IAME KA100 coming to America

IAME is bringing the Australian KA100 to run in USPKS as an attempt to take out the Yamaha in America.

The engine is designed to use components from the X30, but running 10 less horsepower, along with being air cooled and bringing an electric starter as well. Personally it almost seems like an updated HPV rather than an all new engine, but I’ve only driven one Komet in dire need of a rebuild.

The KA sounds interesting and, being a Yamaha racer myself, this affects me very well. The success or failure of this engine determines whether I’. going to find myself selling my current engines and getting new ones (meaning many more $$$ we spend) or keep running Yamaha.

As far as I’m aware with the engine, it’s marketed as more reliable and less maintenance than the KT100, although it costs almost as much as the X30 at $2,900 vs $3,400 AUD. If this takes off, I feel this will draw an even larger gap than there already is between entry level engines (LO206, KT100 kinda, etc) and the national competition classes (TaG and Shifter).

Along the topic of costs, I’ve been hearing IAME enjoy “updating” engines to go faster/be better/cost more to be competitive. From my understanding, there originally was the Leopard. Then came the MY09 that made the regular one obsolete and wasn’t compatible with the standard. After that came the X30, which has stuck for the past couple years but I’ve seen people predicting an upgrade is coming soon.

I’d like to hear opinions on this, is it good, bad? Will it fail or do well, and if it does succeed, where will it go? Is another SKUSA class coming with it since IAME and SKUSA are very close? I’d love to hear other opinions on this.

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There doing this at my local track gopro motorplex, though it’s not officially announced, I just know their gonna start a class using the ka100 motors. Its around 22hp, 80 hours between rebuilds. An alot of the briggs guys 20+ field are looking at it, so it may be a big thing or miss. It’s what me and a friend have been looking at getting started in.

This engine is going to be a good thing. As with any introduction of a new formula, there will be teething as all the Yamaha guys have to sell their stuff and get new engines. But the Yamaha is simply on it’s last legs. The clutch is more maintenance than your average karter wants to deal with these days, and the engines don’t have the parity and equality that IAME’s modern engines do. Not to mention, the Yamaha isn’t the most bulletproof motor out there.

The Leopard was introduced as one of the first TaG motors many years ago (debuted in the late 90s, early 2000s) so obviously it was going to need some update at some point. Bringing the MY09 engine to the table was a good move that addressed some of the issues that had been plaguing the engine. Having one major update over the course of almost two decades seems fairly acceptable. If that’s too much for you, you should take a look at Rotax and see how they continuously update rules every year and force expensive updates and parts on people constantly.

The X30 was born out the knowledge they gained on the Leopard, and is a far superior engine in terms of build quality, reliability, and performance. The X30 is a great engine and half of my wins this season were on a bone-stock out-of-the-box engine. It’s built properly from the factory.

The KA100, being lower horsepower and a less highly strung engine should be basically bulletproof. It’ll be easier to use and maintain than the Yamaha, and should provide a nice little boost of power/speed. It basically fixes all the issues the Yamaha has. It’s a bit more expensive but keep in mind that the regional or national level, the Yamaha guys have at least 2 engines, if not 3. I know when I ran it several years ago, we had 3 engines, and in 2015 when I ran it, we kept at least 2 in the trailer for me.

If this is anything like the Komet, it should be great fun to drive. Komet on the 3/4 pipe with Bridgestone YHC tires was probably my favorite class of all time.

The complaint we always hear is that the junior Yamahas were faster than the senior Yamahas. Senior Yamaha at 360 is a pretty slow class. Komet was a perfect step up and you saw a lot of guys run Komet and TaG when they both were popular (including myself).

Personally, I’m really excited for this engine and am hoping to get behind the wheel of one at least once or twice next year for some hot laps to see how it goes.

Fortunately for you Aaron, it’s only at the national level next year so at the club and regional events you’ll get to sit back and see how it pans out in USPKS first before going into it with no info. I have confidence it will succeed though, especially with how much support IAME is offering to help it take off.

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I can definitely agree with you on the clutch and reliability factors, especially coming in when you have NO idea what’s going on like I did. I know the Komet had a very easy clutch and I hope this would be the same, all the Yamaha clutches are terrible Imho.

I had no clue about the Leopard and it’s history, so thanks about that. I had only heard things from others and didn’t look into it since I was never in a TaG class. One update over 20 years is a pretty good record. I’ve definitely heard about the Rotaxes and their issues though.

