Finding the right racing drone can be a challenge.
They can be more complicated than regular drones, and in the past, you had to build one yourself to get a decent racer.
Luckily, a few manufacturers have come out with some great ready to fly (RTF) racing drones.
These drone racing kits come complete with the quadcopter itself, a camera, transmitter, and sometimes an FPV monitor or goggles as well.
If you’re interested in getting started in the sport, this guide covers common questions I've received from many new racing pilots and tips for what to look for in a racing drone.
I've then reviewed my picks for the best FPV racing drones for sale in 2019 in terms of cost, size, durability, and skill level.
Let's get started:
Table of the Best Racing Drones
ARRIS C250 V2
Force1 w/ VR Headset
Best For Beginners
ARRIS X-Speed 280 V2
Holy Stone HS150 Bolt Bee
Best Mini Racing Drone
Holy Stone HS230
Best Budget Racing Drone
Bolt Drone Carbon Fiber
What is FPV and How Does it Work?
FPV stands for first-person view.
This method of drone flying gives the operator a first-person view from the drone's camera.
Real-time video is transmitted from the drone to an LCD screen or goggles. The pilot may wear goggles, also called a virtual reality (VR) headset, which are similar to those used for playing video games.
FPV flying is an immersive experience. Pilots feel like they are flying in the drone's cockpit. FPV flying is the preferred method for drone racing because it gives pilots better control.
For safety, when pilots are flying a drone in FPV mode, a spotter who watches the drone is recommended.
The spotter’s responsibility is to warn the pilot of hazards or other air traffic not in the pilot’s view.
Do I Need to Buy Goggles Separately?
Some kits come with everything needed for FPV drone flying.
Others do not include goggles, which must be purchased separately. Many professional pilots prefer to buy goggles separately because of their unique requirements and preferences.
Popular goggles for drone racing include:
- Low-Cost Goggles: Arris VR-009
- Beginner Goggles: EACHINE EV800
- High-End Goggles: FatShark Dominator HD3
If you are considering buying goggles separately be sure the goggles are compatible with the control and communication standards used by that drone.
Should I Get a Ready-to-Fly Drone or Build My Own?
Building your own drone is typically a good choice for more advanced pilots who already know how to fly a racing drone and/or are racing professionally. A ready-to-fly model is recommended for new racing pilots.
What Camera Quality Can I Expect?
Higher quality video images are more suitable for aerial photography and videography camera drones.
For racing drones, lower quality images are better because there is less latency (delay) in sending the captured images from the drone to the goggles or monitor screen on the controller.
Another consideration for racing drones is the weight of the camera. Racing drones use a mini-camera that weighs very little. The resolution of mini-cams may be measured in TVL, which stand for “television lines.”
The resolution used for cameras to capture quality video images is measured in pixels. Good video quality is 720p, which is equal to 1,000TVL.
Drone camera video images are low resolution on purpose in order to be able to send them to the goggles or controller monitor very quickly.
The video image quality for drone racing is similar to the image quality of CCD video surveillance.
What Is The Fastest Racing Drone?
TechCrunch reports that the Drone Racing League currently holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest ground speed achieved by a remote-controlled, battery-powered drone quadcopter.
The custom-built DRL RacerX reached the amazing top speed of 179.6 mph on July 18, 2017.
DRL recorded a video of a flight for 100 meters at 163.5 mph. The racing drone achieved the higher speed of 179.6 mph when flying for a longer distance.
The Top Racing Leagues Worldwide
There are drone racing events in most cities, and they can be held indoors or outside.
The indoor events avoid problems with inclement weather and wind. If the local event is produced by a chapter of a larger association, then the competition helps establish the reputation of the drone pilots.
It also may lead to qualification for regional, national, and international championships to determine the best drone racing pilots in the world.
The popular professional racing circuits include events produced by these top racing leagues:
- IDRA - The International Drone Racing Association has races all over the world.
- USDRA - The US Drone Racing Association holds races in America.
- BFPVRA - The British First-Person-View Racing Association produces events in the UK.
- DR1 - DR1 holds races all over the world as part of its Champion Series.
