If you’re karting mad like me, you’re probably interested in all kinds of karting; not just the standard sorts you’ll find at your local track. You probably haven’t seen 250cc karts before, and who wouldn’t be curious about their top speed?
So, what is the top speed of a 250cc go-kart? In this category of engine, all karts are classified as superkarts; a high-powered, high-octane series with a unique chassis construction. These karts with a 250cc engine can reach a maximum of 150mph under the right conditions.
Until recently, I didn’t know much about superkarts or the racing series that involves them. But since I’ve been watching races, I just can’t get enough! I’ll go into more details about what superkarts are, how they can hit such high speeds, and a bunch more so keep reading!
What Are Superkarts?
Highly popular in Europe and Australia, superkart racing is the step to bridge the gap between high-level karting and professional car racing. To look at one, you wouldn’t associate it with go-karts at all! It looks more like a small, terrifyingly lightweight car. And trust me, they can outpace even the fastest cars; making it an exciting, attractive series.
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Although superkarts aren’t as popular in the States by comparison, races do happen here and there are a couple of series you can enter with your 250cc rig. Overall though, US racers consider them to be more of a very fast, very dangerous novelty as opposed to a serious racing machine.
They’re built using specially made and designed chassis; longer than a sprint kart by a fair margin, complete with bodywork. The most popular iterations worldwide are the 250cc 2-stroke engines, typically taken from motorcycle road-racing and tuned.
Due to how high the torque of a 2-stroke engine is at the 250cc displacement, superkarts have to possess a shifting feature. Typically, people use sequential shifters to maximize speed and quick lap times. Manual shifting is slower and clunkier, after all.
The bodywork is semi-enclosed and shaped purposefully for aerodynamics, assisting in the scary levels of speed a superkart can reach. It also has front and rear disc brakes as some of the heaviest components of the build, to make sure it has the proper stopping power! Otherwise, the build is very reminiscent of sprint karts; as lightweight as physically possible.
It’s due to the unique build and composition of superkarts that they can reach their top speed of 150mph, more than the engine alone providing access to that threshold. Nevertheless, the modified motorcycle engines are pretty beastly in and of themselves!
Example Speeds Of 250cc Go-Karts
Now that I’ve gone over the specifics of superkarts and how they’re a unique sub-class of karting, closer to professional race cars than the cheap n’ cheerful kart series we mostly know, you must want to know some solid figures as to what certain superkarts can achieve in terms of their speed.
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Of course, the following numbers aren’t concrete by any means, as conditions and specific builds that people make will make everything somewhat variable. I’ve scoured the superkart scene and calculated averages to deliver this list to you:
- Anderson Racing Maverick 250 Div 1, Honda RS250 Engine – 144mph
- PVP Superkart, Yamaha TZ250 Engine – 146mph
- MS Superkart, BRC250 Modified Kart Engine – 142mph
- Anderson Racing Maverick 250 National Superkart, Yamaha TZ250 Engine – 147mph
You might have noticed that, compared to regular sprint karts, there are only three manufacturers and three engines. Not much by way of variation, and there’s a big reason for this.
Due to superkarts being more of a niche racing series, manufacturers who design and produce them are somewhat rare. That, and even in Europe and Australia where the motorsport is more popular, everyone uses these chassis makers as standard due to their expertise in the tricky division.
Unlike in normal kart racing series, with a wide choice of engines and displacements, 250cc varieties are almost all exclusively designed and made for motorcycles and road racing. As such, using more than three engines gives too many variables to test between balance of chassis and all of the other components.
As a result, three engines became fan favorites and it’s stayed that way ever since, even though the emergence of superkarts happened back in the mid-90s.
Honda and Yamaha are very popular in go-karting overall, with the engine manufacturers having multiple differently displaced models throughout all series. Everything from 50cc all the way through to superkart 250cc! This reliable and even spread of engines that are loved in motorsports makes them favorite choices in superkart building.
