Go-Kart Parts

Go Kart Parts, Go Kart Engines, Go Kart Tires

Whether you are building a go-kart from scratch, modifying your current kart or just renting one for a fun-filled session, knowing your go-kart parts and how they work together is an important component in controlling and enjoying this motorized recreational vehicle.

In this article, we will explore the specific go-kart parts to help you better understand how this powerful little vehicle works.

The Go-Kart Engine

The engine is perhaps the most important feature of all the go-kart parts.

Many go-kart do-it-yourselfers will salvage gas powered motors from lawn mowers for use in their go-kart. These units have enough torque to make the perfect go-kart engine. Engines from motorcycles and small cars have also made their way into homemade go-karts, as well as those manufactured specifically for the go-kart. Basically, if the engine will fit within your go-kart frame, it can be used as a go-kart engine.

Electric go kart motors are also widely used, particularly on indoor track go-karts – no fumes!

Go-Kart Frame

The go-kart frame is another important component of all the go-kart parts. The “chassis” of your cart will have to be both durable and well-constructed to keep your go-kart wheels connected to the track while steering through the apex or navigating your way over the rugged terrain. Experts know that losing control of your kart is more likely to happen with an inferior go-kart frame, getting this component right is vital in having a successful vehicle.

A good go-kart frame needs to be flexible, lightweight, and durable. They are generally manufactured from steel tubing and are available in four different models;

  • Caged – this type of go-kart frame has a roll cage fitted onto the bottom of the kart. It encircles the rider and protects them from a crash or “rollover.” Sometimes this type of chassis will have a roll bar instead of a full cage. This bar is placed directly behind the driver’s seat.
  • Open – an “open” frame is just that – there is no protection from a rollover.
  • Straight & Offset – these frames are categorized by the placement of the driver in the go-kart frame. The “straight” frame will position the driver in the middle of the kart while the “offset” driver will be sitting on the left-hand side of the go-kart frame.

Go-Kart Steering Wheel/Assembly

Go Kart Parts, Go Kart Wheel Assembly, Go Kart Steering WheelThe go-kart steering wheel and assembly are another important feature of the go-kart parts. The steering assembly’s job of turning the go-kart is two-fold; it has to turn the go-kart without causing surging or tire squealing. A poor steering assembly can cause uneven tire wear and “clunky” turns on the corners.

There are two different designs of go-kart steering assemblies:

  1. The Bogie Steering System – this is the most efficient system. It has the two front wheels mounted on the same beam or the same axle, which then allows it to pivot in the center section. The Bogie is similar to a “pull-behind” wagon where the front handle directs the front wheels, changing the direction of the wagon. The downside of this type of go-kart steering assembly is that it can take quite a bit of force to turn the wheels.
  2. The Ackerman Steering System – this type of steering is where the axles are mounted on knuckles (steel mechanisms) away from the go-kart frame. The go-kart wheels rotate vertically around the pivots, causing them to turn. The Ackerman steering system also consists of levers that are put onto each one of the steering knuckles. The length of the lever dictates movement and force required (the longer the lever, the better they work). Think of the system as a parallelogram – there should be an equivalent amount of movement in the steering wheel and in the wheel knuckles as they are turning.

Go-Kart Torque Converter

The go-kart torque converter is an automatic transmission that gives great power, especially in the off-roading go-kart. The torque converter is made up of belts and two pulleys that work in conjunction with each other as the speed of the kart changes.

A go-kart torque converter can be driven at low speed (for uphill climbs) and can automatically detect which gear it needs to be in depending on the amount of gas being given to the engine as well as the terrain it is being driven on. This type of mechanism also allows for smooth shifting. The benefit of having a torque converter is more power is transmitted when the go-kart is in low gear. When the kart is at a higher speed, the pulleys change to produce a “lower gear ratio” (kart can climb quicker).

Go-Kart Centrifugal Clutch

If your go-kart is being driven on pavement and your main objective is to race at high speeds, then the centrifugal clutch is your best bet. This single-gear-ratio drive mechanism differs from the go-kart torque converter because it is always in high-gear (torque converter has both a high and a low gear). Clutch karts need to be driven at a minimum of 5 or 6 mph to prevent the clutch from burning out – even driving at low speeds for two minutes can destroy a go-kart centrifugal clutch.

