Go-karts are often considered 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 have a clutch, but instead of shifting gears 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 the go-kart’s speed increases.
If you’re interested in how a go-kart clutch works, keep reading. Up next is everything you need to know about whether or not go-karts have a clutch.
Related Article: Do Go-Karts Have Gears
Do Go-Karts Have a Clutch
Go-karts have a clutch but don’t operate exactly like most think. You’ll hear a lot about engaging the load in the go-karting world. It simply means making the go-kart drive while disengaging allows it to stop. The clutch is an integral part of how a go-kart… goes.
How a Go-kart Clutch Works
In simplest terms, the clutch gradually introduces the engine to the load. Heat will be given off once the engine catches up to the load.
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
Five different kinds of go-kart clutches are most commonly used. Each one has its benefits as well as drawbacks. Here’s a brief rundown 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, gradually increasing the engine’s speed.
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, two belts 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 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, allowing the go-kart to increase speed gradually.
Taking Care of the Go-Kart Clutch
A go-kart clutch requires a fair amount of care to ensure 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.
Proper maintenance is not all that hard. It just requires basic knowledge along with some consistency. That said, here are some ways to 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, it will lose its ability to disengage, so 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. Keeping the clutch lubricated will prevent the temperature from rising too high.
Oiling the clutch is not hard and should be done every two hours of driving time. An internal bronze bushing behind the snap ring 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 oil on the clutch but ensure it does not make its way inside.
When driving your go-kart, keep your foot on the gas for a decent amount of time. Go-karts are made to drive for a distance as opposed to a sprint. If you regularly drive at a stop-and-go rate, the clutch cannot cool down, leading to heat damage.
When you finish your go-kart, drive full throttle for the entire 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 allow the new driver 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 more stress, ultimately leading 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, it can lead to expensive repairs in the long run 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, especially the clutch. This will make it, so the clutch is overworking itself, which will lead to clutch failure in the long run.
Yes, karts have a clutch; no, they’re not like the clutch on a car. The clutch on a go-kart is essential for mechanical and safety reasons.
Since the clutch is the main component for engaging and disengaging the engine, it’s an essential factor in how the go-kart runs. But also, ensuring that the clutch is functioning at its best ensures the go-kart is safely running.
Finally, taking care of the clutch on your go-kart is an important way to keep it working at its best, saving 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.