Karting is a highly technical sport. One of the most essential parts of the kart is the tires because that’s where your kart makes contact with the tarmac. The tires are used to translate your steering, brake, and throttle inputs into what the kart will do on the track. That’s why you need to make sure that you’re using the right tires for karting, especially when the track is dry.
The best dry tires that you can use for karting are Mojo, Vega, and LeCont. All of these brands are excellent for racing karts, but you need to make sure that you’re using slick tires for a dry track.
What is the difference between dry and wet tires on a go-kart?
There are some big differences between dry tires and wet tires in karting. The first thing you will notice is that there are grooves in wet tires, but dry tires are completely slick. I was wondering why that was so I decided to do some research on the subject.
Interestingly, this theme runs across all types of motorsport, even in Formula 1. We even see this same concept being used on your average road car’s tires. Road cars don’t have slick tires, but they all have grooves instead, and shortly we’re going to see exactly why that is.
Dry tires are completely slick with a flat surface. There are no grooves or any kind of bumps on dry tires, which is why they are known as “slicks”. I saw a brand new set of tires at the track the other day, and as soon as they came out of their plastic covering, they were shiny black, just like brand new Formula 1 tires that you would see on TV. But why are these slick tires with no grooves the best option for a dry track?
The slick tires don’t have any groves, they are completely flat. This means that there is more rubber touching the tarmac when the tire is going along. With more rubber on the tarmac, the tire is able to provide the driver with more grip. Ultimately, more surface area of rubber touching the tarmac means more grip. This is also known as a contact patch. The same concept also works for tire pressures as we discussed recently in our article on the optimal tire pressure for Go Kart: if you need more grip reduce your tire pressures to increase the tire’s contact patch!
You might be wondering why wet tires have grooves then? Surely having a larger contact patch provides more grip, so you would want more rubber touching the tarmac when the conditions are slick? Well, as it turns out, that is not necessarily true. Slick tires are the last thing you want on your kart when it starts to rain.
The problem with rainy conditions is that the water begins to layer on top of the tarmac. Water is a liquid, and as we know it offers more resistance the harder you hit it (have you ever belly flopped into a pool?) In essence, the faster something hits the water, the more resistance it will get from the water (it almost becomes solid). Your tires are moving incredibly fast when you’re driving your kart, and when you have slick tires on, it’s essentially like the water is being hit by a solid object at high speed.
This can cause the water to put up too much resistance and get underneath the tires. When this happens, the tires are lifted off the tarmac, and suddenly your tires have no contact with the tarmac, which will cause a sudden loss of grip. This is known as aquaplaning. The faster you drive, the more your tires lift off the ground, which results in more grip being lost!
That’s where wet tires have a clever design. The grooves in the tires allow the water to “escape” from underneath the tires, preventing the water from being trapped and causing aquaplaning. The grooves form blocks (which are the parts of the rubber that stick out and touch the track). These blocks are what will give your kart grip in the rain since the grooves alongside them push the water away.
How to choose a good set of tires?
Choosing good tires is the first step to having an exhilarating track day. If you have good tires for a dry track you will have more grip, they will last longer, and you’ll get more value for your money!
If you choose a poor set of tires, you’re going to be fighting your kart a lot as it struggles to find grip. The tires will also wear out faster and there are safety concerns as you could suffer a tire failure such as a blow out at an unexpected time.
2-3 tires I can trust on a dry track:
There are some great brands of tires out there, but there are also some terrible ones. If you’re looking for some of great tires, here they are:
Mojo D2 Tires
Mojo is one of the leading tire suppliers in the karting industry. They are like the Bridgestone or Michelin tires that you would fit onto your road car. These are the standard for karting, and you can tell by just how often they are used! The majority of major karting championships have Mojo tires, the only tire manufacturer that they allow. The only downside is that they are also one of the most expensive tire brands!
You can find them on eBay or on your local dealers.
Vega Option Tires
Vega is an Italian-made karting tire, and you’ve likely seen their logos around karting tracks. This brand is massive! While they don’t quite match the quality you get from Mojo tires, Vega tires are still excellent and worth the money. You’ll have a great time out on track with Vega tires.
Vega tires can be purchased on their site
LeCont CIK Option Tires
LeCont is another good option for karting tires. This brand also designs and builds tires for race cars, so they have that racing pedigree. They are not as well known as commonly used in karting, but if you can find them they are still an excellent choice.
Link to LeCont website
Tires are the most important part of your kart because they are in direct contact with the tarmac underneath your kart. Any input that you make into the kart is directly translated by the tires. Without tires, you can’t even drive your kart! It’s crucial to use the right tires on a dry track, and the best options that you can choose from are Mojo, Vega, and LeCont.