Go-Kart Seat

The go-kart seat is much more than a place to sit while go-karting. Experts will tell you that choosing the best seat for your needs is a must-have. The go-kart seat comes in many different styles (padded, unpadded, plastic, carbon, fiberglass, soft, stiff, flat bottom, etc.). If you are building your go-kart from a kit, then the manufacturer will recommend the right seat for your go-kart frame.

Over the last five or six years, the flat bottom go-kart seat has gained popularity. This style of go-kart seat allows the driver to sit lower in the kart which, in turn, lowers your center of gravity. This is perfect for taller drivers, as it allows them to steer the kart more effectively.

One important tip to keep in mind when choosing a go-kart seat is to remember the seat is like an oddly-shaped torsion bar (“regular” torsion bars run horizontally and give the go-kart frame more stability). Stiff seats will enable the kart to lie flatter, while softer seats will allow the go-kart frame more flexibility, which is good if you are off-roading and need some built-in suspension.

Go-Kart Tires

Go kart tires, Go kart racing tires, Go kart partsThe go-kart tires are just as important as those you have on your everyday vehicle. The type of tires you choose for your kart will depend on what you are doing with your go-kart.

If you are off-roading, you will want the knobby-style tire that provides the maximum grip required on rough terrain. If your go-kart wheels are intended for asphalt, then there are different types – tires that are grooved are designed for water while “flats” (that do not have any knobs or grooves) have complete contact with the pavement.

You will also want to pay attention to the sidewalls of the tires. There are generally two styles; the stiff sidewall and the soft sidewall. Stiff sidewall tires do better on asphalt and tracks, while the soft sidewall acts as a natural cushion while adding suspension on rugged terrain.

Go-Kart Brakes

When you are running your go-kart at breakneck speeds you will want to have a good set of brakes to help you stop safely and quickly. There are three main types of go-kart brakes:

  1. Tire Rubbing Brakes – uses a piece of metal or aluminum that is pressed against the tires to stop the go-kart. The downside of using the tire rubbing style of brakes is that the go-kart wheels tend to wear out faster.
  2. Band Brakes – braking band material is wrapped around the drum (a metal disc-shaped object used in most brake assemblies). When the band is pulled on, the braking material rubs hard on the drum to stop the go-kart. Although this style of braking is very compact, it does produce a lot of heat.
  3. Disc Brakes – uses a disc of steel that is rubbed on with a friction-type material (usually rubber) which is clamped on both sides of the plate. This style of the brake can dissipate the heat faster and better than the other two styles can. Disc brakes are commonly used on higher-end go-karts on all four wheels. When the brake pedal on the go-kart is depressed, the brake fluid causes these two rubber pads to squeeze towards one another. This then puts friction on the brake disc (mounted onto the axle) which then slows the go kart down.

Go-Kart Parts Conclusion

As you can see, many components go into a go-kart. Understanding this complex little vehicle will enhance your driving skills and handling of the go kart. If you like to tinker with your go kart, learning how each go kart parts interact with each other, you can improve the performance of your kart and therefore your performance on the track.

If you’re feeling ambitious you can build your very own custom go kart from scratch. Knowing these go-kart parts will be your first step in this fascinating and rewarding adventure.

Building a Go-Kart

Build a go kart, Go kart kit, Go kart parts

Building a go-kart requires time, special tools, money, and dedication. As we find ourselves in self-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this may be the perfect time to flex those creative “muscles” with a go-kart building project.

Even if you’ve never built a motorized vehicle before, there are go-kart kits for sale that will give you everything you need to get your kart up and running.

Let’s go explore the karting world of building a go-kart.

Go-Kart Build Kits

Unless you want to hunt down all the go-kart parts separately (and there’re a lot of them) then your best option is to purchase a go-kart kit. Complete go-kart kits come with everything you need to build a go-kart, including the engine. However, be sure to do your research, as some go-kart kits may only include the basics e.g. no engine included, and you will have to drop your own in the go-kart or buy one separately.

Go Kart Kit, Build a Go-Kart, Go Kart Kits for sale
This Go Kart Kit is available at GOKARTS USA.

