One of my favorite things about go-karting is the accessibility to so many people, and this includes kids! Through the course of this article, I’ll explore a lot of different facets to kart racing for 8-year-olds, including go-karts that fit the bill and a host of tips to get you started!
So, what’s the best go-kart for an 8-year-old? My vote for the best go-kart for an 8-year-old would go to the latest Margay Brava 60 for its versatility and performance. This kart is designed to be flexible for the Cadet race class series, open to racers between the ages of 8 to 13.
But with so many different types of kart chassis out there on the market, with a huge range of race series to enter dependent on the engine you pick, there’s no way I can simply conclude everything with one kart alone! Read on to see which other karts I would also recommend.
What Size Go-Kart Should an 8-Year-Old Drive?
Unlike in other motorsports, go-karting is relatively simple in the specifications that are offered for standard models. You’ll only encounter small size differences between karts in any race category, but there might be some curve-balls thrown in here and there by second-hand sellers claiming that their kart is for Cadet age when it’s actually for Juniors!
Wheelbases (total length) of Cadet karts vary between 900mm and 1010mm. Anything less than that will be considered a kid kart, for those aged between 5 and 7, and anything longer will be considered a Junior kart, for those aged over 12 or 13.
The size kart you buy should really depend on how tall your child is. Karts are actually pretty forgiving in how much they can be modified to lengthen or shorten pedals and adjust the seat height and position, but at the end of the day, the chassis will stay the same length.
Take your kid to kart tracks and try to line up as many differently-sized Cadet karts that are available. My guess would be that an 8-year-old would be the most comfortable in karts between 910mm and 950mm, due to the fact that they align with the lower end of kart lengths without being too small.
Getting a kart that’s a bit too big for your child can come with benefits later down the line as they’ll be able to get more usage out of it when they’re older. But don’t be getting them the longest 1010mm if you can’t adjust the pedals and seat for them to sit in it properly!
Also, all go-karts can be ran with either a 2-stroke engine or a 4-stroke engine, and they run in different categories. Before you commit to any of the karts I review below, check with your local kart tracks and dealerships to see which race series are the most popular. Getting a match for your area to make sure you can drive is always better than picking a kart and finding out you can’t race it!
Great Go-Karts for an 8-Year-Old
With all of that said and done, I’ll be talking about four different karts that I think would be ideal for an 8-year-old child! There won’t be any real trend to the batch of picks I make, except the common thread of them all being appropriate for the age I’ve already discussed. I’ll let you decide which one would be best for your child!
Tony-Kart Rookie USA
Engine Options: Micro/ Mini Swift (IAME), Micro/ Mini RoK (Vortex), Mini Max (Rotax)
The newest and most refined Rookie chassis that Tony-Kart have produced; the USA model is specifically designed for racers here in the States which grants the ability to get spare parts from dealerships here.
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This sleek kart, which comes with the distinctive green tubing and Italy-inspired decals on the bodywork, has been engineered over many years to provide young racers with one of the most competitive karts currently active in racing series.
Across every category, Tony Kart have won over seven world titles, and even more besides in the local runnings! Purely and simply, this is a kart for excellence.
If your kid is already well-practiced in karting or otherwise wants to hit the big leagues, I can’t recommend this kart enough. The Rookie chassis and its whole geometry have recently changed for this model in 2019/ 2020, with the goal amounting to the best adaptability across all track conditions.
No more painstaking adjustments when the rain comes pouring down unexpectedly; just wrap your kid up in wet weather gear and send them back out with some wet tires on the kart! A lot of karting parents dread weather changes, because it normally means they’ll be tweaking tire pressures and chassis displacement for hours, so if you want to skip out on that, this kart is a great choice.
Not only will this kart be fast no matter what engine you equip it with, it meets the pretty standard measurements of cadet karts. It has a 950mm wheelbase, putting it right in the middle in terms of what heights will fit the kart and therefore making it pretty good for a kid to grow into.
The brake system is something pretty special, too, as it comes with 4 pistons and brake calipers that automatically adjust to brake pad wear. That means your kid will have access to brakes that won’t fail, get spongy or otherwise deliver lacking braking; perfect for even their longest races. And the steel-braided brake lines are both strong and lightweight. No risk of brake fluid spillages here!
It goes without saying that, in terms of pure competition and potential, the Rookie USA is a fantastic investment. And I do mean that word; investment. The rolling chassis, which is essentially just the base of the kart without tires or an engine, totals $3,360.
