[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_custom_headline level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”false”]Buying a Kart[/x_custom_headline][cs_text]The following pertains to Enduro karts, however, most of what applies to enduros also applies to all karts.

There are two basic methods of buying a used racing kart. One — and the one I highly recommend — is to buy an entire, ready-to-race kart from someone who is getting out of karting. Two, you can buy what you need basically a piece at a time.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Here’s our two cents worth on the subject:

It has been my observation over the years that most used karts sold today are previously used karts that someone bought to get into karting to see if they like the sport. They weren’t sure they’d like the sport and wanted to just spend the minimum before diving in with a full checkbook.

Once they’ve fallen in love with it, which the vast majority of those who try it do, they usually want to part with their “beginner” equipment — which usually wasn’t state of the art — and get something they believe will make them instantly competitive. This usually occurs at the end of the first or second season.

Sadly, they rarely become anymore competitive with the newer, more expensive equipment than they were with the older, all other things being equal. Oh sure, there are some advantages to the newer, high-dollar equipment. It is less likely to be worn out for one; for another, the newer equipment will give the driver a greater sense of security and comfort with his/her own driving abilities. But most of the great leaps forward a driver will make in getting quicker doesn’t necessarily come from the equipment; in almost every instance, it’s from becoming a better driver and a better tuner.

Still, this gives you, the entry-level karter, great opportunities to pick up competitive equipment for what amounts to a song.

So what happens when you buy a roller? First, you’ll need to buy the other parts that will enable you to race. Let’s say you find a great enduro roller — straight frame, full bodywork, seat, tires and wheels, sometimes a clutch — for, and these are not accurate examples,say, $1,200. (For comparison, a new, bare frame will set you back around $800-$900.) So $1,200 for a roller is a pretty good price. You can find them cheaper and you can find them more expensive. It’s been my experience that you almost always get what you pay for. So be a smart shopper.

To the base roller price add: $350-$800 for a motor (again, getting what you pay for and you should ideally have two motors). Exhaust: $80 – $150 (header, flex, pipe and mount). Gauge: $150+. Clutch: $350 (used) – $650 (new). Starter: $150+. Kart stand: $35. Push stick: $25. New tires: $150. Helmet: $250+. Suit: $200. Gloves: $25. Shoes (sneakers will suffice): $60.

Now, you’re up to $1,200 for the roller and at least $1,100 for all the other stuff for a minimum total of $2,300. Only you can decide if that’s a better deal than buying a complete setup, usually from someone getting out of karting. Someone getting out of karting is usually a very motivated seller and I’ve seen deals for everything — engines, extra parts, etc. — for as low as $500 and as high as $5,000. Both were great bargains.

Another thing: Don’t take lightly the time it takes to put a roller kart together. For example, if you have to mount new bodywork, as almost any experienced karter will tell you, will take days, not just a few hours. (Yes, it looks real simple and easy.) With a nose and two side panels for enduros costing around $250, plus the minimum 10-20 hours it always seems to take to fit them properly … well, you do the math.

Also consider the time it takes to mount, for example, an exhaust system. Unless you start out in the piston port can class (where you simply bolt the muffler-with-header onto the motor), you’re going to have to fabricate a method of mounting your exhaust system to the kart. What’s your time worth? And the parts you’ll have to buy?

The second method — that of buying a complete kart — is by far the most advantageous and attractive to the beginner karter, despite its almost always much higher price initially. That’s because you almost always ultimately will get a better deal money-wise, and the kart is already assembled. And usually, if the seller is getting out of karting, he or she is looking to unload everything they’ve got karting-wise for a one price deal.

When buying the complete setup, look to acquire the kart, engine(s), pipes, extra headers (used ones are about $20 apiece), extra gears (used ones are about $20 apiece, new ones are $30-$50), clutch oil, clutch adjusting tools, 2-stroke engine oil (it’s around $4.50 a quart at kart shops), extra brake pads, pipe mounts, axle clamps, air filters, fuel filters, spares, spares, spares. If you don’t have these, you’ll need them eventually and $10 here and $20 there starts to add up real quickly.

