1st season coming to a close looking to upgrade

(Bryan) #1

Good afternoon everyone

My 7 year old is wrapping up his 1st season of karting running a mini rok package on an aarow x1 chassis and absolutely loves the sport. What are your suggestions for chassis brand to upgrade him to going into next year? Our local track we see Benik running up front in the micro and Mini classes and from conversation the consensus seems to be Benik. Nitro and Energy is also on the list ive heard a lot. I guess im just looking for some opinions from the group i know he has a long way to go but as a dad if I can give him some stuff comparable to help him even just a little bit it would be pretty cool. I read these forums a ton and what a help its been for a rookie driver and an even more rookie race dad. Thanks everyone!

What Height or Weight to Move out of Cadet Karts?
(Eric Gunderson) #2

I’ve had a similar conversation to this one with a few parents recently.

First, good on you for reaching out to the KP community. Hopefully, there will be a variety of answers here for you, with some genuine thought behind them. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a similar question on Facebook get turned into a 40+ comment section of different dealers copy/pasting their shpiel about how amazing their chassis is and then not offering any personalized answer.

Without more details of your region, it can be a little trickier to recommend specific brands. I mention this first because certain brands are more popular in regions, depending on local support. Whatever brand you choose, I would strongly recommend you choose one that you can actually get parts for. Brand X may be the ‘best’ chassis to run because the fast kid is running it, but if you can’t get a spare spindle when you eventually bend one, well, that isn’t the best chassis for you, most likely.

Another thing to consider is your son’s current abilities. Objectively, is he within close pace (0.5 second range) of the leaders? If not, there is likely some more speed left in your existing chassis, and with time and practice he will unlock it. This doesn’t mean that a new chassis and kart package isn’t the right thing to do for you, but important to keep in mind, as a new kart really won’t help him go that much faster if he’s still learning to become comfortable driving quickly, learning lines, etc.

The Benik/Nitro (same kart different paint) is the ‘flavor of the week’ at the national level. This of course means that parents looking to throw money at the issue grab these chassis for local races. And there’s nothing wrong with them, they are indeed quite good from all accounts. However, I have seen the Arrow cadet chassis, and the fit and finish on those is also quite nice. Ultimately, a lot of it goes back to where you can find parts, and who may be able to assist you in getting parts and tuning advice as your son progresses in ability.

In broad terms, two of the most popular brands across all sprint karts are CRG and Tonykart. While, again, your local mileage may vary, these two brands are those that are pretty quick right out of the box, and have a strong dealer network nationwide. If I were a cadet parent currently, brands like those would be where I would look initially if I was considering a new kart. The Benik is good for national level races, but local parts support has been reportedly very lacking, so you’ll have to consider this option carefully. Energy karts are very well built and perform great, but again finding parts can be tricky.

Ultimately, think very carefully about if your son really needs a new kart. New equipment is always nice, and it will be consistent for him. However, if he still has some room to grow with his existing X1, perhaps consider investing the money you would in a chassis on more practice days, or even some additional races in your area.

(Bryan) #3

I really appreciate your response. I’m in the northeast and I agree 100% with the fact that there’s probably much more speed in the chassis we currently have and I don’t believe by any stretch that a new chassis will get us near the podium for a few reasons. 1st we’re running a mini rok in a class with 6 rotax motors and 2 swift motors. Most of the reason I’m looking to upgrade and that doesn’t mean brand new is for me as well as I’m learning this through a million questions and watching while having the time of my life with my 7 year old.

The newer chassis is more from other folks giving me advice as to where I should start for him considering he really has a passion for the sport. As far as parts that’s a really great point and it does seem like those two chassis are the flavor of the month for sure. We try and practice once a week on off weeks and only am on the club level maybe looking to hit the road a little bit next year and just trying to take it all in.

Again I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to respond and provide the info and feedback.

(Daniel Agee) #4

Eric beat me to it. A new chassis is always nice, but if there is room to grow, nothing replaces seat time and more race experience.

(Morgan Schuler) #5

Spend your money on seat time, fuel, and tires. Maybe hire a coach/tuner to work with his driving and your tuning. Anything else is wasting money after only your first year, IMHO.

(Bryan) #6

Anyone that takes the time to respond is very much appreciated without a doubt. We try and practice once a week and trying to find a coach to work with him is probably a really good idea that honestly i never really thought of ill have to look into that. The suggestions for sure are definitely noted that everyone has given i guess i was just looking to see what everyone thought in regards to the chassis and suggestions as to what to look for because the plan is to try and upgrade him a little bit going into next year. We bought the current chassis he uses as a roller for 250 bucks used the same tires for half the season that the kart came with mounted a new mini rok on it and gave it our best.

Coming into the year i didn’t even know how many different types of karts there actually was! We frequent as a family the big block modified circuit and we know how passionate drivers and fans are of Teo, Bicknell, Troyer, etc on the dirt but he really loves his kart and i love it also. Im not trying to be the dad that buys top of the line everything because i cant financially and be the kid that is all show with no go the plan is to continue to practice but if there is a preferred chassis type out there that could help him out and be more comparable the kids were racing with. Again im learning this stuff as i go with my little man and everything that everybody responded with are things i very much appreciate because its all super important to his development in this sport. Thanks everyone!

(Eric Gunderson) #7

Of course Bryan! Have fun with your kid! Karting will (hopefully) create a lot of great memories for both of you.

(James McMahon) #8

As long as the kart is in good mechanical condition and doesn’t need too much in parts, I think stick with it for next year. One less variable to deal with, free up some cash.

