Through the course of this article, I’m going to assess the best 125cc karts that you can find today and discuss some other important things to consider about these high-powered karts. There’ll be something to learn for everybody who found this article!
So, what is the best 125cc go-kart? If I were to give a personal recommendation, I would choose the CRG Blackwheel. It meets a reasonable price point and the chassis build is compatible with a lot of engine types, therefore meaning your options are very open when it comes to entering races.
Everybody looks for different things in their own rig, so I want to cover as many different angles as possible for you! With all of that said and done, let’s get right to the matter at hand and look at some awesome karts…
Tony Kart: 401R, IAME X30 Engine
If you’re keen on karting pedigree, look no further! TonyKart are a long-established Italian racing manufacturer that has recently become international, and the extra price tags on their products are worth it.
View this post on Instagram
Before karting, the company owner worked on race cars in Europe and gained experience alongside Ferrari and many others. Using his experience, he began TonyKart and has since expanded across the globe to bring karting excellence worldwide.
This model specifically is the culmination of success in kart races. The R attached to the 401 chassis specifically stands for ‘Racer’, and the fact that previous editions have snatched up 7 world championship titles really sells its performance.
The price of a brand new one in a race ready package, which include a set of tires and the IAME X30 engine, fetches a somewhat eye-watering $8,500. However, this rig will be fully race ready and you can get straight onto the track.
The IAME X30 engine is a very popular type made to compete in the TaG kart racing brackets up and down the United States. When compared to other racing series, TaG is easily the most easily accessible and most kart tracks will offer this series as standard. Make sure to do some research on this beforehand, however, to ensure that your local tracks run TaG races.
As with most karts in the Senior class, this kart’s top speed will range between 70 and 80mph.
Although the kart itself looks rather standard for TaG-ready rigs, TonyKart have added a collection of innovations that makes this breed something very competitive indeed.
This kart’s steering wheel is brand new and dubbed to have ‘high-grip’ due to the material covering it, and the front which encloses the pedals and such acts as a frontal spoiler for better downforce. Every aspect of the kart is adjustable to the driver, with even the lightweight pedals and wheel base able to be modified.
For the non-shifter variation, named the KF, the braking available is of a mechanical nature, but the coolant systems are next-level. Less heat, less brake wear and longer-lasting parts! The chassis being built of a special chrome steel alloy provides sturdiness, while remaining lightweight due to the tubing composition.
Of the group, the TonyKart is the easily the most competitive and race-ready. And with it being spec’d for the TaG race series, a wide variety of drivers will enjoy owning it.
Gold Kart: GTR30, RoK GP Engine
Next on the list is the most affordable race-ready rig, the GTR30 from Gold Kart and manufactured by Righetti Ridolfi. There is a similar sense of pedigree that comes from this brand, simply because of its Italian roots. All kart chassis and parts are hand-made in Italy, after all!
View this post on Instagram
Nevertheless, this model has both a competitive edge and a more reasonable price tag with the overall benefit of a wide range of products being available.
Until searching for Gold Kart, I personally wasn’t aware of its existence. But it’s easy to see the quality of this model’s build, and the overall look is visually stunning. Everything being hand-made in today’s market is almost unheard of, and it really shows when you look at this beauty.
A brand-new package which includes the chassis, mounted tires and a RoK GP engine totals $7,150. In short, not bad at all! The RoK GP engine which comes as standard with this rig is a very competitive breed made for TaG racing series. You won’t have any issues scouring for any replacement parts or repairs when you need them, that’s for sure!
Not only that, but many go-kart racers worldwide will swear to the reliability of this engine specifically, in large part thanks to the unique cooling systems and other ways for the stress of 2-stroke power to be lessened on the component parts. The key words often used to describe the RoK GP are ‘spirited’ and ‘practical’, which definitely describes it to a T!
Your top speeds will vary between 70 and 80mph, just like the rest of the karts in this line-up. In terms of weight, it will be very similar to the TonyKart due to the same material being used to compose its chassis tubing. A noted boon of the Gold Kart specifically is the independent sets of front and rear brakes that have their own ventilation system built into the discs.
You won’t need to look for separate parts that can add weight to the rig. The camber for the kart is also fully adjustable, with the means to adjust both the front and rear of the chassis to your specific liking. Every kart will have the ability to do this to some extent, but the GTR30 takes this many steps further with multiple camber alignments on both the front and the rear.
The biggest and most poignant benefit of picking a Gold Kart in general, however, is the ability to convert for many race series. They offer sleek, competitive options for every classification and age range, and you can count on picking up or ordering the exact parts you need knowing that the quality will be delivered.
For a more reasonable value while retaining that competitive edge, the Gold Kart is a very good pick for those of you who are seeking something a little more affordable without compromising on performance.
