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!

Go Kart Tires

Go kart racing tires, go kart tires, kart tires

Go kart tire, kart tires, go kart tire pressureThere is a lot to consider when attempting to get the best performance out of your go kart, tires are an important component to examine to ensure success.

As I’m sure you will have seen, when watching other forms of motor racing such as Nascar, Formula 1 etc., tires and their condition are monitored and discussed at length, highlighting their importance.

Obviously tires are the contact point between a go kart and the track (as with all race cars), so to be fast and accurate through your racing line, your tires’ condition is of paramount importance.

A number of things can impact the performance of your tires:

  • tire pressure,
  • the quality of construction,
  • tire temperature,
  • wheel alignment and
  • balance of the vehicle.
Tire Pressure

Tire pressure, make sure you get the right tire pressure for optimum race performance. This will be determined by the manufacturer’s specifications, the weight of the vehicle, including the driver, and even the weather conditions – if it is extremely hot this can cause the PSI (pressure is measured by Pounds per Square Inch) to increase slightly and vice versa.

Quality of construction.

Generally speaking (but not always), the more you pay for your tires, the better they will be. But there can be a trade off between a tire’s traction (softer tires tend to warm up faster and adhere to the road better, giving you better control faster) and its durability, softer tires will wear faster than tires made of a tougher compound. So cost can be a factor in your decision making.

Also, make sure the tires you have chosen are appropriate for the size and weight of your go kart, again check the manufacturer’s specifications.

Tire Temperature

Go kart racing tires, go kart tires, kart tiresThe temperature of tires increases as they are driven. Getting them to the right temperature allows the tires to adhere to the track surface at an optimum level – enough stickiness to have really good steering control but not so sticky that steering becomes difficult.  Warming up your tires before a race, during a warm up lap, gets your go kart to be at its peek performance at the start of the race, rather than working your way into the race. You don’t want to waste time by starting the race on cold tires – as we know, in speed races, every tenth of a second can count. Cold tires don’t have as much grip as warm tires so you may end up sliding around corners wasting precious time and control.

If the tires get too hot, they will start to blister and parts of the tire’s surface might fly off, this can potentially become dangerous, so you should not continue on blistered tires.

Wheel alignment and balance of the vehicle.

Ideally you want all 4 tires in contact with the track surface working in unison to enable the best control of the go kart. As with skiing, you are moving the fastest and have the most steering control when in contact with the racing track.

Poor wheel alignment, that is if the wheels aren’t running evenly across the width of the tire, will lead to faster wearing of the tire, or feathering, in the area that has the track contact. Balance of the go kart will also impact the wear of tires, if more weight is over one of the tires, then try to remediate that by re-balancing the kart itself, or changing the pressure of the tire to compensate.

When racing go karts, as with all racing cars, tires are an important and integral component of your success. So it is essential to keep a thorough check on the quality of your tires’ condition.