The biggest question that tall and heavy people have before jumping into go-karting relates to the size of the karts. Are there special chassis for taller or heavier drivers? I’ve spent a lot of time racing karts, often with friends who felt like go-karting wasn’t for them because of their size.
So, what go-kart size should tall and heavy drivers get? Almost every chassis on the market will be 78” long, 25” tall and 52” wide. A few kart manufacturers did a brief stint making longer/wider builds, but quickly standardized their sizes to meet the specifications of race classes in the US.
Karting is open and accessible for people from all walks of life. Sure, there are a few nuances to consider for weight category, and how being much heavier than your competition can be a deficit in races, but there’s so much to consider beyond that. Keep reading to find out more!
Do I Need A Longer Chassis?
I briefly touched on this point when explaining the typical dimensions and weight of race-ready karts, but the answer is actually pretty positive for those of you who are taller than average. You know, in the 6ft range.
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A few companies such as Margay started to produce long chassis for taller folks, but some problems started to arise. In kart racing series, all of the rigs are supposed to meet a collection of regulations to be permitted to race. There are weight limits for the kart and driver combined, plus the engine classification and manufacturer.
Longer kart chassis could, in some cases, provide more downforce and give taller drivers an advantage over the more average-sized competitors, so a lot of kart tracks had to make a separate class for those karts to compete.
And, over time, there just wasn’t the popularity to keep those classes for tall drivers alone. Margay stopped making their long chassis karts and went back to the standard formula which met the regulations for every classification of adult drivers.
The biggest reason for longer karts overall was so that taller people would be able to reach pedals without doubling their legs up. To counteract this problem, kart manufacturers simply made the karts so that it was easy to adjust the pedal and seat placements, and it was basically solved.
Sure, folks over 6’5” would probably still have some issues with how long their legs were, but overall, a solution was found and height is no longer much of a factor.
One thing I would point out, however, is the fact that tall people have pretty long torsos, not just legs! More body protruding from the kart will mean more drag produced, so that is definitely something you can try to rectify. One of my karting buddies was a 6’4” beanpole way back when, and his solution was to have his seat set as low to the bottom plate as possible without outright sitting on it.
He was still taller than everyone else on the track and it could sometimes work against him on windy days, but he was keeping pace with the rest of the pack without issue.
What About Weight?
I’ve mentioned a few times now that, way more than driver height, weight is a big factor in kart racing… and not for the reasons you might otherwise expect.
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Different kart racing series have variable weight limits to help keep the racing as close as possible. It just isn’t fun being 200lbs racing against 120lb rakes, that’s for sure! When you’re karting with friends for a bit of fun, there isn’t much you can do except grumble and grouch to yourself about it, knowing that your lighter friends are at a huge advantage (everywhere except the corners…!).
When I was first getting into karting with my dad, we were all weighed at the start of a race and the lightest drivers had some weights placed in their kart to help level the playing field. That sort of thing happens pretty often, but won’t be in place during more professional race series.
Let me use some of the IAME engine series as an example for the weight limits in place.
If you’re using an IAME KA100 engine on your kart, you’ll qualify to enter that specific category of race. There are a few other regulations to meet, such as using factory-only parts and modifications, but the biggest thing we’re looking at is the maximum weight limit. It’s cited that 360lbs (~163kg) is the max total weight limit, which includes your fully-kitted kart and you as the driver.
If we look at the average weight of a kart for adult racing classes, let’s say it’s 170lbs (~77kg), that leaves a maximum driver weight of 190lbs (~86kg). And trust me when I say there isn’t any leeway above that amount!
Your weight as a driver is important for no other reason than picking an engine classification which you’ll actually be able to race in. Something better for heavier folks would be the IAME X30 Masters which allows a total of 400lbs (~181kg), but the skill-level of that series is… well, pretty immense!
Before you buy a kart, make sure to visit your local kart track(s). Ask people about what race series are the most popular, what races the tracks themselves host on a regular basis, and try to find other drivers who weigh a similar amount to you.
If you’re looking to simply enjoy karting and take part in the occasional race that your local club hosts, weight won’t really be a problem because the lightest guys will be weighted to keep things a bit more even. But if you’re looking to get serious, you absolutely need to check with your clubs to see which race series will be best for you.
IAME is only one example; there’s everything from Yamaha to Briggs & Stratton to consider!
You’d be surprised how many people love go-karting and want to open it up for as many folks as possible! Sure, the typical competitive classes have pretty strict limits on kart and driver weights, but you should totally do some research into what else you can enjoy.
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If you’re on the fringes of a weight limit, you can almost always find racing classes for ‘heavier’ drivers. It might not be on your doorstep at your local club, but I can guarantee that you’ll be able to find a scene for that wherever you are in the world! Being taller also adds weight that you can’t exactly diet to get rid of, too, so there’ll be plenty of people in the same situation as you.
Or hey, if that doesn’t exist where you’re at, you can totally be the driving (heh, get it?) force behind making one! Start connecting with people using Facebook to gather some interest and get a group going at your local track; you’ll be making friends and getting great kart practice all in one neat package!
Some Extra Pointers
Overall, you’ll be good to get a standardized kart that you can find on any manufacturer website or second-hand from a buddy. I do have a few extra tips that you should keep in mind when getting a kart if you’re taller and therefore heavier than average, so keep these close at hand:
- Tubing Size: Go-kart chassis will always be made out of moly tubing; something flexible enough to act as suspension yet stiff enough to keep everything together. There are two sizes available as standard, 30mm and 32mm. If you’re taller and/ or heavier than average, always pick out the 32mm where possible. It’ll give your kart some extra stability and rigidity!
- How Adjustable is It? Try to do some research into whether you can easily adjust the pedals and steering column for you to comfortably fit in the kart! Remember that your elbows should be slightly bent when you reach out to grasp the wheel, and your legs should be fully extended when you press the pedals flat to the floor.
- Premium Seating: Kart seats aren’t exactly variable; you’ll pretty much only find two sizes, small and large. Try to buy a kart which already has a larger seat installed, or make sure that the kart you’re buying will fit one at the very least. Some karts can be specifically built for a small seat which makes it a nightmare to fit a large one afterwards!
As you can probably tell after reading through this article, there isn’t a huge difference in go-karts and that’s part of the beauty of this motorsport. There are some pretty important things to remember if you’re tall and a bit weightier, but it doesn’t lock you out from enjoying karts by any means!
If you shop smart and remember the previous tips, plus spend plenty of time researching your local karting scene, you’ll be well-equipped to buy the perfect kart. Honestly, you can’t go wrong if you’re buying an adult kart chassis!
Keep this page bookmarked just for some helpful hints and reminders, and get out there to join in the fun!