If you’ve been involved in the world of karting in some way, you’ll have heard of the trusty IAME X30 as one of the favorite engines of racers around the globe. I want to give an in-depth view of this remarkable engine while delving into its top speed capabilities.
So, what is the top speed of the IAME X30 engine? The top speed very much depends on numerous factors, least of all whether the engine is under Junior restriction or not. Assuming that all variables are favorable, the top speed of the X30 125cc unrestricted is 75mph and restricted is 65mph.
I can’t stress enough how much there is to take into consideration about an engine aside from its raw top speed, not to mention how many variables can affect it. Due to how popular this engine is, I want to explore every aspect of it and why it’s so great. Don’t go anywhere and read on!
The IAME X30: An Overview
The most popular rendition of the IAME X30 that you’ve likely heard of and seen around is the 125cc displacement used in Senior racing divisions. But did you know that loads of different X30s have been produced with different displacements and purposes? And you probably won’t know what the component parts are which make this engine so well-loved and competitive.
I’ll go more into the different classifications and renditions of the X30 below, so for now, let’s focus on the business end of things when looking at the typical version: the 125cc X30.
IAME as a company have been producing engines for karts since 1968 and their goal since the beginning was to deliver excellence in all forms for the fast-growing, exciting motorsport. Probably their biggest focus, even above providing fast engines, was designing and producing reliable equipment.
Until the company’s founding, kart racers would modify small engines otherwise used on lawnmowers and the like for their karting endeavors, and that sort of thing didn’t result in the longest-lasting product; especially when you consider how short-lived 2-stroke engines can be.
It was this aspect of karting that IAME most wanted to change, and they dedicated huge portions of their research to providing reliable engines which would last longer and deliver results every time.
The X30 is the culmination of that passion and drive for the sport coupled with the practicality of a long-lived product, and it’s for that reason that kart racers the world over truly fell in love with it.
IAME’s goal with this engine was to provide a great karting experience rolled together with ease of use and low maintenance; further heightening the whole experience. This is the same across all of the X30 iterations, and is achieved through exciting innovations like water cooling balanced with good old-fashioned features like a diaphragm carburetor.
The most popular karting division, TaG (Touch and Go), became a real hotspot for X30 engines. This was due to the electrical components being reliable enough for a full electric-start race series, and the mix of mechanical aspects which made it maintenance friendly and overall, even the 125cc race-ready variant was a fraction of the price of engines like the Rotax Max.
With options for purchase ranging from a complete starter kit all the way to part assembly, IAME also offered a whole host of flexibility and level of support for kart drivers. This plucky 2-stroke has a massive range of character and competitive edge, so it’s easy to see why kart owners the world over choose this for their rig!
IAME X30 Variations
Although the 125cc TaG IAME X30 is easily the most popular version of this 2-stroke powerhouse, it isn’t the only one available by far!
I touched on this fact earlier before delving into the methodology behind the X30 specifically, but now I want to focus on it some more. It’s important to be aware of the different displacements offered by this engine, because this is a huge factor which affects the top speed of an engine.
Simply put, the X30 can be found using the following displacements:
Due to how kart races are organized, you can’t use your 125cc engine in a 60cc division for obvious reasons. It’s then further separated by driver age and even skill level in some locations.
Typically, you’ll find that 60cc is the prime displacement for Cadet-level racers, a span of years between the age 7 and 12 (further divided into Micro and Mini divisions). There is one X30 engine available, named the X30 Water Swift, which takes all aspects of the famous water-cooled engine and brings them to a lower-powered division.
The 125cc displacement offers one of the widest varieties in terms of engine choice. You’ll find the popular unlimited X30 Senior (age 15+), and the limited X30 Junior (age 12 to 15). And then there’s the X30 Shifter variant, which comes with transmission capability and isn’t a direct drive like the others previously mentioned. It also has higher top speed potential.
Not only that, but the engines are made differently depending on your region. The USA, for example, has a specifically made engine for their kart racing divisions, and Europe, Japan and Australia have one made for their respective divisions.
This difference seems to be due to where the engines are manufactured. You need to use the US version of the IAME website to purchase their engines, for example, whereas purchasing of the EU/ Japan/ Australia engines is available on their regular site. There is no superior power output and it simply seems to follow different price/tax guidelines.
The 175cc displacement X30s are all designed for superkarts; high-powered machines recommended for Master-class racers (age 35+). They have direct drive engines and Shifter engines available within this classification.
All Things Top Speed
Now that you know all about the many different faces of the X30, I think it’s time to showcase how all of these differences affect their top speed. Not only that, but I want to illustrate some different things to consider when it comes to speed and what can affect it on the track.
For some visible comparison, let’s look at the top speeds for each of the main displacements offered for the X30:
- 60cc – up to 60mph
- 125cc (direct drive, unrestricted) – 75mph
- 125cc (direct drive, restricted) – 65mph
- 125cc (shifter) – 80mph
- 175cc (direct drive) – 90mph
- 175cc (shifter) – 95mph
All of these are estimates, of course, based on there being optimal track conditions and the perfectly-fitted go-kart chassis with a great power-to-weight ratio.
