Rock crawling

Rock crawling

Rock crawling is an extreme form of off road driving using vehicles anywhere from stock to highly modified to overcome obstacles. In rockcrawling, drivers drive highly modified four-wheel-drive vehicles such as trucks, Jeeps, and "buggies" over very harsh terrain. Driving locations include boulders, mountain foothills, rock piles, mountain trails, etc.

Rockcrawling is about slow-speed, careful and precise driving. Rockcrawlers often drive up, down and across obstacles that would appear impassable.

Rockcrawling competitions range from local events to national series. A rockcrawling competition is comprised of obstacle courses that are about 100-200 yards long. Each obstacle is set up with gates, similar to a ski course.

Rock crawling basics

The vehicles

Most commonly the vehicle used is a Jeep, Toyota pickup truck, Suzuki Samurai and even Land Rover Discovery. These vehicles are outfitted with custom parts, power is usually not an issue. These custom parts can include:
#locking differentials
#taller off-road tires
#upgraded suspension
#four wheel steering
#roll cage for driver protection
#engine modifications for increased performance, mostly torque
#lowered gearing in either or all of the transmission, transfer case, or axle differentials
#body armour (rocker panels, fenders, etc.)
#bead locks (locks tyres to the rims for low tyre pressures)
#long-travel shock absorbers, drop shackles, spring-over conversions (to increase wheel travel)

Oversized, low-pressure, knobby mud-terrain tires are used. Most vehicles have a low-geared transfer case to make the most torque in the low speeds used for rock crawling. Suspension-wise, rock-crawling vehicles sometimes have after-market lift-kits installed, raising the chassis and increasing suspension flex, though the rock crawlers running the tougher trails often have fabricated suspension systems, or home-assembled leaf packs to cheaply achieve the goals, making it easier to drive over larger obstacles with less risk of damage to the vehicle. Most suspensions are made to be highly flexible, allowing for the maximum amount of tire area to contact the ground, while keeping the vehicle as low as possible. Due to the conflicting nature of the dynamics and needs of rock-crawling and highway-driving vehicles, it is not unusual to modify a vehicle solely for off-road recreational usage.

Once a vehicle is deemed "off-road only" i.e. not driven on the street and tailored to trails or OHV parks (Off-Highway Vehicle), then the modification possibilities are endless.

Those with the financial resources can build their own rock crawler. The biggest benefit of this approach is that the owner has complete control over what their vehicle is capable of, since each part of the vehicle can be custom designed. Acquiring sponsors can help to cover some of these costs.

ee also

*Land Rover

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