Go-kart kit parts include:

  • Front A-arms assembly (where the wheels connect to the go-kart)
  • Steering assembly
  • Mainframe (chassis) assembly
  • The “guts” (nuts and bolts etc.)
  • Drive axle assembly

Note: If you are building a go-kart for a child, aim to have the following:

  • A beginner’s go kart engine with a power range of 5-7 hp
  • a 3/4″ shaft
  • a centrifugal clutch or 30-series torque converter.

Electric Go kart motor, Go kart engine, go kart partsElectric Go-Kart Kit

Electric go-karts have a motor that runs on a DC motor. A Direct Current motor is a type of electrical current that comes out of a battery (rather than an AC current that comes out of your wall socket (Alternating Current)).

When purchasing a battery for your electric go-kart, keep the voltage in mind – in the case of a go-kart, you will want a low-voltage battery. Experts recommend using not more than 48 volts of electricity (four 12 v batteries). Any more than this and you run the risk of overheating and frying the motor.

Two advantages of the electric go-kart kit option are:

  • an electric engine allows the go-kart to hit higher speeds
  • electric engines are lighter than gas powered engines and easier to handle.
Go kart parts, Go kart accessories, Go kart engine
Predator gas engine available from Amazon

Gas-Powered Go-Kart Kit

If you decide you want to build a gas-powered go-kart then you will want to keep these things in mind:

  • Gas-powered go-kart kits have a heavy engine that is mounted in a specific location on the go-kart.
  • The size and mount of the gas-powered engine affects the performance and handling of the go kart, if done poorly, your go-kart can end up being clunky and uneven which can potentially lead to inexperienced drivers running the risk of tipping or flipping the gas-powered go-kart.
  • These types of engines also tend to run hot, so they are not recommended for children or beginners.

Go-Kart Upgrades

Experts recommend starting the go-kart building process with a new chassis. These will be straight and reliable right “out of the box.” Up-grading a go-kart frame may come in the future as your engine becomes more powerful or you go from an electric to a gas-powered unit.

To help increase the current speed of your racing go-kart, install a turbocharger to the engine. The “turbo” increases the amount of air being compressed inside the engine, which then will increase the horsepower and the engine output. However, know that turbochargers can be pricey and they do require skill to install, so enlist the help of a mechanic if you’re unsure of the process.

Another go-kart upgrade to help increase the kart’s speed is to use larger tires, especially on the rear of the vehicle. This allows the tires to push the go-kart forward with each revolution of the tire because they have more contact with the surface.

Increase the speed of your go-kart by installing a smaller sprocket on the drive axle and a larger one on the engine output. This change allows for more revolutions each time the engine makes a cycle.

Cool Go-Kart Accessories

If you want to “glam” up your go-kart with some fun accessories, why not try Glow-Lights. These LED lights are designed to fit on the underbody of your kart. They are simple to install and the control box allows you to change the color-mode.

Depending on what your new (or used) go-kart kit includes, you may want to upgrade your steering wheel to a fancier model such as a wheel covered with leather or colored material.

When building a child’s first go-kart, finish it off with a telescoping spring-mounted safety flag. It’s not only a cool go-kart accessory, but it will help those other beginner go-karters see your lil karter on the track.

Racing Go-Kart Parts

Experienced go-karting is all about the speed, so what happens when you put a Honda 1000 Fireblade engine on a go-kart? You will be going from 0 to 60mph in 2.4 seconds! If that isn’t crazy enough, this racing go-kart can hit a top speed of 186mph!

Do not try this next racing go-kart part at home!

Inventor, Colin Furze, has attached a small jet engine to a go-kart frame. How did he do it? He modified the go-kart chassis by almost five feet and “tinkered” with the fuel intake to allow it to burn either gasoline or diesel fuel.

Check out his crazy go-kart here.

I can’t believe he’s not wearing a helmet and all manner of safety gear such as a fire-retardant racing suit!  As for wearing a tie, is he mad?

Building a Go-Kart

Whether you decide to get a new or used go-kart or construct one from a go-kart kit, always follow the directions closely and ask for a professional’s help if you get in a bind. Go-karting can be a fun pastime for young or experienced drivers, so during this COVID-19 lockdown, why not embark on the exciting project of building a go-kart today!