There is more variation in top speed for 200cc karts than you might realize, so through the course of this article, I’ll be exploring the differences in these specific types of go-kart. I’ll also look at what you should look for in 200cc karts, and which kart I would personally purchase (and why).
So, what is the top speed of a 200cc Go-Kart? The top speed of a 200cc go-kart depends on whether its engine is a 2-stroke or a 4-stroke, as they displace power differently. A 2-stroke 200cc go-kart will reach 120mph at top speed, and a 4-stroke 200cc go-kart will reach 75mph.
This might have raised more questions than answers. Why does a 2-stroke engine produce more top speed than a 4-stroke? What other factors are involved in the top speeds of a go-kart? I think it’s about time I get to that!
Example Speeds Of 200cc Go-Karts
To start with, let’s look at some examples for this classification of go-kart. Compared to other race series such as the highly popular 125cc brackets, the 200cc classification is rather niche. This is due to the fact that, unless you make a base kart with the right weight, a 2-stroke 200cc engine will produce too much torque and make racing near-useless.
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Because of this, you’ll find far more racing series within the 4-stroke category; specifically, with the World Series engine made by Briggs & Stratton. It’s a popular one due to the cheap entry prices and overall affordable engine package. Maintenance costs are some of the lowest in the field of go-karting.
I’ll talk a bit more about why the disposition of a 4-stroke engine copes with speed and torque better than a 2-stroke later, but for now, let’s check out some go-kart examples!
- Top Kart SR30.1, World Series Briggs Engine – 69mph
- CRG Road Rebel, modified Lifan 200cc 5 Speed (Shifter) Engine – 115mph
- Tony-Kart Racer 401R, Honda GC2009 Engine – 110mph
- Birel Art AM29-S11, World Series Briggs Engine – 71mph
The variations between these engines will make sense when I point out that the modified Lifan 200cc and Honda GC2009 engines are 2-stroke karts. And to accomplish those speeds listed above, the karts need to be properly tweaked and tuned to allow for it. Otherwise, you’ll have constantly spinning tires as the torque proves to be too much for the kart to get traction and go!
This is why the 200cc 4-stroke engines are much preferred, even if their top speeds aren’t as racy as the 2-stroke varieties. Even 125cc 2-stroke engines have better top speeds than the World Series 200cc variety!
When too much speed will equal getting stuck on the starting line, it’s easy to see why lower displaced engines or 4-stroke 200cc engines are often chosen instead. Let’s look at 2-stroke vs. 4-stroke engines next, and why one generates more speed than the other.
2-stroke vs. 4-stroke: Why The Speed Difference?
Simply put, go-karts are too lightweight for a 2-stroke 200cc engine to be effective. You’ll see these engines on motorcycles all the time and they’ll only be able to reach 70mph or at max 90mph, dependent on their base horsepower. This is due to the fact that a road motorcycle is considerably heavier than a competitive, 100lb racing kart!
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The weight-speed balance is drastically thrown off when you put an engine designed for motorcycles or far heavier karts (think the buggy/ off-road variety) onto a standardized sprint rig. So, while 2-stroke engines with lower displacements, such as 100cc or 125cc are very popular, you’ll never see a 2-stroke 200cc category at any track except maybe for fun… occasionally.
Now, as for why 2-strokes generate more raw power than their 4-stroke cousins, we have to look at the innards of the engine.
A 2-stroke engine only has two places that the piston inside will move to, and far less components. A single piston controls the whole combustion process, so they’re far lighter than a 4-stroke and can output power way faster. This is because it finishes the combustion quicker.
By comparison, a 4-stroke engine has multiple pistons (mostly two, but can be as many as four), and for combustion to occur it needs to have moved to four different positions. Due to this, speed is outputted in a more controlled way and on a more reliable basis than the somewhat plucky 2-stroke engines.
So in spite of having more pistons and therefore what you’d assume to be higher capacity for speed, the 4-stroke simply displaces its power in smaller bursts. Lower top speeds, but more consistent run-times and a longer engine life.
And with a 200cc engine displacement, one of the highest you’ll see for race karts, a 4-stroke is better at properly outputting that power for a kart’s lightweight composition.
If you want to take place in actual, ranked kart racing, you’ll need to purchase a 4-stroke 200cc engine, such as the World Series made by Briggs, because there won’t be any 2-stroke race series out there.
It’s too finnicky of a process to calculate the weight of the chassis and tune the engine for it to work. You can’t guarantee that every driver will do the same, nor are there standards to meet like there are in normal kart racing series. There are too many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, plus no real interest in that engine category.
What to Look for in a 200cc Go-Kart
As I’ve talked about at length, a 2-stroke 200cc go-kart is basically a no-go except for your personal enjoyment. Because of this, I’ll look at what you should be searching for in a 4-stroke 200cc go-kart, and it’s much the same as when you’re buying any kart!
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Chassis that are made for 200cc classifications are pretty rare, so make sure to speak with people at your local kart track to make sure there’s a scene for this kind of racing before trying to buy one. Most top kart manufacturers will design chassis that are good for 4-stroke racing series, so those would be the ones you should look at most.
As well as checking to see if the 4-stroke World Series races are running in your area, you should also check to see what kart dealerships are nearby. You don’t want to order a special Birel Art 4-stroke chassis only to find out there’s nowhere you can rely on to have spare parts in your immediate vicinity!
I’d recommend picking out a kart with 32mm moly tubing as opposed to 30mm moly tubing, simply because the former will be stronger and sturdier than the latter. 4-stroke engines are pretty heavy pieces of kit, so you need a kart that can handle it!
Otherwise, 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. A wear plate will see to that!
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.
Keep all of these tips in mind – 200cc-specific and general advice – and you’ll be buying a great kart in no time!
What Kart Would I Purchase?
As a kart racer, I’ve only previously raced in 125cc or lower engine classifications, all of them being 2-stroke. Aside from testing out my friend’s LO206 kart back when we were teenagers, I’ve never experienced a 4-stroke engine… but now that I’m older, they do seem pretty practical and appealing!
Because of this, I have no issue deciding which kart I’d choose if I were to pick one from the line-up I mentioned above.
The Birel Art AM29-S11 chassis is specifically designed to run with 4-stroke engines, with a mixture of moly tubing for both stability and speed. As a manufacturer, Birel Art is reputable and designed for racers, with Formula 1 drivers having lines of karting products under their name.
The kart itself will be easier to tune and tweak than others, so you could even achieve some slightly better top speeds depending on the track you race on and how light you can make your kart without being too light.
And as one of the most affordable racing series out there, the World Series won’t be breaking my bank any time soon! For my area, there’s quite the competitive following due to the low entry prices for kart chassis and the complete engine package, so I’ll be able to get into races and drive the kart to my heart’s content.
In short, it’d really be the best bang for my buck while also offering a great competitive edge!
Probably the biggest take-away of this article should be that too much speed can often be a bad thing, as we’ve seen with 2-stroke 200cc engines on go-karts. But that doesn’t mean that a 200cc displacement is to be avoided!
With fun, exciting 4-stroke categories to enter like the World Series, you can still enjoy the power of a great engine without torque shredding your tires. You know, always a bonus!