Developing feel for setup

Sorry if this is a little confusing, it’s kind of hard to explain. Anyway, I’ve always struggled with making the right setup changes because I dont really have a good feel for what the kart should be doing. I always subconsciously drive around smaller issues with the handling so I’m never really sure what to do because I’m not 100% on how the kart handled if it was a little loose, etc., because I’m focused on getting the most out of the kart how it is rather than what changes I can make to get what I want from it. Any suggestions? Sorry if that doesn’t make sense.

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It makes sense.

Is this affecting your actual results? If you’re driving around issues, but you are struggling to know what is right, then how do you know they’re issues you’re driving around? I flip and flop with set up. I think 99% is in the chassis most of the time and you can end up chasing your tail a lot with set up.

Like with most things if it’s something you want to improve then a systematic approach is the best way. So start with your base set up, take notes at the end of the session, maybe some kind of score sheet. Maybe even commit to not making any changes and see how the kart evolves throughout the day. Then maybe do a set up day where you make some drastic changes and log how they feel. Just treat it like practice. It’s like ‘ear-training’ in music.

Remember how we ‘feel’ a kart is very idiosyncratic. What one person feels isn’t necessarily the same as someone else. It’s important to understand this when developing your own knowledge.


I’ll try that, thank you!

One thing I did when I was younger was go to the track for practice days, and purposefully set the kart up really over or understeer-y, so that I could get a feel of what an extreme handling characteristic felt like. Like Alan said, over time you develop the finer ability to feel smaller handling deficiencies.

Another thing you can try if you aren’t able to consciously focus on the kart’s handling constantly while you’re out there, is to just pick one corner or one lap even when you really are paying attention to the kart’s handling and what your hands are doing in response to the kart’s reactions in the corner. That might be easier than constantly trying to think about it.


I’m not sure if this helps, but I raced RC cars for years before I got into karts. Now you probably don’t need another hobby, but this was a great way to learn basics of handling as well as set up. Now its not identical, but there are some parallels and its a fun activity for the off season.

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