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RC Drift set up (Things to adjust and how)

RC Drift Set Up

For drifting in RC, basically you need a perfect balance between slip and grip. RC cars have to drift through the corners, while you also want control of that drift. RC drifters usually tune grip in or out by changing the way the chassis transfers weight i.e more grip up front equates to more steering. This is the basis of chassis tuning. All adjustments require a properly set up RC car. No bad bearings, nothing binding, droop is equal side to side (not necessarily front to back), ride height is equal side to side, camber is equal side to side, etc. These set up changes should be made one at a time so that any change can be noted. It is also best to start with a fresh kit and work from there. Believe it or not, RC companies do put R&D into this and provide the most beneficial all-around setup for kits.

Things to adjust when your car is UNDERSTEERING (no particular order)

  1. TIRES/CAMBER (for Yokomo drift rings)
    • More camber in the front
    • Less camber in the rear
  2. DROOP
    • Increase droop in the rear
    • Decrease caster angle
    • Increase Ackerman angle
    • Decrease in the front
    • Decrease in the rear to account for low speed understeer
    • Increase in the rear to account for high speed understeer
    • For Ball Diffs
      • Loosen front ball diff
      • Tighten rear ball diff
    • For Front One-Ways
      • Tighten rear ball diff
    • For Center One-Ways
      • Loosen front ball diff
      • Tighten rear ball diff
    • For Rear Spool (or Direct Drive for Tamiya Fans)
      • Loosen front ball diff
    • For Front Spool (or Direct Drive for Tamiya Fans)
      • Tighten rear ball diff
    • Adjust inner camber link position more towards the center of the chassis i.e. longer camber link, in the front
    • Adjust camber link so that it is more level, in the front
    • Lower Shock Position
      • Move inward towards the chassis on the front
      • Move outward away from the chassis in the rear
    • Upper Shock Position
      • Make shock more laid down in the front (may be source of contention.  I know in grip, laying it down more generally reduces body roll as the car turns.  However, drifting has less grips, so I think the more progressive feel of a laid down shock may give more grip, can someone verify?)
      • Make shock more vertical in the rear
    • Softer springs in the front
    • Stiffer springs in the rear
    • Thinner oil in the front/Larger piston holes in the front
    • Thicker oil in the rear/Smaller piston holes in the rear
  11. TOE
    • Front Toe
      • More toe-out
    • Rear Toe
      • Less toe-in
    • Thicker anti-roll bar in the rear
    • Thinner anti-roll bar in the front
    • Lower ride height in the front
    • Higher ride height in the rear

Things to adjust for OVERSTEER
Opposite of everything listed above


Always the first thing to look at.  Even with a great setup, tires can ruin it.  For competitions, tire choice is often controlled to level the playing field and make it more of a drivers competition.  In general, radials (rubber tires) offer more grip, while plastics offer less.

  1. Yokomo Drift Rings
    With these tires, camber should always be your first stop in gaining or loosing grip.  In general, more camber means more grip, as the majority of the contact patch become rubber. 
  2. ABS Tires
    With ABS, many people say to run 0 camber. However, more experienced drivers will tell you to have at least negative 0.5 degrees camber all around.

Droop is often misunderstood and confused with downstop settings.  Droop is the measure of travel of the chassis from its static position, to its most extended position (see Figure XX).  The downstop setting alters how much downtravel you’re A-arms will experience.  It is set by turning the screw in the A-arm (see Figure XXX).  Therefore, altering ride-height and the downstops effect droop. 

Adding droop on one end will increase grip on the other.  So, if you are experiencing lots of off-throttle under-steer, you can increase your rear droop.  Confused?  As you let go of the throttle, weight shifts forward.  By allowing the rear of the chassis to travel more upward (equates to more droop), you allow more weight to be transferred to the front tires, giving more steering.  Droop can be a powerful setting, and if not properly set left to right (not necessarily front to back), you can end up with a chassis that does not handle equally left to right.

Caster describes the angle between the king pin and the vertical (see Figure XXX).  It actually leans the tire in the direction of the turn.  More caster will lean the tire more in the direction of the turn.  This, along with camber effects the tires contact patch.  Too much or too little lean will minimize or maximize the contact patch.  However, in general, more caster will yield a smoother turning car, with less initial turn-in.  Less caster will give you car with sharp turn in.  This is why you see many off-road cars with caster angles of up to 25º.  Less initial turn-in means less looping out on loose dirt.  It is adjusted by changing out the C-hubs in the front (most likely have to be purchased separately).

See “Tires” section

Refers to the Ackerman angle, which is the angle difference between the wheels as they turn-in.  The inner wheel will always have to turn in more than the outer wheel.  As you turn in more and more, the difference between these two angles increase.  This is usually adjusted on the steering turnbuckle connection on the front hub (see Figure XXX).  A more angled connection will yield less Ackerman, and vice versa.  For low grip conditions, it is generally recommended to more Ackerman

Track Width
Refers to the width of the car, measured from the outside of each wheel (see Figure XXX).  Wider is better, right?  For stability, yes, sharp turn in, no.  A narrow front track width will increase the front grip and steering.   A narrow rear track width will increase steering on the front end at low speeds, and increase grip at the rear at high speeds.


  1. Front One-Way:  Just as described, the front wheels are only allowed to turn one-way.  A one-way bearing in the diff prevents the tire from spinning backward.  While on power, both front wheels get equal power (no differential action).  Off-power, the front wheels free spin on their own accord.  This give high initial turn-in, and allows you to really pull through the exit of a turn, as both front wheels are applying maximum power to the ground.  Breaking becomes an issue, as the nature of the one-way does not allow breaking to effect the front wheels.  In effect, its like yanking the e-brake on a car.  With out proper attention, this causes the car to loop out much easier, and makes it twitchier at speed.  Generally those who run a front one-way will run a very loose rear ball diff if not already running a spool.
  2. Center One-Way:  Like the front one-way, but only disconnects the front and rear wheels from each other.  A ball diff would still be used up front, so there is differential action.  Yields a much milder initial turn-in, and braking is not as much of a concern.
  3. Ball differential:  Typically run tighter up front than the rear.  Looser in the front translates into better transitioning left to right, and looser in the rear translates into less transitioning left to right.
  4. Spool (direct-drive for the Tamiya fans!):  A locked differential.  Literally, it’s a solid axle.  Generally used in the rear for drifting.  Typically, locking the rear would cause an understeering situation as the inner wheel is not allowed to rotate slower through a turn.  However, with drifting, allowing both wheels to put equal power to the ground allows the rear end to break loose easier.

Source: drccentral, Written By Scotwithonly1t

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