Is this a decent kart to start off with in open 206 racing?

Hey all! I’ve been combing the internet for karts (and transport solutions) for quite some time now, and I’ve run across this listing for what appears to be a functional LO206 kart for what seems like a good price. Slightly concerned about the fact that the frame has had to have been straightened, but is that warranted? This is the link to the kart in question. I’d love to get your thoughts!

I’ve answered the suggested newbie questions below, for some added context.

Thanks!

Johnny


Where are you located?

Chicagoland

What age bracket are you in? Junior (<16), Senior (16+) or Masters (30+)

Senior

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your mechanical ability, or willingness to wrench on things?

Willingness? 9. Ability? 6. I regularly work on my Cayman and I’m reasonably comfortable turning a wrench, but my skills stop short of welding or real fabrication work.

Talk a little about your racing experience so far.

I’ve been doing arrive-and-drive rental karting leagues for two seasons, and I narrowly missed out on winning the championship this year. As a result, it seems like it’s time to return to the back of the grid in a new series to keep building my skills and developing as a driver.

What’s the main thing you need help with to get you started.

At this point, I think my biggest hurdle is kart knowledge. I know my way around a car, but I have no idea what to look out for when purchasing a kart.

Looks like a pretty decent package. I think for a beginner it would serve you well. Not unusual for karts to go on the table to straighten the frame a little. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad buy.

There are a bunch of used kart buying threads here, but things to look for would be frame wear on the bottom of the chassis and then I would ask about its history if it was crashed or why it needed straightening.

That seems like a great deal to me. 1900 for kart + useful
stuff seems like pre-covid pricing.

Again, assuming engine is ok and frame isnt a mess.

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That seems like a fair price for what is included. I wouldn’t be overly concerned with the chassis having been straightened, actually, that’s better for you knowing it has already been done and is ready to go. I would be curious how much time is on the motor. I’m not familiar with the brand, It has some unusual design elements but should still suffice to get you on the track.

Thanks TJ! I think I’ve read a few of your posts in those threads. I’ll reach out to the seller and see if more pictures are available. From what I’ve been able to find, most of the other 206 karts out there on the secondhand market are in the neighborhood of $3500, like this one currently on eBay. I agree that as a beginner, talent and experience are likely to be greater limiting factors than the chassis. But do you think there’d be any benefit to spending a little more up front on–for example, the Birel kart linked above? I don’t know what–if any–differences there are between chassis manufacturers.

Additionally, do you think it matters when I buy a kart? I’m assuming prices will increase as we close in on the upcoming season. I thought that having the winter to familiarize myself with the kart might be wise as well, but I don’t know for sure.

Glad to hear it! I was worried it was in the realm of being too good to be true. I take it covid has caused a spike in kart prices as well then? Seems like lots of posts on here from the pre-covid era reference race-ready karts being available in the $2000 range, but I’ve only seen this one so far for that sort of money.

Stay away from that particular Birel.

If you do a Birel, find a newer AM29

I also wouldn’t recommend an Ionic Edge to a beginner.

I agree–I bought my car in part due to the owner disclosing previous issues and the actions taken to resolve them. Unfortunately for me, a few surprises still popped up over time.

In terms of the motor, how long does one usually go between rebuilds? What does a rebuild entail? Is it difficult to do yourself, or is it cheap enough at a shop to make it not worth the time and effort expended? And to end my barrage of questions, what sort of unusual design elements are you seeing?

I appreciate the input! For my own edification, what red flags are you seeing on that particular Birel? Why would you stay away from an Ionic Edge? Just trying to absorb all of the knowledge I can at this point.

Birel: Bolt on seat struts. Older model I’m assuming and well overpriced for what it is.

Ionic Edge has a small and peculiar tuning window to be fast and way too much adjustment for someone not super familiar with tuning a chassis in general.

The Ionic Edge looks like a more Modern Chassis compare to the Birel you linked. My biggest question would be how available are the parts in your area? If there are no vendors that support your chassis, then its a bust. You need help, especially in the beginning with setup and parts. If there are not any vendors that support your brand, then you run the risk of struggling to find a good neutral set up and where to adjust from there to make the chassis work like it was intended. Where are you located? Ionic is based in North Georgia.

