How To Choose The Best Go-Kart Engine in 2021


Best go-kart engine

As exhilarating and fun-filled go-karting is, the importance of choosing the best engine cannot be overstated. Selecting the best go-kart engine increases your confidence while racing and promises to offer you an elating experience. 

Whether you drive professionally or like to get your hands on parts for a hobby, constructing your go-kart can be an enjoyable task. Many different engines can be used in a go-kart, and frequently, it can be challenging to decide what type of engine to choose.

So, how do you know what is the best go-kart engine?

The two main factors that will decide which type of go-kart engine you choose involve your riding style and specific engines’ performance capabilities. The chances are that you will want to find an engine that best fits your needs and desires, so choosing that engine can be quite a task.

Choosing an engine is an overwhelming decision, but it doesn’t have to be. Coming up, we’ll outline the right way to select an engine for your go-kart and hopefully make the process a little less stressful. Please keep reading for our guide on how to choose the best engine for your go-kart.

The Best Go-Kart Engines

Now that you understand some of the crucial features to consider when purchasing a go-kart engine. We will now review some of the best engines for your next kart race.

So without further ado lets dig into details and let me show you what I think is the best go-kart engine for casual drivers.

Honda GX200 Gas Kart Engine

Honda GX160 Engine Specifications:

  • Engine Type: Air-cooled 4-stroke OHV engine with recoil start
  • Displacement: 196cc 
  • Power: 5.5 HP at 3600rpm, 9.1 ft/lb at 2500rpm
  • Dimensions: 18″ x 15.5″ x 17.5″
  • Weight: 35 lbs
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.1L (0.81 gallons)

Honda is known for its great engines and reliability, and Honda GX200 is no exception. It offers smooth performance, high output operations, and great fuel efficiency. It consumes about 0.27 gallons of unleaded 86 octane (or higher) per hour at 3600rpm.

It has a great build and comes with lightweight materials that are easier to maintain. Although it has a heavy-duty recoil starting system, yet it is user-friendly. The engine’s lightweight and noise-reducing components are also oiled hence making it run smoothly and almost silently.

One of this engine’s best features is that it is CARB and EPA certified; it meets the world’s most stringent environmental legislation, making it extremely eco-friendly.

Predator 6.5 HP Horizontal Shaft Gas Engine

Predator Engine Specifications:

  • Engine Type: 4 Stroke OHV engine with recoil start
  • Displacement: 212cc 
  • Power: 6.5 HP at 3600rpm, 8.1 ft/lb at 2500rpm
  • Dimensions: 15.4″ x 12.6″ x 13.6″
  • Weight: 37.5 lbs
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.4L (0.90 gallons)

Predator 6.5 HP is a perfect choice for beginner and intermediate karts due to its user-friendly controls and operations. Its overhead valve system is designed to reduce fuel consumption, thus making it an efficient engine. This engine is made of cast iron cylinders, making it durable and suitable for all weather conditions.

The Predator 6.5 HP engine produces 6.5 horsepower at 3600rpm and has a compression ratio of 8.5:1. It uses 87 or higher octane gas and has a great auto-shutdown sensor feature to protect your kart during transport. It is also EPA and CARB complient in 49 states (CA is an exception).

The ball bearing support shaft makes it an excellent substitute for most standard engine setups. With its gas-saving feature, purchasing this engine helps you save more. 

DuroMax XP7HPE Gas Kart Engine

DuroMax XP7HPE Engine Specifications:

  • Engine Type: 4 Stroke OHV engine with electronic ignition
  • Displacement: 212cc 
  • Power: 7 HP at 3600rpm, 13.2 Nm / 9.7 ft/lb.
  • Dimensions: 17.3″ x 16.7″ x 17.1″
  • Weight: 46 lbs
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.78L (1 gallon)

DuroMax XP7HPE could be considered to be a perfect go-kart engine. It is powerful, fuel-efficient, and fully EPA and CARB compliant; this allows it to be used in all 50 states.

This is a 4-stroke engine that comes with electronic ignition. It also has an E-Z pull recoil starter in case you need to start it manually. It produces a maximum output of 7hp at 3600 rpm and 9.7 pounds-feet of torque or 13.2 Nm.

The overhead-valve on an engine is designed for better fuel management. Its fuel consumption is about 0.25 gallons per hour when running at half load. It can run up to 4 hours before refueling with 87 octane gasoline. This makes it suitable for the endurance racing category.

