I was recently looking back at my first go-kart, a second-hand CRG Kalifornia. One of CRG’s most successful models. Despite this, my kart gave me a lot of problems, and cost me a few race wins. So, I set out to do some research into which 100cc karts are the most popular and have the best features.
So, what is the best 100cc go-kart? The best 100cc kart is the CRG Heron. The CRG brand has a proven track record. Many Formula 1 world champions started their careers with CRG. Examples of CRG alumni are 7-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, and 2021 World Champion Max Verstappen.
Purchasing the most popular kart is a common decision, however karts behave differently with differing driving styles, and all karts offer different advantages on track. Finding the right kart for your driving style can make the difference between winning and losing. Keep reading to find out more!
What To Look For In A 100cc Go-Kart
Type of Use
The first, and most important thing to decide when looking at karts is what you will be using it for. Will you just be driving it for fun, or will you be using it competitively? This can help you save a huge amount of money, both in terms of finding the right kart, and in your general maintenance of the kart. In this sport, finances are key.
When you are looking at different kart manufacturers, it is important to look at the ‘pedigree’ of the kart brand. What is their racing history? Do they have a history of winning championships, or are they a newer brand who are looking to do things differently to everyone else? This will help you to know what to expect with your kart, especially when it comes to asking more experienced people for help.
Another key factor in what you need to look for in 100cc karts is what makes them different. Are they known for their top speed, braking power, or aerodynamics? This will help you to determine what you will be focussing on when you are driving the kart. This is your kart’s biggest strength and where you will gain the most advantage on the circuit.
When buying second-hand, there are a whole lot more technicalities to look for. It is especially difficult buying a second-hand kart when you have no experience. You won’t know what you need to look out for in terms of general wear and tear and things that could hinder your performance on track. I will dive deeper into the details of buying second-hand karts further below.
The Best 100cc Go-Kart: CRG Heron
The CRG Heron is my kart of choice. I have always preferred CRG karts over any other that I have driven. The CRG suits my driving style, which is smoother rather than aggressive. CRG have been known to build fantastic karts, which is why many Formula 1 drivers in the past have started out with them.
In addition, this is also the best priced of the three karts, which plays a huge factor in motorsport, because budget is everything.
CRG have heavily weighted braking systems. Most people will assume that a heavier kart is automatically slower, but that is not necessarily the case. They do have less straight-line speed, that is true. However, the heavy braking system installed on CRG chassis allows for much stronger braking power, which means later braking, faster lap times, and when it comes to it, more spectacular overtakes.
Chassis development is never ending, and with the 2020 update, CRG are still pioneering their chassis. They have brought out a new update which allows for easier adjustment of the wheelbase, both in terms of height as well as forwards and backwards movement.
This is a feature which I find incredibly interesting. It adds an entirely new dynamic to the kart’s setup and allows for more personalization to suit your driving style. This is definitely a game-changing feature compared to the other karts in this article.
Sodi Sigma RS3
Sodi is a fantastic karting brand and have also won several karting championships with their kart design. Slightly more expensive than CRG, however they offer much more expansive customer care. Sodi have recently invested hugely in more automation in their factories which has considerably helped their design quality and output.
A huge benefit that Sodi have with their brand is that they are the leaders in rental karting. Rental karts are built to be durable and reliable. This also translates into their racing karts. Sodi karts are known to be much tougher than other brands of racing karts. This is a reason why they are so popular when you go down to your local racetrack.
The Sigma RS3 has a brand-new chassis design which has drastically eased tyre wear. This is great news if you want to enter endurance racing, or if you are simply karting for fun and need your tyres to last longer. The new chassis also allows for much simpler setup adjustments, which is hugely beneficial for new drivers when going testing and trying to find which setup works best for them.
On top of their new chassis design, Sodi have also overhauled their braking system, which doesn’t quite rival the CRG system just yet, but is still much lighter. Sodi are improving their chassis rapidly and are worthy contenders. If you have a bigger budget, Sodi could be a great purchase for you.
Tony Kart 401R
Tony Kart have a very competitive history behind their brand. They have a chassis that has won the World Championships 7 times. Tony Kart is not as popular as the other two brands, and it is certainly the most expensive of the three. Tony Kart’s recent design focus has been on aerodynamics.
They have an extremely different approach in their aerodynamic design compared to other karts. The nose cone and front bumper are much more round than other karts, adding to their aerodynamic grip through fast corners as well as straight-line speed.
In addition to the aero-focussed front end, the floor of the kart is also shaped in such a way as to direct the airflow underneath the kart much more efficiently, resulting in a huge reduction in drag. They have also improved the grip on their steering wheels, adding to the comfort of the kart’s drive.
Tony kart have also recently developed their BSD braking system which is said to increase brake sensitivity and performance. As this is the most expensive kart, the question must be asked: is Tony Kart that much better than the others?
For a beginner, I would say no, the extra dollars can be spent elsewhere on your kart, spare parts, or your gear. For a serious competitor, I would say it depends on your driving style and if you are comfortable in the kart. You can have the most expensive kart and still not be comfortable or fast in it.
How Much Maintenance Does A 100cc Go-kart Need?
Maintenance is always a crucial part of owning a kart, and it can become rather expensive. Of course, if you are racing with your kart, your maintenance will be much more thorough. It can also be a daunting task when you open the garage and you are responsible for ensuring your kart runs at optimal performance.
