Go-karting is a really fun activity. If you’re a huge fan, then you may have wondered how fast these bad boys can really go.
The answer depends on a couple of things, including engine classes and whether or not the engine is a 2-stroke or a 4-stroke. Typically, a 4-stroke 125cc go-kart (the most common displacement) has a top speed of 70-80mph.
In this article, we will go over the different go-kart classes, safety tips, the fastest go-kart in the world, and more.
Let’s get started!
The different go-karts classes and their speeds
Here is a table for a quick rundown on the different engine displayment and the potential top speed of the go-kart depending on the number of strokes.
|Engine displayment||Potential Top Speed (2 strokes)||Potential Top Speed (4 strokes)|
*50cc engines are for kids, they don’t have 4 strokes versions
**250cc Superkarts engines are 2-strokes
The top speed on any of the classes mentioned depends on several factors, such as:
- Weight of the go-kart
- Type of engine
- Weather conditions
- Layout of the track
- Engine horsepower
50cc – The Kid Kart
Perfect for young drivers aged between 5 and 7, the 50cc kid kart comes equipped with a 2-stroke engine limited to only 35 mph. The speed limitation of the kart is a safety measure as this class’s main aim is not to win championships but for kids to have a good time and learn.
Most of the 50cc go-kart engines are actually ones you would find in a chainsaw. They are small and not quite 50cc as they are sold and listed as 49cc. Since these go-karts are for children, they have decent power but limited speed to ensure safety.
100cc – The Junior Racer
Great for fun and adventure, the junior racer is a great go-kart class choice for entry-level adults. Also known as the Touch and Go (TaG) racing karts, they come with a 100cc 2-stroke or 4-stroke engine capable of touching 90mph and 70mph, respectively.
Typically, avid go-karters prefer the 2-cycle engines as it offers more power due to the single piston controlling the combustion process. However, that does not mean the 4-cycle engines are not superior. Although they might not be as fast, 4-stroke engines are more reliable, have consistent run times, and longer engine life.
100cc engines are not as popular as the notorious 125cc in the United States. You will need to conduct some research before considering this one as it might be difficult to find races.
125cc – The Competitive Racer
The 125cc is the start of the competitive class in go-kart racing and is suitable for ages 12 and above. The 125cc go-karts are capable of reaching speeds of around 90mph, depending on the type of engine they come with.
The 125cc is the most popular class of go-karts in the US. Engines in this class are easy to work with and fitted in either a 30mm moly tubing chassis or the 32mm versions. Go-kart owners can also tune and upgrade their engines to give them an edge over other drivers in competitive racing. These types of engines are also super easy to maintain!
200cc – The Master Kart
The 200cc go-kart class is recommended for experienced drivers. The top speed of the 200cc class depends on the type of stroke engine the go-kart is equipped with. A 2-stroke 200cc engine can touch 120mph, while a 4-stroke engine in this class can max out at 75mph.
In this 200cc displacement, many go-kart enthusiasts prefer the 4-stroke 200cc engine rather than the 2-stroke because the 2-stroke engine produces a lot of torque. The torque is too much for the vehicle to have any traction, resulting in constant tire spinning.
Also, you might find that there are no 2-stroke world race series for 200cc engine class go-karts.
250cc – The Super Kart
Only recommended for experienced drivers, the 250cc go-karts are super fast. These only come with a 2-stroke engine capable of maxing out at 150mph. These classes of go-karts are commonly seen at championship-level races.
Take a look at the video below to see how fast is these 250cc beasts!
The Super Kart class is not so popular in the United States. But you’ll be able to find a couple of series where you can race your 250cc engine go-kart. These engines are the dare-devils of go-karts as they are fast and highly dangerous. The engines are often taken from motorcycle road racing and further tuned for the go-karts.
Many go-karters use sequential shifters instead of clunky manual shifters to help them maximize speed. The front and rear brakes on these karts are heavy, packing considerable stopping power!
Why are 2-strokes engines faster than 4-strokes?
4-stroke engines are much more efficient and last longer than 2-strokes. However, the 2-stroke engine is significantly faster.
