If you’ve decided you have a passion for drone racing, then even as a beginner, you will be on the hunt for the best racing drones available. First-person view (FPV) drone racing is one of the most thrilling types of competition out there, and it turns former non-aviators into adventurous first-person fliers at last.
Racing drone technology is constantly advancing, making today’s best racing drones tomorrow’s outdated models and, on a more positive note, creating increasingly accessible models for racing drone lovers across a wide range of ages, skill levels, and budgets.
Of course, to get the most out of drone racing, you have to be able to compete and put on a good showing. This means that the best racing drones for one pilot will not necessarily be the best racing drones for another due to many factors, including experience levels and drone-buying budgets. It is important to evaluate the best racing drones for you based on your personal drone experience and how long you have been pursuing this high-tech sport. Remember that, since some races and organizations have stringent guidelines, it is important that you select a drone model will be eligible for competitions and events that you may choose to enter later on.
The Best Racing Drones: FAQ
Whether you have been racing drones since they first came on the market or are new to the sport, you probably have at least a few “holes” in your knowledge about picking the best racing drones for you.
Check out these frequently asked questions to make sure you evaluate your options effectively. They could make or break your racing success as you get more and more involved in this exhilarating sport.
1. What Are the Best Racing Drones?
The best racing drones are much more than just unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). They are precision instruments: radio-controlled quadcopters and other small aircraft that include cameras and mounted displays that bring the user right into the race. Since a drone racing pilot only sees what the drone sees, highly responsive equipment and effective, reliable streaming is a must. All components of the best racing drones are linked by high-speed, reliable connections for complete control of the machine at all times. Some drone racers opt to purchase all of their equipment for the best racing drones as a set in order to optimize how the pieces of the “puzzle” fit together. Others are happier upgrading or customizing certain pieces of equipment, such as the FPV goggles they wear while flying, even if they stick with drones that have served them well through many flying sessions. Since not all drones accommodate upgrades or customization efforts equally well, if you do plan to “tweak” your machine, it is critical to consider how this will affect both performance and your warranty coverage.
2. Is Drone Racing a New Thing?
Drone racing is relatively new as an organized sport or form of competition. The first documented drone races took place in Australia in 2013, and Brisbane and Melbourne remain central locations for some of the biggest events. Today, drone races are found all over the world, though. You can race indoors or outdoors and through a variety of courses, including science-fiction-inspired tracks and natural obstacle courses.
3: What Other Equipment Do I Need to Get Optimal Performance from the Best Racing Drones?
Although there are some racing leagues that will provide all the equipment for you, including the drones themselves, and charge accordingly, most organizations and events will require you to bring your own equipment. The best racing drones come equipped with the aircraft itself, which is often, but not always a quadcopter-style craft, goggles, and controls. If you plan to do a lot of drone racing, you will also need to have plenty of spare parts on hand. This is because racing can be very hard on your equipment, especially if you’re a bit of a rookie and thus more likely to crash.
4: Is Drone Racing a Legitimate Pursuit Likely to Last?
Although the sport is less than a decade old, there may well be dozens of drone racing leagues in your immediate area. Some require membership, while others are more informal and designed mainly for support and training purposes. One of the best ways to identify which machines will be the best racing drones for your purposes is to observe others flying and working on their drones. You can do this in a real race setting as well as during practice. This will allow you to observe what issues other pilots have with their machines and determine if those problems and advantages are likely to affect you as well.
5: Can I Make Money by Drone Racing?
While there are not a lot of professional drone racers yet, the sport is beginning to expand and offer a few sponsorship opportunities. As the Drone Racing League (DRL), an international organization, establishes more sources of funding via venture capital and advertising, it is likely companies will begin to show more interest in sponsoring individual racers. Conceivably, these trends and efforts could create an environment wherein a major investment in the best racing drones for you could pay off exponentially, However, many leagues, including the DRL, strictly govern what types of machines race against each other and how pilots are permitted to upgrade and customize those machines.
6: Do I Need a Pilot’s License to Race Drones?