The BRC250 is a specially modified engine taken from karts; essentially a mixture of a lot of different parts and components. Although it can be considered a Frankenstein creation, it’s a reliable and kart-friendly design which a lot of kart racers will be familiar with. People new to superkarts often try their hand with this engine first.
Superkart Racing In The US
Although it isn’t very popular here in the States yet, there are a lot of small followings for these fantastic yet somewhat scary karts!
With sprint karting, you have a lot of US-based manufacturers to get chassis and parts from. The most popular are Top Kart, CRG and Margay, with European-founded kart brands having set up US dealerships as the motorsport grew in popularity (Tony Kart, BirelART).
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However, superkart chassis and parts all have to be imported from Europe and Australia if you want to take part in it here in the US. This is part of why the motorsport is floundering a bit, because although it isn’t popular yet, it doesn’t have much of a chance to become so due to the lack of dealerships in the country.
In spite of this, there are some race series that have been starting to sprout and take root as of late!
These include the International Karting Federation (IKF) who host road races, and more specifically, the U.S. Superkarts Championship series. You can find events at iconic tracks such as Road Atlanta and Portland International Raceway and let me tell you, they’re electrifying to watch!
Although tough and expensive to get into, due to the lack of manufacturers and import costs, these 250cc superkarts are amazing rigs and the following is continuing to grow. I have no doubt that it’ll be just as popular as sprint karting is someday!
What To Look For In A 250cc Superkart
As I’ve mentioned already, chassis for superkarts are unique and only produced by specialists such as Anderson Racing and PVP Karting, both of whom are based in Europe. So, first and foremost, I’d recommend that you spend some time browsing their websites to look at what is expected in a superkart, and then start looking closer to home!
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Superkart series are small, so before you decide to purchase one, make sure that there’s a series local to you or within reasonable travelling distance. The last thing you want is to spend in excess of $20,000 (I’m not kidding) on a superkart only to find that nobody is running a series nearby.
There are only minute differences between 250cc superkarts, so unlike in sprint kart racing which has a lot of nuances you can pick and choose from, what you see is what you get. An elongated chassis, partial yet aerodynamic bodywork, front & rear brakes and everything that’s specially designed to keep the whole rig together at speeds topping out in the 150mph region.
Importing everything from overseas is a pricy process which can send your budget spiraling out of control! As such, I’d really urge you to look at buying second-hand using mediums such as eBay or other selling sites.
You’d be surprised how many US people have invested in superkarts only to move elsewhere or go into another field, and this is a far cheaper route to take than buying everything brand-new and then spending huge shipping fees.
Taking this route, ask to look under the kart to check out its wear plate. Go-kart chassis, even superkarts, are made out of moly 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 – 250cc superkart and general advice – and you’ll be buying a great kart in no time!
What Kart Would I Purchase?
In all my years spent karting racing, totaling 13 over all series and kart classifications, I’ve never set foot in a superkart; not even when my racing took me overseas to the UK. Nevertheless, there’s something pretty alluring and cool about them, so I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want to potentially jump into one!
Perhaps due to my time spent racing in the UK, my choice is firmly set in the direction of an Anderson Racing Maverick chassis.
They’re a UK-based company and have been designing record-setting superkarts since before I was born, making them both reliable and competitive. Going at speeds exceeding 140mph, I’d want to feel safe and secure within the lean, mean racing machine, and the Maverick accomplishes that with its collection of safety features.
Every part of the superkart is both lightweight and durable, so I wouldn’t feel slowed by anything that would assist my race. Sometimes, safety is very weighty and can act like a sandbag, albeit a necessary one. But in the Maverick, it’s a compromise I wouldn’t have to make.
In all, Washington State needs to hurry up and grow a bigger superkart following so I can nab myself a Maverick and get to racing!
Speed and exhilaration are what kart enthusiasts love, and you’ll get both in spades with superkart racing. Top speeds of 150mph aren’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure!
Whether you were just curious or serious about entering into this area of racing, I really hope that my insight has helped answer any questions you had.