Titan TX200 Powersport Engine

Titan TX200 Engine Specifications:

  • Engine Type: 4 Stroke inline single stroke engine with a recoil start
  • Displacement: 196cc
  • Power: 6.5 HP at 3600rpm, 10.9 Nm 2500rpm
  • Dimensions: 12.6″ x 14.8″ x 13.6″
  • Weight: 37 lbs
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.6L (0.95 gallons)

Titan TX200 is a reliable go-kart engine designed based on HondaGX160/200 series engines and is arguably a top contender for the best go-kart engine on this list.

The superior valve design helps reduce air intake and allow for more fuel into the 4-stroke cylinder. That extra air intake gives this 196cc 6.5 hp engine up to 10.9 Nm of torque at 2500rpm. These numbers are awe-inspiring for a machine of that size.

Unlike some other engines presented here, Titan TX200 comes with additional features such as a throttle cable ready, a dual-element air cleaner, a splash lubrication system, and is fully compatible with GTC torque converters.

What is so great about this engine is that it is incredibly versatile. You can upgrade it all the way up to an insane 26 horsepower.

Briggs and Stratton CR950 208cc Engine

Briggs and Stratton CR950 Engine Specifications:

  • Engine Type: 4 Stroke B&S CR Series with magnetron electronic ignition
  • Displacement: 208cc
  • Power: 9.5 HP at 3600rpm, 9.5 ft/lb
  • Dimensions: 12.6″ x 14.8″ x 13.6″
  • Weight: 33 lbs
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 3L (0.8 gallons)

The Briggs and Stratton CR950 9.5 GT horizontal shaft engine’s design offers dependable power to work through any weather condition. It produces up to 208cc in displacement with a maximum output of 9.5 HP.

The cast-iron cylinder sleeve gives the engine an extended life and protects it from wear, tear, and harsh conditions. Its premium Dual Clean air filtration system, along with a foam pre-cleaner that prevents dust and dirt from getting trapped in the engine, guarantees maintenance-free magnetron electronic ignition.

The controls are user-friendly, ensuring a smooth operation. The overhead valves are durable due to the unique design, which allows for cooler operation. With the excellent features installed into the CR950, you get better value for your money.

Lifan LF 168F-2BDQ Gas Kart Engine

Lifan LF 168F-2BDQ Engine Specifications:

  • Engine Type: Industrial grade 4 Stroke OHV single-cylinder with Non-transistorized ignition (TCI)
  • Displacement: 196cc
  • Power: 6.5 HP at 3600rpm, 11 Nm 2500rpm
  • Dimensions: 17″ x 16″ x 17″
  • Weight: 33 lbs
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.6L (0.95 gallons)

They are reliable, quiet, and they also have an excellent build. The engine has cast iron sleeves that extend its life. Lifan LF 168F-2BDQ serves as a better replacement for Honda, Briggs, Kohler engines, including many other brands. 

It meets the EPA requirement and hence does not have a degrading environmental impact. The Lifan engine features an electric start ignition, which makes it easier to start the kart. It has a maximum output of about 6.5 HP and a displacement of 196cc while producing up to 11 pounds-feet of torque at 2500rpm.

Briggs and Stratton 250cc 1150 Series Kart Engine 

Briggs and Stratton 250cc Engine Specifications:

  • Engine Type: 4 Stroke OHV single-cylinder engine with electronic ignition
  • Displacement: 250cc
  • Power: 11.5 HP at 3800rpm, 11 Nm 2500rpm
  • Dimensions: 10.9″ x 15.3″ x 15.6″
  • Weight: 43 lbs
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.02L (0.8 gallons)

This 11.5 GT horizontal shaft engine is made of a cast-iron cylinder sleeve, which makes it durable and long-lasting. It has a compact overhead design that allows for a cooler operation and low fuel consumption.

Adjustable throttle control allows for a constant speed operation while an automatic shutdown system alerts you if the oil level is low. Starting this engine is a breeze with a maintenance-free Magnetron electronic ignition system and is CARB Compliant in all 50 states.

