100cc karts may not be the most popular form of karting (that’s usually the 125cc bracket), but they still have decent top speeds! As a beginner go-kart enthusiast, you may be left wondering just how fast 100cc karts can go.
100cc go-karts have top speeds between 60 and 70 mph (97 to 113 kph). This heavily depends on track conditions, driver weight, engine type (2-stroke or 4-stroke) and a host of other variables. However, most 100cc karts will have top speeds in this range, as they’re not designed for pure speed.
Speed is exciting and important, but there’s more to karting than just going fast in a straight line. Below, we go through these factors in more detail, but not before taking a look at some example top speeds of 100cc go-karts.
5 Example Speeds Of 100cc Go-Karts
|Birel ART RY30-S11
|ROK Vortex VLR
|68 mph / 109 kph
|Tony Kart Racer 401R
|66 mph / 106 kph
|Top Kart SR30.2
|65 mph / 105 kph
|Margay Ignite K3
|62 mph / 100 kph
|61 mph / 98 kph
Speed Differences Explained
It’s important for me to point out that the Honda GX100 is a 4-stroke engine and every other one on the list is a 2-stroke. 4-stroke kart engines are generally less powerful than 2-strokes of the same size, which leads to the lower top speeds of the CRG and Margay karts.
Why Top Speed Isn’t Everything In Karting
Going fast is definitely the name of the game when it comes to go-karting specifically and motorsports in general. But when you own a go-kart, there are far more important things to worry about than what your top speed is!
The IAME K100 engine in the table above has a lower horsepower output than the other 2-strokes, and yet these engines are still widely regarded as fan favorites the world over. This is largely due to how easy they are to maintain and how widespread race series are that use these engines specifically.
Do Your Research
When choosing a displacement for your engine, it’s important to do research and find out how many race series are running with that in your area. For example, 125cc engines are popular throughout the United States and you’ll always be able to find races. 100cc engines are more niche, so make sure to check that out before committing to one.
This will then extend into which brand of engine you choose specifically. IAME, Rok Vortex, Yamaha and Honda will all belong to separate race brackets to keep the playing field as even as possible, so this means more research has to be done on this aspect too.
Essentially, you’ll want to pick a widely used engine manufacturer as your engine of choice. Oftentimes, that isn’t the fastest one of the bunch!
You Can Tune Your Engine
Also remember that an engine is as much of a blank canvas as your chassis is when you first buy it. Over time, you can tune it and squeeze more top-line speed out of it than what’s listed here, as I only considered factory standard figures.
KEY POINTS• 100cc go-karts typically reach top speeds of about 60-70 mph
• Your choice of engine will affect your top speed
• You should pick the engine size that features in the most races in your area
Why Choose A 100cc Kart?
If 125cc is the biggest and most notorious category all around the world, why should you pick the 100cc bracket to race in? From personal experience, the 100cc engine displacement is perfect for adults who have yet to participate in go-kart activity but still want to jump into kart ownership, whether that be in racing, or just enjoying practice sessions.
Most rental karts use either 60cc or 100cc engines as standard, and they are typically limited to top speeds of 50 mph. If you compare that to the unrestricted 100cc engines you’ll be buying for your own chassis, 60-70 mph isn’t an astronomical step. If you look at 125cc karts, which can hit up to 80 mph, it may seem a little more intimidating.
It’s A Personal Thing
It’s all about manageable steps, and these come in different shapes and sizes for all people. Some enthusiasts really want the thrill of the 125cc scene and will jump right into it regardless of their past experience, and others would prefer to work their way up to that level.
As well as being a good category for adult beginner drivers, I also view 100cc as a great mid-progression stage for Cadet-level drivers. I covered this in a previous article, but typically 60cc is Cadet karting territory and after they turn 12, kids tend to jump straight into 125cc karts as Juniors.
Bridging The 60cc-125cc Gap
If you have a Cadet-aged driver who doesn’t quite feel comfortable in the large step-up to 125cc from 60cc karts, 100cc variants are a great way to prepare them and further hone their driving skills and confidence.
After all, at the top levels of Cadet racing, their karts would be near the 60 mph mark as it is, so a smaller, more gradual progression with 100cc karts that start in the 60 mph range can be preferable for some younger drivers.
In essence, you want to choose this category if any of the above applies to you. It’s a fun and plucky little bracket of racing that checks a lot of boxes for people, but just like 125cc for some, it isn’t for everybody nor is it accommodated in every area.
What To Look For In A 100cc Go-Kart
Match The Engine To The Chassis
First and foremost, make sure to do plenty of research and find out which chassis are appropriate to be fitted with a 100cc engine. It isn’t so much whether the engine will fit in the provided space, but more whether it will be powerful enough for the chassis build.
Adult go-kart chassis are typically built out of either 30 mm or 32 mm moly tubing. You always want to pick the 30 mm tubing option if you want to have a 100cc engine, because it will be that little bit extra lightweight and therefore easier for your desired engine to propel it around the track.
Also do some research on which kart manufacturers and dealers are located nearby. Look into the company’s background and what they focus on when making their karts for the general public.
It’s important to pick a chassis made by a brand with a location nearby, because getting spare parts will be far easier than always resorting to online guessing games. That, and you can get a rapport with people in your area to help fix issues or otherwise geek out about your kart, which is all part of the fun!
Check Underneath Second-Hand Karts
If you’re buying second-hand, ask to look under the kart to check out its wear plate. Go-kart chassis are made out of tubing and not much else, so it’s very important to make sure the tubes aren’t being worn down.
If the plate underneath looks good, you count on a structurally-sound kart. If the plate looks badly damaged, it might point to some hard wear on the tubes themselves, and you might want to avoid this one.
What 100cc Go-Kart Would I Purchase?
I didn’t just chose the lineup of karts in the table at the start for a good comparison of top speeds, but also because they’re all models that I’d happily pick up for myself! But of the group, there’s one that stands out from the rest for me as an experienced, fun-seeking kart racer.
Tony Kart Racer 401R
It has to be the Tony Kart Racer 401R, in large part due to my long-time admiration of Tony Kart’s racing pedigree, but also due their attention to detail in chassis-making.
The latest rendition of their Racer chassis has seen a whole host of upgrades, and it would feel like I’m owning a piece of history due to the 20 years that the Racer has been a huge part of kart racing at large.
It’s also a very flexible kart overall, because I could fit any of the 2-stroke engines I’ve previously mentioned to this chassis. On a personal level, I’d likely pick the IAME engine because I’m familiar with them as a whole, but the Rok Vortex is also an attractive engine due to the extra punch of power they possess.
The price of a brand-new chassis from Tony Kart is no small number, let me tell you that right now! However, it becomes worth every penny when you look back over the company history of World Karting Championship titles under their belt. It’s essentially the perfect kart for a dedicated racer.
The top speed of a 100cc go-kart is usually between 60 mph and 70 mph (97-133 kph). The true top speed your kart will reach will depend on the chassis, engine, track conditions, and many other factors. However, these karts aren’t designed for pure top speeds.
I created and have been writing on this site since 2019, collaborating with drivers, coaches, engineers and manufacturers to provide you with the most reliable information about motorsport. Find out more about me here.