Although you can fly your racing drone indoors without registering it, to fly outdoors you are required to register any drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds. In addition to “licensing” your drone, you may need to get additional licensing from the FAA. If you use your drone for any commercial purpose, you will need a basic drone pilot’s license. Furthermore, the FAA is considering making winnings in drone races subject to regulations that would classify them as being “paid to fly.” This would require additional reporting and licensing, but it is not yet entirely clear whether such initiatives will move forward. A Quick Note on Line Of Sight & Spotting Issues
In addition to needing to register certain drones and possibly get a drone license yourself, there may be additional regulations you need to follow in order to be safe while racing.
For example, if you plan to wear goggles while you are flying your drone, then you may need a spotter because those goggles keep you from keeping your eyes on the drone itself. In essence, you can only see what the drone can “see” when you are wearing your goggles. There may be other “line of sight” issues to consider while racing as well.
How We Reviewed The Best Racing Drones The following products were reviewed based on their features, pros and cons of the machines, prices, availability for purchase, and warranty coverage. We also considered whether given a product would be considered among the best racing drones for beginners, intermediate, or experienced pilots, and how many, if any, upgrades and customizations would be possible for the pilot. Because drones vary so much in terms of how difficult they are to fly, some attractive options will make a drone higher in quality and performance but also too difficult for a novice pilot to control, it was important to note how well a specific racing drone operates “on its own,” so to speak, and what types of assistance the drone offers in terms of helping a newer flier compensate for potential problems. For example, some drones have return-to-home (RTH) settings that kick in if the drone starts to get low on power or if the signal starts to fade. Additionally, serious drone racers often have multiple drones in their “stable” of racing machines in order to always select the best option for a given competition or event. On the other hand, if you are relatively new to drone racing, you may want to invest in a racing drone that offers other benefits as well, such as “selfie mode” or VR gaming. We were careful to note additional features like these in our reviews as well as whether or not our reviewers felt they interfered with racing performance in any way.
Overall Price Range Although basic drones can be bought at a low price, the best racing drones come with lots of highly advanced equipment and are a good deal more expensive. They start around the average price range and may reach up to the premium price range for some of the top-performing, highly feature-rich models. Most of the best racing drones we evaluated cost between the average and premium price range, making them relatively affordable for the average racing drone enthusiast.
Walkera Rodeo 150 Racing Drone with Devo 7 Features This Walkera drone is equipped with a 600Tvl HD wide-angle camera for high-powered, real-time image transmission. It is also equipped with a key that allows the pilot to switch between high-efficiency and high-performance modes on the drone. This drone has a relatively limited battery life of about six minutes, but that is plenty of time to whip through many high-speed drone racing courses designed to test the best racing drones available. The Walkera Rodeo 150 comes with a flight controller, but it does not come with goggles. You will not have to assemble this machine, but you should have at least an intermediate level of flight experience to enjoy flying it without undue risk or worry. Unlike many of the best racing drones, which may rely on intermediate flyers to have the ability to actively prevent drone crashes on a regular basis, the Walkera Rodeo 110 is extremely durable. This makes it an ideal “second step” for drone racers who have moved beyond beginner but are still learning some of the finer moves in the sport. The Walkera warranty allows customers to ship their aircraft in for repairs and returns as long as the product was “normally used,” purchased from an authorized retailer, retains all of its labels, serial numbers, and other marks, and shows no signs of tampering or alteration. Remember to retain your proof of purchase in case you need to make a warranty claim.
Holy Stone HS230 Racing FPV Drone Features If you do not like the feel of goggles but you love the thrill of the race, then the Holy Stone HS230 drone may be for you. With a 120-degree modular camera and 5.8G LCD screen, you will be able to enjoy all the speed and altitude you like. This drone does not hover, but it can reach flight speeds of about 28 mph within seconds of launch. This model has a headless mode and also offers 3D rolls with the simple push of a button, which might lead some consumers to believe it is a model for beginners. In reality, this drone is not for beginners and requires a high level of drone-flying expertise. The machine comes with modular bonus batteries, two USB charging cables for the drone, and one charging cable for the transmitter to enable longer flying times at top speeds. Holy Stone will replace any drone purchased from an authorized retailer that exhibits a quality-related issue during the first 30 days of ownership. After that period of time, a Holy Stone drone comes with a 90-day accessories warranty as long as the drone is used as directed. Holy Stone also offers flight support for all Holy Stone drone owners. The company does not recommend using this drone in wind, rain, or snow, but many pilots report that the drone holds up well in all three types of adverse conditions.
