Go-Kart Transmissions Everything You Need To Know About

For Go-Kart lovers, these vehicles are exciting to drive. But, have you known about one of the most critical components in a Go-Kart that empowers it? The answer lies in the Go-Kart transmissions, a device closely connected to the crankshaft.

In this article, we will learn everything about Go-Kart transmission, including its types, uses, and situations they will be the best at. Let’s go!

What Are Go-Kart Transmissions?

How Go-Kart Transmissions works

A Go-kart transmission is a device that uses the rotational force created by the rear axle’s engine and two wheels to accelerate the kart. 

The three most popular types are direct drives (no transmission), automatic transmissions (torque converter and clutch), and manual transmissions (gearbox). 

The transmission will be decided based on what type of the go-kart is and how the operation will go. An easy example is the automatic transmission system is more frequently seen on homemade and off-road karts. At the same time, manufacturers often install a gearbox (manual transmission) for go-karts made for racing. 

Each transmission type will have a different characteristic that makes it usable for such kinds of carts only. We will have a deep investigation of each transmission type for you to figure out fully.

What Are The Types Of Go-Karts Transmission?

Go-Kart Transmissions Blue Print

No Transmission

Don’t be mistaken that having no transmission is a type of transmission in go-karts. It is a configuration of uncommon settings in specific situations, but there are settings from small, homemade, or electric go-karts. These karts running with no transmission at all are called direct drive. 

Automatic Transmissions

A torque converter or a clutch can be classified as an automatic go-kart transmission. These settings can adjust the machine to engage or disengage when the crankshaft has exceeded a certain speed, in which the units are RPM.

Due to the settings’ characteristics, the automatic transmission can make go-karts travel idle once an engine empowers it (the RPM exceeds a specific speed) or non-empower it (the RPM falls under a specific speed). 

Manual Transmissions

If gearboxes run your karts, the kart is run by the manual transmission. The boxes help drivers commit to a specific gear using a knob, which means more control over the gear ratio when traveling.

An Insightful Research Of Go-Kart Transmission

Transmissions in Go-Kart

Direct Drive

It is called direct-drive go-karts whenever you see a go-kart with no transmission at all. These vehicles transfer the rational force directly from the engine to the rear axle using a sprocket and a roller chain.

So, for these engines, the go-karts powered by gas cannot modify the power transfer according to the wheels, which means no constant engagement. 

Unless the engine of direct drive go-karts has the idling settings, the car itself will not have that. When you turn on the engine, the go-kart can start moving. 

The go-kart’s speed can be modified using the accelerator and brake pedal; however, it does not work the same for gear ratio. This number remains constant and is not modifiable compared to a torque converter.

Another alternative for no-transmission go-karts is electric go-karts. These vehicles have become more common than ever, and they don’t need clutch or torque converters. Instead, they use the speed controllers and a direct drive configuration for running.

On the other hand, you can hardly find a gas-powered go-kart with direct drive settings since getting a transmission for such entertaining-source karts is cheap and handy. 

But racers need more equipment to make their vehicle ready for fire! They need a centrifugal racing clutch, or a gearbox in manual mode, for their vehicles to be approved by CIK-FIA. 

Go-Kart Clutch

A go-kart clutch works based on a fixed-gear ratio, which is called a non-variable automatic transmission. A clutch, which resides at the crankshaft, is responsible for delivering rotational force from the engine to the rear axle.

You can find many types of clutches available for your go-karts. Although they vary from design and mechanism to power, they all want to achieve the same goal of transmitting power to the rear axle. Let’s see the most frequently seen go-kart clutches in the market:

  • Centrifugal 
  • Belt 
  • Electric 
  • Hydraulic

Among all types of clutches, centrifugal clutches are commonly seen since they are affordable with non-complex configuration settings. There are also single and multi-disk racing clutches, which work under the same policy.

Let’s find out how a go-kart clutch operates. The crankshaft will spin under 1,400 to 1,600 RPM, which is plentiful for the tension springs to expand and the shoes to move outward, which results in the friction material staying in touch with the clutch’s inner drum.

Once the contact is initiated, the clutch is connected to spin along with the crankshaft, which rotates the rear axle using a chain. The speed can achieve up to 1,800 RPM, depending on your centrifugal clutch.

If you run a clutch at 1,400 to 1,600 RPM without fully engaged, the clutch may have a small accident of easy slippering and can be downgraded faster. That is why go-kart clutches are often seen on racing karts since they support better and steadier acceleration. 

Torque Converter

With torque converter settings, they are variable transmissions that don’t require a fixed gear. A typical Torque converter will begin at a 2:1 gear ratio; when the crankshaft spins faster, it will reach the 1:1 ratio.

A go-kart torque converter can produce around 1,500 RPM, although it has an engagement range thanks to a spring system. These go-karts can handle heavy loads with the appropriate gear ratio, especially on inclined surfaces. That is why homemade and off-road go-karts often have torque converters. 

Let’s dive into the components of a torque converter to understand its use. There is a driving pulley that is connected to the crankshaft. Once it hits a certain RPM, the driven pulley will spin thanks to the belt clamp by the pulley. 

A belt is used to connect the driver and the driven pulleys. When the RPM increases, the belts will move up to cause interaction to both above objects, which also causes the gear ratio to change.

