Go-Karts For An 8-Year-Old: 4 Of The Best Karts Compared

It can be hard to choose the right go-kart for your child. With so many brands and models to choose from, it can be an overwhelming choice. That’s why it helps to check out a list of the best go-karts for 8-year-olds.

The 4 best go-karts for 8-year-olds are:

  1. Tony-Kart Rookie USA
  2. Margay Brava 60
  3. Top Kart SR28.1
  4. Birel Art C28-S10

Below, we’ll go into more detail on each of these karts, discussing what makes them ideal for 8-year-old kids. We’ll also touch on what size of kart an 8-year-old should drive, and provide some tips to help your child get the most out of their go-karting experience.

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 for 8-year-old kids, you want to be looking at the Cadet karting class.

Wheelbases (total length) of Cadet karts vary between 900 mm and 1010 mm. 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.

How Tall Is Your Child?

The size of 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 910 mm and 950 mm, due to the fact that they align with the lower end of kart lengths without being too small.

Don’t Go Too Big

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 get them the longest 1010 mm if you can’t adjust the pedals and seat for them to sit in it properly!

Also, all go-karts can run 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 your kid can always drive is better than picking a kart and finding out they can’t race it!

The 4 Best Go-Karts For 8-Year-Old Kids

1. Tony-Kart Rookie USA

Engine Options: Micro / Mini Swift (IAME), Micro / Mini Rok (Vortex), Mini Max (Rotax)

This is the newest and most refined Rookie chassis that Tony-Kart have produced. The USA model is specifically designed for racers in the United States, which grants the ability to get spare parts from dealerships.

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 more than seven world titles, and even more in local championships. Purely and simply, this is a kart for excellence.

The Best Around

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 do change from time to time, with the goal being to offer 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.

A Good Kart To Grow Into

Not only will this kart be fast no matter what engine you equip it with, but it also meets the pretty standard measurements of cadet karts. It has a 950 mm 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 suboptimal performance– 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. The rolling chassis, which is essentially just the base of the kart without tires or an engine, totals around $3,400. 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.

The Best Engine To Use

Not only are Rotax engines pricier than average, but 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 child is serious about racing, don’t let the price put you off too much. At 8-years-old, your child will be able to race in this kart for at least two years, and that time will likely be spent in contention for podium spots. Pretty worth it for a kid who’s serious about karting, right?

2. 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 company based out of the West coast, and they’ve been bringing karting innovation to tracks all over the country for many years.

All of their chassis are handmade and finished expertly, and you’ll be able to choose your kart’s base colors. 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.

Racing Pedigree

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 lineup. 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’s also considered a fantastic entry-level kart.

This is primarily because it was built with the Mini Swift engine in mind, which is a great little engine. The Mini Swift racing series is considered to be the best for new kart drivers as well, due to the accessibility of IAME engines and slightly lower horsepower than the Rok and Yamaha series.

Lots Of Room To Grow

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.

More Adjustability

The steering wheel hub position can also be adjusted to one of two positions, being closer to the seat or further away. It’s another nod to the kart being capable of growing with the driver, something you don’t see often enough at this level of karting.

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 920 mm, and the long position wheelbase is 933 mm. In spite of being adjustable, they are shorter than the average 950 mm length you’ll find in Cadet karts, so make sure to consider that before buying one.

Due to Margay Racing offering a package deal, this kart becomes pretty affordable brand-new. For about $6,100 you’ll receive a fully race-ready Brava 60 with a fully kitted out IAME Mini Swift engine and a set of Bridgestone tires. This means your 8-year-old will be able to go racing as soon as you pick up the kart!

A Competitive Choice

It’s a pretty attractive option for those who aren’t entirely kart lingual except in terms of basic 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 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 there’ll be races for them to take part in. It’s a popular, accessible class and they’ll be making leaps and bounds of progress before you know it!

3. 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 just a budget option!

Top Kart is a US manufacturer that prides itself in its wide variety of products that are easy on the wallet, and it’s also easy to find replacements when things go wrong due to the huge array of dealerships they have up and down the country.

Plenty Of Choice

In spite of being a new manufacturer on the scene, they’ve already racked up a few racing titles to be proud of, and they’re pretty distinctive out on the track what with the blue, white and yellow paintjob. But 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’s a 2-stroke or a 4-stroke. This keeps the range of 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 a long time too.

Easy To Adjust

The wheelbase length meets standard specifications, totaling 950 mm 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 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. 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 if you get things wrong.

Choosing The Right Engine

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.

This makes other series such as the IAME Mini Swift or LO206 4-stroke very attractive, because they’re designed for beginners to learn proper racecraft more than anything.

Ultimately, you should choose an engine if there’s a series running in your local area as opposed to which would theoretically be best (as you might find you won’t be able to race at all), and not being restricted to any single engine 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 too. It’s affordable and solid, making it a long-lasting kart that will keep your 8-year-old racing for many weekends to come.

4. 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.

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.

A Good Looking Kart

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 that will keep them competitive too.

This is a great option for those parents out there who are handy with putting karts together, but it’s not exactly the best for those who aren’t savvy in this way, as there are a lot of customization options you might want to take advantage of.

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 28 mm. For a point of comparison, adult karts commonly come with 30 mm or 32 mm tubing, so even the smallest amendments can mean a huge difference in how the kart handles due to the lack of suspension.

Room For Growth

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 950 mm 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 that can give your kid more life out of an old kart before it’s time to get an upgrade.

Weight Savings

The seat’s lightweight composition means that it isn’t going to be adding any weight to the kart. 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 lineup. But 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).

Tips For Buying A Kart For An 8-Year-Old

Consider Buying A Used Kart

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, 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!

Looking Online

Websites 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 of those 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 the current year, you can bet that the previous-year variants will be a steal by comparison.

Other Places To Check

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!

You should also 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.

6 Tips For Helping Kids Enjoy Go-Karting

1. Don’t Shout

One of the biggest things I worried about as a young kart racer was damaging my 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 control when these things happen.

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 for them, 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 about it, rather than worse.

2. Teach Them That Practice Is More Important Than Racing

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 possible, because it’s the easiest way to get the basics down without worrying about beating other drivers.

Invite some other kids around the same age with similar karts to have fun in some mini races if you want to add in some competition. There’s nothing better than beating your friends while learning!

3. Learn Together

Kids might find the inner workings of an engine boring, 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 for the two of you and your kid will find it way cooler than just having to know where to put fuel and oil.

4. Go To Other 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. Plus, it’ll serve to make them more excited about getting out there on the track to emulate those they’re watching!

5. Establish Your Base

Before you start getting crazy with modifications, make sure your kid spends plenty of time practicing and racing with their current setup first. Tweaking too much of the chassis or tuning the engine 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!

6. Get Excited About It

The sport is for your kid, of course, but they’ll have far more fun if you’re enjoying yourself as well! 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!

Final Thoughts

Buying a go-kart for an 8-year-old doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. There are lots of options out there, but this means there’s one to suit every driving style and racing series near you. Just make sure to pick one they can grow into and compete in for years to come.