Karting Entrance

Hi everyone, my name is Sam and I’m new to this forum. I’m an 18 year old from Colorado and I’ve recently entered the preliminary phase of my potential karting journey. I’m an avid car enthusiast and possess what I believe to be an above-average understanding of anything automobile related for my age (wow that sounded arrogant). I had a simple go kart I built with my dad in the garage when I was 11 with a 212 cc Predator 4 stroke and a governor set at about 20 mph. I drove it in parking lots throughout the years until I sold it in 2019.

I became preoccupied with typical teenager activities and suddenly a go kart didn’t seem as cool as parties, Homecoming, or a driver’s license and barnfind truck I’ve only recently repaired to road-worthy status.

I’ll get to the point: I’ve found a G.P. Racing 125 cc shifter kart on facebook marketplace for $3000. I can attach the link if necessary. Please don’t steal it out from under me :). It looks to be in immaculate shape and I have the funds ready to go, but with college approaching and my conducted research revealing the typical expenses associated with karting I’m not ready to pull the trigger quite yet. I’d appreciate some insight and advice if a more experienced karter would be so kind. Please convince me :).

Thanks
Sam

First off, what are your goals with karting? Do you plan on competing or just doing track days for fun? If you are looking to race, the best first steps to take would be to visit your local track during a race day and walk around and ask questions. You want to get a feel on what classes are offered locally and what kart brands are supported by the nearest shops and teams. It would be a real bummer to buy something you’ll have a hard time getting parts for, or not have a class to race it in. Karting is very regional in terms of what’s popular.

It’s generally recommend not to start out in a shifter, as it’s going to a complete monster to drive while learning the basics of proper driving technique. You tend to learn bad habits by starting out in something so fast, and it makes it difficult to focus on the fundamentals of driving or having fun if you’re going so fast your brain can’t keep up. Plus it could be dangerous if you don’t know how to handle something with that much power. Not to mention, the faster you go, the more money you’ll be spending on things like tires and brake pads. And shifter classes are not popular everywhere, so you would need to make sure you’ve got a class to race it in if that’s your goal.

Something single-gear and a little slower will start you off on a better path for learning how to drive well in most cases. There are a few very popular entry-level classes out there these days, with reasonably low maintenance and cost to run, and a much more manageable user experience. I believe the LO206 (4-stroke entry level) and the KA100 (2-stroke mid-level) are popular in Colorado. Maybe @Eric_Gunderson has some more insight into what his popping in his area.

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Hi Sam,

I’m also in Colorado and am more than happy to answer questions about the local series. I’m sure Eric will chime in as well.

Thanks,
Tyler

Seems to me you don’t need much convincing :grin:

Pull the trigger, but not on a shifter. Look for a Rotax Max, X30 or such like.

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Sam, a shifter kart has a LOT of power and you’re making decisions really quickly. It’ll be frightening at first even in a straight line. The driver workload is high enough that concentrating on driving well is very difficult.

If you cut your budget by 1/3 and found a nice $2000 Briggs kart you’d learn faster as a driver and be much less likely to be trying to sell your kart because you can’t figure it out.

I can’t really recommend anything between Briggs and a shifter - the KA100 is too new to have depreciated into your price range, the KT100 is frustrating to run, and the cheap TaGs all have reliability and durability issues. I sold three inexpensive TaGs this year and none of them are at the track regularly even if the owners have encountered fewer problems than I used to because they’re not driving them as hard.

For a practice day in a Briggs using take-off tires, you’ll probably go through $50 in parts, pay $50 for the entry fee, and spend $50 towing to and from the track. I usually count on a shifter costing $150 in parts and engine rebuild costs per day, and a TaG $200. Race days have slightly higher entry fees and you’ll be replacing parts damaged in crashes.

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Absolutely 100 million %

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Hey Sam! It’s awesome you’re thinking about getting into karting. You’ve got a lot on your plate right now with college approaching, that’s an exciting time.

Regarding the kart you found, 3k for a shifter could be a great deal, or it could be inheriting someone else’s mess.

As others have said, I’d recommend starting with something not quite as powerful. A shifter kart will leave your pupils like dinner plates and a lot of “whoa” kind of reactions.

With that said, for pure thrills you can’t beat it!

I like what TJ eluded to - it really depends on your goals in karting. If you want to develop your driving ability a shifter may not be the first choice, maybe more a goal. If however you’re looking for something that will always feel like a challenge to drive the shifter is the choice.

The other factor is the cost - a shifter inhales fuel and chews through tires. Something a little less powerful won’t do the same to the same degree. All stuff to consider as a college student.

Our business, Point Karting, is located in Arvada and we have a “try karting” program. Granted, it’s not in a shifter, but it might give you a frame of reference to think about kart racing prior to making the plunge and buying a new or used kart.

I hope you get involved in the sport, and use KP as the great community resource it is!

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Hard pass imho. A sorted, race ready shifter is not the same price as an Lo206 setup used, generally. It’s old and probably tired.