XtremepowerUS 7HP Gas Kart Engine

XtremepowerUS 7HP Specifications:

  • Engine Type: Industrial grade OHV gasoline engine with E-Z Pull Recoil Starter
  • Displacement: 212cc
  • Power: 7 HP at 3600rpm
  • Dimensions: 12.5″ x 15″ x 14.25″
  • Weight: 44 lbs
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.6L (0.95 gallons)

The XtremepowerUS is a 212cc displacement engine that is durable and reliable, with an impressive design. It produces up to 7HP at 3600rpm. This engine features a horizontal keyway output shaft, splash oil system, pull recoil starter, forced air cooling system.

It is EPA certified and a suitable replacement for old kart engines. Due to its superior design, it runs smoothly and quietly.

How To Choose The Best Go-Kart Engine

Before making a purchase, you have to consider the engine that specially accommodates your needs. Whether you are planning a fun-filled event for your family or you want to transition into the professional world. Here are the factors to consider when selecting your engine.

  • Initial considerations before buying a go-kart engine
  • Age of those driving the go-kart
  • What you want out of your go-kart engine
  • Specific racing qualifications for leagues
  • Miscellaneous things to consider
  • New vs. used engines.

What is important is that you find a mix of advantages – and possible inevitable disadvantages – that will form your specific choice for an engine.

No matter your reason for utilizing your new go-kart engine, the following information will help you hone in on specific things to know before buying. Some characteristics will significantly improve the performance of your go-kart and its engine. 

Other times, additions will help in a particular field while preventing maximum performance in another.

Address Initial Concerns

One of the most important things to consider is the existing concerns you might need to consider before buying your go-kart engine. If you are using a go-kart for competitive racing, the league you are racing in will likely have its own designated rules on the type of engine you can use. In that case, you might be restricted in choosing what you want.

Even if you are not a competitive racer, you should still consider a few things before buying a go-kart engine. 

An important consideration: why are you looking to buy a go-kart engine in the first place? Whatever the reason is – be it for leisure, for your children, etc. – there are a few things to think about first to make sure that you get just what you are looking for.

The type of racing you are competing in or the reason you are buying a go-kart engine for pleasure will be one of the largest determining factors in what type of engine to buy. 

Below is a list of initial concerns to sort out before taking any further steps to buy your go-kart engine:

Racing Class

If you are in the competitive racing category, you will face different circumstances depending on where you are racing and what age group you are racing in.

The cubic centimeters or “cc” of an engine determine the engine’s volume. Thus, the larger the engine, the more likely it is to have the higher horsepower. As a result, a go-kart with a higher cc engine will probably be used for more competitive, powerful, and fast-paced racing.

Read A Beginner’s Guide to Go-Kart Racing for more details.

Find out Restrictions or Requirements 

Still focusing on more of a competitive category, a racing league might have restrictions for how powerful your go-kart engine can be or requirements detailing similar characteristics.

If you are buying a go-kart engine for racing, it is crucial to check guidelines for what type of engine you can have.

Reasons for a New Engine

Perhaps you want to buy a go-kart engine to install on a go-kart for leisure use. If this is the case, you might not want the most powerful engine that can go 200 mph. You can find lower-powered engines that perform just as efficiently.

For beginners or those not interested in competitive racing, buying a more basic go-kart engine is the smart choice, particularly if you are planning on installing it yourself. 

With a basic model go-kart engine, you will be able to install it quickly and benefit from the general perks of a go-kart without having to worry about the maintenance and care required to keep up the function of a competitive go-kart engine.

These are a few of the main things to think about before you begin looking for a go-kart engine to buy. If you are looking for something of higher quality, you want to make sure you can find the best of the best. 

However, if you are looking for more casual use of a go-kart, you do not want to waste your money on go-kart engines manufactured for highly competitive racing.

Budget for the Engine

Your budget plays a very crucial role in determining the kind of kart engine to purchase. To be honest new engines are quite pricey, so you have to be realistic when deciding to get one. However, there are a few inexpensive brands that can keep you in line with your budget. 

To avoid overspending on maintenance and get the best out of an engine, we advise you to purchase a new engine. The price range for a go-kart engine is determined by its features and the experience level it handles. 

What Attributes Should Go-Kart Engines Have

Different go-kart engines come in all different types and sizes. You must think about the kind of features and performance abilities you would like your go-kart engine to have. The more precise you can be, the better chance you will find a go-kart engine perfect for your preferences and riding style.

The Features of the Go-Kart Engine

New engines often come with all the components intact: the cylinder, shaft, fuel tank, oil tank, etc. However, some kart engines are equipped with extra details and features that improve your karting experience. 

