There are some simple modifications and best practices you can follow to improve your chances of a successful drift. Check out our easy tips for drifting your RC car – you’ll be power sliding before you know it.
Choosing the best tires for drifting
Because drifting relies on a lack of traction, choosing tires that minimize the creation of traction is your best bet. You can go online or to a hobby shop to purchase tires that are designed especially for drifting. They are typically high performance tires with a very smooth surface, allowing for minimal friction. These tires are quite durable and can hold up to repeated drifts and heavy use, but they can also be somewhat expensive. Fortunately, they aren’t your only option.
It’s not that tough to drift with non-drift designed tires, as long as they’re smooth and you’re on the right kind of surface(see our section on surfaces below). If your car’s tires aren’t particularly smooth but you’re not ready to invest in a new set to try drifting, there are a few alternatives. PVC pipe with the appropriate circumference can be cut and slid over tires to provide hard and nearly traction free running experience. If you don’t have the tools or knowledge to tackle a project of that magnitude, a simple roll of insulation tape can also smooth some tires – run the tire over the tape in the direction it rolls for a continuous friction free loop.
Choosing the best surface for drifting
As we’ve already established, executing successful drifts relies on eliminating traction. In order to achieve a successful drift, your best bet is to choose surfaces that offer minimal friction and no obstacles. When drifting indoors, carpeted surfaces should be avoided. Even low pill carpets tend to provide too much friction for drifts to execute successfully. When you’re outside, it’s important to stick to super smooth surfaces like macadam – regular sidewalks, dirt, grass, mud or sand will all make drifting difficult or impossible. So where CAN I drift this thing, you ask? Easy! Tile, linoleum and hardwood floors make the best indoor surfaces for drifting. When choosing from those possibilities, try to pick a surface with no deep ridges between connecting panels, as they disrupt the motion necessary to drift. Essentially, you want to be running your car on the flattest plane possible to achieve the longest, smoothest drifts.
Focusing on chassis construction
Both in concept and action, modifying your car’s chassis is far more complex than choosing new tires or picking the right running surface. It’s not always possible to do, especially if your RC car came RTR (ready to run). The ideal drifting chassis features a low center of gravity – to achieve that, the motor and battery should be close to the ground. Chassis that are made for drifting accommodate just that, letting builders mount the parts in a way that makes drifting easier.
It’s very possible to plan an RC build around the desire to drift. Full kits for drifting models exist, as do independent parts that can be used to put together a model that’s unique to you. The best drifting RC cars feature shock dampers as well as front and rear differential for improved control. They also make use of a heat sink, which helps your vehicle to maintain safe temperatures. This is essential, because drifting can really strain a motor and lead to untimely burnout.
When you understand what forces make RC cars successfully drift, it’s easier to improve your execution. By changing the tires of your vehicle, your surface choices, your chassis and your control style, you can achieve consistent, deliberate drifts. There are tons of videos available online that show drift execution from start to finish as well as tutorials, forums and chat rooms full of experienced hobbyists eager to help out. Basic techniques combined with help and knowledge from experts online will get your RC drifting successfully in no time.