Through the course of this piece, I want to explore the different kinds of karts that are available for kids and different things to consider when looking to purchase one. I’ll share my personal recommendations in order to give you, dearest reader, the best overview possible!
The best 50cc go-kart for kids can be found with vehicles such as the Praga Kart ‘baby’ rig and the Margay Racing Wildcat build, as they are solid choices due to their affordable price and racing pedigree.
Below, I’ll outline four distinct types of kid kart that I think are solid rigs, no matter your child’s experience level. For each kart, I’ll talk about price ranges, speed, weight, build quality, and other general points that could make or break it as the kart for you.
Birel ART: B-25 Baby Kart, Comer C50 Engine
Racing red and striking, the Birel Baby karts are a cool-looking rig that every kid would be proud to drive in! Birel themselves describe this model to be a great starting kart for kids due to its reliable 2-stroke Comer C50 engine and easily repairable chassis.
This isn’t to say that more experienced kids will find the kart boring by any means as the Comer can hit between 30 and 40mph, which gives it a real zip. But if I were to personally suggest anything, I would look at this Birel as something to start with as a kid’s first kart.
Brand new, Birel are asking around $2,500, which includes the engine and tires, putting this kart in the realms of very affordable for something brand new.
If your child is just dipping their toes into the sport, it’s a good idea to look at ‘pre-loved’ karts, especially since they’ll be getting a feel for how to drive and as such, many scrapes and bumps can happen. This B-25 model with a Comer C50 engine can be found pre-owned for approximately $1,000.
Ease of Operation
As far as ease of operation, go-karts are all very similar in this regard. There’s a gas pedal and a brake pedal which keeps it very simple indeed. This B-25 model specifically has a mechanical brake system with a 200mm disc, making it very accessible and easily fixed/ maintained. Think about a smaller version of your standard car brake systems minus hydraulics.
Because the chassis is made with 25mm tubes and is overall composed of aluminum, you can expect this beauty of a rig to be light and easy to maneuver. It’ll make your days at the track that much easier, that’s for sure.
Longevity And Distribution
In spite of its light weight composition, Birel recommend this kart model for new karters because of a very simple reason: this build can take some punishment! It’s safe to say that the quality of build is up there in terms of overall longevity.
In terms of engines on kid karts, the most common one distributed with most chassis is the Comer C50 or C51. If you want, you can swap out the Comer for any other common engine brand, provided it’s of the same power output.
It also depends on where you’re situated, because Comers are common throughout the East Coast of the United States, but engines such as Hondas have caught on big-time in the West. Keep this in mind when choosing an engine for your Birel because you’ll want to pick something that you can get parts for, after all.
Top Kart: The Top Kart Kid Kart, Comer C51 Engine
Ah, Top Kart. If you’ve done some research on karting for your child already, you’ll have likely come across this kart manufacturer at least once. In the United States, Top Kart are very popular and widely distributed. Because of this fact, a lot of people choose them in the kid karting scene.
Parts And Adjustments
There’s nothing better than reliable access to parts in the early days of karting, especially if your mini racing driver is learning the ropes!
This Top Kart Kid Kart with its Comer C51 is a standard set-up and enjoys the latest innovations for its 2019 build. As I mentioned previously, the C51 and C50 are actually one and the same, with the C51 being the newer rendition which is far wider production than the slightly older C50.
As you can imagine, finding parts for C51s is a simpler process than shopping around for replacements of the older model. In terms of top speed, it’s identical to the C50 variants, between 30 and 40mph.
A nice boon of owning a Top Kart chassis is how you can make adjustments and tweaks to it. Things such as shortening or lengthening parts of the chassis tubing can help tune the kart properly to your child’s needs. In races where most competitors are running the same rig, these tiny adjustments can equate to a lot of gained time!
A Roller Build
Unlike the previously mentioned Birel which comes with its engine and tires as standard, Top Kart offers this build as a ‘roller.’ What this means is that all you’ll receive is the chassis itself with the engine mounted, no tires included.
While this isn’t the end of the world (a lot of manufacturers do this as standard practice), it does make the overall build more expensive. Brand new, this 2019 model in its roller state goes for around $3,000. New tires aren’t a huge expense, of course, but I find it preferable to get a near-race-ready set-up from the get-go.
This model’s biggest bonus is the pedigree and experience that comes with Top Kart as a brand. If you’re after this same vibe but aren’t too hung up about getting something brand-new, a used kart will be far more affordable. From a quick search I found that Top Kart 2018 models are going for $1,500 in good condition.
