The 4 Best Simple Go-Karts For Beginners (Ultimate List)

Choosing the right go-kart as a beginner can be a daunting prospect, as there are so many brands and options out there. However, if you want the best start to your karting career regardless of how far you want to take it, you need to become aware of the best go-karts for beginners.

The 4 best simple go-karts for beginners are:

  1. CRG Heron
  2. Birel RY30
  3. Top Kart SR30.1
  4. Kart Republic KR2

Below, we go through each of these karts in more detail to help you decide which one is best for you. Then, we’ll discuss the maintenance and safety requirements that all go-kart beginners should be aware of, before discussing how to budget for a karting season.

Someone driving a CRG racing go-kart on a track around a corner with red and white kerbs next to them and another kart driver behind them, The Best Simple Go-Karts For Beginners

The 4 Best Simple Go-Karts For Beginners

1. CRG Heron

When you start karting as an adult, the best engine classification is the well-rounded 100cc variation. It’ll give you both a satisfying power output and manageable handling when compared to the slightly beefier 125cc, so it’s ideal for new go-karters.

CRG definitely had this fact in mind when they made their Heron chassis, between its lightweight 30 mm tubing and user-friendly ability to modify the kart any which way the owner pleases.

Great Choice For Beginners

By definition, go-karts are pretty simple yet powerful bits of kit, but some manufacturers do a better job of making them easier to work with than others. CRG is one such company who wanted to introduce a kart that was ideal for those of us just getting started in the karting world.

Not only does this bad boy look awesome with its racing orange and black color scheme, but it’s outfitted with great tech to make driving it an absolute breeze.

It isn’t exactly a light piece of kit, due to CRG choosing to implement cast-iron braking systems, but the stopping power that’s afforded by this choice is immense. You can feel safe knowing that you can stop on a dime if ever you feel uncomfortable while practicing, and as you become bolder, you can experiment with braking later into corners for great lap times.

Self-Adjusting Brakes

Another great part of the brakes on this kart is the fact that they’re self-adjusting, so you won’t be stressing out at the track trying to adjust the brakes if they don’t feel quite right. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re above being maintained, but there’ll just be one less thing to worry about.

The brakes will adjust with the correct pressure required depending on driving input, and if they’re overheating, the ventilated brake discs make it easier for them to cool off. Almost every part on this rig has a quick release function, allowing for easier maintenance and part replacements. Easy to drive and even easier to look after – what’s not to love?

The bodywork is aerodynamic and helps with the kart’s cooling systems in order to deliver consistent speeds and longer drive times. In short, you’ll have more time to drive and improve when you don’t have to make stops to cool off your brakes and radiator! And with the engine being in the 100cc category, you’ll have a wide variety to choose from.

Engine Choices

For TaG racing series, CRG recommends the X30 (with restrictions), ICA, JICA, HPV and Yamaha engines. Like every other racing classification, the brackets are broken up into which engine type you’re running.

So, for example, if you pick an ICA engine for your rig, you’ll be entered to race in TaG ICA races. Because of this, make sure to do plenty of research into what engines are being run at your track specifically so you can choose accordingly. It’ll suck if you nab a Yamaha engine and you realize that nobody is racing with them!

2. Birel RY30

One of the nation’s favorite manufacturers, Birel have always been a competitive karting brand. They’re very widespread and so you can almost always find people running these rigs.

Tried and tested over many years, the RY30 in all its iterations is a solid first rig for any beginner driver. Its lightweight chassis makes it perfect for both adults and teens, so if you have any kids around the age of 15, you can get double usage out of this choice.

Ideal For Beginners

As with the CRG Heron mentioned above, this kart runs best with 100cc engines, which are perfect for people learning how to drive karts. They have solid power outputs without feeling too lively or out of control, something that’s very important for new drivers.

The Birel is very lightweight and easily adjustable in a lot of ways, which is all part of what makes it a favored rig for many go-karters up and down the United States. You can transport it easily without fear of pulling a muscle, which is always a bonus, because you need to be considering how exactly you’ll be getting to practice or race sessions.

A Widespread Brand

Probably what makes it my recommended option above some of the others is the high representation of Birel as a brand at go-kart tracks. Because they’re very competitive and care deeply for racing, you can often find a representative from the company – an essential point of contact for spare parts or any repairs advice, plus any other useful tidbits of info about tuning and the like.

