One of the most common questions we hear about RC cars and trucks is, "how fast does it go?" While this seems like a common, ordinary and easy question to answer, the truth is that there are a number of different factors that contribute to a vehicle's speed, torque and acceleration. One of the big determining factors is the gear ratio and transmission of your vehicle. While things like installing a faster motor or higher voltage battery are easy things to understand, wrapping your head around gear ratios can be like taking an advanced course in physics, geometry, algebra and trigonometry. While there's a lot going on, there's some simple ways to get a basic understanding of what the gears in your transmission do, what changing them means and how things work. We've also put a list of commonly used terms together for you below for quick reference to help you as you progress.
External Gear Ratio -- The gear ratio of the gears that are visible or outside of a transmission case. This is the ratio of the pinion and spur gear.
Final Drive Ratio -- The gear ratio of the entire drive system in a car or truck. This includes the internal gear ratio of the transmission and the external gear ratio of the pinion and spur gears. You can calculate this ratio by dividing the spur gear tooth count by the pinion gear tooth count and multiplying that total by the internal transmission ratio.
Gear Ratio -- A gear ratio is the relationship between the number of teeth on two meshed gears. This relationship is expressed mathematically. For example, if one gear with 50 teeth is driven by a gear with 20 teeth, the gear ratio is 2.5:1. You would calculate this by diving 50/20 for a total of 2.5.In an RC Car, you have 2 different ratios you'll need to work with to achieve the proper gearing for a specific application and goal. The first is the external ratio and the other is the internal ratio.
Internal Gear Ratio -- The gear ratio of a vehicle's transmission gears separate from the pinion and spur gear ratios. The internal ratio is a fixed number determined by the manufacturer of your vehicle.
Module -- For countries that use the metric system, Module is the equivalent of pitch. It typically refers to the pitch diameter, in millimeters, divided by the number of teeth. The higher the number on the pitch, the finer the tooth profile is. The common module types are 1.0 module and 0.6 module.
Pinion Gear -- A small gear that directly attaches to the output shaft of an electric motor.
Pitch (AKA Pitch Diameter) -- In countries that do not use the metric system, pitch refers to the number of teeth on a gear with a 1-inch pitch diameter. The higher the number on the pitch, the finer the tooth profile is. The finer the pitch, the more efficient the gear; however, since they have less material, they are often more prone to stripping if the mesh is not set properly. The more coarse the pitch, the less efficient the gear will be; however, they are also more durable and less susceptible to damage. 48 pitch is the most common pitch in RC, however, 64 pitch and 32 pitch can also be used.
Spur Gear -- The large gear mounted to the top shaft of your transmission in an off-road vehicle, the center differential in an 1/8-scale or 4WD Short Course Truck or the main lay shaft in an on-road vehicle. The spur gear is driven by the pinion gear or clutch bell.