Most engine packages (although they vary hugely in price and installation) are between the $1,500 and $2,500 mark, especially if you decide to pick a Rotax engine and enter that race classification.
Not only are Rotax engines pricier than average, the whole race series costs more money per race due to the dedicated organization that goes into it. But, their engines are considered worldwide to be the some of the most reliable and efficient on the market, so it might be a cost worth spending for the ultimate racing machine! They’re easily the best fit for the Tony-Kart Rookie USA.
If your kid is serious about racing, don’t let the price perturb you too much; jump in! At 8-years-old, your child will be able to race in this kart for at least two years, and that time will be spent in contention for podium spots. Pretty worth it for a kid who’s serious about karting, right?
Margay Brava 60
Engine Options: Mini Swift (IAME), Mini RoK (Vortex), Yamaha Cadet
Striking, practical and racy; what else would you need in a kart? Margay Racing is a US-based company right out of the West coast and they’ve been bringing karting innovation to tracks all over the States for many years.
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All of their chassis are handmade and finished expertly, and you’ll be able to choose your kart’s base colors. A nice extra to personalize your little one’s racing experience, right? Unlike some other kart manufacturers, they offer packages for purchase to help choose the best possible specifications for your child, and there is even an option of building to the exact height and weight of the racer.
Although not perhaps a ‘pedigree’ kart racing company, Margay have home-grown roots and their State-wide titles in series across the board aren’t anything to sniff at.
I would call this kart an all-rounder when considering some of the others in this line-up. The Brava 60 has amazing racing potential due to its lightweight build, high-powered brakes and a whole host of optional features (vented wheels, caster/ camber adjusters, etc.), but it is also considered a fantastic entry-level kart.
This is primarily because it was built with the Mini Swift engine in mind, which is a tough little engine that can and always will keep going while it’s able. The Mini Swift racing series is considered to be the best for new kart drivers also, due to the accessibility of IAME engines and slightly lower horsepower than the RoK and Yamaha series.
But, with the chassis being adaptable to all three types of engine, you can easily make the required modifications after your child is more comfortable in racing, allowing the biggest scope for progression out of the karts listed.
This isn’t simply due to the versatile chassis, either. Margay have implemented a few amazing features that can often be overlooked in Cadet karts and they’ll all come as standard. The first of these is a uniquely-designed pedal platform assembly, which will allow for easy pedal position adjustment.
This is ideal for growing kids or otherwise creating the best cockpit environment for comfort and speed, further adding to the fact that this rig is great for a developing racer.
The steering wheel hub position can also be adjusted to one of two positions; closer to the seat and further away respectively. It’s another nod to the kart being capable of growing with the driver, something which you don’t see very often if at all!
And to top it all off, you can actually change the wheelbase length between two settings; short and long. The short position wheelbase measures in at 920mm, and the long position wheelbase is 933mm. In spite of being adjustable, they are shorter than the average 950mm length you’ll find in Cadet karts, so make sure to remember that before buying one.
Due to Margay Racing offering a package deal, this kart becomes pretty affordable brand-new. For $6,095, you’ll receive a fully race-ready Brava 60 with a fully-kitted out IAME Mini Swift engine and a set of Bridgestone tires. No ifs or buts, you’ll be able to take the kart straight to a track and try it out!
It’s a pretty attractive option for those of us out there who aren’t entirely kart lingual except in maintenance, and Margay are very accomplished mechanics within the karting field. You can count on a rig that will be competitive straight out of the metaphorical box!
For kids who are relatively new to karting but want to improve and race, the Margay is a fantastic kart that can grow with them and their experience. And with the Mini Swift engine, you can guarantee having a race series for them to partake in! It’s a popular, accessible class and you’ll be making leaps and bounds of progress before you know it.
Top Kart SR28.1
Engine Options: LO206 (Briggs, 4-stroke), Yamaha Cadet, Mini/ Micro Swift (IAME), Mini/ Micro RoK (Vortex), Mini Max (Rotax)
Time to look at a pretty cheap ‘n’ cheerful kart chassis by the well-known kart manufacturer, Top Kart! This kart might be one of the cheapest on the list but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a budget option!
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Top Kart is a US manufacturer that prides itself in its wide variety of products that are easy on the wallet, and easy to find replacements when things go wrong due to the huge array of dealerships they have up and down the country.