However, the price isn’t exactly the cheapest on this list of karts, and although you can easily find used chassis for far cheaper to save some cash, it might not be ideal for those on tighter budgets.

Big Fuel Tank

In terms of kart features, the Birel comes with a sizeable fuel tank as standard. Most tanks top out at 8 liters, which is perfectly fine and will handle fuel for races without more than one top-up necessary, but the RY30 has a 10 liter fuel tank. That extra bit of fuel can be pretty handy if you want to run for longer on practice laps.

The 30 mm tubing gives the chassis a little bit of flex, which might sound alarming at first. However, it simply means that the tubing is lighter than its 32 mm counterpart and, overall, you’ll have an edge in handling when compared to the stiffer tubing out there.

Engines are yet again a personal preference, and you can select between any of the standard 100cc varieties, such as X30 and ICA, provided they fit with TaG specifications. It’ll not only make the kart easier to run with its touch-start, but you’ll also have a better time finding races.

3. Top Kart SR30.1

Another favorite kart brand in America, Top Kart have been outputting different karts to meet all kinds of needs for consumers for many, many years. One of the very nice features of this kart that sets it apart from the others in the list is definitely its flexibility in choice of engine, being able to run both 100cc and 125cc varieties.

You can use 100cc engines until you feel comfortable in your skills and either look at having it unrestricted to run at 125cc, or you can buy a new 125cc engine instead. The choice remains with you on that front of course, but it really is nice to have such a choice to begin with.

Not Just For Beginners

Top Kart boasts of this kart being easy and manageable for all go-kart drivers, from beginner to advanced, which means that it can truly evolve along with you as you become more confident in your abilities.

Made with 30 mm tubing, this chassis allows for more flex while you’re racing and will improve your handling and therefore offer better control over the kart.

Great Braking System

It also comes with an impressive floating brake system, which means that the whole setup is far lighter than a lot of other types due to it involving one piston instead of multiple. This isn’t to say that the brakes are better or worse, but you certainly benefit from them being lighter overall to add to this rig’s manageable weight.

Another handy feature that comes with this specific kart is in the adjustable torsion bars. You are able to easily adjust the stiffness of this suspension to your personal preference, whether you want the ride to feel firmer (stiffer suspension setting) or softer (looser suspension setting). When getting started, the former is preferable because it’ll teach you to feel the track beneath you far better.

Which Engine To Choose?

You have quite the choice to make when picking out an engine for this rig. I would suggest choosing a 125cc engine and having it restricted to 100cc for you to start with, meaning you can get used to driving first before uncapping your engine’s full potential.

As such, you’ll be looking for X30 (unrestricted), X125T and Vortex Rok engines. If you don’t feel comfortable with this option (they are a bit pricier than 100cc), you can just as easily pick out a 100cc variation and race with that to your heart’s content!

You can later tune it to 125cc or simply keep the 100cc if you’re comfortable with it and you want to practice and keep things casual. Before buying, check in with your local tracks and see what classification people are using more often. This will help in your decision as you really don’t want to be the odd one out, as you’ll miss out on invaluable help, spare parts, and extra hints and tips.

4. Kart Republic KR2

Now it’s time for something a little different! The KR2 chassis from Kart Republic might seem a little unconventional as somebody’s first kart when you look into the manufacturer’s background as a primarily race-specific company, but this model combines simplicity with competitiveness.

Unlike the other karts on this list, the brand recommends you run the KR2 with a 125cc engine specifically, which can be pretty intimidating for beginner go-karters. However, with proper care and a slow progression, this engine really isn’t very different to the 100cc varieties that I’ve covered so far.

Ideal For Aspiring Racers

It has a higher top-end speed, but at lower speeds it handles much the same. If you’re a beginner in the karting world with goals of getting into racing earlier than most, this chassis is ideal for you.

One of the nice features of this kart is the implementation of two different types of tubing. 30 mm and 32 mm are used together to create a flexible yet sturdy chassis, keeping the kart in one piece when you spin into the barriers and also giving you great handling to ideally avoid going into the barriers in the first place!

A Fairly Heavy Kart

Although the build is lightweight and therefore easier to transport than a lot of different rigs, it weighs in heavier than a couple of the other karts on this list, but it’s not so heavy that it becomes incredibly difficult to transport.