There are two reasons for this: weight and power.
A 4-stroke engine typically weighs 50% more than a 2-stroke engine. Unlike 2-stroke engines that have simple construction designs, 4-stroke engines are more complex and have additional parts that make them heavier. These include a longer and heavier crankshaft, more pistons, camshaft, and a complex valve mechanism.
2-stroke engines are lighter because it does not need all the additional components fitted in a 4-stroke engine. For example, instead of a lubrication system, 2-stroke engines use a mix of oil with the fuel to lubricate the crankshaft and other parts.
2-stroke engines are also capable of producing a lot more torque at higher RPM than 4-stroke engines. The engine combusts faster, providing power every two strokes, meaning you’re getting frequent, responsive power.
In a nutshell, you should choose 2-stroke go-kart engines if you’re new to go-kart or you want to join a quick sprint race. 4-stroke engines are better option if you’re looking for enduarance races.
How fast are electric go-karts?
We are all accustomed to the gas-guzzler go-karts whizzing quickly across the kart circuits. However, in November 2010, everything changed when George Fortin completed building a 20 horsepower, zero-emission electric go-kart that would travel up to 50 miles per hour using six lead-acid batteries and an electric motor.
Today’s electric go-karts are capable of much more and can reach speeds of up to 80 mph, depending on the engine. However, that does not tell us how fast they are. The parameters used to measure and rank the fastest go-karts accordingly are how fast they go from 0 to 60 mph.
Currently, the Daymark C5 is the fastest electric go-kart in the world thanks to its light body and 2,400-Wh batteries. It does 0 to 60 mph in just 1.5 seconds, more than a second faster than F1 cars’ (2.6s). That’s super fast!
Why do go-karts feel so much faster than they actually are?
The speed you’re traveling at in a typical car will feel much slower than if you were to drive at the same speed in a go-kart. There is a perfectly good scientific explanation for this: sensory overload!
Unlike cars, go-karts are very low to the ground. By looking only a few meters ahead of the kart, you’re not allowing your brain sufficient time to process what’s about to happen. This is why we feel twice as fast as we actually are.
If you look further ahead than just a few meters, your brain has enough time to process, and you may feel like everything is happening slower.
With insane speed, is it possible to flip a go-kart?
In short, yes.
Go-karts are low to the ground and have a very low center of gravity. For maximum grip, they even have wider tires. However, even with such safety considerations, we have seen videos of go-karts flipping, causing serious injuries to the driver.
Some circumstances can cause an upward force or affect the center of gravity, lifting the go-kart and forcing it to flip. These circumstances include:
- Sharp turns
- Impact with uneven surfaces
- Colliding into other go-karts
- Executing a turn while speeding
- Wheel to wheel collisions with other karts
Unlike racing cars and F1 vehicles, there are no roll-cages to protect drivers in the event of an accident or a flip. A driver in a go-kart is always exposed to the asphalt of the track. A flip can throw the driver onto the asphalt track, causing head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from go-kart flips:
- Check your go-kart’s tires before racing.
- Ensure proper safety gear.
- Avoid loose clothing.
- Avoid getting too close to other go-karts.
- Maintain a low center of gravity.
- Wear your seatbelt
- Get the right training before you start.
The world’s fastest go-kart
You’d be surprised to know that the world’s fastest go-kart does not run on petrol but is entirely electric. It is the Daymak C5 Blast, already mentioned above, which can reach 0 to 60 in an impressive 1.5 seconds.
The fastest petrol go-kart is the Ariel Atom 3S that comes fitted with a turbocharged 2.4-liter i-VTEC four capable of producing 365 horsepower. The go-kart can touch 0 to 60 mph in just under 2.8 seconds.
With so many different classes, go-karts not only cater to older audiences but also younger ones. It is a great adventure and a lot of fun to go-kart with family or friends. But if you are not careful, you could risk injuries to yourself and others around you.
I highly recommend that you follow our safety tips to ensure maximum protection in case of accidents or flips. That said, go-karts are highly competitive and a great way to break into the professional racing world.