Gearhead News

January 11, 2021
Let This LEGO Car Bot Demonstration School You in Off-Roading Fundamentals

Breakover angle, approach angle, traction, momentum; all of these terms and more are part of an off-roader’s lexicon. If you’re just getting interested in off-roading and overlanding, both of which have been gaining in popularity in the last several years, you may need a little instruction.

Enter the Brick Experiment Channel, which the Finnish brick builder who owns the channel describes as “runs nerdy experiments with LEGO bricks”. They created an inventive video that tests a LEGO car on a variety of obstacles and shows the adaptations to the design along the way until it becomes a complex and capable climber. Incidentally, this video has more than 16 million views after only a week online. The channel offers other fun tutorials like “building a LEGO tank that shoots LEGO soccer balls.” Do not show that one to my son or I’ll be pelted by this time next week.

To me, the best part of this video is helping viewers understand the breakover angle, which is the angle between the bottom of your tires and the middle of your chassis. If you exceed the breakover angle for your specific vehicle, you can end with all four wheels off the ground and no traction, which is not where you want to be. The LEGO bot shows the role of ground clearance as well, which is especially relevant to avoid scraping your undercarriage when tackling uneven terrain.

It also illustrates the importance of traction, showing the way chunkier tires grip the obstacle and smooth tires slip. Deep tread helps to keep your vehicle adhere to the surface, and four-wheel drive gives you better control. Moving pieces around on the LEGO bot shows how weight distribution affects the climb; pay attention to that before packing your vehicle for your next adventure.

The only thing missing is wading depth. Do you hear me up there in Finland? There’s your next video idea. 

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