In spite of being a new manufacturer on the scene, they’ve already racked up a fair few racing titles to be proud of, and they’re pretty distinctive out on the track what with the blue, white and yellow paintjob!
Probably one of the most stand-out aspects of this kart compared to others is the huge array of engines it can be fitted with.
Top Kart were careful when designing this chassis to keep it open for any kind of engine, no matter whether it was a 2-stroke or a 4-stroke. This keeps the race series you can enter wide open until you choose an engine, and you’ll find success in any category due to the well-balanced build.
It is also one of the karts deemed good for entry-level drivers due to the sturdy bodywork, and the fact that it can take some bumps and bruises while kids get to grips with racing. Hydraulic brakes are guaranteed to keep young drivers safe on a reliable basis, and with proper maintenance, they will last far longer than any brake pad ever will.
The wheelbase length meets standard specifications, totaling 950mm in length and putting it right in the middle of cadet kart sizes. The kart’s base can also be adjusted for the driver in a large host of ways, between the adjustable pedals and the ability to position the seat in different ways; making it a great kart for 8-year-olds of most heights and weights.
Not only that, but as your child gains more confidence in the raw kart set-up, you can also start tuning it and the engine to help achieve more speed and a better competitive edge than most might be expecting!
I’d never advocate for anybody to tune the base kart until they’d spent plenty of time racing it and practicing with it, however, due to how badly it can throw off the kart’s overall balance.
The big boon of choosing any engine for the Cadet racing categories beyond the versatility is how you can ensure that you don’t overwhelm your kid in series that are hyper-competitive. For example, the Rotax series is very intimidating for those who aren’t very used to kart races, and even then, it’s a unique experience for drivers who mean business.
This makes other series such as the IAME Mini Swift or LO206 4-stroke very attractive, because they’re designed for beginners to learn race-craft more than anything.
Ultimately, you should choose an engine if there’s a series running in your local area as opposed to which would be best (you might find you won’t be able to race at all), and not being restricted to any one engine with a chassis alone is a huge benefit to ensure your kid gets maximum enjoyment out of the process.
I’d say that this kart is perfect for beginners out there, but it certainly has potential for even the most serious and experienced cadet kart drivers! It’s affordable and solid; a long-lasting kart that will be sticking around for some time and not become a write-off after one race.
Birel Art C28-S10
Engine Options: LO206 (Briggs), Mini/ Micro Max (Rotax), Mini RoK (Vortex), Mini Swift (IAME)
What happens when you mix together US-based manufacturing and European racing pedigree? You get Birel Art, that’s what! Birel is a kart manufacturer that cares deeply about racing for young people, and they’ve partnered with multiple Formula 1 racing drivers who started their careers in karting to help deliver this to more people.
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Daniel Ricciardo and Robert Kubica currently have karting lines with Birel, and the products are geared specifically for kids who want to both enjoy their time racing and get podiums consistently.
This tone remains the same for Birel’s normal products, including its C28-S10 chassis which has recently enjoyed a host of new updates from its previous versions. With the kart’s racy red paintjob, your kid will stand out and have a solid rig for the time that they can fit into it, so let’s look at some more specifics.
The primary reason that the chassis price is listed as variable is due to the options that Birel offer when you come to check-out for it on their website. For example, having the kart assembled costs an extra $300, and choosing one of their Tillet race-ready seats costs an extra $200 or $300 depending on the size.
And so, the absolute base for this kart to come in boxes unassembled is the same as the previously discussed Top Kart. However, to add extra specs or to make the process easier, there are some extra costs attached.
It’s a great option for those parents out there who are handy with putting karts together, but not exactly the best for those who aren’t savvy in this way.
In terms of the updated features on this kart, Birel have completely renewed the geometry of their C28-S-10 when compared to the older versions. The lines are overall cleaner and the kart has become a little bit slimmer in width, which can afford it the ability to squeeze by other drivers in tight spots.
They’ve also dedicated extra time and attention to the stability of the rig, and have amended the chassis tubing to be a slightly wider, sturdier 28mm. For a point of comparison, adult karts commonly come with 30mm or 32mm tubing, so even the smallest amendments can mean a huge difference in how the kart handles due to the lack of suspension.
The wheelbase sits right in the middle of most cadet karts, making it accessible and easy to use for most 8-year-old kids while giving them room to grow with a 950mm length. Unlike previous iterations of their Cadet karts, the C28-S10 actually has a hydraulic braking system, which provides reliable, hard braking power; making it a safe kart above all else.