Hubsan H123D X4 Jet RC Helicopter Features This micro-sized, speed-racing helicopter comes with an HD, 720p camera and offers 3D roll control as well as incredible speed. The Hubsan H123D has a maximum flight time of 10 minutes, a transmitter with a high-visibility screen, and it is lightweight even with the battery. The machine takes a bit over 2 hours to recharge a drained battery. This drone is good for younger fliers, with the manufacturer recommending it for users age 12 and up. A heavy-duty carbon fiber frame and strong, brushless motors make this drone extremely durable. Even the propellers can take a beating from time to time. The manufacturer offers a basic warranty that applies if the machine is used normally and was purchased from an authorized retailer. This coverage includes repair or replacement of the machine or components if the failure occurs within a year of purchase. Missing copters are not covered by this warranty.
RISE Vusion House Racer Features The RISE Vusion racer is a great introductory drone for pilots just getting started in FPV drone racing. It is extremely tough due to its injection-molded construction, and this drone records flight footage so you can review a winning (or almost-winning) performance after you race. This machine has enough speed and agility to be competitive without making it too difficult for a beginner to handle. This is one of the toughest drones around because of that injection-molded construction. That’s a very good thing since this drone is really fast even though it is designed for beginners. The manufacturer guarantees the product will be free from defects upon delivery as long as you purchase from an authorized retailer. However, once you modify or use the drone, the warranty on this device becomes fairly limited.
ARRIS X220 FPV Quadcopter Racing Drone Features This zippy drone comes fully assembled, tuned, and tested so that you can open up the package, charge up your machine, and start flying. This Arris quadcopter-style machine is not for beginners because it is extremely fast, but intermediate flyers will enjoy the highly responsive performance and fly-at-open option greatly. This drone is very sturdy and appears strong in flight, and we enjoyed using the adjustable FPV camera. This drone is very durable and comes with a standard hardware warranty that covers the machine for 12 months within date of shipment if the unit is defective. ARRIS also offers a 90-day-from-download software warranty and email support. There are also extended warranty options from some retailers that could cover another 12 months as long as you use your drone normally and avoid modifying it in ways that void this coverage.
EMAX HAWK 5 FPV Racing Drone Features This drone has an extended flight time without requiring pilots to sacrifice control of the drone to get that benefit. The EMax Hawk 5 has a number of customizable design options, so you can tailor it to your preferences once you have received the machine. This drone has a micro camera that transmits vibrant images to the high-contrast screen. This drone is not for beginners, mainly due to its many customizable settings. Because this drone is for advanced fliers, the expectation is that it will not necessarily be under as much duress as a machine for beginners. However, with normal use, the drone still does qualify for a basic warranty if you purchase it from an authorized dealer. EMax has a solid reputation for strong machines and solid customer service, but you should still be sure to keep your drone’s serial numbers and watermarks intact along with your proof of purchase.
Atoyscasa FPV RC Drone Features This drone’s FPV camera and live video options are easy to use and adjust, even prompting one fan to refer to the view from this drone in flight as “God’s view.” It has an altitude-hold function that activates when the throttle stick is released. Equipped with headless mode, one-key takeoff and landing, and optical flow function, this racing drone is easy to control even at high speeds. The battery is rated to offer six-to-seven minutes of flying time on a charge and the package comes with an extra battery. In reality, users report getting much longer flying sessions out of this quality RC drone from Atoyscasa. The drone comes with extra parts, and Atoyscasa has a reputation for providing extremely strong customer service. The warranty, like most drone warranties, requires you to purchase the machine from an authorized retailer. The company honors a 45-day money-back guarantee if the product has not been misused or abused. You also benefit from a longer, 18-month warranty covering defects.