Considering how widely available Top Kart is, I’m sure that your local karting scene will probably swear by these karts and most kids will have their own on the race track. You won’t have to worry about this rig being built poorly, what with Top Kart having a winning reputation.
And similar to the Birel model I previously talked about, this rig is lightweight because of its aluminum tubing as the chassis build material.
Certainly an affordable option, but not on the budget end of things. This kart will be viable for a kid with any level of experience, and because of the fine-tuning you can do with this model, you can expect to get a nice edge on competition with your mini karting pro!
Praga Karts: Praga Baby, Comer C51 Engine
Speaking of pedigree… I wanted to include a kart that might be considered a little off-the-wall for most, constructed by one of my most-idolized kart companies.
Praga Karts is based out of Italy but is rapidly growing into a worldwide kart manufacturer, taking their experience in working alongside companies suchas Ferrari and distilling it into go-karts. Amazingly cool, right? Let’s jump right into it!
For kids, the Praga Baby with its commonplace Comer C51 engine isn’t revolutionary by way of parts, nor does it break the mold of what we see in karting across the United States. Most kids will have a typical chassis with a C51, after all.
It will output your standard range of speeds between 30 and 40mph courtesy of its engine. Praga’s main MO with this kart specifically, however, is to make a maintenance-friendly machine which is easy to work on and fix when things go wrong or need replacing.
They’ve implemented a vented 150mm rear brake disc which is not only easy to work on, due to it being mechanical and therefore familiar/easy to reach, but the ventilation allows the brakes to stay cooler than average.
Cooler brake discs and pads means less wear and less potential for brake failure, after all. It may be a small component, but all of the tiny differences can add up to make a kart very competitive in races.
Praga are currently offering their 2018 Baby chassis ‘Day One’ package, brand new, for about $3,000. This isn’t a roller set-up, and instead includes a set of tires and complete engine package which means that you can get straight to a track and drive!
As with all of the karts I’ll be talking about, it’s definitely worth checking out price points for their used counterparts. You can easily knock $1,000 off the price of brand new to make the purchase more budget-friendly, and get first-hand feedback from the previous owner about how the kart was to own.
Transport And Overview
However, compared to other karts in this line-up, this Baby isn’t easy to transport. Weighing in at 43kg which is almost 100lbs, it isn’t heavy by any means, but it’ll definitely weigh in heavier than most karts that others will be using.
This is because Praga dedicated this model to not only being easily fixed/ repaired, but also implemented sturdier bodywork to make the kart safer. So unlike bands like Top Kart, the Praga is probably the best rig for a child learning to drive, and all the likely accidents that can happen during this time.
Because it’s a heavier rig, it might be worth looking at tuning your engine for a slightly higher power output to make sure that it won’t be a detriment on the track when racing.
Margay Racing: 2019 Wildcat, Honda GXH50 Engine
From international to home-grown, let’s take a look at Margay Racing. They make all of their karts on United States soil and they’re definitely regarded as one of the most competitive manufacturers in the country.
Their 2019 Wildcat model comes with a Honda GXH50 engine as standard, which is great for any of you readers on the West coast! Margay are based in St Louis, MO, but they don’t offer alternatives to the Honda for this model. If anything, having a Honda is a huge benefit if you’re looking for an engine that’s very reliable and exceedingly low-maintenance.
The Wildcat build offers varied price points depending on how much assembly you want to be included, going from around $3,000 for the chassis alone all the way up to around $4,000 for the ‘race ready’ package (engine installed & tuned with Bridgestone tires mounted).
Model Features And Customization
Although Margay utilize this build of kart for fresh starters to the go-kart scene, there are various features of this model that make it a force to be reckoned with in the hands of more experienced kids.
You can expect fully hydraulic brakes as standard on these models, which provides amazing stopping power to be absolutely competitive in your racing. Between that and the 73lbs (33kg) build (yes, that includes the engine and all!), and you’ll find that this rig is an absolute racing machine.
If you have a Margay dealer local to you, they even offer customization options, offering to measure and weigh your child to fine-tune the final build to their exact specifications. That is if you’re buying brand-new, of course!
Price, Speed, And Maintenance
As with anything, you can find good discounted prices on older models and when buying pre-owned karts. At the moment, 2018 Wildcat rigs are selling for around $2,000 in this category, so they can certainly be affordable if you shop around.