As with a lot of other kart models, a lot of the basic controls and seating positions are adjustable. The pedals can be moved into two different positions for ease of operation and the seat can be switched out for the trimmer, leaner racing variant called the Tillet.
This seat was designed specifically with professional karting in mind, and it allows the driver to have a lower center of gravity without upsetting weight distribution. Kids are getting taller all the time, so it’s nice to have the option of a different seat which can give you more life out of an old kart before it’s time to get an upgrade for them.
That, and its lightweight composition means that it isn’t going to be adding any weight to the kart. More than ever, weight restrictions in different age categories are a factor we can’t avoid, so being able to save on weight wherever possible is something great for race situations.
In truth, the Birel doesn’t offer much by way of revolutionary features unlike other karts in this line-up. It does offer a solid kart and design with racing and competitiveness in mind, without being inaccessible to beginner drivers, so it’s a very good mid-range kart (albeit on the more expensive side once you add all the extras).
How To Find A Good Deal On A Kid’s Go-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. If your kid(s) will be getting into go-karting for the first time, too, you can count on scuffs and other damages, so buying brand-new isn’t the most cost-effective decision.
That, and they’ll definitely be out-growing karts until they hit their mid-teens at least!
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. I made a habit of spending extra time on race weekends talking to people at the track, and this served many purposes.
First of all, I gained a lot of great friends by being personable and offering help when I 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.
Join a couple of social boards online, don’t be shy! Places like Reddit and even Facebook have a lot of great tips to think about when buying a used kart, and on the latter platform you can often find kart parents selling their kids’ old rigs for a fraction of the price on other second-hand sites.
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 Art start selling their newest rigs for 2020, you can bet that the previous-year variants will be a steal by comparison.
Tips For Helping Kids Enjoy Go-Karting
I can guarantee that your kid will love the sport, but if you’re worried about them being overwhelmed or otherwise being conscious about it, I’ve got a good collection of tips you can think about to make sure they have fun above all else!
- Inside Voices, Please! One of the biggest things I worried about as a young kart racer was damaging our kart and otherwise getting into trouble for not driving fast enough when I otherwise could. As the parent, the best thing you can do is try to keep your temper under wraps. That doesn’t mean your kid should be oblivious to the costs of repairs if they spin off into a barrier, but shouting at them about it or holding it over them will ruin the sport, trust me! If they haven’t done their best or they’ve had a crash, make sure they’re doing good and then talk stuff over with them. It’ll make them feel better.
- Practice > Races: When you first get a new kart, no matter how eager your kid is to start racing, insist on spending time practicing first and foremost. Head down to your local kart track and buy practice time. Give them as much butt-in-seat time as humanly possible because that’ll be the foundation of the young driver being capable in race situations! Invite some other kids around the same age with similar karts to have fun in some mini races if you want some competition. There’s nothing better than beating your friends while learning!
- Learn Together: Sure, kids might find the inner workings of an engine boring as all heck, but if they know why it’s important and their parent is learning alongside them, it’ll become something fun! Teach them about all the components on their kart and if you don’t know something, make it a point of learning together. That’ll make the sport more personal to the two of you and your kid will find it way cooler than just having to know where to put fuel and oil.
- Go to Races! Whenever you can, go down to kart tracks to watch kart races within your chosen series category. It’ll probably suck for your kid at first because they won’t be racing, but there’s so much you can learn when observing others. The more involving the sport is, however, the more likely your kid will find a lot of it fun rather than just the driving!
- Establish Your Base: Before you start getting crazy with modifications, make sure your kid spends plenty of time practicing and racing in it first. Tweaking too much of the chassis or engine tuning too soon can result in a poorly performing kart, and then both of you will be miserable for different reasons. Keep stuff as simple as you can at the beginning, and explore how to get better as a team!
- Get Excited! The sport is for your kid, of course, but they’ll have far more fun if you’re enjoying yourself, too! Children are pretty perceptive when it comes to the feelings of others around them; especially their parents. If you’re miserable in the pouring rain after the third tire change of the day, they’ll know it and they probably won’t go out and have fun because of it. Sometimes the race days will be long and you’ll be questioning if it’s worth it, but remember that it’s a sport for both you and your kid. Put on a smile and have a blast!
No matter which kart you decide to pick after reading this whole article, make sure to remember the golden rule of enjoyment above all else. Make sure to choose a kart that you can maintain properly, and get down to the track with your kid(s) so you can share in the excitement!