After I became fairly good at getting around the track, I was eager to improve my lap times. I heard that go-kart tire pressure and wheels had a huge impact on performance and decided to look into the matter. As a karting fan, I wanted to improve as a racer, I knew I had to have everything dialed in to have the best chances of winning. I found that high-pressure tires offer better grip while wheel size is directly connected to speed.
Factors Affecting Tire Pressure
The Surrounding Temperature
Experts say that Tire pressure tends to fall on cold days and rises on hot days. Therefore, I always pump my go-kart tires a little below the operating limit on hot days and a little higher on colder days to maintain a good grip.
The Track Surface
F1 drivers always race on smooth tracks, an important factor that affects tire pressure. Keeping high pressure on smooth tracks allows for better grip and doesn’t let the cars feel bogged down. However, local karting tracks (like mine for example) using rough surfaces advise lower tire pressure to increase tire contact and improve grip. Thus, it is vital to inspect the racing track first because this tip certainly helped me.
The Drivers’ Weight
I always check the tire pressure on my go-kart using a pressure gauge before races because most experts say this is a good rule of thumb. However, lighter drivers may get away with neglecting this duty since their go-kart will not have to carry much weight in comparison to heavier drivers. Racing over a long time will probably lead to a significant fall in tire pressure for a heavier driver compared to a lighter one.
The Tire Compound
It is no mystery that all tires are not equal. The tires F1 racers used to have a hard rubber compound to sustain high-temperature variations and higher pressure. I feel that softer compounds need lower tire pressure compared to harder ones. I always like to ensure that my tire pressure is in the optimum performance range.
The Importance of Go-Kart Tire Pressure and Wheel Size
I found that Go-kart tire pressure helps improve the vehicle’s grip. The high pressure makes the tire harder, which lets it ‘stick’ to the turf and offers me a better grip while karting. You can use manual or electric pumps to accomplish this.
Less Tire Wear
As much as I love this sport, I was a little annoyed to discover how much I was spending on go-kart tires since the outer treads of the tires on my go-kart kept wearing out. It was probably due to the low-pressure tires I was using to make sharp turns. I heard F1 drivers talk about how soft tires cannot maintain their shape on sharp turns and dip outwards from the force, causing excessive wear.
A More Comfortable Ride
I couldn’t help but notice how some of the lighter racers seemed to almost bounce in their go-karts. This not only made us notoriously slow but also pretty uncomfortable. I had seen F1 race cars whizz along the track effortlessly and without bouncing and wondered why that was so. If you watch races, pitstops take great care to pump up and warm any tires they change on their driver’s car to prevent bouncing and keep the driver’s weight lower to the ground, making him go faster. Doing the same with my go-kart tires made the ride very comfortable and enabled me to move faster while staying more streamlined.
Longer Wheel Life
Some friends I frequently race with began complaining that their go-kart wheels were getting cracked around the edges and even seemed dented. My suspicions proved correct since their go-kart tires were miserably soft and low on pressure. I agree that pumping them up definitely helps improve the wheel’s life, allowing you more maneuverability.
I wanted to know the reason behind the small-sized go-kart wheels and found out that the small size lowers the driver’s center of gravity and makes your go-kart more stable. It also prevents flips while karting and certainly encouraged me to take sharp turns! Therefore, I feel the small go-kart tires are essential and should not be modified or changed.
Go Kart racing is awesome and it really gets your competitive juices flowing. And as you know, pretty much every F1 driver actually started out go-karting. As a devoted kart racing fan myself, I always strive to improve my performance and take expert advice. All these tire pressure-related tips helped me and allowed me to improve my skills dramatically. When prepping for your next practice session try setting the right pressure for the current day condition and even consider using tire warmers to ensure your go-kart tires are performing at their optimum level. Even the most talented driver in the world won’t be able to record fast laps with low tire pressure or cold tires.