CRG: Blackwheel, Rotax EVO Engine
When looking to buy a kart and exploring different chassis manufacturers, I can guarantee that you’ll come across CRG regardless of what category you’re looking for. The makers of CRG are passionate about providing tailored chassis for the biggest classifications in Senior karting, which means you’ll have options available for TaG and Rotax, all the way through 4-stroke series like LO206.
View this post on Instagram
I specifically like the build and features of the CRG Blackwheel for the Rotax series, however, and I’ll go over why that is below.
For one, the Rotax race series is recognized as one of the most competitive categories worldwide in karting. In spite of this, it actually started out to be very unpopular in the United States; especially since a lot of people were far more into TaG specifications due to the friendly and familiar IAME engines.
I raced in a fair collection of Rotax series back when I lived in England and there’s something very prestigious about it, that’s for sure. You definitely pay more in race fees and the like, but the organization of events is absolutely seamless and drivers are given a lot of spotlight/opportunities for publicity in order to make a career of it.
I can guarantee that if you’re an experienced driver or you know experienced drivers, the word ‘Rotax’ would have come up at least once. As of late, with Rotax making a resurgence in the States, now is a great time to look at nabbing a kart that meets their specifications!
Especially with kart manufacturers like CRG actually offering an affordable(ish) option. You’ll be set back by $7,850 for a race-ready CRG Blackwheel rig, but that obviously includes mounted tires and the brand new Rotax EVO.
The top speeds of this kart are solidly within the parameters of 70 and 80mph, which might make you wonder what the benefits of a Rotax engine are.
Simply put, a Rotax engine comes with electronic components that increase the efficiency of your rig. The cylinder on the 125cc EVO will electronically control the exhaust valve, making it quite the smart bit of kit. If you’re looking to race without a shifter kart, the Rotax Max EVO engine is classed to be at the top of the heap when it comes to non-gearbox kart classes.
Due to the power and complexity afforded by this engine, Rotax do recommend this specific build for more experienced drivers, but using their manuals and dealerships, even leisure drivers will have a great time with the engine.
Unlike most karts which require a key to be turned on and even some bump-starting, Rotax come with an electric start; simply by pressing a button, everything fires up. Pretty swish, right? And simple too, provided you’re good with the repairs that will need to be made if things need tending to!
Alongside sleek looks and a great color scheme, the CRG Blackwheel is a competitive rig in spite of its slightly heavier weight overall. This is down to the cast iron brake system that comes installed, and the extra cooling facilities that are required to look after the heavier brakes.
The stopping power will be fantastic, of course, but you’ll definitely need to tune your engine to afford you a little extra power to compensate. Overall, this kart is great for those of you looking to get into the fast-growing Rotax series, and certainly isn’t something for the faint of heart!
Top Kart: Twister, IAME Leopard MY09 Engine
What list would be complete without America’s biggest and most well-known manufacturer making an appearance?
View this post on Instagram
Top Kart is the nation’s favorite for a reason; between its solid build quality and everything being made here in the States, kart enthusiasts love this brand. And when you couple it with the worldwide star of TaG karting, the IAME Leopard engine, you’re onto a winner of a rig.
Due to the affordability of the base chassis and replacement parts, this build is great for first-time karters with a lot of scope for development and customization down the line.
The Top Kart Twister is versatile in the engine you can mount, which is another boon to picking this specific rig. However, I found that the IAME series would best fit due to how wide-spread these engines are across the country. The fondly nicknamed Leopard is in use over a span of 5 different continents, and if that doesn’t speak volumes of its popularity, I don’t know what will!
It’s a rather simplistic engine in some ways, and requires a turn-key start which isn’t the end of the world. It comes with the components necessary for the battery and other such electronic parts to be charged while you drive, similar to how an alternator works on a car.
It might not be all-singing, all-dancing like the Rotax electronic engines, but it sure is easier to understand. The only downside to choosing this rig is the fact that Top Kart don’t offer a race-ready package, so you’d have to buy the chassis with mounted tires and an engine package separately.
Provided you can do some assembly, this won’t be a problem! For both the Twister chassis with mounted tires and the IAME Leopard complete package, you’ll only be set back by $7,000 brand-new; making it cheaper than the other more affordable option on this list. The required assembly might put some people off, however.
In terms of top speeds, the IAME Leopard produces 27hp which puts it within the realms of producing between 70 and 75mph as opposed to potential for 80mph like others on the list. This is part of what makes the Twister and Leopard engine combo good for newer karters.
Of course, the engine can easily be tuned for more power output and the chassis can be adjusted to get more base speeds, so it isn’t a huge problem. A large part of what makes this rig competitive is the hydraulic braking system that comes as standard, allowing for amazing stopping power and more reliability.
This is partially because it doesn’t have front brakes and only has the rears, but this also cuts down on weight by only having one set of brakes. Nevertheless, this kart will weigh in heavier than every other kart on the list, and this is mostly down to the sturdier composition of the chassis.
Although the simplistic build is great for beginners all the way through to experts, this does mean that some parts are chunkier and will withstand accidents better. But as with anything, it comes as a double-edged sword by weighing the rig down.
