The 5 Best Clutches for Go-Karts (With Buying Guide)

In this review, we’ll be taking a look at the best clutches for go-karts. I will review the best clutches and evaluate their build quality, material, type, application and specifications. There will also be a buying guide on go-kart clutches at the end of the review section where you can familiarize yourself with all the different elements of clutches.

Go-kart clutches are transmissions that are connected directly to the engine’s crankshaft. It’s a mechanical device that engages, once the engine reaches a certain speed (rpm). In this review, I’ll only consider centrifugal clutches, as they are by far the most common and affordable clutches for go-karts. There are also other types of racing clutches such as the hydraulic and electric clutch. Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

1. MoonSun Go-Kart Clutch

Clutch Features

  • For #35 chain compatibility
  • Recommended for 4 hp to 7 hp engine
  • 2300 ± 300 rpm engagement range

The MoonSun clutch is the best go-kart clutch in our list, as it offers the perfect ratio of build quality and affordability. It’s a great clutch for Briggs and Stratton, Tecumseh, Predator and other small to medium go-kart engines. This centrifugal clutch has a height of 55mm (2.17”) and a diameter of 107mm ( 4.21”). It fits any engine with a 3/4″ crankshaft and a 3/16″ keyway.

Generally speaking, it will support any engine with an output of about 4 to 7 hp. The MoonSun has an engagement range of 2300 ± 300 rpm and also includes a #35 roller chain. Additionally, you’ll also find two set screws that are included, which you don’t have to source separately.

Specification:

Bore Diameter: 3/4″
Clutch Height: 55mm (2.17″)
Clutch Diameter: 107mm (4.21″)
Sprocket Teeth: 12

Compatibility:

Required Chain Size: #35
Recommended Engine: 4 to 7 hp
Crankshaft Diameter: 3/4″
Engagement Range: 2300 ± 300 rpm

2. FDJ Go-Kart Clutch


Clutch Features

  • For #40/41/420 chain compatibility
  • Recommended for 2 hp to 7 hp engine
  • 2300 ± 300 rpm engagement range

The FDJ Clutch is another great entry into our list of best go-kart clutches. It’s made of wear-resistant steel, which is heavy-duty and is built to last.

This centrifugal clutch has an outside diameter of 4 3/4″ and a total height of 3”. This makes it very compact and suitable for small to medium go-kart engines. It’s available in 3 different variants featuring a 10, 11 or 12-tooth sprocket.

The FDJ Go-Kart Clutch is compatible with any go-kart engine from 2 to 7 hp, with a 3/4″ crankshaft and a 3/16” key. Overall, it’s a well-built go-kart clutch that is suitable for for a #40/41/420 chain. Please note that no set screws are included.

Specification:

Bore Diameter: 3/4″
Clutch Height: 3″
Clutch Diameter: 4 3/4″
Sprocket Teeth: 10, 11 or 12

Compatibility:

Required Chain Size: #40/41/420
Recommended Engine: 2 to 7 hp
Crankshaft Diameter: 3/4″
Engagement Range: 2300 ± 300 rpm

3. Trkimal Go-Kart Clutch


Clutch Features

  • For #35 chain compatibility
  • Recommended for 2 hp to 6.5 hp engine
  • 2000 ± 100 rpm engagement range

With either a 10, 11 or 12 sprocket configuration, the Trkimal Centrifugal Go-Kart Clutch is another great choice for karts that are powered by a 2 to 6.5 hp engine. It’s crafted from durable steel that is wear and heat-resistant.

All variations of this clutch are compatible with a #35 chain, which is not included. It also features an inner bore of 3/4″, meaning that it’s compatible with crankshafts that have a diameter of 3/4″ and a 3/16” keyway.

The clutch is 54.5mm (2.15”) in height and has an outer diameter of 107mm (4.21”), which also makes it small and compact. In terms of engagement speed, you should expect it to happen at around 2000 ± 100.

Specification:

Bore Diameter: 3/4″
Clutch Height: 54.5mm (2.15″)
Clutch Diameter: 107mm (4.21″)
Sprocket Teeth: 10, 11 or 12

Compatibility:

Required Chain Size: #35
Recommended Engine: 2 to 6.5 hp
Crankshaft Diameter: 3/4″
Engagement Range: 2000 ± 100 rpm

4. Auto Express Go-Kart Clutch


Clutch Features

  • For #35 chain compatibility
  • Recommended for 2 hp to 6 hp engine
  • 2200 ± 200 rpm engagement range

The Auto Express Go-Kart Clutch is made out of high-grade steel and is another great option for smaller sized go-kart engines. It’s a centrifugal dry clutch and only comes in one variant that has a 12-tooth sprocket.

With regards to compatibility, this go-kart clutch has a 3/4″ bore, which means that it fits any 3/4″ with a 3/16” keyway. The 12-tooth sprocket suits a #35 chain, which is not included. You can either source it yourself or hook it up to your go-kart immediately, if you have an existing roller chain.

