There are many reasons that your kart may hop through the corners, but this means there are also plenty of ways to stop it happening. You can come across the issue if you’re a beginner or an advanced driver. So, it helps to understand why your kart is hopping through corners.
Go-karts hop through corners because, in hot temperatures, rubber is laid down on tracks more quickly, causing the inside rear wheel to lift as you corner. Next, the outside rear loses grip, before catching high grip quickly again. This creates a hopping, sliding action.
Everybody’s kart is different and because of that, there’s no one solution to the hopping kart conundrum. However, there are a few things you can do if your kart is hopping through the corners, and we’ll discuss these in detail below.
5 Ways To Stop Your Go-Kart Hopping Through Corners
1. Tweak Your Driving Style
There are loads of ways to minimize hopping through corners in terms of the mechanical changes that can be made to your kart, but I’d actually forego all of that and take a personal look at your driving first and foremost.
Change Your Line
Similarly to when you’re in wet weather, you should be looking to take a different line around the track than when racing in hot weather. I always take a tighter line of entry into corners because this will avoid the most rubbered-in parts of the asphalt, greatly reducing my chances of the kart hopping due to having too much grip.
Another driver-based trick is to actually take a later entry overall, which will allow you to get on the throttle earlier for a more straight-line exit – not normally recommended, but very helpful to avoid hopping.
Smooth Throttle Inputs
And even if you feel the kart start to get away from you in the rear, it’s important to maintain smooth throttle inputs. Jabbing at the throttle as you might feel inclined to do will be disastrous and actually cause more hopping.
2. Adjust Your Tire Pressures
PSI is a pretty tricky subject to cover in the realm of go-karting, because tire pressures will vary widely between weather conditions and kart types. Typically, you can expect to see tires being inflated between 10 and 20 psi under normal circumstances with the higher end being specifically used for wet races where grip is harder to achieve.
On the opposite end of this scale, decreasing tire pressure is a good way to deal with heightened grip, especially when you consider the fact that heat actually causes the pressure to increase. If you fill your tires with 10 psi, expect the pressure to have raised by at least 2 psi by the end of the race.
Choosing The Right Pressures
It’s a common trick of the trade to under inflate tires in hot weather for that very reason. You want to give them some room to expand as the heat builds up, but you also want the tires to be firm enough to run without fear of damaging your wheels.
On the other side of the coin, over-inflation can lead to tire blow-outs, which are not only disastrous for the kart’s wheels, but they’re also very dangerous.
Every Kart Is Different
As with every recommendation that I’ll give here, make sure to experiment with different tire pressures to find the best one for you. There’s no right or wrong answer because every tire brand and kart is different.
However, I usually run something like 8 or 10 psi max on hot days, and upon making this adjustment with a few others I’ll mention, I don’t have any issues with my kart hopping around corners.
3. Adjust Your Seat Height
This might not even cross your mind, but have a good look at the seat position in your kart. It’s quite common for kart seats to be mounted high in the kart, which works well for smaller drivers, but it becomes a huge detriment when racing in hot weather. It’s basically a component in the kart that’s higher up than the rest of the main parts and weight, which means your center of gravity is higher.
If you’re at a loss as to why the kart keeps hopping, check out your seat height and try lowering it to different positions and running a few laps to see if the issue resolves itself. Most drivers will find that they actually prefer a lower-set seat as it allows for better feeling in the turns, and under power and braking.
4. Make Chassis Adjustments
There’s a lot of debate in the karting community about what adjustments you need to make to your chassis if you’re hopping through corners. Until recently, everybody was in agreement that you needed to stiffen the whole chassis as the extra rigidity would help keep the kart planted. But as of late, the general opinion has shifted in the other direction.
Although softening your chassis might seem pretty bizarre, this will actually allow the kart to stay planted on the outside rear even if you find your inside rear lifting through corners.
A Simple Fix
All things considered, this kind of tweaking is pretty low-maintenance and can be quickly achieved with a standard set of wrenches that you should keep around for your kart. Grab a friend who’s handy with karts or refer to your kart handbook to find all of the necessary steps to adjust your chassis, and try softening it.
Don’t go overboard though! A chassis that’s too soft might run into havoc on the track and you might get splits or breaks. Stick to small, subtle changes until you find the right setting for you.
5. Change Your Axle
If you haven’t had any luck with the above recommendations, it might be worth considering something a little more technical to help you out.
Go-karts are uniquely designed in the way that their rear is far wider than the front, and this is all due to downforce and how it affects grip levels at high speeds. But when it’s almost too grippy on the track, this large difference in axle sizes can be more of a detriment than a benefit.
Generally, go-karts use a ratio of 32 mm front axle paired with a 50 mm rear axle. If you’re still plagued by a hopping kart, you can invest in a 40 mm rear axle instead and have that fitted, as this will actually reduce rear grip – not something you typically want unless you’re finding too much of it!
However, this change will be expensive and a huge hassle to get everything changed and fine-tuned all over again, because you’ll not only need a new axle but also new rear hubs, sprockets, and disc carriers.
I’d say that this way of minimizing your kart hopping should be a real last resort, especially since it isn’t exactly fun or easy to switch out axles every time the track’s grip levels change.
Your go-kart is likely hopping through corners as a result of your driving style, but it may also be a mechanical issue. It happens when your outside tires overload with grip and then unload again, with a repeating cycle leading to the hopping. There are various adjustments you can make to stop it.