New LO206er - do I buy a new or used engine?

Just got a great deal my 2nd kart chassis and I’m planning to jump into LO206 with it to learn and have more affordable seat time! My main kart is a 125 Honda Shifter so I’m kindof going “backwards”, anyway…

Should I try and save a few bucks by buying a season or two old engine or just go all new and forget saving $3-400? (or more?) I’m very mechanically inclined so I’m sure I can figure out how to modify someone’s old setup for my kart. I’m trying to save where I can and I can’t decide if it’s worth it, my normal routine is to go all out, spend too much and then regret it later on and I’m trying to prevent that for a change. New Years resolutions anyone? :laughing:

If it makes any difference, the kart is a 2009 Birel Factory S1 50th anniversary edition. Picture for fun :sunglasses:

Cool chassis!

Motor, it depends on the exact used deals motor available to you on the market. You’ll have to weigh them up individually against the time that’s on them, spares (if any), mount (if included) and perhaps most importantly, clutch which can take 1/4-1/3 of the cost of your 206.

There are more used 206 motors popping up, so thats good. Until recently they were pretty rare.

I put about 25 hours on my 206 before I sold it, so I’d say it depends on how used it is and if you’re just going to use it for practice and seat time or if you want to race with it. If you can get one with 5-10 hours for practice for $300 less than new, then I say go for it! But if it’s one with 25 hours and you want to race it some, I’d go new.

I’d recommend you look at the field you’ll be racing. If you consider yourself a front-runner and expect to be at the sharp end of the field, then you definitely want to get a new engine. Otherwise, getting a used engine for the first season or two isn’t a bad idea, especially if you still have the ability to still mix it up with the midpack on inferior equipment.

The 206 is supposed to be a long-lasting engine, but some performance drop is expected. That could be a beneficial training tool as you’ll know you’re handicapped and will strive to minimize your mistakes. Just keep in mind that you’ll eventually have to spend the money to get a new engine when you’re ready to compete to the best of your ability.

Any engine, whether a 206 or a highly-strung 2-cycle, will always be faster/more reliable when new, all else being equal (which is rarely the case).

With that said, there are a lot of ‘used’ 206 engines on the market that would be great for someone starting out, or could be quite good with just some basic cleaning and maintenance. If taken care of, the parity among 206 engines is really stellar.

There was a batch/era of 206 engines a few years ago, however, where materials in the cam made the lobes go ‘flat’ prematurely. So, if a Briggs engine has been run for multiple seasons and is way, way off the pace, it may be something to avoid. Briggs quickly resolved the issue, and now the engines are back to being the most reliable and consistent in that budget range hands down.

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Thanks for the replies all! Sometimes it helps just to read some back and forth and opinions. I’ve seen quite a few used engines for sale (some even local) hence my question!

Obviously I hope I’m competitive at some of the local tracks (East Lansing Kart Track is closest) but to be honest I have no idea where I will be in the pack. The main thing right now is to get seat time and improve my driving in both karts so it’s sounding like I should try and save a few bucks for now, then I can always get a bare new engine later on.

Anecdotally, 206’s do seem to perform better with time on them. There’s a point where that diminishes of course, but generally it’s not uncommon for 206s with two seasons/many weekends on them to be reported as pulling competitively. I recall reading about a dyno pull comparing a 206 after break-in then 100hrs on it and the difference was negligible.

I would get a used one and run it for a couple seasons just to cut your teeth and get used to the class and the setup with that motor. Then spring the cash for a new motor.

I’ll share my full experience in a post soon, but I’m going through a similar experience. Here’s a quick synopsis.

I bought a new 206 engine from TSRacing on a 15% off. Got to the track and found out everyone was on KartCity engines. Did some testing for a few months (not at competition weight) and decided I wanted a KC engine like everyone else instead of focusing on driver skill. Convinced @DruLo206 to come karting with me, so gave him the perfectly fine TS engine and picked up a too-good-to-be-true used KC engine. Luckily for me, Andrew was just getting started so the deficit wasn’t too obvious except the excessive smoking from the engine. After about 1 year, Andrew is competitive now, and we determined after a quick engine change test that I was instantly .5s quicker with the TS engine compared to the KC engine.

While I’m more competitive now, my primary focus for next season is improving consistency. While I want a new engine to truly realize the performance gains, I have opted to spend $500 on a used engine. This time, I know the history of the engine and know it won a big regional event just 2 months ago, as opposed to spending $983 shipped for a new KC engine. I’ll be testing and comparing the 2 engines this weekend.

My flawed rationale, but one I’m comfortable with, is that if I can gain 0.5s instead of 0.7s at half the cost, then it’s a worthwhile trade-off for next year. This is just my experience, but gives you another point of view to consider.

Honestly, it also depends on what your budget is for motors. 206 engines are not expensive. What you’d gain on laptime with a new engine is worth it cost-wise when you’re running that class.

At the same time, the used engines run for while good long while. So if your kart has a used one, take it and use it for some practice and some races, while saving to get a new one. Then you can just swap and go, while you tear the other one down to get looked at for leakdown, etc.

It’s one of those things that if we’re pinching pennies on running a 206, it might be worth also thinking about what your flexible budget is for racing, and adjusting accordingly.

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Used engines are being sold for a reason. Most of these engines are good just we came across a bad one. We are both still new into karting and learning as we go. spending half the price for a claimed .1 of a sec off is ok. When you are testing and can’t create the same exact times it within .1 in each sector what is the extra $300+ going to do to help. If I was a national front runner and earning championship, sponsors, cash, etc. I can understand the extra money because you know all fascists of karting and not just lap times.

