Braking is one of the most crucial parts to learn when beginners get started with karting. Many coaches have reported that they often spend a whole session with students working on braking alone!
That said, why is go-kart braking such a hard technique to master?
It is because the go-kart braking technique is very different from how we usually brake with cars.
Often beginners make common mistakes that slow them down, often costing them the race. The primary secret is to get a feel for your go-kart.
Even though people think brakes are meant for slowing down a kart, it is the opposite sometimes.
The pro racers know that proper go-kart braking techniques are essential to winning the race. So, here are some tips to help you blast past the competition.
But before you go, if you are interested in knowing how to replace your own brakes cheap make sure you read the brake replacement guide.
Steps to Braking Properly
To become a pro, your foundations of the go-kart braking technique need to be rock solid. Mastering braking requires you to face your fears pertaining to spinning or locking up!
Don’t worry, here are some steps to help you gain control of your beast of a kart. Hopefully, with these tips, you can master braking and blast to the finish line first!
If you would rather watch an instructional video please see below, otherwise keep reading.
Step 1: Choose a Start of Point.
A sharp-looking corner with a long path before, it is the perfect venue for your braking lessons. It provides enough space for you to speed up or slow down, depending on your confidence in turning.
Step 2: Choose an Adequate Braking Point and Get Going.
Choose a point to brake, preferably a tad before your typical breaking point. Next, approach as you normally would, keeping distance from the edge of the track, just in case. Sometimes, it proves to be handy if you aren’t as experienced on the track yet.
Step 3: Slam on the Brakes at the Breaking Point!
As you get to the breaking point, step on the brakes full force. Bring your right foot off of the throttle and onto the brake pedal at maximum pressure. It is essential as standard braking just would not cut it in kart racing.
Step 4: Loosen the Pressure and Gain Control
After the burst of pressure, lessen it a bit and gain control of the kart. The kart often sways side to side when you release the brakes, so bear that in mind.
When Should You Brake?
Unlike cars, the go-kart braking technique and timing are often quite obscure. Many rookies make the mistake of braking at the wrong time, causing them to lose control. So, this question always arises in training sessions, when are you supposed to brake?
The most efficient way to do that is, you guessed it, get on the track. Staring the monster of a track head-on is the best way to overcome any hesitation when braking. However, this can be a daunting task if misguided, so many racers often feel lost.
The best rule is to brake before a curve but not during one, very opposite, right? Stop braking when the track curves, alternatively you should be releasing the brake gently. To gain maximum speed, accelerate after the final curve.
Braking in a straight line is also critical when learning the fundamentals of braking. It is so the back of the kart won’t wobble, turn sideways or topple over on you. Failure to do so may cost you the race since you may have lost too much speed.
What to Expect the First Time Braking
When you slam onto the pedal, the kart undergoes a lot of different kinds of pressure and forces. Often many newbies expect the kart to be unaffected and get scared when something does happen. Here are some things you might experience when braking.
The kart’s engine notes drop exponentially in a short amount of time. Some even describe it as stopping or feeling like it’s clutch less. It should be a must-have, if you don’t feel this, the pressure on the brakes isn’t high enough.
Another thing is the tires produce a high pitched “squeaking” sound, like the ones in the movies. The kart also loosens at the back most of the time. According to the go-kart braking technique, it’s a sign to lessen the brakes and control your kart.
Mistakes and Mishaps when Braking
If you are banging on the brakes with no avail, it might be time for a checkup. It might be a sign that the brakes aren’t functioning as well as they should. Going to a local kart shop is always a good idea if the brakes are weak.
Another thing many rookies do is turning too fast or too wide. It is a hard thing to get right; the main thing is practice. Timing is crucial in this case. If you turn too wide, you could risk spinning out and losing.
Many pros have confessed that braking is the hardest to master in terms of pro-go-karting. So, it is reasonable to be scared, but always maintain composure and find solutions. Never lose your cool or get flustered; the secret is always not panicking.
If you keep on spinning and are unable to control the kart, you’re braking too long. A tip would be that the kart can be controlled when the braking pressure is released.
How to Improve Your Go-Kart Braking Technique
Now that you have the basics down, it’s time for the fun stuff, time to gain some speed! You might have noticed your kart gets livelier when the speed increases, unfortunately, the difficulty does too.
Pro-racers keep on the throttle for long periods, only braking in the shortest braking distance possible. It is because they brake at the same time when the tires produce maximum braking traction.
A great tip is to put your weight on the rear tires when braking. It helps keep the tires locked in the optimum place to get maximum braking force when braking. Doing so not only helps with maneuvering the curve successfully, but you would also gain leads in the races.
What exactly is trail braking? Well, it’s a go-kart braking technique when turning into a corner. Trail braking allows the racer to manipulate the kart’s weight to help the entrance to a corner.
Trail braking is a very high difficulty maneuver. Many need hours on the track to get it consistently right. With that said, once you nail it, you can virtually beat anyone on a race.
How do you trail brake then? Well, when you are going full throttle and approaching a corner, brake at the last second. Once you regain control, turn-in point, and slowly release the brakes to reduce braking pressure.
Here are some tips for trail braking. When releasing the brakes, don’t release it too quickly, the kart may become unbalanced and topple over. Also, when a driver doesn’t release their brakes quickly enough, the rear will slide and lose control.
Oversteering is also a very common accident in karting when attempting to trail brake. Braking force is inversely proportional to the steering angle, so be careful and delicate when turning.
Using the maximum amount of braking and the slow release is crucial when trail braking. Trail braking is a skill useful in races; it allows you to be faster than most karts. Bear in mind; this requires much experience as the kart will be very hard to control, get practicing!
Please see below for a trail braking step-by-step guide.
Power braking is a fast, dangerous, and efficient way of braking. Power braking poses a risk that some are willing to take; it can destroy engines and brakes. Power braking asks the kart to work against itself, causing high temperatures.
However, many have used power braking to their advantage, since it is a simple technique. Often, racers use it at the final stretch, since it feels weird using both the pedals at once.
Power braking starts when you step on the brake slowly as you continue accelerating. When encountering a corner, use the brake and start slowing down without releasing the power.
Determine the best brake strength and speed that will get you past the corner as fast as possible.
Pro racers, even world champions use this technique as they get through a curve with less braking.
Many of them even recommend it and practice it frequently on the track despite the risk. However, do not power brake excessively as it may damage your kart permanently.
Go-karting is among the topmost exhilarating activity that you can do. The adrenaline rush is what keeps people hooked and coming back for more. Surely nothing feels better than to glide past opponents at the curve, with your new knowledge about braking.
Pro racer or go-kart hobbyist, remembering to have fun is something that should never be forgotten. And driving smarter, like learning the correct go-kart braking technique, helps increase your enjoyment immensely.