Along the lines with coaching, consider pickup up Terence Dove’s book “Master the Art of Kart Driving”. Spend some time reading and digesting it, distill that down to what you think might help your young racer best and maybe even practice some of those techniques on a computer/console with a wheel controller.

(Dan Schlosser) #9

Hey Bryan - sounds like you are having a ball with your kid! That is the most important thing to keep in perspective throughout your time in karting - hope you guys have a long run!

Before even getting in to the karts out there I’ll repeat a few things that I say to all newer families in regard to working with young kids and how their money is best spent:

  1. The three most important keys to success - seat time, seat time, seat time. It sounds like you guys do this really well already!

  2. The single best investment is in coaching. Not overwhelming, immersive coaching that separates you from your driver. But coaching where the instructor understands that the hour you are paying for is as much about teaching you what to work on with your driver the next time as it is to teach the driver. And coaching is not changing axles, adjusting caster or moving seats - coaching should be one on two time with a kid & parent, not working on karts.

  3. Get a MyChron with a GPS, download race studio and learn how to use it. It is a very powerful tool.

A note about 1-3) Your driver will not be able to give you feedback and they won’t have any idea how a kart feels different after you make a change. But never quit asking after each session and no matter what they say encourage the dialogue. In 4-5 years they may start giving you usable info… maybe. :wink: Also, “I don’t know” is always a perfectly acceptable answer - they are really being honest.

As for karts… Usually the best move is to find a product that is supported locally or at the very least has a dealer/distributor with significant inventory within a day’s shipping time. You wlll bend, lose, break something eventually. Also someone that really Is vested in youth karting is a plus.

In terms of cadet karts that has been my primary focus for a long time. In particular, over the last five years, I’ve made the rounds through just about every major brand. There are some karts that just aren’t very good or tunable, some that you have to teach a kid to drive improperly to go fast, some that you have to tweak constantly but are wicked fast and then lastly some that are consistently good and easy to work with.

Unfortunately the kart you have falls in the first category. As the tires have gotten softer and horsepower has increased in cadets, the Arrow just struggles more and more. You may not see if now with a really young, small driver but there will come a day where you’ll resort to pulling out a sawzall and hacking bars to try to free up the Arrow - been there, cut that. :flushed:

Many of the very biggest brands have built a kart primarily to run on the hard tire in Europe that also has a ton of built in rake with the differing tire sizes from front to rear. In order to make a Birel, OTK or some other karts go quickly you narrow the fronts, widen the rear, run spun wheels, etc and then teach the kid to slide the kart around the track essentially. Just not the platform to teach race craft and develop a driver.

Personally the CRG and Praga are two of my very favorite karts - the CRG is just wicked fast and the 900mm Praga in Rookie/Micro was just a beast. Both suffer a little though from lack of many people on the product right now with very limited dealer networks.

That brings us around to the current market which is a whole lot of Parolin based karts that work exceptionally well with the size and compound of tires we run in the US. While they are all similar, they all have some variations so no one is “just like a ________” in reality. Parolin, Energy, Merlin, Nitro, PDB, Benik and probably some others I’m forgetting are all really good karts. If you can find someone in your area that supports any of these brands you will be very happy. The best part about these karts is that they all come with (or should come with) a well developed baseline, a seat position for your driver’s seat size and a pedal riser option that actually fits. They all also require very little tuning for a young driver in particular. You change a click of camber or front/rear width but for the most part you provide your young, developing driver with not just a stable platform but a consistent one. They just think about driving not the kart then!

Brief semi-shameless plug. We have run nearly all of them and chose the Energy as our brand. The fit and finish, and the complete as-delivered package, is head and shoulders above the rest. Just quality equipment throughout and Energy’s owner Mick is crazy passionate about his karts, racers and brand which makes it super fun.

(Bryan) #10

First off thank you so much Dan for taking the time. If I could shake your hand right now I would. We do try and get to the track as much as we possibly can and exactly what you said about the kart we have now is EXACTLY what people at the track have told me it’s just harder for the kid to drive which is the reasoning behind wanting to go newer and more comparable to other stuff at the track. I’m going to continue to see what’s out there and definitely look into the energy kart.

As for the coaching aspect this is something I really feel would be beneficial and worth the money and definitely will be looking to make that happen for him AND for me like you said.

Your absolutely right about the “I don’t know” lol I get that just about every time but I will definitely continue asking my little driver what he feels and how it felt. We’re both newbies in this sport but he’s really taken to it he wants to travel I don’t think mom is ready for that yet lol but whatever I can do for him I’ll certainly try. Dan thank you again man for taking time at all I really appreciate it sir

(Paul Hart Jr) #11

Dan this answer is so helpful. Also appreciate the time you put in this reply…

(Jim Maier) #12

We have used a Nitro this year and will be on it for the foreseeable future. My son, Ben Maier, was one of the first to get one. Since then I’ve become a dealer. Like Dan said, any of the Parolin karts will work and parts support is where it’s at. We have parts support as good as it gets. I have most parts in MD, and if I don’t have it then Nick has it in NC. One to two days to the NE. We have lots of Nitro’s in the NE on the tracks. 3 or 4 at OVRP, and 3 or 4 at any NJ track. I think the biggest benefit to Nitro is the private facebook group where you can share info with other Nitro owners. People are very forthcoming with info too. Another benefit are the camps that Nitro does. Nothing beats this kind of training. It is all geared towards everybody getting faster together. I hope that helps and good luck. Whatever brand you go with please introduce yourself at one of the races. We’d be happy to help you .

(James McMahon) #13

That’s pretty awesome. I wish more brands would think like this…

(Ismael Delgado) #14

A driver camp offered by the manufacturer…what a great idea! Maybe the others will catch on and offer something along those lines.