You might also want to consider some of these excellent features when scouting for a quality engine.

  • EPA & CARB certification (ensure the engine meets the emission standards, hence promoting a much sustainable environment)
  • Optimal fuel efficiency (save you from having to refuel frequently)
  • Overhead valve design (also helps with gas-saving and a more relaxed run)
  • Throttle-ready
  • Automatic shutdown sensor (alert you of a drop in oil level)
  • Electric starter (make it easier to start your kart)

Although these additional features are not compulsory, they improve your experience while karting. 

The Material of the Go-Kart Engine

Your kart engine should not only be reliable but durable as well. Therefore, you should look out for the engine material. An engine made of quality material such as cast iron prevents the engine from wear, tear, and abrasions. 

Horsepower and Cubic Centimeters

As mentioned before, the cc of your go-kart will determine its horsepower, which will be the deciding factor of how fast your go-kart will go. 

If you want to go as fast as possible, you will want to look at more powerful engines. If you are just looking to cruise in your go-kart, a less powerful engine can work just fine.

Functionality

The purpose of using your go-kart is also important for choosing the type of engine you want, relating to how it works. 

Different engines might have specific features and additions that make them more or less suitable for particular types of go-karts. This topic will be further explored later in the article.

Maintenance Requirements

A go-kart engine that might require more maintenance is not necessarily a bad thing. Some mechanical junkies love working as much as they can on moving parts. 

In this case, an engine that calls for more complex installation and upkeep might be the right choice for you. If not, you should look for an engine whose reputation vouches for its simplicity and reliability.

Gas or Electric Motor

With this ever-advancing technological world, you better believe that there are electric go-kart engines on the market that work just as well as gasoline-powered engines. 

The difference mostly relies on your preference. Although each type of engine might have different advantages or disadvantages, what to do with more in-depth research will be covered next.

2-Stroke Vs. 4-Stroke Go-Kart Engine

Most go-kart engines run on a two-stroke or four-stroke motor. Both engines work better for different circumstances.

  • A two-stroke engine is lightweight and packs a punch over a short amount of time. It uses its fuel for high-speed, short-length runs.
  • A four-stroke engine is typically more massive and more fuel-efficient. It uses its fuel more sparingly but for a more extended amount of time. This is ideal for long, competitive go-kart races.
  • There are also electric engines, though, in the go-kart industry; they are not as popular as you might see in cars and the like.

2-stroke engine

  • Lower efficiency.
  • Due to the pressure put on its parts, it is more likely to wear out faster.
  • It provides more power due to quicker combustion.
  • It is lightweight
  • It is easier to maintain and fix.
  • Since the fuel is premixed with oil, burnt oil is released into the atmosphere after combustion.

4-stroke engine

  • Lesser fuel consumption, hence higher efficiency.
  • It is more durable.
  • It combusts less frequently, therefore, does not offer much power.
  • It is heavier due to the additional parts.
  • The presence of the additional components makes it difficult to maintain.
  • More eco-friendly as it does not require premixing.

Go-Kart Engine Weight

As mentioned above, a higher-stroke engine will usually be heavier. In some cases, this can be helpful. Weight can contribute to better handling and sharper turns. However, a lighter engine might prove more reliable for speed and acceleration, as seen with most two-stroke engines.

League rules and restrictions might require you to have a specific engine style, but no matter what the category might be, you will be able to find an engine that matches your preferences. 

For example, the lightest four-stroke engine or most efficient two-stroke engine. They will not be the most lightweight or most efficient on the market, but they will come out on top in their respective categories.

It would be best to consider using an engine that best fits your go-kart in terms of weight. A lightweight engine should be used in a lightweight kart, although this relies on your racing objectives. 

If you are racing in the endurance category or off-road terrain, you might want to consider an engine that provides balance. A lightweight engine is an ideal installation for kids due to their body frame. Kids do not need a robust engine for their go-karts. 

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency directly affects the performance of your go-kart. This is especially important if you’re racing competitively. But, if you’re using your go-kart just for recreation, it might not be something that’s on top of your list. 

  • Speaking again about characteristics of specific engines’ styles, a four-stroke is usually more efficient in using its fuel as best as possible.
  • This is another area where your research and gathering of public reviews can help immensely in finding the right fit for you.
  • The most fuel-efficient engines will perform the best for long runs, specifically in competitive races.

