How big should go-kart wheels be?

Like most vehicles, the wheels play an important role in the appearance and overall functionality of motorsport vehicles, the same holds true for go-karts. Although go-kart wheels look similar to each other, they still pose differences that every go-kart driver or builder should be aware of.

Go-kart wheels come in different sizes and features. However, the most common go-kart wheel sizes are between 5″ to 6″ in diameter. While these sizes are typically used, the racing type influences the size of the go-kart wheels the most. If you are building a go-kart for racing, it is always best to follow the indicated tire size for the current wheels or follow the guidelines of the racing authorities.

Knowing the right size of go-kart wheels according to your purpose is an important part of go-kart maintenance. However, the tire measurements and other wheel-related information could be overwhelming especially for beginners. Hence, this article is written to provide a more comprehensive approach regarding go-kart wheels. Keep reading and you will surely learn more.

How big should go kart wheels be?

The answer as to how big or what size a go-kart wheel should be, all depends on the racing type. Manufacturers may recommend wheel size for tires and the go-kart model, but these are just suggestions that go-kart builders may opt not to follow.

A long-established rule of the thumb when it comes to go-kart wheels is to only utilize wheels that allow neutral handling. That means that the wheels are not too loose or too tight allowing the wheels to travel in their most efficient condition.

While go-kart wheel sizes may differ from one go-kart model to another or by racing types, their sizes typically fall between 5″ to 6″ in diameter. Essentially, rear tires come in wider sizes compared to front tires. However, this may not be the case for others as racing types may require different wheel sizes and arrangements.

In addition, go-karts need to use small wheels for a number of reasons.

Go-karts need small wheels

Go-karts are designed to have small wheels for many advantages. Let’s discuss these advantages one by one.

  • Small wheels provide a lower center of gravity and improve handling around corners.

The small wheels’ diameter allows the go-kart to reach the track surface at closer proximity, hence having a lower center of gravity. The low center of gravity makes the go-kart less susceptible to flipping when turning on the sharp corners and increasing the go-kart force and speed. This is highly essential for fast driving on the track corners and fast overtakes.

Furthermore, when the wheels are smaller, the driver can change the direction of the go-kart more effectively. Larger wheels take a lot of space resulting in wider turning movements. This may take up some time in your lap time and is also not practical when running in turns and corners.

  • Provide faster acceleration

Smaller wheels can turn faster than large wheels. This is one of the most essential reasons why go-karts can travel at faster speeds than bigger cars. Small wheels have the capacity to reach high speeds in a short span of time.

  • Less weight

Small wheels are comparatively lighter than big wheels. The light mass of the wheels and other go-kart components is highly crucial as lighter go-karts accelerate and reach top speeds faster.

  • Less jacking effort

Because of the low center of gravity brought the smaller tires, go-kart builders or mechanics can jack up or raise the go-kart effectively and safely off the ground.

In addition to these advantages, smaller tires are also more cost-effective than larger tires because the materials used in production are also lesser than big tires.

Choosing the appropriate go-kart wheel and tire size

Choosing the right go-kart wheel size doesn’t need to be complicated. Go-kart racing wheels usually measure around 5″ or 6″ in diameter. Remember that in most cases, rear wheels are wider than the front wheels. The type of racing you do can also influence how big the go-kart wheel should be. Always follow the guidelines set by the racing committees or authorities. Over and above, the width of the wheels and the width of the tires need to match.

When you purchase a tire, there are three numbers that you will see. For the sake of discussion, let’s use 10 x 6.0 – 6.

The first number, which is 10, represents the overall diameter and height of the tire. Most go-kart tires’ heights are 10, 11, and 12 inches.

The second number which is 6.0 represents the width of the go-kart tire. Go-kart tires come in fractional sizes so you are most likely to see numbers that are in decimal forms like 4.5 and other number combinations in inches.

The last number which is 6″ represents the rim diameter or wheel diameter where the tire should be mounted. The rim diameter is the same for both front and back tires,

Go-kart wheels also come with different bolt patterns so make sure that your tire is compatible with them. All go-kart components should match to ensure that they will run in their best condition.

Is there any downside of small go-kart wheels?

The upsides of small go-kart wheels are more compared to their downsides. Here are the downsides of small wheels.

  • Small wheels offer less braking potential

Smaller wheels cover a smaller surface area reducing the braking potential of go-karts. However, wide area tires are provided to improve braking potential.

  • Makes the ride bumpy

Because smaller tires contain less air than bigger tires, the cushioning effect has also become less. resulting in a bumpy and uncomfortable ride.

  • Small wheels don’t excel at high-end torque

Small wheels are optimized to excel at low-end torques which give the go-kart its high speed. Because of this, the small go-kart wheels can’t work effectively at high-end torques that give low speed. While this may sound negative for the small go-kart wheels, it is not enough reason to use larger wheels.

Where can I buy the right size go-kart tires?

If you have already distinguished which wheel size is appropriate for your go-kart, you can buy a wheel from different motorsport outlets. Make sure to only purchase from authorized outlets to ensure optimum quality. Motorsport outlets can also give you advice on which wheel size you need.

Different online stores also sell go-kart tires. However, keep in mind to read comments and reviews to protect yourself from possible scams.

Can I change a go-kart tire by myself?

You sure can however, if you are a beginner, you might want to give this task to experts as it can be risky. Nevertheless, if you are really determined to do it yourself then always make sure to observe safety precautions.

These safety precautions include having proper tire containments devices, safety gears, and locking air chuck. You should also pay attention to the angle of putting the tires and learn weight positioning techniques. In addition, always maintain the air pressure as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Steps on how to change go-kart tires

Step #1. Prepare the equipment and tools including the wheels, bolts, and others. Make sure to work on a non-slippery surface.

Step #2. Apply heat to the tire by a hair blower or other heat sources to make it easier to mount.

Step #3. Apply lubricant to the tire edges to make pushing the tire onto the rims more efficient. You may also use dish soap or liquid. Make sure to apply your lubricating agent on both the tire and the rim.

Step #4. Hold the tires as firmly as you can and place them on the rim at an angle of around 45 to 60 degrees.

Step #5. Push the tire bead onto the rim with force.

Repeat the steps for the other go-kart wheels.

Wrapping it up

Choosing the right go-kart wheels can be intimidating especially for beginners. If you are looking for the appropriate wheels for go-kart racing, always check in with the racing authorities’ guidelines. Usually, go-kart wheels measure around 5″ to 6″ in diameter. Remember to only install tires that match the wheel size for optimum performance of the go-kart.

While it may sound too technical, the knowledge about the wheels and tires of go-karts can surely help you in the long run.

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