As we all know, the driven pulley is in touch with the rear axle thanks to the chain and a sprocket. This connection helps the torque converter to be able to provide variable rotation force, which can alter up or down due to the engine’s speed. 

However, torque converters can stop working without transmitting power to the rear axle under 1500 RPM. An edge that converters have over clutches is they are more prone to more bulky roads.

Go-Kart Gearbox 

Gearboxes are available in a few racing go-karts, as drivers must change gears whenever the situation calls for it. Gears are switched through a gear knob, the same as an automobile. However, the difference is that the gearbox has already been built into the kart’s engine. 

For go-karts installed with a gearbox together, they are called shifter karts having a manual transmission. These vehicles are more popular in the States than in European regions.

They usually have a six-speed transmission system with a racing clutch, and each gear owns a certain gear ratio. Drivers can take advantage of these settings, as they can go up or downshift when a need for increasing and decreasing the gear ratio is visible. 

You can hardly find manual transmission settings on regular, non-professional racing karts. Since gearboxes are expensive, regular kart drivers usually can’t afford or do not need to install such a costly component to their karts.


Do Racing Go-Karts Have Transmissions?

Racing go-karts have transmission, which is frequently the manual transmission settings. In most racing go-karts, there will be gearboxes responsible for empowering the karts. 

What Transmission Do Go-Karts Use?

The three most common transmission that go-karts can utilize is no transmission, automatic transmission, and manual transmission. Every type will have a specific characteristic that makes it fit for certain types of karts you own.

Can You Put The Reverse On A Go-Kart?

Of course, you can put a reverse on a go-kart, but many factors may affect what reverse you can put in the vehicle. In short, a reverse gearbox connects to the transmission and rear axle. 

Once you install it in the go-kart correctly, it will allow you to drive your vehicle forward and backward. If you have an electric go-kart, don’t buy a reverse gearbox, as it will duplicate the speed controller’s function in the electric kart itself.

So, do you have to install the reverse gearbox or not? Well, it is not a must activity. You should only install the reverse gearbox when it offers you the convenience and application you want. 

For example, racing go-karts owners don’t have to worry about installing reverse gearboxes, as they wouldn’t want their vehicles to have more weight than usual. When racing karts need to move to the back, they can be pushed in that direction. 

Hence, installing reverse gearboxes on homemade or off-road go-karts is more common. 

The most visible advantage that a reverse gearbox can give to your kart is that it can support you in getting away from erotic situations, for example, getting stuck in terrain, backing out on a narrow path, or other harmful situations. 

How Can I Increase My Go-Kart Speed?

There are several methods to increase your go-kart’s speed, and they are:

Upgrade the Engine

The engine is the most critical component in your kart as it creates energy and power for the driveshaft, which makes the wheels go and accelerate your vehicle. So, the simplest way to make your kart run faster is to replace the used engine with a new, more-updated engine.

For example, suppose your kart is running with a 3.5 hp engine with 127 cc displacement. In that case, you can look for a more powerful engine with more impressive numbers if you want to transfer it into a racing kart, such as a 6 hp racing kart engine with 196 ccs of displacement, as long as the new engine is compatible with your current used kart.

Optimize the Carburetor

The mechanical component that mixes fuel and air to run your engine is called a carburetor. It plays an important role as it is responsible for combustion, which is the mechanism that drives your kart. 

Once the carburetor does well at its job, the combustion ratio is approved, and your kart is good to go. 

The key to increasing your kart’s power using the carburetor is letting more air and fuel go into the combustion chamber. Find the adjustment screw next to the carburetor’s choke. Turn it clockwise to let air and fuel go into the carburetor. 

This action will increase your kart’s power and speed but bear in mind that the idle speed will also be increased, which can make the machine go down soon. Use this technique with caution.

Install a Supercharger or Turbocharger

If you are making your go-kart, seek a supercharger or a turbocharger for the system. They are both forced induction systems compressing the engine’s airflow. 

The more air is in, the more fuel it can burn. The main difference lies in the crankshaft delivering its power to a supercharger, while the exhaust system delivers its power to a turbocharger. 

It’s more regular to install turbochargers on go-karts as they are more varied and easier to install than the supercharger. However, installing the two will improve your go-kart’s engine. 

Can You Turbo A Go-Kart Engine?

You can indeed put a turbo on a go-kart. The size of the turbo will be determined by the engine capacity your go-kart owns. You can install the turbo on a go-kart on your own by reading and following the given instructions. 

However, if certain engine changes need to be made, it’s better to have someone professional do that for you. 

Do Go-Karts Have Differentials?

Go-karts don’t have differentials, meaning one tire must slide while you are cornering or turning the karts. 

It is based on the designed chassis for the kart to lift slightly off the ground when the kart hits and turns at the corners. All of these adding features make the kart more prone to maintenance as well. 

And last but not least, adding differentials to go-karts is against CIK-FIA’s technological regulations. 


And that’s everything we have today about Go-Kart Transmissions.

Everything you need to know about the transmission system of your favorite vehicle has been introduced, so no more wonder when it comes to this topic. 

After reading this article, we hope you can identify each type of transmission found in a kart and know all about its characteristics and usage. 

Thank you for reading this article, and we will see you soon in the next go-kart article! Enjoy driving your go-kart, and stay tuned with us!

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