How Does a Go-Cart Work?

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Basic Structure

  • The basic structure of go-karts is fairly simple. There is a chassis body, which can be made of many different materials; there are usually four tires; there is a steering assembly; an engine; a breaking system; and a seat. Most go-karts have a kind of cage on the top that helps keep the driver safe if the car tips over.

Go-Kart Chassis

  • The go-kart chassis is one of the most important parts of the go-kart. In professional racing, most chassis are made of steel tubing, but for personal carts, plastic tubing or a similar material is used. There are different designs of chassis. There are the open chassis, which are basically a kart bottom with no roof; closed chassis, which are more like a traditional car; straight chassis, where the driver's seat is in the middle; and offset chassis, where the driver's seat is off to the left like in a car.

Go-Kart Engines

  • Go-karts usually use either 2-stroke or 4-stroke engines. Two-stroke engines are the more traditional format for go-karts; however, the 4-stroke uses less rpms. The 2-stroke engine uses around 19,000 rpms, and the 4-stroke engine uses around 11,000. The 4-stroke engine was designed specifically for go-kart racing, and is usually cooled by air. The 2-stroke engine has become popular to cool by water.

Go-Kart Transmission

  • Most go-karts use a clutch system of transmission. The transmission and engine is attached to the rear axle by chains so that it moves the wheels. The reason these are removable is so that it can be adjusted for different kinds of tracks. The main difference between a go-kart transmission and a car transmission is that there is no differential. This means that when driving around corners, the wheels of the karts will often lift up into the air. The transmission helps channel the engine's power so that it doesn't overheat.

Go-Kart Steering

  • Go-karts usually use some kind of small steering mechanism. A butterfly steering system is pretty popular with go-kart racers. The steering wheel is attached to the front axle so that when the wheel is turned, the kart wheels change the angle that they are facing.

Go-Kart Tires and Breaks

  • Go-kart wheels are usually made of aluminum. Their tires are very small, and are different from car tires. Usually the tires will be switched out according to the road conditions. Go-karts have tires for both wet and dry road conditions. The usual break system for a go-kart is a disc breaking system. Usually the breaks are placed on the back tires, but can also be placed on the front tires.

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