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This has turned into a good topic! I’ve run into a new question. I was offered a used engine for $875 but it was not a complete package (missing clutch) used in the October NCMP 125 race only. When I mentioned to the seller that I could actually buy it cheaper new he responded that “built” engines make “a lot” more power (Baker Racing Engines in this case). I’ve seen that most of the shops offer a tuned engine for ~$100 more new, so that comes in around $1050-$1100 compared to just under $1k (all of these numbers being for a complete package).

Are these “built” engines worth it? Since I still haven’t found a decent deal used I was thinking of just picking up a new package but just “stock”. It would be cool to have something brand new for a change… Funny that now I’m looking it seems harder to find a used engine!

On the topic of budget (could probably make a whole new thread out of this) to make long story short I have 5 different motorsport things I do and LO206 is the one where I’m going to TRY and be a cheapskate. In all of the other activities I do I go all out and just throw it on the credit card (bad habits…). I’m attempting to make this the one thing where I just chill out and enjoy some “cheap-er” racing.

Broadly speaking, it’s untrue from the conversations I’ve had. For every story that someone has that “built” ones are faster, there’s another story of one that came out of the box fast too.

I recall last year someone pulled a 206 out of the box and was at the pointy end of the field at Daytona (gold cup) immediately. Same at rock island.

What more folks are doing is having a builder check over the motor and break it in on a dyno. Nothing “magical” (not that sole builders won’t claim they have wizardry). check carb is aligned, floats are correct height, re-check valve clearances etc etc. if these things aren’t right, it will put a dent in performance for sure, but typically that’s the exception rather than the rule.

My take on the New vs used…

If you want the piece of mind and can buy new, do so. If you are looking to save a few hundred and know the history of the engine, do so.

It’s really hard to tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do with this engine package. In the realm of racing it is about as low as you can get. I know guys shelling out more racing R/C cars!

The comments about “built” or “builder” engines being faster, that is only the case if the person pulling the new one out of the box doesn’t know how to set up the carb, valves and/or breaks the engine in wrong.

I can set it up myself but I do have Jim Frantz of Faster Motors go through mine when I buy a new one, 2 in 6 years, just to make sure its up to par out of the box. For Roughly $100-$150, he will set it all up, break in and dyno it. I liken it to insurance. If there is something wrong out of the box we know right away. Though I don’t think Jim has ever had a “bad” one. For the record the first one we bought was sold last year ready to race for $450. Still made the same power as my new one. I had kept it as a spare. But we race 206. Who needs a spare!?

The most speed you are ever going to find racing 206 is in the set up and driver. I would bet a really good tuned engine vs an average tuned is .3-.4HP. Get yourself tuned up and that difference will never be seen.

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In this “spec” class where every bit of power is huge difference. in my opinion this refers to top level drivers who battle for national championships. If their data is proving that the engine is losing 100rpm in corners or taking longer to hit rev limiters then yes to them the engine is losing power. To the local track guys who keep karting fun like myself there trash is my treasure. I’m not looking to run up front but just to compete with whatever pack I fall into. I personally don’t have the skills and consistency to run up front but not giving up. I will continue to buy used stuff till my data has said you need to upgrade.

If I remember correctly, the 206 is 9hp, correct?

Official number from Briggs is 8. Quoted numbers vary from 9-11 depending on the dyno and operator.

11 seems a bit high to me. I’d believe 9-10hp, but I’d probably wave my BS flag at 11hp.

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After our experience this weekend, @Don_Westlie hit the nail on the head.

If you want the piece of mind and can buy new, do so. If you are looking to save a few hundred and know the history of the engine, do so.

I had an (unknown history) used built engine that was 0.5s slower than an engine we had bought new with roughly 10hrs on it. I picked up another used built engine that had lost 0.1s against a new one. This time I knew the history. On back to back tests, I was able to go just under 0.6s quicker with all other variables controlled as best as we could.
So I paid $500 for an engine that bested the engine I bought new. So if starting from nowhere and I just needed a decent package to start and run mid-pack, the used engine performed just as well if not better than my “new” engine. If I had the skill level to compete at the front, I’d buy brand new engines everytime. That 0.1s loss (the reason for the engine being sold) would translate to 2 second time loss at the end of the 20 lap race.

So in summary, if you just want an engine to get out there and have some fun, a used engine can be as good a purchase as a new one given it’s is good working condition. Otherwise, a new engine will give you peace of mind.

I figured I should reply to this with what I finally chose, don’t wanna leave everyone in suspense :joy:

I picked up a 2 race old engine from Carlson Racing Engines who are somewhat local to me, saved a few bucks and they threw a brand new clutch on it for me. Took ages to get it mounted the way I wanted it (2 stroke chassis problems!) but now we’re 90% ready for the track, just a few accessory things to do like catch cans etc. Can’t wait to take it out to the track!!


Spring is coming. My helper and I are busy prepping both karts. 3 weeks until tracks start to open for practice! . . . #kart #karting #endurokarting #keepkartingfun #birelart #briggsandstratton #lo206 #kartingislife #kartracing #racing #race #kartpit #kartingmoments #kartlove #kartlife #goracing

A post shared by Albert McCracken (@nevinear) on Feb 22, 2018 at 4:31am PST