Karting is an expensive sport to get into. When you’re first starting out it’s best to try and save as much money wherever you can. However, many competitors believe it can be cheaper to build a kart than to buy one.
In most cases, building a kart is cheaper than buying one. This is because there are markups and labor costs involved in putting the kart together. Building a kart also allows you to choose where you would like to spend more money. Most newcomers to karting tend to buy a second-hand kart that is race ready.
It’s best to analyze all of your options before going through with the building of a new kart, and also before you buy one too if that’s the route you plan to take. For some it may be better to build and for others it may be better to buy, but below we’ll compare both options in more detail.
The Costs Of Karting
There are a lot of costs involved in karting. These costs not only coming from buying or building a kart, but also running it. If you’re just karting as a hobby, you will need to think about the costs of fuel, tires, storage, transport, and the cost of proper safety gear. Not to mention the tools, lubricants, and possible spare parts if something gets damaged.
If you’re getting into karting competitively, you’ll have all of the above costs plus your competition fees to worry about. Competition fees include new tires, racing licenses, and race entry fees. If you’re in a traveling championship the additional costs of travel and accommodation also need to be taken into consideration.
Think About Your Budget
It’s important to take note of these costs before you start karting because you don’t want to get halfway into a season and have to stop racing due to a lack of funds. This is also why it’s crucial to save as much of your budget as you can. When it comes to buying a kart, you need to look at how the price of buying the kart will affect the budget for the rest of the season.
Building A Kart
Building a kart can be a really memorable experience. Just like with amateur car racing, there’s nothing like competing in a championship with a machine that you built yourself. There’s a special bond between man and machine for someone that built their own car which just doesn’t exist with someone who bought their own car.
The same goes for a kart, and the more time you spend on it, the more it means to you. But unfortunately, unlike amateur car racing there are stricterrules in place when it comes to the quality and safety of the karts.
This means that you can’t necessarily build your own chassis or build up your own engine. With that being said, there’s nothing stopping you from buying all the parts separately and putting it together all by yourself. Let’s consider how much this might cost if you were building a racing kart in this way.
In this case, you would most likely be looking at buying a chassis, either new or second-hand depending on your budget, and then attaching a separate engine to it. It’s cheaper to buy a second-hand chassis (especially if it doesn’t have an engine on it).
A second-hand chassis can be found for between $500 and $1000 depending on the make and model as well as the condition of the chassis. Scrapes and cracks will lower the value, but a severe crack in the chassis will render it practically useless and unsafe, so be aware of these. Restoring an old kart can be quite the endeavor!
If you’re looking at a brand-new chassis it can be quite pricey. For example, a top of the range CRG chassis will set you back around $3000. In this case it would definitely be beneficial to find a much cheaper second-hand chassis, as long as it’s in good condition.
The second-hand chassis should come equipped with all the extras such as wheels, safety bumpers, seat, steering column, and a steering wheel. The only thing you should need to buy extra is an engine.
When it comes to the engine, you can find them second-hand for much cheaper than a new one. Of course, with age, second-hand engines do lose performance, so an engine rebuild may be necessary if it’s in a particularly poor condition.
Senior Max Rotax engines will cost around $3000 brand new, which is not too bad considering what you get. A good option for building a kart is to find a cheap second-hand chassis for around $500 and plant a brand-new engine on it for a total of $3500, which is what some people pay for a chassis alone.
If you’re looking at second-hand engines it again depends on the condition and age of the engine. Some can be found for as little as $1000 or less. Others will have only done one season and will cost around $2500 or more.
Building a racing kart gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to how you want to spend money on your kart. If you believe you need an edge in power you can spend more money on an engine, whereas if you need an advantage in the corners you can spend more money on the chassis.
If you want to save as much as possible to enter bigger competitions, you can go for a cheap engine and chassis combination. Of course, this means that you won’t have the fastest kart on the grid, but if you want to test yourself against some of the best drivers it could be worth freeing up the rest of your budget for other improvements.
Buying A Kart
Buying a kart means you get the kart fully built and ready to race. Essentially, you can race it immediately after buying it. When it comes to buying a kart, you have the same two options as with buying parts to build your own. You can either buy a brand-new kart for more money, or save some by going for second-hand options.
Buying a new kart can be extremely expensive depending on the manufacturer you are looking to buy from. For example, a new Sodikart chassis with an engine pre-installed could cost over $8,000. This is more expensive than building one as there is a labor cost and mark up involved in buying a pre-built kart. This option is definitely not recommended if you are new to karting.
The other option is to buy second-hand which is what most newcomers to the sport opt for. This is the best option for beginners as it reduces the cost of the kart and also removes the complications of having to put everything together. A fully built second-hand kart will vary in price, depending on a variety of factors.
In most cases, a second-hand kart can be found for between $1,500 and $6,000. The key factors that influence the price are the make and model of the kart, the condition of the engine and the chassis, and the mileage on the kart.
Important Factors To Consider
It’s important to keep an eye on a number of factors when you are buying a second-hand kart. The first is the age of the kart. You can check a kart’s age by checking the chassis for a model number and then Googling the model number. If the kart is more than 6 years old, it becomes a little bit risky in terms of reliability.
Next, you’ll want to check the condition of the chassis. Karts take a beating since they are designed for performance and are normally pushed to their limits. This also means there is an increased chance of the kart having been in an accident in the past resulting in structural damage.
Always try to test drive the kart before you buy it second-hand. Make sure the engine works and the kart can make its way around a corner without spinning. In most cases the kart will not show any problems until you start to push it though, so be aware of that.
How To Save Money In Karting
Karting is an extremely expensive sport. It’s always a good idea to save some money wherever you can even if you have a big budget. There are a number of ways that you can do that, but it’s crucial to have some restraint and self-control.
Firstly, plan ahead. Create a budget, whether it’s monthly, weekly, or even for every race, and plan your finances accordingly and always ensure you have enough money to compete. The last thing you want is to have to pull out of a race weekend because your kart took some damage, and you can’t afford to buy any extra fuel for example.
Buy Cheaper Products Where You Can
Of course, everyone wants the best of the best to use on their karts. But in some cases, it doesn’t make a huge difference if you use the top shelf product or a cheaper one. Some things you can save on are lubricants (except for two-stroke oil), tools, kart trolleys, and extras (such as sticker kits and painted helmets).
Use Old Tires When Possible
There’s no point buying a new set of tires every time you get in your kart. You need new tires for every race, but for practice sessions you can use older tires. Karting tires can last surprisingly long for testing and practice, so take advantage of this to save money in the long run.
Find A Karting Buddy
Having a good friend to go karting with can help you save money in many ways. You can borrow tools and spares or share storage and transport, which can save you a lot of money. If you’re in a traveling championship you can find travel and accommodation arrangements together to save costs as well.
It’s usually cheaper to build a racing kart than to buy one. If you know what you’re doing and shop around for parts, you can build kart for less than a new kart might cost. However, you might still find second-hand karts to be cheaper and safer if you don’t know what you’re doing.