Go-karts are often thought of as mini cars since they’re both vehicles meant for driving. While they share some of the same parts, like a clutch, they usually serve different functions.
Go-karts do have a clutch, but instead of shifting gears as it does in a car, the go-kart clutch controls the RPMs. When the kart is in idle gear, the clutch isn’t on. When the clutch is engaged, the RPMs increase, and so does the go-kart’s speed.
If you’re interested in how a go-kart clutch works, keep reading. Up next, everything you need to know about whether or not go-karts have a clutch.
Do Go-Karts Have a Clutch
Go-karts do have a clutch, but they don’t operate exactly like most think they do. Engaging the load is something you’ll hear a lot in the go-karting world. It simply means to make the go-kart drive while disengaging allows for the go-kart to stop. Clearly, the clutch is an integral part of how a go-kart… goes.
How a Go-kart Clutch Works
In the simplest terms, the clutch allows for the engine to gradually be introduced to the load. Once the engine catches up to the load, heat will be given off.
To give a visual, this is commonly described as two disks, one of which starts spinning at a slower rate and gradually increases until the two disks are spinning at equal speeds.
Of course, the full explanation is a little more technical than this, but that topic gets an entire post to itself.
Types of Go-Kart Clutches
There are five different kinds of go-kart clutches that are most commonly used. Each one has its benefits, as well as drawbacks. Here’s a brief rundown of each of the five kinds of go-kart clutches.
This clutch is the one that is most commonly found in go-karts. Centrifugal clutches work by shifting weights throughout the clutch driver, allowing the engine’s speed to increase gradually.
Variable Transmission Clutches
The variable transmission clutch allows the go-kart to run at its regular speed without the engine having to run as hard. This one works by using two different sized pitch pulleys with a belt.
This type of go-kart clutch is the most affordable but not the most effective. In this system, there are two belts that tighten, which will then gradually engage the clutch.
These guys are the most expensive, but that’s because they’re the most durable and built to last. In this clutch, two turbine wheels spin in a container with oil. When the wheels spin, the first sprays oil to the second, producing energy.
This is another form of a clutch that runs on the expensive side, though it is a simple mechanism. This clutch works through a stationary electromagnetic that is placed under a cast-iron disk. The iron disk becomes a magnet and draws the driver in.
When the driver is drawn towards the iron disk, it will slip and act as a clutch. Heat is then given off and allows for the go-kart to gradually increase speed.
Taking Care of the Go-Kart Clutch
A go-kart clutch requires a fair amount of care to make sure it lasts. This may seem tedious, but in the long run, this can help you avoid costly repairs and keep you riding that go-kart for a longer period of time.
Proper maintenance is not all that hard. It just requires basic knowledge along with some consistency. With that being said, here are some ways that you can take care of your clutch.
Be Mindful of Heat Damage
Heat damage can be bad for your go-kart and potentially dangerous for the driver. When the clutch is damaged by heat, the clutch will lose its ability to disengage, which means that your go-kart will start moving as soon as it is turned on.
To avoid heat damage, all you have to do is make sure the clutch is properly oiled. This will prevent the temperature from rising too high by keeping the clutch lubricated.
Oiling the clutch is not hard to do and should be done every two hours of driving time. There is an internal bronze bushing behind the snap ring that must be lubricated.
All you have to do is locate this and squeeze about 8-10 drops of oil behind the snap ring while the go-kart is off. It is also a good idea to drop a little bit of oil on the clutch itself, but make sure that it does not make its way inside it.
When driving your go-kart, keep your foot on the gas for a decent amount of time. Go-karts are made to drive for distance as opposed to a sprint. If you regularly drive at a stop-and-go rate, the clutch will not be given a chance to cool down, leading to heat damage.
When you’re done with your go-kart, drive full throttle for the entire length of the course or track. This will allow the clutch to cool off while you are driving.
Driving Too Slow
Driving too slow goes hand in hand with consistent driving and is most commonly done by newer drivers who second guess themselves when driving. What happens is they will drive with their foot gently pressing the brakes, which can lead to major damage done to the clutch.
To avoid this in new drivers, getting comfortable in a large space with no obstacles is a great idea. This will give the new driver a chance to get a feel for the speed and break.
Once the driver is comfortable with the speed, they will take on the obstacles in a go-karting track.
Go-karts are geared to support a certain tire size. If you try to put on tires that are too large for the go-kart, the clutch will endure higher amounts of stress, which ultimately leads to clutch damage.
Putting 14’’ tires on a go-kart that supports 13’’ tires is a pretty cool look for your go-kart. Though this is not a good idea, in the long run, it can lead to expensive repairs as this will damage the clutch.
Max Passenger Weight
Go-karts are relatively lightweight. The average weight of a go-kart is around 150 pounds. You don’t really have to worry about weight if you are a single rider, but the passengers’ total weight must be under 400 pounds when riding with two passengers.
Consistently exceeding this weight limit puts a lot of pressure on the vehicle as a whole, especially the clutch. This will make it, so the clutch is overworking itself, which in the long run will lead to clutch failure.
Yes, karts do have a clutch, and no, they’re not like the clutch on a car. The clutch on a go-kart is essential for mechanical reasons, as well as safety reasons.
Since the clutch is the main component for engaging and disengaging the engine, it’s an important factor in how the go-kart runs. But also, ensuring that the clutch is functioning at its best makes sure the go-kart is safely running, too.
Finally, taking care of the clutch on your go-kart is an important way to keep your go-kart working at it’s best, which will save you time and energy in the long run. Since the clutch is such an important piece to the go-kart, you want it to last.