You have a number of options for tires out there to choose from.
- HPI T-Drifts (most common out there)
- Tamiya Driftechs
- Yokomo Single Rings
- HPI LP’s and Type A treaded
- Active Hobbies
- Shimizu Racing
- Blade Racing
- RC Spice
- Raikou Drift Tires (from NYC)
- Sushi Tires aka PVC tires
Which tire is better?
Every brand/Type reacts differently depending based on the compound of the tire, hardness, and the type of surface you run on. HPI T-drifts (smooth) and Tamiya driftechs are pretty much your all weather, all surface tire. Plus, they are easy to find. Yokomo rings usually do better on smooth slick surfaces like polished concrete, while something like PVC (Sushi) piping is a little more difficult on asphalt, but works better on carpet. Which ever tire you use, consider the surface that you drift on the most. Note, that at a lot of RC drift comps, there usually is a tire restriction. In Norcal, it’s HPI T-drifts only.
How long do tires last?
I get this question sometimes. Tire wear depends on how you drive, the setup of your chassis, and the surface. Obviously, a chassis with a big agressive motor is going to eat up tires on asphalt, while cambering your wheels will create inside tire wear. For the most part, your tires will last several months depending on how often you drift. But it’s always a good idea to stock spares if you can. You can also rotate your tires every now and then to even the tire wear out.
“Do I need camber?”. Yes and no. Camber does help out. But there are a some instances where you can get away with not having any camber, but like I mentioned before it depends on the driver and chassis.
So what is camber?
Basically, it’s changing the angle of your wheels so that they lean in towards the center of the chassis (measured in degrees). Note that for some weird reason camber is positive in the RC world, but negative in 1:1 racing…don’t ask. We all just call it negative since it’s what we’re used to. Camber is achieved by shortening the suspension upper arms on your chassis by turning the turnbuckle. What camber does is help create more contact between the tire and road when turning.
Here’s a little physics. When you drift there are several forces acting on the car. First there’s the inertia at which the car is traveling due to acceleration and momentum (remember that a body in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force..Newton’s 1st law). Then there’s friction at the tires that is working opposite of the inertia. The result is that when you go hard into a turn and slide, weight shifts towards the outside of the turn laterally (again, watered down physics lesson). And when that happens, due to the weight transfer and how suspension works, the chassis will “lean” into the direction you are traveling, and the inside of the tire will lift slightly. See below.
Ever wonder why old school 1:1 drifters used oni-kyan or “demon-camber” (a lot of camber in the front) when they drift? It’s to reduce front tire slide and improve steering in the front (more traction) for an underpowered car, reducing understeer. Although this doesn’t apply RC as much since your chassis is 4WD, the concept is similar.
So with camber, you can see that your intial contact patch with the ground is minimal when standing still. But in the middle of a turn, the car leans, and the contact patch increases. This gives the leaning side a little more traction and grip which is important when you are exiting the turn, or trying to pull in on a clipping point.
How much camber do I need?
Again, it depends. In my opinion, unless your set for countersteer, 3 degrees is enough. A lot of guys use 3 degrees front and rear, which is typical on yokomos. My TB03 has 1 in the front and 2 in the rear, and my TT01 runs 0 camber all the way around (it weight shifts a lot). So test it out and figure out what suits you the best. Remember that more camber increases traction in a turn and less camber decreases traction.
The one thing you have to remember about camber is that eventually the inside tire wear will “flatten” out eventually. So even though you have cambered wheels, the initial contact of the tires will be completely covering the ground as if you were running 0 camber. So watch your tire wear and replace the wheels if needed.
Rims…we love them cause they make our chassis look good. But believe it or not, rims can affect how the car drifts.
What does it mean by offset?
The offset of the rim is basically how much the lip of the rim sticks out from the face. Offset is measured in millimeters. The bigger the number, the “deeper” the rim. Common offsets are 0,3,6, and 9mm. Rims from speedway pal in Japan sometime come in offsets greater than 10 mm.
What offset should I use for my body?
Again, a very common question. First, you need to know the width of your body:
- Tamiya, Yokomo, and some ABC bodies = 190 mm
- HPI bodies = 200 mm (with the exception of the Trueno and Levin).
Of course there are certain bodies such as the BMW Z3 and S2000 that are slightly smaller.
The larger the body width, the bigger offset rim you can use. Most tamiya and yok bodies can only use up to 6mm. HPI’s can take 9mm. Of course, if you add a little camber, you can probably use a bigger offset. Also, look at the body and the shape. Take the yokomo supra for example. It’s technically a 190mm body, but since it has really wide fender flares, you can use deeper offsets. Before you buy rims to match your body, keep in mind the width. Or just ask on the forums. We’ve run just about every single body you can imagine…lol. The last thing you want are wheels that stick out.
Now I mentioned before that deep offsets change how the chassis drifts. How? A bigger offset means that the tires stick out more. When the tires stick out more, you are changing the track width of the car. Now it can be contested that a couple of mm won’t make that much of a difference. But depending on the surface, it can. Just something to keep in mind in case you’re wondering why your Chaser body with 12mm offset rims is under steering a little.