Safety Note: Racing drones are incredibly fun, but they are faster and sometimes more difficult to handle than other drones. It is recommended to fly in an open area with no people, and practice the FAA safety guidelines.
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.
And even a kit to make your own drone racing obstacle course at home.
These drone racing kits come complete with the quadcopter itself, a camera, controller, and sometimes an FPV monitor or goggles as well.
If you’re interested in getting started in the sport, this guide reviews my picks for the best FPV racing drones for sale in 2020 in terms of cost, size, durability, and skill level.
I've then covered common questions I've received from many new racing pilots and tips for what to look for in a racing drone.
Let's get started:
Table of the Best Racing Drones
Hubsan X4 Storm
Best For Beginners
ARRIS X220 V2
Best All-Around Racing Drone
ARRIS X-Speed 280 V2
Holy Stone HS150 Bolt Bee
Best Budget Mini Racing Drone
Bolt Drone Carbon Fiber
Top FPV Racing Drones (RTF & Kits) - Reviews
1. Best For Beginners - Hubsan X4 Storm
For those new to drone racing, this kit from Hubsan comes with everything you need to get started:
- The drone itself
- FPV goggles
- LCD monitor
The quadcopter's body is made from carbon fiber for extra durability. It has a 6-8 minute flight time, and the package comes with two batteries to extend your sessions.
My favorite part about this package is that it comes with both an LCD monitor and FPV goggles, and its compact size allows it to be maneuvered beautifully indoors and outdoors. The Hubsan X4 Storm's 720p camera also provides excellent bang for your buck.
As an added safety feature, the quad comes with low-battery protection, so when it's running out of power, it will automatically return and land at the take-off point.
The Hubsan X4 Storm is the best choice for beginner drone racing pilots or anyone looking for a solid ready-to-fly package.
- A great way to start FPV drone racing.
- Durable frame.
- 720p camera.
- Comes with goggles and LCD monitor.
- One-key take off
- Low-battery protection
- Records video and takes pictures
- 360-degree rolls
- Smartphone app enabled
- Expert mode
- The more vertical frame sometimes catches the wind.
2. Best All-Around Racing Drone - ARRIS X220 V2
The ARRIS X220 V2 is an excellent all-around racing drone.
It comes ready to fly with a Radiolink AT9S + Omnibus controller, Foxeer Arrow Mini Pro camera (one of the best RTF cameras on the market), and it is incredibly durable for a racing drone.
The X220 flies great for freestyle flying, and it isn't too complicated for beginners to start with as well.
(However, the learning curve is higher than more beginner-friendly models).
The X220 V2 is the upgraded version of the original X220, with an upgraded controller, camera, VTX, and antenna. It also comes with an added LED.
Its frame is made of pure carbon fiber, it comes with altitude mode, acro mode, and air mode, and the newly released DALPROP cyclones propellers offer a ton of durability.
This drone is comparable to custom-built racers, for anyone looking for something a little on the edgier side.
- Ready to fly.
- Great for freestyle flying.
- Carbon fiber frame.
- Upgraded version.
- Solid camera.
- Handles nicely.
- Easy to order replacement parts.
- Manual could be more in-depth.
3. Best Design - ARRIS X-Speed 280 V2
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.
- 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. Best Budget Mini Racing Drone - Holy Stone HS150 Bolt Bee
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. Best Durability - Bolt Drone Carbon Fiber
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.
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:
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.