This rig is perfect for those of you who are buying your first 125cc kart; especially since maintenance will be especially easy and the IAME engine allows for racing in the TaG series.
How Much Maintenance Does A 125cc Go-Kart Need?
Taking care of go-karts is much the same no matter the power of the engine, funnily enough. The biggest difference between 125cc classifications and those lower is simply how much you need to check on your engine overall.
View this post on Instagram
Because you’ll be running a 2-stroke more often than not, your engine will be working overtime a lot! Regardless, the rest of the maintenance procedures are very much the same as every other kart.
Make a routine of checking things over and it’ll become like second nature rather than a chore. As with anything that you personally own, it’s your responsibility when it goes awry!
- Change the oil: every 25 hours, more often on race weekends
- Inspect and clean the spark plug: remove the electrodes and clean them thoroughly, use graphite grease when putting it together. Replace the spark plug every year!
- Tire management: keep an eye on the treads of your tires and always keep three or four spare sets, minimum. Also set aside higher tread tires for wet weather
- Check brake pads & discs (for mechanical brake karts): keep two or three extra sets of brake pads to replace them when they’ve worn down
- Bleed the brakes (for hydraulic brake karts): do this every other week, or more frequently if you notice the brakes losing their responsiveness
Getting A Good Deal On A Kart
Looking to nab a kart on a budget? Fear not! Pre-owned rigs are an absolute no-brainer, especially so that you can save some cash where it matters. Pre-owned doesn’t mean bad by any means! You’ll find that a lot of people try out a new rig and they’ll sell it if they find something they prefer, leading to way cheaper ways to get your own kart.
View this post on Instagram
I commonly check websites like eBay to get an idea of how much various kart chassis and parts get sold for second-hand, but you don’t have to shop online if that isn’t your style. My dad made a habit of spending our extra time on race weekends talking to people at the track, and this served many purposes.
First of all, we gained a lot of great friends by being personable and offering help when we could. But most importantly, those who have more money invested in karting than you will think of the nice person at the kart track when they want to sell some of their old, barely-used gear!
Not only that, but you should totally make a habit of chatting with the track owners/marshals. They’ll be updating and upgrading their rental karts and sometimes that means they’ll have great spare parts or even full rigs for sale.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on kart manufacturer’s websites for any sales they’ll have when releasing their newest models. For example, when Top Kart and CRG start selling their newest rigs, you can bet that the previous-year variants will be a steal by comparison.
Are Go-Karts Safe?
Any sport or hobby comes with its own host of risks, and it’s very important to remember that while go-karting is a lot of fun, there’s an engine involved and because of that, there’s a lot of hazards to be aware of. That isn’t to say that karting isn’t safe, because with the right equipment and proper education, it’ll be just as safe as any other past-time!
View this post on Instagram
My biggest piece of advice for any kart driver is to really pay attention to the pre-race or pre-practice briefing that track marshals give. Yeah, you might have heard it one million times from other tracks, but there’ll be new stuff to learn every time.
Not only that, but different tracks will have different potential hazards and maybe a nasty hairpin that narrows a lot after you’ve gone past the apex. Familiarize yourself with the track itself and talk to others who might have raced there before.
You’ll be surprised how much this can help when you’re starting the out-laps, because you’ll know what to look for above all else. Being prepared and aware is half the battle.
Make sure to invest in the whole package when it comes to safety gear for karting. You absolutely need a race suit, helmet, race boots and gloves at the bare minimum. Not only does this gear actually make you more competitive in the kart during races, due to the lightweight composition of everything you’ll be wearing, but it is all designed to protect you if anything goes wrong.
I also recommend picking up a rib protector or some kind of padding for your seat, because this will reduce the discomfort of the otherwise unforgiving hard seat in the kart! Wearing all of the above and getting into the habit of taking it whenever you kart will reduce the risks that come with improper clothing.
As another general rule of thumb, always handle your kart with care! If the race or practice session has ended and you’ve turned the engine off, wait for a while before rolling it back to your maintenance area. Chances are, you’ll be doing all of the work on the kart yourself or with friends, so really make sure to get familiar with how your kart is set up.
This will minimize hurting yourself off the track. Provided you drive carefully and stay alert out on the track itself, accidents will rarely happen. A lot more people pick up burns and crushing injuries while they’re changing parts as opposed to when they race!!
The true moral of this story is that go-karting can be dangerous simply because it’s a motorized sport. But that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe!
Wearing your safety gear, staying alert on track, learning everything you can about the kart and generally remembering to respect the sport overall will count for so much more than simply shying away from it all. In over ten years spent go-karting, I’ve only picked up one minor injury!
I certainly can’t make the choice about which kart of the four is the best, because they each have distinct differences that make them unique and therefore better for different purposes. I hope, though, that this article and insight into four different karts has cut down the guess-work!