Ah, I see that extra strut now. Is that what’s giving away that it’s an older kart or? Would you expect it to be closer to $2500 or?

That makes sense, I can see how having too much freedom initially could lead to problems. I’d imagine tuning advice will be more difficult to come by on a less popular chassis as well.

That’s an excellent question. There’re a few tracks and race shops in my immediate area–I’ll definitely be asking them that. I agree that finding support locally will be crucial to getting started down the right path. It’d be a shame to spend the entire time fighting against the chassis. I’m located in northern Illinois, so fairly far from Georgia.

All these points are correct. You definitely want local support so you can get parts and advice. There are some Ionic karts floating around the Midwest so it’s not like you’d be the only guy on one.

My main point is, for a first kart you’re likely not going to be changing setup much, so something with crazy adjustability or not probably won’t matter. Your focus should be on turning laps and developing basic driving skills. For that, any decent straight kart will do.

I don’t have much experience with 4 strokes but there are threads here that address it. I found this:

206 “Rebuild” = head and carb. We call them “refreshes”. Yes, they are still legal afterwards.

If you have an issue with the short block, it can be replaced. They are about $300 MSRP (~$500 parts and labor through us).

We go about 10 hours before top end refreshes (~$175 parts and labor) and 2-3 seasons before even thinking about a short block.

As for the chassis I see you’re getting some feedback from others as well and I would echo the concerns. If you compare most of the European brands (OTK, Birel, CRG, etc) you will see the differences in the seat mounts, the whole front end, and this looks like it has a small diameter axle just to mention some quick things I noticed. This isn’t necessarily good or bad, just different. If you are the only one running this chassis at your track you may struggle to find help.

That’s good to hear. After doing a little research, it sounds like they aren’t exactly unheard of. Feels like local support for parts and service is more crucial. There’s a very reputable kart shop not too far from me. They don’t explicitly list Ionic on their “brands” page, but I’d imagine they’d still be able to give general advice? You probably wouldn’t take a McLaren to a Kia dealer for service, but does the same hold true for a kart at such an entry-level?

And I agree, my main focus is to get on track as much as possible, as cost effectively as possible. If this kart fits the bill, I’m up for it.

Thanks for doing some of the searching for me! I’m still learning what to look for, much less where to find it.

Overall, sounds like a pretty reasonable cost. Does performance begin to degrade after that ten-hour period, or would running the engine longer between refreshes risk damage to the internals? I’m curious because I see myself doing significant amounts of practice between race weekends, potentially enough to necessitate a refresh every 1-2 months at that schedule. While that wouldn’t prevent me from owning a kart, it does change my cost calculations somewhat.

Indeed, those seem like extremely valid concerns. As I have limited experience, not being able to get advice from others could be quite a barrier. It sounds like I should do some more research on the prevalence of this particular chassis in my region.

If you do get the Ionic Edge, you’ll likely need to order replacement spindles and steering shafts directly from Kyle. I’d go ahead and get a pair of spindles and a shaft from the get go so you have them ready to go in an emergency.

Rear axle, front and rear hubs, American tie rods… All universal and available at most kart retailers.

Some people run all year on their 206. No issues. You may get some excessive valve leak down and lose some power, but the valve job will fix it right up.

You don’t HAVE to refresh every X hours. It’s just a guideline. Robert goes WAY longer than I do. I send my engine to my guy every 4 hours for a health check, valve lap and seat/face cut if needed. My garage mate’s engine hasn’t been touched since mid 2020.

If you’re not within a few tenths of the leaders, a fresh engine isn’t going to put you there honestly, and with regular oil changes you can beat on it all year no problems without even thinking about a refresh.

Smart to have those pieces on hand before you need them, for sure. If I do get the Ionic kart, I may use the winter as an opportunity to replace components as necessary and learn how to work on the kart myself. I’ll be a one-man team, so probably better to have those skills before I show up to my first race. Sounds like the parts aren’t too exotic though, thankfully.

That makes sense. I work in aviation where overhaul intervals are very much written on a stone tablet, and I know it can be similar for race engines–just wasn’t sure about 206s. Given it’ll be my first entry into a proper race kart, I doubt I’ll be too close to the front of the pack haha. Sounds like a refresh once or twice a season would be all I’d really need, which is good to hear.