Of the four karts that I recommend, however, it goes without saying that Margay is the priciest brand. To compensate for this, of course, you have a lot of customization options that aren’t offered with other brands.
Speeds achieved are typically in the standard 30 to 40mph range, as with the whole kid karting category, but the lightweight composition of this rig means that you can likely exceed those parameters!
In terms of maintenance, this rig is a bit more complex than some other brands because of the hydraulic brakes. If this isn’t your first rodeo, so to speak, the Wildcat is the perfect kart to help push boundaries and become more competitive in the karting spheres.
How Much Maintenance Does A 50cc Go-Kart Need?
50cc karts don’t need much maintenance, only requiring a regular oil change every 25 hours, a spark plug inspection and clean, checks to ensure the tires are in good condition, and checks for the brake pads and the discs. This limited maintenance routine is due to the sealed engine of the vehicle.
Thankfully, 50cc karts are all designed with simplicity in mind (albeit to varying degrees per brand/ manufacturer). Unlike karts for older kids, like when you get into the Cadet and later Adult categories, 50cc engines are almost always sealed.
There won’t be any exposed chains to worry about and because of that, you’ll only need to worry about keeping a regular oil-change routine. Include brake checks into your daily maintenance routine by making sure that the pads and discs aren’t worn to their limits, and keep a healthy stock of both parts specific to your kart build.
Tires are another concern, of course, but when your child is just getting started, you can easily keep a couple of sets handy every race weekend as opposed to five or six when they get into bigger karts with more power. Think of the following as your standard check-list when performing maintenance:
- Change the oil: every 25 hours ideally, especially when racing
- Inspect the spark plug: clean the electrodes after removing, use graphite grease to put it back on, replace every year
- Tire management: keep at least two sets spare at any one time, preferably more for different weather conditions
- Check brake pads and discs (for mechanical brake karts): before they reach their max wear limit, replace them!
How To Get A Good Deal On A Go-Kart
Looking to nab a kart on a budget? Fear not! Pre-owned rigs are an absolute no-brainer, especially for any child who’s learning how to kart. Think of it in the way that your first car was probably a cheap and cheerful older model. It’s way more cost-effective to start this way.
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.
Kids grow and grow and grow, after all, and they’ll be outgrowing their rigs every couple of years. Make sure to get friendly with fellow parents at your local go-kart circuits and ask about any old rigs that they might have lying around, because you’ll be surprised! If people have the storage space, they’ll likely keep hold of old chassis and stuff to be sold at a later date.
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 Birel start selling their newest rigs, you can bet that the previous-year variants will be a steal by comparison.
Are Go-Karts Safe For Kids?
Go-karts are safe for kids provided that you take the necessary measures to keep your child safe. Teaching them how to properly wear their gear, telling them which parts of their vehicle are not safe to touch, and ensuring you understand the safety mechanisms built into the karts are all crucial.
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!
When your child first shows an interest in go-karting, make sure to tell them about the importance of wearing their gear and ensure to point out some of the unsafe parts of the kart. Basic things such as not touching the engine or the exhaust because of how hot these areas can get, when taught early enough, will become a very safe habit to have later on.
Find some videos online or on TV of kart races for their age and let them watch. It’s amazing how much you can learn when visually seeing something, after all! Take them along to your local track when there are races going on, so you can enjoy the revving engines and learning about that specific place together.
As a seven-year-old jumping into a rental kid kart for the first time, I had the words of my dad ringing around in my head about why each piece of ill-fitting equipment on my body was important. The helmet was to protect my head. The neck brace was so that I didn’t cause any neck strain. My overalls were designed to protect me from burns, and my gloves were made to help stop blisters.
It’ll help if you can look at getting some kind of matching race gear, because wearing the safety equipment will make everything feel that much cooler while also promoting safety in karting!
All of that being said, accidents can still happen. Kid karts are built with strong bumpers to help maximize safety, and more manufacturers than ever are including safety belts in their karts for extra security.
Between proper equipment being worn, a good knowledge of racing/ driving karts overall, and the natural design of karts for those of a younger age, you can count on the sport being both fun and safe.
The Birel, Top Kart, Praga, and Margay models are the best 50cc go-kart models available on the American market due to their range of price points, the fact that they account for the experience of the driver, and that they are very easy to maintain. The specific choice varies based on preference.