We all know that speed is an essential aspect of racing and motorsports. Different disciplines will have different top speeds, but since I focus purely on go-kart racing, I’ve wondered how fast can a go-kart genuinely go.
The top speed of a go-kart is around 50-80 mph (80-129 km/h), but some go-karts can reach speeds up to 140 mph (225 km/h)! Even my Supermoto bike doesn’t go that fast. A go-kart’s top speed, however, is impacted by several factors, like the engine size, the kart’s weight, and the aerodynamics.
I’ll try to explain how all of the aspects I mentioned above affect the top speed of a go-kart below. I’ll also focus on the top speed and acceleration of go-karts and compare electric go-karts to gas karts.
Go-Kart Categories and Classes
There are eight different go-kart categories that are present worldwide. Their main differences are the age groups that can participate in them and the engines they use. Some classes are even split depending on their engines’ brand (i.e., Rotax Championships). There are also specific weight limits that every driver should meet.
Below, you can see these eight classes, along with the top speed that is allowed on them.
|125cc TaG||70-80 mph|
|125cc Shifter||80-115 mph (depends on the track)|
|250cc Superkart||140 mph|
Each of these classes uses different engines and allows participants from specific age groups to participate in them. I expect that some of you don’t know a lot about these categories, and it might be confusing when you want to sign your kid up for one of them. So, here’s a small rundown of each class.
This is the starting point of every kid’s karting career, while most F1 drivers started go-karting by joining the Bambino category. Bambinos use 50cc 2-stroke engines, which are limited to 30 mph for safety reasons since the drivers are between 5-8 years old.
Right after the Bambinos come the Cadets, whose age group ranges from 7-12 years old. The Cadet class is split into the Micro and Mini subcategories for 7-9 and 9-12-year-olds, respectively. The engines used by Cadets are 60cc, which is odd when you compare the top speed difference between the Bambinos and the Cadets (nearly double the speed). This happens because the 50cc engines used by Bambinos have a speed limiter.
The Junior class is where karting kid drivers transition to professional drivers. I have to admit that, despite finishing in 2nd place during my first professional race, I’d end up towards the end of the pack if I was racing Juniors. Juniors are between the ages of 12-15, and they use 100cc 2-stroke engines, which are incredibly fast and sustainable.
I didn’t know much about the Lo206 class before a friend of mine in the USA told me about it. Supposedly, they’re the result of mixing up karting with NASCAR, which doesn’t sound that bad. The Lo206 is split into the classes I mentioned above, alongside Seniors and Masters. The engine used in the Lo206 category is a 4-stroke one, which is why its top speed is lower than some other categories.
125cc TaG Class
The 125cc TaG category has been the most popular and competitive class for a long time. The 125cc engines used in this category are the best of both worlds; lightweight and powerful. There are several subcategories, but the earliest that a driver can participate in a 125cc TaG race is at 12 years old. If you’re looking to kickstart your career in motorsports, this is the class for you.
125cc Shifter Class
While the differences between the engines of the 125cc TaG and the 125cc Shifter classes are non-existent, this category isn’t for beginners. I’d even say that amateur karting drivers should stick to the TaG category. If you’re over 15 years old, you can participate in Shifter class races, but keep in mind that shifter karts are absolute beasts on the track.
The Masters class is weird, in my opinion. For starters, you’ll have to be above 32 years of age to join, there are two different divisions for lighter and heavier drivers, and they use 150cc engines. No other class uses these engines, and they aren’t nearly as powerful as other classes.
250cc Superkart Class
The 250cc Superkart class is the final boss of go-karting. You’ll need to have a lot of experience to join a Superkart race and, even then, you’ll have a 250cc 2-stroke beast at the back of your head. Most drivers who take part in such races are aspiring motorsport racers, so the competitiveness is really high.
All that said, each engine type that I mentioned above has different specifications, so I think it’s worth analyzing them to learn more about how they function.
Top Speed vs. Acceleration in Go-Karting
Before I go on about the different engines used in karting, let’s analyze the two types of engines: 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines. I’ve extensively talked about these, but some of you might still not understand how these two are different. Basically, 2-stroke engines are very powerful at the cost of durability, while 4-stroke engines are less powerful at the gain of longevity.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s see all the different engines and their top speeds.
As I said above, 50cc engines are used by Bambinos. However, there are times when adult karts have 50cc engines without the restrictions that are placed on them for Bambinos. So, instead of a top speed of around 30 mph, 50cc engines can reach up to 40 or 50 mph.
Some well-known 50cc engines are the IAME Comer C51 and the Honda GX35. 50cc engines are just an entry point, so their top speeds are low compared to other types but still high enough for an adrenaline rush. Most 50cc engines are 2-stroke, which explains their high top speeds.
