Briggs and Stratton karts are extremely popular in the US. However, the karts are much slower than other manufacturers such as Rotax’s and X30’s. This popularity vs. quality debate makes many people wonder if Briggs and Stratton kart engines really are the best.
Whether or not Briggs and Stratton kart engines are the best is still up for debate. Their engines may be slower than their competitors, but they are significantly easier and cheaper to maintain. This makes the engine extremely popular, which leads to large grids in the LO206 class of racing.
There are advantages and drawbacks to all manufacturers, and so we will go through the basics of Briggs and Stratton engines below, and discuss their advantages and disadvantages too.
Briggs And Stratton Engines
The most popular engine built by Briggs and Stratton is the LO206. The biggest difference between the engines built by LO206 and other manufacturers such as Rotax is that Briggs engines are 4-stroke as opposed to 2-stroke.
This does mean that they are slower. In general, a Rotax engine can hit a top speed of around 80 MPH, whereas a LO206 engine can only hit a top speed of around 60 MPH. This is not necessarily a drawback though. The lower top speeds and slower acceleration can be a great learning tool for young drivers who are new to the sport.
The engines are also compatible with all karting chassis. So, if you are a huge fan of CRG chassis, you can easily bolt your LO206 engine onto a CRG chassis and race with it. In fact, buying a new LO206 engine is also cheaper than other engines, and it comes fully race-ready out of the box. All it needs is one or two laps to break it in and you’re good to go.
LO206 engines are much easier to maintain than other engines as well. The mechanics are much simpler and more cost effective, and so this means not only saving money on spare parts, but also saving on a mechanic that needs to work on a complicated engine.
The general maintenance costs are much lower on LO206 engines, and you can use normal fuel without having to mix it with 2-stroke oil, saving you even more money. The engines are also very simple to tune to your specific performance needs.
There’s a huge difference between Briggs and Stratton’s LO206 engine and other popular engines when it comes to speed. Firstly, there’s the fact that most major karting competitions (Rotax, X30) are 2-stroke engines. The LO206 engine, however, is 4-stroke.
The first significant difference here is the speed. The LO206 engine is only around 9 horsepower at 8,000 RPM whereas the Rotax engine puts out 28 horsepower at 14,000 RPM. This means the speed difference between the two engines is more than measurable. The LO206 engine is more comparable to rental karts such as the Sodi RT8.
The top speed of a LO206 engine is around 60 MPH and the kart will reach that in around 4 or 5 seconds. The Rotax kart on the other hand will reach 60 MPH in half that time, recording a 0-60 time of around 2.5 seconds.
Easier To Use
Speed isn’t everything though. Some of the most exciting karting races have been in the LO206 series because of the slower speeds and lower amounts of power. The lack of power means that drivers can push the karts more due to the fact that they will have more confidence in the karts.
Driving slower karts can also be a lot more fun (even for professional racing drivers). On top of that, it’s a great series for beginners. The slower speeds allow for new drivers to quickly get to grips with driving karts and helps them to learn crucial driving skills that will benefit their racing career.
The cost difference is where the advantages really shift towards the Briggs and Stratton side. To start, the Rotax Max Senior class engine will cost you between $3500 and $4000. This is the full kit, which means you bolt it onto the kart and break it in over a few sessions before you can race with it.
A Lot Of Money Saved
The IAME X30 is a little bit cheaper at $3000. However, a Briggs and Stratton engine will cost you under $1000. The extra money you save on the engine can be used in other ways, such as buying better gear, extra spare parts, or even extra fuel and tires for more testing days before the season starts. You can even put that extra money towards buying yourself a better chassis.
Not only is the engine cheaper to buy, but its running costs are significantly lower as well. Unlike the sensitive 2-stroke engines, the LO206 engine is extremely sturdy and reliable, so you’ll find that you won’t be spending as much time on maintenance either.
The Popularity Of Briggs And Stratton Engines
The low cost and relative ease of use of this engine make means that it is extremely popular. North America specifically has lots of competitions that feature the LO206 engine. European series on the other hand prefer the more powerful Rotax and X30 engines.
With the series being so beginner friendly yet still competitive even for the professionals, it’s clear to see why the series is so popular. The karts are cheap and really low maintenance which makes it less time consuming and easy to learn.
Easy To Use
The simplicity of the engine is where people find their love for the LO206. You don’t have to spend hours scratching your head to try and figure out why your engine is lacking in performance. Rotax karts on the other hand are extremely sensitive to even the slightest weather changes.
The engines also last longer than the likes of Rotax engines. Some more experienced drivers might use the same engine for 5 years or more and still be able to win races. This shows that the engines can keep up their performance levels even after numerous years of work.
The LO206 engine is becoming more and more popular as drivers are looking for cheaper forms of motorsport. Parents are also looking for racing series that are cheaper in order to see if their kids enjoy the sport without huge monetary commitments.
Why Briggs And Stratton Engines Are Great
Great For Beginners
So, who is the Briggs and Stratton LO206 engine perfect for? If you’re a beginner just looking to try out karting to see if you enjoy it, this is a great engine to consider. It’s slow enough to get you up to speed and learn essential driving skills.
It’s also cheaper to buy into, so (if you don’t enjoy it) you’re not committing an enormous amount of money as you would with Rotax. It’s easy to learn the mechanics and set up tuning, and the racing is close and competitive for all levels of experience.
A Hobbyist Kart Engine
Briggs and Stratton engines are also perfect for those who are just looking for a fun hobby. The engine might not be as quick as a Rotax or an X30, but that is exactly what makes them so much fun to drive. You’ll often find that Rotax drivers love to go out on rental karts, and it’s mainly because it is a lot of fun to drive.
You don’t have to stress about high maintenance on the engine, which also makes this perfect as a hobbyist’s kart engine. You can grab a few friends, turn up to the track and blast it around as fast as you can without worrying about your friends putting too much stress on the engine.
Briggs and Stratton engines are just as good a fit for parents who are looking to get their kids into the sport with the aim of becoming a professional racing driver. The low power means that it is a good start for kids, and it allows them to quickly get to grips with driving.
A Useful Learning Tool
The easy mechanics of the kart means that they can start working on their own kart and learning about the technical aspect of cars right from the start as well. LO206 championships are open to all levels of experience, which means a constant level of competition which will keep drivers pushing to improve.
The Briggs and Stratton engines are great for various reasons. If you’re new to karting or you’re just looking for a fun hobby, this engine is perfect for you. It’s extremely popular in North America due to its low maintenance requirements and relatively low costs.
However, it does lack in performance compared to other engine manufacturers such as Rotax, ROK and X30. However, if you aren’t looking for the engine with the most power, then the Briggs and Stratton LO206 is the perfect place for you to start.
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