Rebuilds alone will make college budget cry.

On the subject of learning, that makes the shifter another hard pass for new guys. Trying to extract lessons from experience will be colored by you trying to deal with the complexities of trying to understand how to put down power. In short, it’s gonna be too much coming at you to be able to even notice the subtleties.

Do yourself a favor and start in something like 100cx 2 stroke if you have coin or lo206 if you don’t.

The speed is sort of irrelevant when you start racing. It’s the dancing that matters, not how quick you spin your partner.

Also I know all of us gearheads want to “go fast”, and a shifter might sound like the way to do that, but I would point out that if you don’t have a ton of high-performance driving experience, even a 206 or KA will feel pretty dang fast. Keep in mind you’re an inch off the ground, in the open air, the noise is tremendous, there’s no suspension, and you’re pulling double or triple the Gs most sports cars are capable of. It’s a heck of a ride, even in something “slower”.

We’re gonna be pretty consistent on this, I think. Car experience isn’t really that helpful, either. We do get guys that have a bunch of SCCA or other car things under their belt and hop into shifters. Many find that the savagery of the shifter is much more demanding than they realized.

We have had a few newer drivers auto crossing shifter karts successfully as a starting point.

You will break your ribs. It will happen. I broke mine 3x in 125 TAG and that’s 20hp less! Broken/bruised ribs are NOT fun.

21 Characters . . .

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I will add another vote for the Briggs LO206. My 8 year son can kick my butt when it comes to lap times when he is driving his Briggs and I was driving a Rotax. A shifter would be awesome but you will probably go broke trying to feed it long before you get good at driving it. The cost of 110 octane the shifter requires adds up fast.

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Hi Sam,

Welcome to the forum. In case you haven’t noticed there is a theme running though this thread. It does not pertain necessarily to what kind of kart you start in as it does to cost/benefit. This theme holds true when you start comparing running costs versus experience gained from running. If you try to start in the most advanced kart, you will find your experience curve slowed considerably compared to starting in a relatively less advanced kart. Once you gain the fundamentals in a lesser advanced kart, it is much quicker to move up improving your skills than tackling the brute shifter and working backwards.

That does not mean the offer you found is a bad deal. Maybe it is a really good deal that you are not quite ready for yet. If funds are not an issue, then buy it and park it. Continue to look for something better suited to your skill level with the goal of wielding a shifter in the future. Upside is you can always find a buyer for your last kart to go toward your next kart!

There are a lot of absolutes being thrown around in this thread (“don’t do this”, “this will be too expensive”, etc.), but without having more info it’s tough for to say “this is the right way”, so just keep that in mind.

If I were in your shoes I would start with exactly the question that TJ asked; what are your goals for karting?

Thinking back to when I was 16 years old in the exact same scenario, it may be the case that you don’t quite know what your goals are. Regardless, I would 100% take @Eric_Gunderson up on his “try karting” offer. It’s not going to get any better than that. From there I’m sure he’ll be able to guide you into a plan to fit your budget.

Having a plan is going to be critical when starting out, as you’ll quickly learn things, mess things up, break things, and that may send you down a path of spending that you didn’t quite anticipate…been there, done that.

A few questions that I would ask myself if I were you:

  1. Where and when do I want to drive/race that will fit in with my schedule?

  2. What’s my budget for the season, and what’s plan B if that budget gets eaten up faster than expected?

  3. How do I plan to store and transport my equipment?

  4. How long do I see myself karting? Is this a summer fling, or a burning passion to take to the grave?

  5. Who do I have that can help/support me? It’s tough to go karting as a one man band, especially with lack of experience. If something as simple as having a buddy there to lift your kart with you goes a long way.

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Thanks everyone I appreciate your input. I was already a little wary about the shifter and you guys were able to act as my voice of reason. In other news, I’ve found a lo206 kart for a similar price that seems to be in good shape that I might end up pulling the trigger on. Thanks again.

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Our work here is done… for now. Enjoy the hunt.

I think thats a smart decision. Your rarely see people who start in shifters stick around for very long. Best of luck!

Just to put some perspective, there’s a guy here in Dubai owns a Motorsport speed shop. He creates track cars and drag racers and considers himself an accomplished driver.

He came to CRG one day with cash to burn, and bought a new KZ shifter. Waited for delivery and eagerly came to drive it, having never driven anything other than rentals.

After half a session he came in and left without a word. Never came back, we learned later because “it was too violent” :joy:

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Priceless. 20 characters

violent is and under statement specially on older worn out tracks , its’s a straight killler , hit a curb wrong in a 206 it is painful , hit a curb wrong in a shifter and it will make the toughest of men tear up lol I would not recommend a shifter for your first kart special if its $3000 to me that just sound like trouble . but also $3000 US is about 1.2 million canadian right now so who knows,to give you a rough idea , my first shifter was a used 2016 Birel with ROK engine, was well maintained by PSL and that was $9000 complete