The 10 Best Go Karts
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in October of 2015. Young children or teenagers who aren't quite old enough to get behind the wheel of a car will jump at the opportunity to be in the driver's seat of one of these fun go karts. We've included pedal-driven models for very little ones, as well as battery- and gas-powered options that reach top speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour that are suitable for older kids and even adults. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best go kart on Amazon.
January 02, 2020:
A few models on this list have seen upgrades, most notably the Razor Ground Force Drifter. This was a model that already lacked tires that could handle difficult terrain, and it seems the company doubled down on this, adding a more powerful brake lever that allows kids to jerk the wheel and effectively drift the vehicle in turns on its rather slick back tires. That brake system is also designed to create a fun display of sparks, but it's important that kids operate this in an area where there are no fire hazards.
We also saw fit to add a few new models to the ranking, like the Coleman Powersports KT196 Red and the Taotao EK80 Electric. The former is a fine option from a reputable brand, even if it's not welded as well as some of the competition, and the latter actually comes from a company that's better known for producing street scooters. It's surprisingly powerful for an electric model, and it has big, knobby tires and good ground clearance for use on trails.
Of course, safety is a big issue with these vehicles, which is one of the reasons we removed the Actev Arrow that had been previously included. Ultimately, this was an issue of the balance between design and power, as the kart could reach up to 12 mph, but was built so low to the ground and with such slick tires that it created a moderate hazard on anything but very flat ground. Whatever the model, make sure riders wear protective gear.
A Motorsport For Just About Anybody
Recreational karts are rented by the session for use on both indoor and outdoor tracks.
Regardless of a person's age or level of competitiveness, there is always a place for participation in organized sports, particularly as it pertains to the benefits of one's mental and physical health. While this is true for many traditional sports like baseball, basketball, and football, the same can be said for the world of car racing and go-karting.
Different from a car's design, the go-kart is an open-wheeled vehicle equipped with either one or two seats, a total of four wheels, accelerator and brake pedals, and is usually driven around some type of a circuit (or track). Go-karts typically sit very low and close to the ground and are completely exposed to the elements, as there is no front, back, sides, or roof to their design. However, due to the vehicle's low center of gravity, the go-kart is more likely to spin on its own axis during high-speed runs in the event of a mistake or accident, as opposed to flipping over, making it a safe alternative for both young and old hobbyists.
Go-karts fall into two main functional categories, recreational and competitive. Recreational karts are powered by either four-stroke engines or electric motors, whereas racing karts utilize the two-stroke engine, with the primary advantages being valveless operation, lighter weight, and the potential for twice the power of the four-stroke design due to having twice as many power strokes per revolution. Recreational karts are rented by the session for use on both indoor and outdoor tracks. They are constructed with sturdy chassis and dedicated bodywork for promoting driver safety. Some tracks also offer the use of low-speed karts that are strictly-designed for amusement purposes. While recreational karts definitely have a place in the hobbyist or family sense, it's the racing category that truly illustrates the uniqueness of both the sport and vehicle itself, depending on the type of track or race in which the driver is participating.
The simplest type of racing kart is known as the Soap Box Derby kart, or gravity racer. It is so named because the vehicle is motorless and propelled by downhill gravitational forces against either a clock or another competitor. The gravity racer reaches a top speed of approximately 70 miles per hour. The three remaining types of racing kart include the sprint, enduro, and oval karts. Sprint karts are the most commonly used in competitive racing circuits due to their available speed and ability to be used on many different types of tracks. Oval karts are most common in the southern areas of the United States, similar to those used as part of NASCAR. Oval kart chassis are built specifically for making tight turns in a single direction. Enduro karts represent the smallest division of kart racing, but they also have the reputation for being the fastest out of all three with an average speed well over 90 miles per hour. Enduro kart racers also typically lie down flat inside the vehicle for achieving superior aerodynamics.
Finding A Balance Between Safety And Fun
Chances are if you have a kid, one of the first things they're going to want is something they have control over, especially if they're still too young to drive a car. That being said, investing in a go-kart offers several benefits to keep in mind when bringing one into your family. In the simplest sense, go-karting is just an all-around fun activity to experience. Unlike some other sports that require training and practice to become efficient, go-karting doesn't require any prior experience, but it's just as exciting to learn how to drive one and to understand its dynamics and subtleties. That said, one must always be prepared for the inevitable and make sure the construction is durable to support potential accidents, even if it isn't designed to speed along like an enduro kart. Some of the best go-karts feature sturdy steel frames with air-cooled engines.
Chances are if you have a kid, one of the first things they're going to want is something they have control over, especially if they're still too young to drive a car.
A kart designed for both indoor and outdoor track use can also make the experience more enjoyable, as you won't be limited to certain types of driving environments. For that reason, you should pay close attention to the types of wheels with which the kart is equipped to ensure it can handle a variety of smooth and rough terrains. If you plan to use a kart specifically for competitive racing purposes, the best kart wheels are typically constructed from magnesium alloy due to its overall strength and ability to shed excess heat more quickly and easily than aluminum wheels. In this sense, magnesium wheels are stiff and do not retain heat, making it easy for them to accommodate high-horsepower applications and long races without losing performance. Magnesium wheels are also great for use in rainy conditions, as they provide a superior grip on both wet and dry terrain.
Finally, you should keep in mind that go-karting can be a family activity, especially if your vehicle is equipped with more than one seat. Kids can drive with their parents in a controlled track environment without having to worry about getting pulled over or getting in trouble with the law. In this sense, go-karting is a great way for a kid to release his or her excess energy during the formative years preceding the time they actually get behind the wheel of a regular automobile.
A Brief History Of Go-Karts
Veteran hot rod lover, mechanic, and race car builder Art Ingels is credited as the father of modern go-karting, having invented the first kart in 1956 while working as a mechanic at the Kurtis Craft Company in collaboration with his friend and neighbor, Lou Borelli. This first kart was made from a combination of scrap metal and a lawn mower engine.
This first kart was made from a combination of scrap metal and a lawn mower engine.
The Go Kart Manufacturing Company was the first kart manufacturer to appear in the United States as early as 1958, followed by the McCulloch Motors Corporation as the first to produce kart engines in 1959.
By the 1960s, the motorcycle engine was adapted for kart use before the rise of dedicated engine manufacturers for the sport.
By the 1990s, the evolution of kart design along with the introduction of regulatory bodies, such as the World Karting Association and International Karting Federation, helped define the sport as one of the first steps for aspiring racers to hone their driving skills. This trend still holds true today.
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