That’s good to hear about the X30, I’ve seen that on eKn probably from you even so if we do make a jump there wouldn’t be too much concern.

For the Yamaha, we pick ours up used too as we were only looking at club level stuff, so that’s part of the reason why this buy in is such a shock factor to my father and I, but I’m sure we’ll be able to justify it, meaning convince my mom this is an okay decision. The extra power will be really nice for sure. I also believe all the front runners at BKC have at least two engines if not more. We have two and we’re considering a third decent one to run in Rt.66, however if the KA comes in that’d be a waste so we’ll just make do with what we have.

I loved the Komet when I drove it, definitely a good engine and I wish it had stayed.

Reading back on my post, it sounded a little negative. I don’t dislike the engine or want it to fail, but I’m cautious with possibly having to buy a brand new motor and setup next year. I’ll definitely be keeping track of USPKS and the opinions of the drivers closely. I mean hey, if it takes off maybe SKUSA will include a class and I can go to the SuperNats to race! Jk, I’m nowhere near a skilled enough level to want to try that yet. Still, I’m very interested in how next year pans out. Maybe if there’s a positive reception early on I’ll grab one early and get testing with it.

I’m going to be the skeptic, and for a few reasons. I will agree that the KT100 has outlived it’s expectations, but not necessarily because of the engine design. If you look to when karters we’re looking for the new next best thing to move away from the Yamaha, it wasn’t typically because of the engine itself (though production variance and age could be worked on). It was because of the rules surrounding it. By the early 90s, it was difficult to sustain good Yamaha program. You needed a different pipe for each track you raced at, and the clutches had gone from bulletproof to flower pedal delicate to get that extra 0.05". The resulting spec made it so that if you didn’t watch your temps, you could wind up with a melted aluminum pile in a few laps. In the face of this, the rulebook couldn’t pull the easy fix of a spec pipe, or at least one that people liked, and a spec clutch. It’s the same thing is Australia now. The KA is replacing the KT because the rules surrounding the KT don’t make sense, especially for a class called clubman.

So then IAME stepped in with a rehashed engine with a spec pipe and a (initially horrible) spec clutch called the HPV/KPP/KPV. That should’ve been the death of the Yamaha, but because they launched it with issues and then didn’t promote it enough, all it did was fracture the 100cc scene, which hurt karting in general.

Then they turned their attention to TAG, because that’s what “everyone wanted” at the time. What they gave us was an engine that had another junk clutch with the addition of having crank that separated like an ejector seat. Oh, and the electronics. After people started to turn away from the Leopard, they didn’t give us the X30 in the states just yet, even though it existed in other markets. First they gave us the MY09 Leopard. Then, after just enough time had passed for everyone to get comfortable, they released the X30. I’m sorry for the cynicism, but that felt like a money grab. I’m all for capitalism, but that felt like a poor way to treat your customers.

Now that we’re about done acclimating to the X30, IAME turns their attention back to 100cc racing. I do hear grumbling about the Yamaha clutches, too. Well, spec out a low engagement clutch and be done with it. People seem pretty happy with the exhaust, be it can or SR-Y. I don’t see the need for a replacement formula that is too expensive, has an onboard starter (needlessly increases weight), and will only mess up the series and clubs that have finally recovered and have excellent attendance in Yamaha.

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I’ve yet to look into the KA in detail, but this raises my BS flag sky high.

80 hours I believe it when I see it. You would need to be incredibly lucky I think.

Between bearings and reeds (which are still universals parts from what I understand) something will let go way before 80 hours of racing. Additionally, unless one wants to run synth oil in an aircooled (No thanks!) even with the most refined castor oils you’re going to jam that ring into its groove in a quarter of that time, or less.

I’m just going off of what I’ve heard from local kartsport guy at the track, defiantly take it with a grain of salt

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Here’s the recommended procedures and lifetime expectations according to the Australians

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Yeah for sure. It makes me cringe when a new motor/tire/widget comes to market and these promises are made by apparently vested interests without any real merit or evidence. At best reassurance is in the form of a couple of anecdotes or really broad statements.

If someone can explain to me with some sort of fairly logical reason on how this motor is fundamentally different to its peers I’m calling 80 hours a poor reccomendation.

The sport would do better if we stopped bullshitting each other and started setting some reasonable expectations on certain things.