When you compare an uncapped 60cc engine to an uncapped 50cc engine, the differences in top speed aren’t that much. The 60cc engines used in the Micro category have a top speed of 50 mph, while the Mini category ones can go up to 60 mph.
The most used 60cc engines are the IAME Micro and the RoK Micro, as well as the Mini Swift and the Mini Vortex.
100cc TaG Engines
Things start to get serious once you see triple-digit cc. The 100cc TaG engines are the best entry-level engines for beginners because they offer a lot of power and are generally Touch and Go (TaG). They usually go up to 60 or 70 mph, and they’re most commonly used by Juniors and adults who are starting out.
However, the 100cc engines are not used that often anymore. The 125cc engines mentioned below are much more common, despite not being that much faster. Some of the most commonly used 100cc TaG engines are the IAME KA100 and the Yamaha KT100.
125cc TaG Engines
125cc TaG engines are the ones that everyone knows, and most karting classes use. They’re primarily used in the Senior category since they can be pretty fast at 70-80 mph top speed. If you’re starting out and looking for a professional championship to participate in, then the 125cc TaG engine ones are your best bet.
Some of the engines used in such championships are the IAME X30 and the Rotax Max EVO. If you add a nice Tony Kart chassis to either of these two, you’ll be racing a killer of a kart.
125cc Shifter Engines
The 125cc Shifter engines aren’t that much different from the 125cc TaG ones. However, you’ll need to be experienced with driving manual vehicles. And, even if you’ve been driving manual cars for years, you might have to practice a lot to participate in a professional shifter race. However, the 125cc Shifter engines can go up to 115 mph in sprint races, while they generally go up to 90 mph.
Some of the best 125cc shifter engines on the market are the IAME Shifter, the Honda CR125, and the Rotax Max DD2 EVO.
250cc Superkart Engines
Isn’t it weird that we go from 125cc engines straight to 250cc engines? Well, as I mentioned above, 150cc engines are only used in the Masters class, while 200cc karts don’t use 2-stroke engines.
250cc Superkart engines are monsters on the track. Not only do they go really fast, reaching speeds of up to 140 mph, but they are also shifters. So, they’re basically miniature cars. Some standard engines used in Superkarts are the Honda RS250 and the BRC250.
However, top speed isn’t everything in go-karting. If you want to be fast around a go-kart track, top speed isn’t the only factor you’ll need to consider. If a track is technical, which means that it has a lot of sharp corners and not long straights, then acceleration is much more important.
And, even if you have a kart that has superb acceleration and a top speed of 140 mph, there are so many things that can make you slower. For example, if you don’t maintain your go-kart properly, you’ll be going slower than Bambinos even if you’re in a Superkart. You’ll also need to have a chassis that’s perfect aerodynamically so that the handling of the go-kart is at its peak.
That said, gasoline go-karts aren’t the only types of go-karts out there…
Electric Go-Kart Speed vs. Gas Go-Kart Speed
There’s a lot of debate about which type of go-kart is faster. This happens because some people think that speed is all about having a high top speed, while others believe that acceleration is much more vital for speed.
Since I’ve raced both electric and gas karts, I can definitely say that electric go-karts reach their top speed much faster than gas karts. However, a 50cc or 60cc go-kart can usually beat an electric go-kart in a drag race.
So, in reality, the speed of a go-kart will heavily depend on the type of track that you’ll race on. If you’re just looking at the specifications of a go-kart, you’ll not have a good idea of how it’ll perform on a couple of different tracks.
For comparison, I’ve found that gas go-karts can go up to 140 mph (Superkarts), while the highest top speed of an electric go-kart (Sodi RSX) is 60 mph (less than half of the Superkart). However, the Daymak C5 Blast can do 0-60 mph in 1.5 seconds, which is faster than the majority of cars. I’ll leave you off with one of the fastest go-karts in the world:
There’s no doubt that karting is all about speed. Despite there being many different karting categories and go-kart tracks, top speed is essential if you want to be fast. That said, I’d definitely suggest you give electric karts a chance, despite them being slower than their gas counterparts.
Stay tuned for more articles just like this one!
FAQs For Go-Kart Top Speed
Can go-karts go 100 mph?
The short answer is yes. There are go-kart engines that can reach 100 mph, and Superkarts can even go up to 140 mph. However, as I explained above, most go-karts don’t go up to 100 mph.
What’s the top speed for go-karts?
Go-karts can go up to 140 mph. These go-karts are called Superkarts and resemble real cars. More common go-karts can go up to 70-90 mph, but that depends on the category of the go-kart, which I’ve mentioned above.
Are gas or electric go-karts better?
It depends on the track. Generally, gas go-karts have higher top speed, while electric go-karts have greater acceleration. This means that electric go-karts are better for technical tracks.