Brakes are a crucial part of any performance vehicle. Although karts are light and nimble, they still rely heavily on their brakes to get them around a racetrack. In fact, karting brakes take more strain than those of the average daily car, so having the best brakes on your go-kart is key.
The best brakes for a go-kart depend on the type and brand of go-kart you own. Some may require different sizes of brakes, so it’s important to double check your kart’s size when buying new ones. Always budget for better quality brakes as they will last longer and perform better.
Karting brakes go through a lot of strain. This means they can often wear out quickly. However, there are different types of brakes you need to look at if you want to get the most out of them. This is definitely not a department you want to try and save money in!
Why Are The Brakes On A Kart So Important?
Brakes are crucial to any vehicle. However, on go-karts they are even more important. This is mainly because of safety. Karts are designed to be driven fast. They were built for racing after all! If you’re driving fast, you’re going to need good brakes to slow you down.
The last thing you want is a brake failure when you’re going down the longest straight on the track. This is not uncommon in karting, especially if the drivers are using poor quality or cheaper brakes. Kart drivers also often overlook brake maintenance.
More Than Just Safety
However, brakes are helpful in karting for more than just the safety aspect. They are also crucial for performance. When driving, you’re usually either on the throttle or on the brakes. Naturally, the more time you spend off the brakes and on the throttle, the faster you will be.
This means the better your brakes, the faster your lap times. Stronger and better performing brakes allow you to slow down faster and spend less time braking and more time accelerating. This will equate to faster lap times overall.
Having stronger brakes that you can trust will not only make you faster over the course of a lap, but it can also improve your race craft. Later braking will allow you to pull off spectacular overtaking moves. However, that late braking needs to be accompanied by bravery too! Having confidence in your brakes makes it easier to be brave in the corners.
Not All Kart Brakes Are The Same
Before we get started on what brakes you need to get for your kart, you first need to check your kart. Most kart manufacturers will have recommended parts that you need to use with your kart. This doesn’t necessarily mean that other parts aren’t compatible with your kart though.
Manufacturers build their chassis in different ways. This means that each one has unique characteristics that make them stand out. For example, CRG chassis are excellent under braking, whereas Tony Kart chassis carry excellent mid-corner speed.
Pay Attention To Manufacturer Recommendations
The reason a manufacturer will recommend a specific brake is because it is what works best with that chassis. These could be different sizes, materials or even different brands. It is highly recommended to go with what your manufacturer advises you to use.
You might think that there aren’t big differences between brakes, but there are. Brakes can be made of different materials, in different sizes, and in different shapes. All of these elements play an important role in how the brakes will perform on your kart.
Which Brakes Should You Use?
Karting brakes work in the same way as they do on normal cars. The main difference is that a kart’s braking system only has one brake whereas a car’s system would have four. The braking system is built from three main parts. These are the master cylinder, the brake callipers, and the brake discs.
When the brake pedal is pushed down on a kart, pressure is sent from the master cylinder to the brake callipers. The callipers are two steel elements that are operated by pistons. On the inside of the callipers, you can find the brake pads.
Friction = Stopping Power
The pistons that are operated by the master cylinder push the brake pads together. These cause friction against the brake disc that is in between them. The friction is what slows down the axle, and that is where you get your stopping power from.
Because of the massive amounts of friction in karting brakes, they can wear out quickly. The friction causes heat as well, which can affect your braking performance and the overall lifespan of your brakes. This is why it’s so important to only use high-quality brakes on your kart.
The brake callipers are the parts that wear the fastest on a kart’s braking system. The callipers are two steel blocks with pads on them. The brake pads are what clamp down against the brake disc and cause friction to produce the stopping power.
With karts you can change the brake pads to different types. There are three different types, and each of them has their own benefits and drawbacks. Very much like the different tire compounds, brake pads also have different compounds.
The compound you choose is mainly down to your preference and driving style. Each one is unique. However, most drivers opt for the standard brake pads.
Soft Compound – Blue
The soft compound brake pad will have more initial bite. This means sharper braking when you first hit the brake pedal. These brake pads also heat up much quicker, which can get your brakes into their optimal operating temperature faster. However, they are prone to overheating.