Force1 Racing Drone with VR Headset Features This racing drone is exciting for many drone aficionados because it comes with a VR headset as well as the typical controller. The camera on this sophisticated flyer designed for adult, highly skilled racers provides amazing live video feeds. Force1 is known for its strong warranties, and the company offers a full refund if an adult or teen is not satisfied with the flying experience. This warranty covers the machine for 90 days from the point of shipment, and the product must have been used as intended and not disassembled or modified. Make sure you keep a record of your warranty code, which you can access by registering your drone online.
Holy Stone GPS FPV RC Drone HS100 Features If you love Holy Stone drones but really want GPS-assisted flight and built-in return-to-home (RTH) functions, then this racing drone could be the ideal one for you. This drone automatically returns home when the battery begins to get low, the signal gets weak, or the machine flies out of range. The camera has adjustable angles, captures videos and photos, and you can take advantage of real-time viewing via the remote control. This drone is great for the beginning or intermediate racer who also wants to take great selfies thanks to “follow me” mode, which keeps you in the frame at all times and allows hands-free flying. This drone offers up to 15 minutes of flying time and good range. It also offers solid control retention at high altitudes, making it ideal for blasting through complicated racing routes. Note that this drone is recommended for users aged 16 and upward. Holy Stone will replace any drone purchased from an authorized retailer with a quality-related issue for the first 30 days of ownership. After that period of time, the machine remains covered by a 90-day accessories warranty as long as the drone is used as directed. Holy Stone also offers flight support for all Holy Stone drone owners.
Hubsan X4 H122D Storm Pro Version Racing FPV Drone Features This racing drone kit comes with a transmitter, monitor, and high-quality goggles. It is designed for aerobatics, so you can anticipate doing 360-degree flips and rolls. This pro-quality Hubsan drone has an expert mode of 10 meters/second with no wind and a normal mode of three meters per second with no wind. Although the basic kit does not come with this capability, the drone also supports firmware upgrades as they become available. This machine will return to its take-off point automatically and reliably. Because of the multiple speed options and several other aspects of its design, it is a good choice for beginning FPV racers. Hubsan offers free repair services under its one-year warranty and reserves the right to determine if the device qualifies for those free repairs after inspecting it. The owner must be the original owner and cover the shipping costs to send the product to Hubsan. The drone must have been purchased from an authorized retailer and not modified or operated in an “inappropriate” way.
The Best Racing Drones Not surprisingly, the answer to the question of which are the best racing drones will not be the same for every racer. A lot depends on how much experience you have and what types of races you like the best. All the options in this review meet high standards for quality, agility, and serving the needs of the target pilot audience. A few of these machines definitely stand out, however. Looking for Maximum Durability? For durability, few options can beat the RISE Vusion racer, which is well served by its injection-molded construction and carbon-fiber frame. If you are a relatively new drone racer but know you are serious about your pursuit of excellence, this drone will definitely give you a feel and taste for speed while protecting your investment. It also comes with goggles and spare propellers. Is Image Quality Important? If you are looking for a good multipurpose drone that will beat the competition while also documenting your lifestyle or supplementing your business in some photography-related way, then the Holy Stone GPS FPV RC Drone HS 100 could be the answer you have been looking for. With “normal” and “expert” settings, aerobatic capabilities, selfie and “follow-me” modes, and plenty of speed as well as GPS and return-to-home settings, this Holy Stone flyer could easily be one of the best racing drones for you. Overall, these racing drones run the gamut from beginner to professional skill levels, and they cover every angle of drone racing preference. You may find that, as you spend more time racing your drones and competing with other drone racers, that some pilots have an entire “stable” of preferred racing drones that they use. You may decide to equip yourself with a drone selection you can tap for different weather conditions, course demands, and competition. Whether this is your first drone or you have a stable of dozens, we hope this information helps you to more carefully evaluate your purchasing decision and make sure you are investing in the best racing drone for you.