When it comes to regular kart racing, it isn’t very often that you’ll be up at your top speed for consistent lengths of time. The very art of racecraft is messy and chaotic; you won’t be able to maintain that high level of speed while overtaking or defending from other drivers on the track.
Realistically, you will be able to achieve those speeds while practicing and pushing your engine to its limits, or setting times for a race while there’s clean air all about you and no other distractions.
And that isn’t even mentioning meddling factors like the weather!
Driving in the wet is always slower than driving in the dry, that’s a well-known fact. You have to use a different, slower racing line in order to keep traction. It’ll take everything you can do to stay on the track, let alone thinking about maxing out your power!
You should also consider the engine’s raw horsepower and various other specifications in order to pick the best chassis for to be affixed to. Most kart manufacturers will provide suggestions for the best engines to be used with a rolling set-up, so that will help in your decision tenfold to know if an X30 at any given displacement will be enough to power your chosen rig.
Generally speaking, all chassis will be constructed to very similar weight ratios and sizes and the like, so these sorts of choices will be like splitting hairs. Any given chassis made for your displacement of choice will be fine for an X30 to run, but it’s all about how much speed specifically it will be able to carry.
As an example, you will probably want to choose a chassis with 30mm moly tubing when picking a Junior restricted 125cc displacement X30 engine. Because it will be restricted off the bat, it won’t have the same immediate power levels as other 125ccs, so it will benefit from running a lighter chassis than average.
Those are just a few notable factors that will detract from and otherwise affect your potential top speed, so I always advise people to consider more than just how fast something can go at the top-line. Because realistically, you’ll rarely be racing with that level of power as it is.
Modifications And Tuning: Unlocking Potential?
One of the most exciting things about getting a new engine for your kart is the potential for improvement and personalization. Out of the box, all engines within a given displacement will be relatively the same. That is, until you start tuning and modifying it for your specific needs!
In terms of engines which offer a high level of customization, the X30 is pretty great. As with any given engine straight out of the box, its immediate displacement is always slightly underneath the numbers that you’ll see. As an example, the 125cc X30s start off at 123cc.
And that’s where tuning comes in!
It’s always recommended that you take your engine in for tune-ups after you’ve done some test laps and gotten used to your kart. Tuning it straight away without driving the kart it’s affixed to can net you some issues, such as putting immediate stress onto the component parts without first allowing it to run.
IAME accommodate for a lot of modification and tuning potential, to the point where its manual actually outlines how best to tune your specific X30.
You’re able to tune the X30, much like any other kart engine out there, in a few different ways. These can range from upgrading overall performance, netting better fuel consumption, tweaking a higher top speed, and many other things. I’d recommend that you take it to a mechanic in the know, however, before attempting the more finnicky things for yourself.
An easier thing you can do is to sand down the crankcase’s intake duct within your X30, as this will get rid of CNC imperfections from manufacture to allow for better engine airflow and therefore better combustion.
Beyond that, you’ll definitely want to take your engine to a tuning specialist. They can draw out the extra displacement that is somewhat missing, further improve your crankcase and much more besides to truly take your engine at the cutting edge of performance.
What Makes The X30 So Loved?
Truly, this mostly comes down to maintenance and more specifically, the ease of it. Combine this with how inexpensive an X30 engine package can be from brand-new, and the lower running costs it has as standard, and you’re onto a real winner with kart enthusiasts.
Looking at the X30 as an inexperienced mechanic might be a bit daunting, but for anybody with even a basic idea about how engines work, it’s simply a dream come true. You don’t need to be an expert to fix an X30, and because of that, kart racers have been saving a lot of money on mechanic fees when things go wrong.
However, compared to regular 2-stroke engines which are usually very maintenance-heavy, the X30 is very reliable. Anything that goes wrong is easily fixed.
Things like the power valve are non-existent in order to avoid a whole host of problems caused by inexperience. Maximum RPM is overall limited to 15,000; more than ample for power output yet not running too high in order to increase overall engine longevity.
Things like that have made kart enthusiasts start moving away from the more technically advanced engines over the years because sure, you can eek out some more speed and power from those engines, but they’re more of a liability than a benefit in most cases. Parts are more expensive, they’re more complicated to fix, and all of a sudden, you’re losing money as opposed to saving it.
And for what? A few extra miles per hour on the speedometer when you practice?
The X30, while not topping out horsepower or RPM charts, is a constant and highly satisfying engine to drive. It combines simplicity with raw performance, ease of maintenance with exciting modification potential… simply put, it’s a pretty amazing package.
An engine with many applications and so much scope for absolute enjoyment definitely deserves your time of day, even if you might find others out there which promise a higher top speed.
I hope that this article has illuminated this fact and covered as many angles as possible to give you the best picture of the X30 possible! Get out there and get looking for one!