The biggest question that tall and heavy people have before jumping into go-karting relates to the size of the karts, and many wonder if there are special chassis for taller or heavier drivers. If you’re wondering this too, it helps to learn more about how to choose a kart as a tall or heavy driver.
Tall and heavy go-kart drivers should get a standard size of kart. Almost every kart chassis on the market will be 78” long, 25” tall and 52” wide. A few manufacturers did try making longer/wider builds, but quickly standardized their sizes to meet the specifications of race classes in the USA.
Karting is open and accessible for people from all walks of life. Height and weight will affect your karting experience, so if you’re a tall or heavy driver, read on to learn everything you need to know about choosing the right kart.
Do Tall Or Heavy Drivers Need A Longer Go-Kart Chassis?
Tall or heavy kart drivers do not need a longer go-kart chassis, as most karting races have strict dimension and weight limits that prevent these kinds of chassis being used. Most go-kart chassis are the same dimensions (78″ x 25″ x 52″), meaning tall and heavy drivers normally must use these too.
A few companies such as Margay started to produce long chassis for taller drivers, 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.
Potential Benefits Of Longer Kart Chassis
Longer kart chassis could, in some cases, provide more downforce and give taller drivers an advantage over shorter competitors, so a lot of kart tracks had to make a separate class for those karts to compete.
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 that 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 issue, kart manufacturers simply made the karts so that it was easy to adjust the pedal and seat placements, and the problem was basically solved.
Sure, people over 6’5” would probably still have some issues with how long their legs are, but overall, a solution was found and height was no longer much of a factor. Nowadays, most people will be able to fit into most karts and just adjust things as needed.
One thing to note 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, 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.
How Does Weight Affect Go-Kart Choice?
Different kart racing series have variable weight limits to help keep the racing as close as possible. It just isn’t fun being 200 lbs racing against 120 lb drivers, 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.
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 only using factory parts and modifications, but the most important thing we’re looking at is the maximum weight limit. It’s cited that 360 lbs (163 kg) is the maximum total weight limit, which includes your fully kitted out 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 170 lbs (77 kg). That leaves a maximum driver weight of 190 lbs (86 kg).
Your weight as a driver is important for no other reason than picking an engine classification that you’ll actually be able to race in. Something better for heavier folks would be the IAME X30 Masters, which allows a total weight of 400 lbs (181 kg).
Before you buy a kart, make sure to visit your local kart track. 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 at your local club, weight won’t really be a problem because the lightest guys will race with extra ballast 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.
How To Choose A Kart As A Tall Or Heavy Driver
As a taller or heavier driver, you’ll be fine getting a standardized kart that you can find on any manufacturer’s website or second-hand from a karting buddy or other source. However, there are a few extra things to keep in mind when choosing your kart to ensure you get the right one for your size.
Go-kart chassis will always be made out of moly tubing, which is flexible enough to act as suspension yet stiff enough to keep everything together. There are two sizes available as standard: 30 mm and 32 mm. If you’re taller and/or heavier than average, always pick out the 32 mm where possible. It’ll give your kart some much needed extra stability and rigidity.
Try to do some research into whether you can easily adjust the pedals and steering column for you to comfortably fit in the kart before you buy. 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.
Kart seats aren’t exactly variable, as you’ll usually only find two sizes: small and large. Try to buy a kart that 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!
There is no specific size of kart that you should buy as a tall or heavy driver, as most kart chassis follow the same 78″ x 25″ x 52″ dimensions. However, you should try to find a kart that has an adjustable seat and pedals, and you should go for 32 mm moly tubing where possible.
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