These can be useful if you have a shorter track with fast corners. You can spend less time on the brakes with the higher bite and pushing the pedal down hard and fast can get the kart to turn into the corner much quicker.
When it comes to longer and harder braking zones it can be difficult to use these brake pads. The harder bite point on these brakes can easily cause you to lock up. If the brakes lock on a kart, you could easily find yourself in a spin.
These brake pads often overheat as well because they are soft compound pads. Over long distances this can cause the brakes to fade quicker. It also means their lifespan is significantly shorter than the other types of brake pads.
Standard Compound – Red
Standard brake pads are right in the middle of the brake pad range. These are often painted in red. They have an average bite point and lifespan. They can overheat under extreme circumstances, but in most cases they can withstand long race distances.
Hard Compound – Black
The harder compound brake pads have a softer initial bite point. This means that if you press the brake pedal the kart won’t be squirming and locking the brakes. These are great for drivers who brake harder and longer and need to feel especially confident in their brakes.
These brake pads are also better for rain and slippery conditions as they give the kart much more stability under braking. Another scenario to use these in is when you’re at a track with long straights and sharp corners.
The hard compound brake pads have a longer lifespan because they can withstand much higher temperatures. They can sometimes take longer to heat up, so you will need to work harder on heating your brakes before the race.
The brake disc is the fixed circle on the axle. The brake callipers clamp down on the brake disc to slow it down. However, not all brake discs are the same, and there’s good reason for that. Each one has a unique design.
You can find brake discs with different cut outs in them. These aren’t necessarily for show. More cut outs (and less brake disc) make them lighter. In karting, every gram of weight counts, and sometimes having a lighter brake disc can make a big difference.
The downside to these is that they become more fragile. If you race on circuits that are extremely bumpy or have huge kerbs, you may want to avoid using these lighter brake discs. Stronger ones are advised in these cases.
You can also find different brake discs in terms of what they are built from. There are steel brake discs and ceramic brake discs. Ceramic brake discs are more expensive. However, they are higher quality. They can withstand more heat and therefore they will also last much longer.
There are many different types of brake fluids to choose from. However, it is critical to use the correct one for your kart’s brake system or you could risk a complete brake failure. If you use the wrong fluid, you may need to replace the entire braking system and master cylinder.
There are two main types of brake fluids you need to distinguish between, and these are silicone-based and glycol-based brake fluids. Karts, just like road cars, use glycol-based brake fluids. These are the most commonly found brake fluids in the automotive industry.
Another factor you need to consider is the boiling point of the brake fluid. Since a kart’s brakes work extremely hard, they need to use a brake fluid with a higher boiling point. If brake fluid reaches its boiling point the brakes will fade quickly.
The brake fluid that you need to use in your kart will once again depend on the brand of kart that you own. However, it will always be between DOT 4 and DOT 5.1. For the majority of karts, you will need to use DOT 5.1 brake fluid.
How Long Do Brakes Last On A Kart?
Due to the high performance nature of karting, brakes don’t tend to last that long. You will need to service your brakes regularly in order to extend their lifespan and keep them performing at their best.
With standard road cars you can extend the life of your brakes by going easy on them and using them less. Unfortunately, in karting we don’t have this luxury. We need to use the brakes and use them properly if we want to be competitive.
Check Them Monthly
You should be checking your kart’s brakes on a monthly basis. It’s better to check them regularly rather than to wait for them to fade out at the wrong time. If they fade during a race weekend, you’ll be in quite a bit of trouble.
Brake pads will most likely last anywhere between 6 months and year. However, it always depends on the brake pad compounds, and how often you are driving. The more you drive, the shorter their lifespan will be.
Brake fluid can easily run out or become contaminated too. You should be checking and refilling your brake fluid at least once a month. Bleeding your brakes regularly is also important. This can get rid of any contamination in your brake system. Doing this will extend the lifespan of your kart’s brakes.
The best brakes for your go-kart will depend on the brand of kart you own. Try out different brake parts and compounds to match them to your driving style and improve your speed on track. By properly maintaining your kart’s brakes, you can preserve their performance and extend their lifetime.
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