- DRL - The Drone Racing League holds unique races such as where drones fly automatically by being controlled with artificial intelligence software.
- FAI - FAI produces the World Drone Racing Championship.
- MultiGP - The MultiGP Drone Racing League is the largest professional drone-racing association in the world.
- CDRA - The Collegiate Drone Racing Association is for students at colleges.
Where Should I Buy A Racing Drone?
I always suggest people purchase from an online store. When buying from an online major retailer, there is a much better selection than what is typically found in brick-and-mortar stores. Online, you can shop from a wider range of choices more easily and quickly.
Should a Racing Drone Be My First Drone?
It is not unusual to start flying with a racing drone. Many people start with drone racing right off the bat.
However, it is usually a good idea to buy a starter drone as well. This is so you can practice getting used to the controls before flying a more expensive one.
Who Are These Drones Best For?
These drones are good for anyone interested in drone racing for the first time and for those wanting to add another model to their fleet.
Some of the drones reviewed are good for beginners. Others are designed for speed. One is a cheap racing drone for those on a tight budget, and another is made from carbon fiber for more durability.
Top FPV Racing Drones (RTF & Kits) - Reviews
1. ARRIS C250 V2 - Best Overall
The ARRIS C250 V2 racing quadcopter comes fully assembled and ready-to-fly out of the box. It has been calibrated by the manufacturer and successfully flown for a quality assurance test flight before being shipped. And it is ready to go after you charge the battery.
There are improvements in the propellers that come with this drone that have more windward area, better balance, and more strength. This creates about 10% more efficiency over standard propellers.
The communication system it uses is a Radiolink AT9 controller that operates over a choice of 40 channels. The antenna transmits and receives over a 5.8 GHz signal. FPV video is captured at 700TVL resolution by an included XAT700M mini camera.
The controller screen shows the video from the drone camera. An on-screen display shows the flight and drone information as well. VR goggles are not included.
For those that want to use goggles, this system is compatible with Eachine goggles and other types that can be purchased separately. Using this drone requires a battery charger that is not included. Flight time is up to 10 minutes on a battery charge. Flight range is up to 1,000 feet.
- Lightweight and sturdy carbon fiber frame.
- The FPV camera angle is adjustable.
- High-performance X2205 2300KV brushless motor.
- Battery charger is not included and must be purchased separately.
2. Force1 w/ VR Headset - Best For Beginners
For those new to drone racing, this Force1 kit comes with almost everything needed to get started. The only thing that must be bought separately is a battery.
All the necessary pieces come in a nicely designed hardshell case that is easy to carry. The case is strengthened by carbon fiber. The kit also includes a battery charger and an SP F3 remote controller with an AT-9 radio transmitter. The kit includes a VR headset for FPV flying that operates at 5.8 GHz, which allows a nice flight range.
The drone body is made from lightweight, woven, carbon fiber for extra strength. The SE2205-2300k brushless motor gives the drone its rapid speed. It has a range of up to 3,000 feet for its flight radius and can fly at altitudes of up to 5,000 feet.
Added flight control features include one-button takeoffs and landings. It can perform 360-degree flips automatically with the touch of a button.
For beginners, I recommend flying in an area that is wide open with no people. The best places to learn to fly drones are open fields without trees that have soft grass in the case of a crash. When flying outside, practice on days with little or no wind.
- This kit is a good way to start FPV drone racing.
- Very fast.
- Quality, durable materials are used for the construction of the drone.
- Before flying the drone, configuration is required to set up the switches on the controller.
3. ARRIS X-Speed 280 V2 - Best Design
The ARRIS X-Speed 280 quadcopter has the best design for speed. The front airfoil piece directs air up and over the back of the drone to improve flight speed performance.
This racing drone comes fully assembled. It is tested and calibrated at the factory before shipping. This makes it ready to fly out of the box as soon as the battery is charged.
The elegantly designed Raptor S-Tower on the drone body has all the control wiring, receiver/transmitter, and antennae connected in a reduced wiring configuration. This helps keep the drone lightweight and makes repairs easier.