If you’re buying a kart from someone who is moving up to newer equipment, you’re not in as good a bargaining position as you would be with someone selling to get out of karting. He or she most likely is interested only in selling the kart, sometimes with motor and clutch, etc., sometimes without. Still, there are advantages to this also. Most often, this seller is someone you’re going to be seeing regularly at the track and with human consciences being what they are, this seller is more likely to be more honest. Having said that, I must say that karters as a group are the most trustworthy and honest folks I’ve ever met.

Some specific things to look for when buying any used kart:

The kart should be clean, neat, well assembled and apparently well cared for. If it’s dirty with cracked fiberglass and rust everywhere, shy away from it. If the seller doesn’t care enough about it to keep it in good shape, why would you want to put your rear end in something that might fall apart at 100 mph? There are lots of karts for sale. Find a good one.

Inspect the frame closely for cracks or rewelding. A painted frame sometimes makes finding cracks more difficult than an unpainted frame. A cracked frame that has been rewelded properly is more than likely okay, and no reason to shy away from an otherwise smart deal. Few kart frames won’t have been cracked at some time or other. Look for cracks around the spindles, rear axle bearing mounts and especially around the engine mount tubes. Check seat mounts for cracking or broken welds also.

If the welding was sloppily done, shy away from that one also. Don’t waste your time on one that has been hastily or badly repaired.

Check the frame for straightness by measuring the diagonals… from the left front spindle, for example, to the right rear axle bearing mount. Measure the other diagonal. They should be within 0.125-0.25 inches of each other. If the measurement is greater than that, the frame is warped. Go look for another kart. (Some warped or bent frames can be straightened so don’t pass up an otherwise good deal because of it, especially if it’s not warped badly. Use the information as a bargaining chip.)

Roll the kart back and forth on pavement. It should roll freely and easily.

Check the spindles and/or check the toe-in alignment. Spindles should look the same both left and right. Spindle bearings should not be binding. Steering should be without binding.

Don’t be turned off by an unpainted frame. Many karters don’t paint their frames. One, unpainted frames make cracks easier to see; two, it takes longer to get a painted one from the factory; three, a painted frame is slightly heavier (you’ll find in karting that less weight is a good thing).

When buying a used 2-stroke engine, there are an incredible number of variables to look for. The best advice is to ask around about the seller and his/her engines. Second, if in doubt, ask to take the motor to an independent motor builder for an appraisal.

Ask for the current piston size (it should be visible on the piston crown and you can sometimes see it by taking out the spark plug and looking into the combustion chamger), how many hours on the top end, how many hours on the bottom end.

The Yamaha KT-100S 100cc kart motor is the most common 2-stroke in karting in the U.S. and the type of 2-cycle motors most first-time enduro karters are likely to encounter. A new one, in the box, will cost about $650. Yamahas have been almost my total experience so here’s what I’d look for:

Pistons, which start at 51.97mm in a new Yamaha, are available for the Yamaha all the way to 52.75mm. Just about every time you have the engine rebuilt, a slightly larger piston will be fitted (a rebuild includes honing the cylinder and fitting a new piston and various other small parts). Even after you’ve reached the largest piston size, if the rest of the engine is okay, you can simply buy a new cylinder (about $220) and start over. One knowledgeable kart shop owner and engine builder recommends not buying an engine whose piston is 52.50 or greater; however, some Yamahas have been known to have been bored out new to a 52.40 piston size.

A top-end rebuild (new piston, ring, wrist pin, top-end bearing, hone and fit) should cost around $125-$200. A bottom-end rebuild (disassemble the crank, fit new bearings and rod, reassemble) usually done in conjunction with a top-end rebuild will cost around $320. Some karters do their own engine work; most will use the services of a professional engine builder.

Other engine things to look for: No cracked fins on either the head or the cylinder. Look closely at the TCI (electronic ignition module) to see if the mounting tangs are about to crack (you have to buy a new TCI then and they are $130). A TCI holddown is an added feature; if the engine you buy doesn’t have one, add one yourself (they’re not expensive, around $10).

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