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I’m not sure where the 80 hours originated, but I don’t know anyone that would actually go that long between pistons on any engine like this one. I would go by what the Aussies are saying for now, as they’ve been running it the longest.

As far as why this engine is replacing the Yamaha at USPKS, that’s pretty easy. Besides all the inconsistency issues with the manufacture of the engine, which requires engines with optimal blow down and the "right’ head, case, and cylinder combo to be competitive at the top level, it just doesn’t fit with the times anymore. 10, 15, 20 years ago, karters wanted to work on stuff. They wanted to be mechanics and tuners and were willing to take the time to do learn it. Now, most people have sooo many other things that they also want to do, that few want to really learn how to tune an engine properly, or set a clutch up properly, or read EGTs, or set the pop off, or gap a clutch properly. Yes, there are people who still want this experience, and there always will be, but they are in the minority these days. Also, the US and AUS were the last 2 markets for the Yamaha KT100. In Australia, KA has literally replaced the KT in a very short time. The annual production needs for the Yamaha, to meet the US market, can be produced in less than 1 shift at the factory. Yamaha officials have indicated (without coming out and saying it) that its only a matter of time now, until someone pulls the plug on the manufacture.

Somewhere above, someone said that the Yamaha was a very popular club engine. The reality is that Badger and New Castle are the only 2 tracks in the US that have a good Yamaha field. You could throw in Route 66 as well, if you want to cite one more place with a good following for the Yamaha. And while there are thousands of Yamaha engines scattered around the country, WKA’s Man Cup series is the only other one that takes them seriously, and they have declined substantially from its heyday in the early to mid 2000s.

I’m not going to refute what was said about the Leopard to MY09 Leopard, to X30 transition, even though I don’t completely agree with it, but I will say that the Leopard was probably the longest run for a Tag engine package without any changes, in Tag’s short history. It fueled enormous growth in Tag and was remarkably good for the sport. The same could be said about the Yamaha.

Lastly, if the quality and parity of the KA100 is anything like the X30 or MiniSwift stuff that is coming out of IAME these days, it will be a great package, consistent out of the box, and very reliable. Time will tell. In the meantime, enjoy the Yamaha, its still a great, fun engine that provides good close racing at a good value.


The IAME KA100 engine is a bitza motor made up from old stock IAME parts left over from WW2. The bottom end is from the ancient Leopard RL motor… the head and barrel are from the 1998 model TT38 Formula A rotary valve motor. The original carby supplied here in Australia was from the Leopard RL… but it was hopeless and has recently been replaced by another model Tillotsen. The figures quoted by the factory for parts life are fictional. The engine is a dud and has caused much drama here down under. It comes with a myriad of problems…


What makes it a dud? And what are the “myriad of problems”?

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Thanks for chiming in Pete. Can you expand on your post with some details?

We keep things as objective/fact related as possible and discuss them from that point.

Tim, with USPKS, do we know what the weight is and if the onboard starter is mandatory?


Weight is 360. Not sure on the starter.

Guys we’ve been racing these in Australia for over 12mths. The KA100 took over from Yamaha and it was for the best. The KA100 requires less maintenance and seems to be a bullet proof engine. The only update we have received was a larger more realiable carby. If your thinking or racing your Yamaha against the KA100 I’d suggest don’t waste your time the KA is a much faster and more torque than the Yamaha.
Best thing Karting Australia :australia: has done was introduce the Vortex Mini Rok engine for cadets and the KA100 engine.

What is the observed difference in maintenance between the KT and the KA?


I will cut and paste comments from Australians that will back up my opinion. Anybody that tells you it is a good thing is full of shit and will be a customer of the Australian distributor that has sent his buddies in to defend the piece of crap.

Doug Gorringe… " I can guarantee it’s all BS…Top end between 5-8 hours if u want to stay competitive, bottom end 15-20 if your lucky. Ow wait then they decide to try a new shipment of bearings! Well eight bottom end rebuilds in 6 months. It’s great when u turn up to a test day with two fresh engines, one blows the bottom end in 40 minutes and the other didn’t even get 20 minutes. And did I mention that when these bearings fail, because they have a plastic cage in the bearing it goes right threw your top end as well. Lucky it wasn’t a race weekend. Ow hang on that happen to. And we aren’t the only ones with the same recurring issues. Black anchor."