Below, I will detail the major maintenance checks that you should regularly be doing on your kart.
The first item on your maintenance list should be to check your spark plugs. This is the quickest and easiest job to do. It is also a great indication to check if your fuel-to-air ratio/mixture is correct. If the mixture is too rich, you will find traces of oil on your spark plug. If it is too lean, the plug will be extremely dry.
This is crucial to check consistently because your fuel mixture needs to be adjusted depending on the weather conditions, and it can have a drastic effect on your engine’s performance.
Next up on the list is the carburettor. Giving the carburettor a thorough clean before you start running your kart for the day will keep it in good condition, and keep your engine running at its best. Having already checked your spark plug, you will also know if you need to adjust the jetting in your carburettor to find those extra tenths of a second.
The brakes are an important part of this list; it can also be the most difficult part of the maintenance. However, if you keep your brakes well maintained, you can keep pulling off late braking overtakes like Daniel Ricciardo.
Firstly, you should always keep an eye on the wear levels on your brake discs and brake pads. It’s a good idea to have a spare set, because when they do wear out, there’s not much you can do.
Your brakes should be bled often; once a month should be good. If there is air in the system you will notice the lack of stopping power, most likely because you’ll be on the runoff area.
An easy way to test if your brakes need to be bled is to lift the kart by the rear bumper and have someone hold down your brakes. Try to move your rear axle with the brakes being held in. If they move, your brakes will need to be bled immediately. You will also notice the resistance change in your brake pedal while you are driving if your brakes are losing their power.
A quick check on your fuel line can never hurt. Fuel lines can be quite fragile, especially on second-hand karts, and can easily break.
Check heavy-wear areas
Heavy wear areas always need to be checked. These areas are often overlooked, and when left unattended can ruin a race and cost a tremendous amount of money to repair. The first heavy-wear area is the axle, which can take a lot of strain on circuits with a lot of elevation changes. Another heavy-wear element is the exhaust, which, when not checked regularly could rust.
Oil changes need to be made on a relatively regular basis. The general timeframe is around 40 hours of engine running time. Depending on how often you use your kart, this could be either once a month or once every 6 months. However, it is still advised not to leave oil in the engine for too long.
The tires always need to be checked. Tires will lose grip after each session. Generally, they lose about three tenths to half a second per lap for every 45 minutes of hard driving.
An easy way to check the remaining tire life is using the tire-wear indicators. There are small holes that run along the surface of the tire to show how much wear they have. Generally, it is good to have an older set of tires to practice on and find your racing lines and braking points, and a new set to improve your personal best lap times.
You will then need to check your tire pressures, which are more of a performance-related element. You will see drivers constantly checking and adjusting their tire pressures to change the way the kart behaves on track.
Keep Your Kart Clean
Finally, keep it clean! This should be done during the entire process. Make sure you get all the oil and grease off the chassis and the engine. This will not only make your kart look more beautiful, it will also help you to spot any damage that might be on the kart.
How To Get a Good Deal On A Go-Kart
When buying a go-kart, you have two options, depending on what you want to do with the kart. You could buy a brand-new kart, or you could buy a second-hand kart. There are advantages and disadvantages to both of course.
Buying a new kart can be great because you are the first owner, and there won’t be any prior damage or accidents that you don’t know of. No surprises. However, this does come at quite a cost. If you are looking at a competitive kart, you will be looking at around $4000 at least.
This excludes spare parts, extra tires, safety equipment, tools, and fuel. If you are investing that much money, you need to be 100% sure that you are ready for it and that you want to do it. Karting is expensive as a hobby, and even more so as a sport.
Getting a good deal on a new kart would be difficult. The best would be going to your local karting circuit and trying to arrange a deal with the karting retail shops. Ordering a kart straight from the factory won’t be much cheaper either if you include the shipping costs.
Buying Second Hand
If you are starting out in karting or are aiming to take it up as a hobby, it is highly advisable to buy a second-hand kart. There are many karts for sale that are in excellent condition. The benefit of buying a kart second-hand is that you will most likely be able to go and see the kart before you buy it, and if the seller is nice enough, they will even let you give it a test drive around the track.
Buying second-hand is a risk. The kart could have a cracked chassis, which renders it practically useless. On the other hand, the seal on the engine could have been broken, which makes it illegal to race. Some smaller issues could be rust in the exhaust pipes, or a damaged seat.
However, if you know what to look for, you could get a kart in good condition for a much lower price than a brand new one. In addition, you could negotiate the price down, or ask the seller to throw in a couple of extras, such as tools or cleaning equipment, or maybe even a couple of extra sets of tires.
In my opinion the best 100cc go-kart to go for is the CRG Heron. They have a famous racing pedigree and are well known to produce top-quality racing karts. Their karts are easy to setup and understand, spare parts are easy to find, while the karts are also more affordable.
I would also look at trying to find it second-hand. Go down to your local karting circuit and find a driver who would like to sell their kart, or have a look around karting forums close to your area. It is vital that you see a second-hand kart in person before buying it.
Once you have your kart, make sure you keep it clean and well maintained. Staying on top of your maintenance can save you a ton of money in the long run, especially on a second-hand kart.
Most importantly, enjoy your kart as much as possible. Learn as much as you can, and you will definitely not regret getting your 100cc kart!