Included with the drone are a Radiolink AT95 40-channel receiver/transmitter and a camera that sends real-time FPV video at 700TVL over a 5.8 GHz signal to the controller. The screen on the controller shows drone flight control information and the video signal from the drone camera.
For those who wish to use goggles, they need to buy them separately. Eachine makes many goggles that work with the Radiolink transmitter. This system is also compatible with the Fat Shark Dominator V3 goggles.
- No configuration required. This drone is ready to fly out of the box after battery is charged.
- Beautiful design.
- Extremely fast.
- No battery charger included. I recommend buying a charger, extra batteries, and extra propellers along with your purchase.
4. Holy Stone HS150 Bolt Bee - Best Mini Racing Drone
The Holy Stone HS150 Bolt Bee mini drone is super cheap and sells for under $50 at the time of this writing. The package includes the controller, a battery charger, and two batteries for extra flight time.
Each charged battery can fly the drone for up to seven minutes. It is advertised as an entry level mini racing drone for beginners.
Because of its small size it can fly up to 31 mph and it can reach top speed in less than a few seconds. There are five speed modes so it is best for beginners to start at the lowest speed until they get used to using the controls.
My opinion is that if someone already knows how to fly another type of drone, such as one used for aerial photography, and wants to get into drone racing, then this is a good practice drone to buy.
The Holy Stone HS150 has 6-axis gyro stability, and it can fly in headless mode to be oriented as the pilot wishes. It does automatic rolling and flips with the push of one button on the controller.
- Super cheap.
- Various speeds.
- Weighs only 2.43 ounces, so no FAA registration is required.
- No automatic altitude capability.
5. Holy Stone HS230 - Best Budget Racing Drone
The Holy Stone HS230 regular-sized racing drone can fly up to 28 mph. This drone is designed to be wind resistant.
It stands out from the other drones because the video image quality is higher definition at 720p (equivalent to about 1,000TVL). The camera captures a 120-degree field of view.
The video is transmitted over either a 2.4 GHz or a 5.8 GHz signal in real-time to the controller. Video can also be recorded on the 4Gb TF card that is included. The memory card is pre-installed inside the onboard video camera. The FPV video is shown on the monitor that is integrated with the controls. No smartphone is required to operate this drone.
The Holy Stone HS230 has three speed modes. In the fastest mode, it will reach top speed in less than a few seconds. It has LED lights for night flying. It flies in headless mode and does 360-degree rolls and 3D flips.
It comes with two drone batteries and two USB charging cables plus one controller battery with another USB charging cable. It can fly up to ten minutes on a single charged battery. Included with the drone are eight spare propellers.
- Super fast acceleration.
- High-quality real-time streaming video with the ability to record it.
- Long flight time.
- Requires a 10 minute cool down between flights to avoid motor overheating.
6. Bolt Drone Carbon Fiber - Most Durable
The Bolt drone has a body frame made out of tough carbon fiber, which is lightweight and strong.
The package for the Bolt drone includes a 640 by 480 LCD screen that can be detached and used with the controller or used with the included goggles for FPV flying.
The camera has a wide-angle lens to capture views. The real-time video and control communications transmit over a 5.8 GHz signal with little latency making it very responsive to the controls. It has altitude stabilization to keep it flying at a level altitude.
Bolt is ready to fly out of the box with no assembly or calibration required. It comes with a battery and a battery charger for the drone and a battery with a charger for the screen.
It has a flight time of up to 15 minutes on a fully charged battery. It can fly up to 30 mph. It has LED lights for night flying.
- Good low-cost drone for practicing racing.
- Long flight time of up to 15 minutes.
- Level-flight feature is very helpful, especially for beginners.
- If it loses the communication signal, a fly away may occur.
There you have it! The best FPV racing drones for sale in 2019.
My favorite choice from the drones I reviewed for this guide is the ARRIS C250 V2. It is pre-tested and ready to fly right out of the box. No calibration or assembly is needed.
Once the battery is charged, it is ready to fly. The quality of this drone is good and I prefer to be able to buy my goggles separately for FPV flying because I like to wear certain brands of goggles that I find are more comfortable and have better viewing screens that the ones typically included in any packages.