Off-Road Go-Karts – How to Find the Right One
What’s the #1 thing that comes to mind when you think about Go-Karts? I bet it is excitement, pure fun, and lots of adrenaline, right? And what about off-roading karts – what are they all about? Well, it’s safe to say that they’re twice as cool as the regular karts, especially if you love the wilderness. Right now, the market is overwhelmed by numerous brands that specialize in go-karts for off-roading.
So, how do you choose the right one? What are the most important factors to consider? That’s exactly what we’re here to talk about! I’ve got tons of experience with Off-Road Karts and can help you navigate through the market and find the perfect match. We’ll go over different engine types, seat capacity, extra features, design, pricing, and more. Alright, let’s get right to it!
The Engine: Electric vs. Gas-Powered
Competition is at the very heart of go-karting. Therefore, you’ll need a powerful engine to overcome all the sand, dirt, mud, and rock on the road and steal the prize. Off-roading karts can be equipped either with a good-old petrol engine, or an electric motor. The big question is – which one should you go with? Now, the traditional gas-powered units need petrol to run (don’t go cheap with it: only buy high-grade gas for your kart).
They are noisy, emit exhaust fumes, but, at the same time, have an impressive power output. On top of that, petrol engines last really long and can give you an edge over the rivals. Electric motors, in turn, are usually powered by a single battery (it’s a lead-acid unit). All you’ll have to do is mount it on the frame, fire it up, and hit the road. The biggest advantage over gas-powered motors is the low mass/lightweight design.
That gives you more speed, stronger acceleration, and, of course, better weight distribution – very important on challenging terrain. Electric motors take very little time to set up; plus, their emissions levels are much lower. However, overall, gas-powered engines are the better choice, especially if you’re serious about off-karting and mostly participate in long-range races.
On shorter distances, electric motors are pretty decent as well. It’s also important to say that go-karts for kids are usually equipped with electric motors paired to an automatic transmission: they’re safer and will keep children from harm’s way. Adults can also go with a manual transmission.
This one’s not that hard to figure out. If you prefer to do off-roading on a go-kart on your own, go with a one-seat kart. It will be more affordable, lightweight, and take less effort in maintenance. Two-seat karts are also pretty popular; and then there are four-seat go-karts that suit families with kids. Most karts for kids are equipped with one single seat, in accordance with US laws.
So, ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how many seats you want to see in the off-road go-kart.
Safety: how Secure is the Kart?
This is arguably the most critical aspect to consider before making a purchase. Of course, most best-selling go-karts come equipped with all the necessary safety features, but they’re not all 100% safe. Don’t even consider a kart unless it’s made of a steel frame and has a high-quality seat belt. ALWAYS strap yourself in, because that can protect you in the case of an accident (like when you hit a tree, a bush, or some rocks on the road).
Go-karts tend to roll over, especially when there’s an amateur behind the wheel. That’s why the kart should have a roll cage. A front/rear bumper and some fenders can also go a long way for a go-kart driver, along with some side skirts. For off-roading, I also recommend investing in a decent suspension. It will eliminate all the bumps on the road and absorb most of the impact.
Independent suspension systems are the best thing the market can offer right now. If you prefer to do karting with your family, a decent suspension is a must. Otherwise, the kids won’t enjoy the ride at all! And don’t forget about the brakes. Don’t even hit the road if they’re old, rusty, and worn-off, as a faulty set of brakes can lead to severe consequences.
Extra Features: what to look for?
Alright, with the most important factors out of the way, let’s take a quick look at some useful extras for an off-road go-kart. As I already mentioned in the beginning, there are lots of different manufacturers on the market. And, they pack their vehicles with all kinds of “bonuses” to make them a more attractive deal. In the “Safety” section, we talked about the importance of a strong frame, a roll cage, and a seat belt.
But what about the non-critical extras, you might ask? The first thing to put on your list is a set of lights. I’m talking about headlights and taillights. When driving into the night, a good set of lights will illuminate the path and notify fellow drivers of your presence. A light bar can also be a decent purchase, but you’ll most likely have a hard time mounting it properly. A set of fog lights is a far better investment, in my opinion.
Some folks are big fans of storage trays. As the name suggests, these are used to carry personal items, tools (to maybe fix the ride), and even some snacks. Again, drivers karting with their families will find more use in this than solo off-roaders. Last, but not least, consider a roof canvas. It will safeguard against UV rays (the sun) and protect you from a stroke on the road. That’s pretty much it for the extras.
Pricing and Different Age Groups
Before you go shopping, establish a budget for the off-road go-kart. Once you’re happy with that, you can go ahead and check out what the market has to offer. My advice to all go-kart fans: figure out the average price of a good vehicle in your area. With that information in mind, it will be much easier to find the right pick. Anything that’s available for cheap should be treated with suspicion; most likely, it will lack a roll cage and be crafted from so-so-materials.
The more expensive go-karts, in turn, can protect you from natural hazards, accidents on the road, and, overall, ensure a comfortable ride. This is important: go-karts for kids are usually less expensive than adult configurations. The reason: off-road go-karts for kids have a different design. They are much smaller and require less material to build (yep, it’s that simple). They do, however, come with built-in speed governors.
A quick note: In the US, the youngest age group is 13+. If your children are under the age, they won’t be able to get behind the wheel by themselves. Now, the average price on a solid go-kart for kids is 200-300 dollars. For the adults, it will cost 100-200 dollars more, which is still a good deal. When properly taken care of, off-road go-karts can last for many years, if not decades.