The extra weight comes from the rear chassis having 32 mm tubing, which allows the kart to sit better on the track and gain more traction compared to some of the other complete 30 mm rigs out there.

The KR2 also has an adjustable wheel base, which is a nice touch that allows you to lengthen or shorten it depending on your preferences. A longer wheelbase will give you more grip but slow you down a little, whereas a slightly shorter wheelbase will let you achieve a slightly higher speed at the cost of grip in the corners.

Good For All Experience Levels

With this and various other adjustable features for driver comfort, such as an adjustable footrest and a steering wheel designed to remain grippy in all weather, the kart is a solid choice for all levels of driver ability.

As I mentioned before, this kart only runs with 125cc engines, largely due to the somewhat heavier 32 mm tubing requiring more of an ‘oomph’ for consistent speeds to be reached. Your typical choices will be either an X30 (unrestricted), X125T or Vortex Rok if you want to compete within TaG with a touch-start engine.

Best For TaG Karting

This kart is also very competitive in the Rotax race series, but I wouldn’t recommend it for beginner drivers. The engines that Rotax make are rather complex to say the least, whereas TaG-specified engines are easier to fix and maintain overall.

I might sound like a broken record by now, but take some time to check out your local karting scene to see which engines are the most common and which ones have dealerships nearby where possible.

How Much Maintenance Does A Simple Go-Kart Need?

Taking care of go-karts is much the same in single-speed classifications, which I’d absolutely recommend as your first ever kart and in general for beginners. Go-karts are sturdy, amazing creations, but owning one isn’t as easy as keeping it dry during rainfall and bringing it out for practice whenever you feel like!

Depending on how often you use the kart, your specific maintenance routine will vary. As long as you make a routine of checking things over, it’ll become like second nature rather than a chore. If you’re going to be the mechanic for your kart, I’d really recommend keeping the kart and engine manuals close at hand so you can read up on exactly what the manufacturers recommend, because it’ll differ slightly per model.

A basic maintenance routine for a simple go-kart is as follows:

  • Change the oil – Every 40 hours, more often on race weekends.
  • Inspect and clean the spark plug every week or so – Remove the electrodes and clean them thoroughly, use graphite grease when putting it together. Replace the spark plug every year.
  • Tire management – Keep an eye on the treads of your tires and always keep three or four spare sets minimum.
  • Check brake pads & discs – Keep two or three extra sets of brake pads to replace them when they’ve worn down.
  • Bleed the brakes – Do this every other week, or more frequently if you notice the brakes losing their responsiveness.

Safety Gear For Beginner Go-Karters

Below is a pretty definitive list of safety gear you’ll need as a beginner go-kart driver:

  • SNELL-approved crash helmet
  • Race gloves
  • High-top race boots
  • Neck brace (optional)
  • Rib protector (optional)
  • Race suit
  • Waterproof over-suit

Budgeting For Go-Karting

Spare Parts: $500 – $2,000 / Year

Think of everything from engine parts to spare bodywork. It’s a wise idea to have something spare for every component of your kart.

Race Gear: $200 – $1,000 / Year

This will depend heavily on whether you buy second-hand or brand-new. To save some cash and be on the lower end of the pricing scale, I’d recommend buying your suit, gloves, boots, rib protector and general gear second-hand (as long as it’s good as new and in one piece), whereas your SNELL-approved helmet should always be new.

Track Membership & Race Fees: $200 – $800 / Year

This varies depending on your area and local tracks. If you aren’t looking to race, practice sessions will be cheaper. If you go less frequently, you’re looking at the lower end of this estimate. Races and organized events are more expensive.

Maintenance Tools: $50 – $300

You need at least a set of metric wrenches to get a grounding for your kart toolbox. Everything else will be kart specific.

Kart Chassis: $1,000 – $6,000

This depends very much on which brand you choose, and whether you buy used or new. You need to be picky when buying used, with the chassis not bent out of shape in any way.

Kart Engines: $500 – $4,000

This varies depending on the manufacturer and whether you’re buying used or new. Used engines are always a gamble, so I’d recommend you try to buy new where possible, or become very good at reconstructing them so you can repair a used one.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of beginner karts to choose from, whether you want to simply experience the joys of karting at a steady pace or you’re getting ready for races. The best simple go-kart for beginners overall is the CRG Heron, thanks to its ease of use and decent level of competitiveness.