The "Big Players" Chassis Handling Differences

First off, I want to be sure to clarify that this is not a “what is the best chassis out there” thread (we have enough of that :slight_smile:), but rather, what are the major handling differences?

When it comes to the big players (OTK, BirelART, CompKart, Kart Republic, Parolin, Merlin, CRG, etc…), what are the differences that one could expect? I’ve heard Norberg describe OTK as different than the Birel by saying that the OTK generally is more front-biased or more front grip, whereas the Birel was more stable in the rear, which is what I’m looking to find. I’ve heard the new CRG karts are front-biased but can’t confirm, but that’s the type of info I’m curious about. Thinking about Senior level KA/X30 type classes.


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I switched from sodi to otk and i can confirm that the tony is much more front biased, the sodi was more stable in the rear but if you lost the rear your speed was gone. In tony you can also loose it but this is interesting, you do not loose much speed.

And i love the tony steering wheel. In sodi my hands always slipped and on tony my hands are like glued to the wheel

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I doubt it aligns with reality but the way it went in Kk was that CRG was skatey and loose, Sodi? Was tight and very stiff, locked down, and formula k was neutral.

Basically they had karts from the 3 foundries and each foundry kart had a different feel.

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Yep. I can imagine that IRL Compkart doesnt feel too different from Birel, Merlin doesnt feel too different than Parolin, and that CRG and OTK and KR have their own feel, but curious if someone might have experience with more than one of these that could share their experience. I’ve read through some threads on here that KR is basically set up like a noodle, but not sure how that translates into what the driver feels, for example.

I’ve been OTK for basically 10 years now so my memory is hazy on how the Merlin compared when I switched, and the chassis have changed a lot since then. My only relevant comparison (or not I guess, since it doesn’t exist as such anymore) would be the ART GP and OTK felt very different. ART had no front bar and felt soft and light on turn-in, not nearly as front-biased as the OTK, but felt almost no scrub or bind in the kart from apex to exit. It came off the corner really well, but definitely needed a little more convincing to get into the corner. The OTK feels heavy in the front and feels like it turns in and lifts the inside rear quite aggressively, but most of the time we spend tuning is spent on trying to maintain that lift at apex and keeping the kart free off the corner.

I’ve driven modern Merlins, Arrows, Margays, Pragas briefly in the time since, but not really enough to say one way or another how they compared. I remember the Margay I drove felt light in the front but still quite twitchy at turn-in, the Arrow had quite heavy steering, the Merlin felt pretty neutral, and the Praga felt soft and a bit lazy all around.

But as I said, those were initial impressions and not long-term comprehensive reviews.

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There’s a track I race at that’s 1.3 miles long, meant for cars, with long straights. Like hitting 75mph in a world formula long.
There’s a turn in the middle of a straight that’s easily flat out, but i found I was scrubbing speed, along with one of my teammates in it.
Would one chassis make any big difference at such an extreme track?

Have you tried tuning out the issue?

Regardless of how a kart feels or drives, almost every kart brand should be able to be tuned in and be competitive, especially at club level.

IMO, If its from the chassis binding, something thats softer/has smaller tubing could be helpful, but that honestly sounds more like a setup issue. In a turn that’s easily flat out, it’s tough to point at the chassis. Could try taking some caster out of it.

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I miss Arrow, at least with it being in the mix. Are there even any dealers left in the US? Getting off topic, I know… :sweat_smile:

Rear was as narrow as possible is all I remember.
Doesn’t matter anyway, not racing this year☹️

When testing these and drawing comparisons, has anyone documented any geometry differences? To me, a kart described as having a front bias could agruably be running more rake or caster…

I switched from Top Kart to Birel
Birel seem to have much stronger brakes. They seem to not require as much pressure to lock the wheels.
Birel also was better in the front end.

The problem with these discussions is unless a person has been through every kart brand in a year or two it’s a bit hard to compare apples with apples.


Agreed. You mention the birel was better in the front end - can you elaborate? Better as in more responsive, or something else?

It was just better, the steering wasn’t touchy it just seemed to do what I wanted better.
Which admittedly could have been the change from 17mm stub axles to 25mm.