Ideally, an efficient engine could be one with a fuel consumption rate of 0.25 gallons per hour at half load —generally, the lower the engine’s fuel consumption rate, the greater its efficiency.

Fuel Capacity

Again, this is more of a factor for those that race go-karts. Or for anyone that likes taking their go-kart on longer adventures.

  • If you are competing in a longer race, you will want to find a go-kart engine with a larger fuel tank.
  • However, keep in mind that a larger fuel tank – while holding more gasoline – will also weigh your go-kart down more, which you may not want. 
  • With every addition on a go-kart, there is often an equal but opposite disadvantage. Sometimes you will have to give up one advantage to increase the effects of another.

Engine Quality You Are Looking For

If you have extensive knowledge in the field of go-karts, you are likely going to know what kind of go-kart engine you want. If that is the case, you already know the quality of the product you buy, and you should be good to go.

In the instance that you are new to go-karting or are looking for a whole new engine, you will want to make sure you find an engine that is as high-quality as possible. All of the above factors will play a role in finding that high-quality engine, but at the end of the day, it is going to fall on your decisions involving the type of engine and attributes it has.

Another question of quality might come into play if you are looking to buy a used go-kart engine. Before asking any other questions, it’s important to politely figure out why the person offering a used engine has chosen to put it up for sale. 

You do not want to get ripped off with a faulty engine. If you know what you are looking for, buying a used engine might not be so bad. If you do not have a lot of knowledge in the field, you might need to find a professional to give their opinion on the potential buyers.

Do Your Research

The easiest way to learn what you need to know about go-kart engines is to do your research and form your own opinion on what kind of engine you want. 

By exploring the options and weighing your list of pros and cons, you will choose your engine quicker. Personal research is beneficial for factors such as these:

Gaining knowledge about the sportBy researching different go-kart engines, you will be able to familiarize yourself with the essential characteristics of a go-kart and additions to other go-kart engines that aid performance.
Developing your stylePersonal research also helps you differentiate between types of go-kart engines you do or do not prefer, allowing you to find the engine that best fits your needs.
Information on big-name brandsOf course, any product is going to have significant manufacturers. Learning more about these companies can also help you find out which company’s go-kart engine appeals most to you and which brands seem the most popular among other people.
Finding out what you do not wantAlong with choosing an engine that seems to knock everything off your checklist, researching go-kart engines will also allow you to spot characteristics you do not like. Every engine will be a little bit different, and with the number of products out there, you should be able to find what you need.

Kart Engine Reviews Can Be Very Helpful

This also deals a bit with researching on your own but in a different sense. Frequently, reviews are not always the most useful source of swaying your opinion on buying a particular product. 

However, consider that go-karting is not a shared hobby or interest to a majority of people. With that said, those providing their reviews on products dealing with go-karts are likely to be credible sources.

The chances are that these reviews will be helpful because the people giving the reviews are likely very involved in the go-karting industry. 

Reviews are often looked down upon because several people have one bad experience with a product and bash the specific brand as a whole. With a category as unique as go-karting, you are less likely to come across fake, unreliable reviews.

Reviews regarding go-kart engines can further help you with information on the following:

Numerous opinions on big-name brandsThe most popular go-kart engine manufacturers are probably going to have the greatest amount of reviews. These reviews can help you see the performance abilities of people who have already invested in a specific product.
Minor attributes that have proved useful for othersWhether it is a difference in the cc of a go-kart engine, an engine’s lifespan, an engine’s performance in competitions vs. leisure use, reviews can give you information about the smallest differences in engines; allowing you to add on or cross out characteristics you are or are not looking for in a go-kart engine.
Hidden gems in the go-kart industrySome brands might not have the reputation of others. Just because a company lacks traffic does not automatically make its products less useful. Looking at reviews on smaller brand websites can allow you to find an excellent go-kart engine that many people may not know about, get deals on engines for lower prices, and so much more.

Takeaway

As you can see, there are several things to consider before and during buying a go-kart engine. From specific style to personal preferences to overall quality, there are so many options to choose from. 

Remember that sticking to your preferences and any league requirements are the best things to keep in mind when choosing your go-kart engine. Reviews and reputation can also be beneficial. Hopefully, this article simplified what can frequently be a stressful process for fellow go-karters.

Go-karting is an exciting venture to immerse yourself in, and familiarizing yourself with all of the parts involved can be just as fun. However, how to choose those parts is also equally important.

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