The Auto Express Go-Kart Clutch is recommended for go-kart engines that have an output of around 2 to 6 hp. Once installed, the clutch has an engagement range of 2200 ± 200 rpm.

Specification:

Bore Diameter: 3/4″
Clutch Height: –
Clutch Diameter: –
Sprocket Teeth: 12

Compatibility:

Required Chain Size: #35
Recommended Engine: 2 to 6.5 hp
Crankshaft Diameter: 3/4″
Engagement Range: 2200 ± 200 rpm

5. Bravex Go-Kart Clutch


Clutch Features

  • For #35 chain compatibility
  • Recommended for 2 hp to 6.5 hp engine
  • 2300 ± 300 rpm engagement range

The final entry on our list of best go-kart clutches is from Bravex. The Bravex Go-Kart Clutch comes in a 10-tooth or 12-tooth sprocket configuration. The 10-tooth sprocket version is compatible with a #40/41/420 chain, while the 12-tooth sprocket is compatible with a #35 chain. However, the respective go-kart chain is not included.

This centrifugal go-kart clutch features a 3/4″ bore, fitting on a 3/4″ crankshaft with keyway that measures 3/16”. It’s suitable for go-kart engines that are around 3 to 6.5 hp and should have no more than 200cc. Overall, the build quality of the Bravex Go-Kart Clutch is great and promises a 50% longer lifetime, due to its high-impact and wear-resistant steel construction.

Specification:

Bore Diameter: 3/4″
Clutch Height: –
Clutch Diameter: –
Sprocket Teeth: 10 or 12

Compatibility:

Required Chain Size: #35 or #40/41/420 
Recommended Engine: 2 to 6.5 hp
Crankshaft Diameter: 3/4″
Engagement Range: 2300 ± 300 rpm

Buying Guide

To help with your purchase decision, I’ve created a buyer’s guide on go-kart clutches. This should also help you in understanding more about go-kart clutches and which one is most suitable for your go-kart. We’ll be taking a closer look at the application, engagement ranges, compatibility, gear ratio, material, components and price of go-kart clutches.

Application

As you should know, a centrifugal go-kart clutch is a type of transmission with a fixed gear ratio. A clutch will have an engagement rage of about 2,000 – 2,300 rpm. That means that when the crankshaft of the go-kart engine spins, which is at around 2,000 – 2,300 rpm the clutch starts to engage.

On the other hand, torque converters have a must lower engagement range. Please keep this in mind if you’re considering if a clutch is suitable for your go-kart setup. Clutches and torque converters each have their advantages, but it’s always best to understand which type of transmission is best suitable for your go-kart.

Clutches for Racing Go-Karts

As a go-kart clutch has a higher engagement range than a torque converter, they tend to have a much better application on racing go-karts. They give a much snappier response and do well at higher torque ranges. This is especially noticeable at higher speeds, and that’s also the reason why almost all racing go-karts use a racing clutch.

Professional go-karts with a larger go-kart engine often use multi-disk centrifugal clutches for maximum performance. However, for standart go-karts that are geared towards racing, a centrifugal clutch, as the ones in this list are sufficient. We’ll go more into detail on engagement ranges and compatibility further below.

Clutches for Homemade Go-Karts

Another great application for go-kart clutches is in homemade or custom go-karts that are geared towards racing. This is because they’re very inexpensive, especially in comparison to torque converters. If you expect to have a lot of stop-and-go scenarios or are planning to travel mostly at lower speeds, it may be best to opt for a torque converter instead.

Clutches for Off-Road Go-Karts

If you’re looking for a transmission replacement for an off-road go-kart and are thinking of using a clutch, you may want to reconsider. Off-road go-karts have the tendency to experience low to medium torque ranges instead of higher torque ranges. This happens usually at lower speeds, especially when climbing uneven terrain.

This makes a clutch an inefficient transmission for an off-road go-kart and also drastically reduces its lifespan as you’ll get a lot of clutch ‘slippage’. Slippage of a clutch happens when the go-kart clutch is not fully engaged. This will lead to the clutch burning and eventually wearing out.

Engagement Range

In the product reviews above, you would have noticed that an engagement range of a clutch is often indicated. The engagement range of a clutch indicates at what revolution per minute the crankshaft has to spin, before the inner components press against the drum and the clutch starts to engage.

A general reference is that go-kart clutches start to engage at about 2,000 – 2,300 rpm  and fully engage at about 2,600 rpm. Anything in between is not ideal, as the clutch is slipping.

It’s crucial to understand this range, as you’ll need to find a suitable clutch that’s suitable for your engine. Engagement ranges on each clutch is usually indicated like the following example, 2300 ± 300. This means that this particular go-kart clutch starts to engage at around 2,000 to 2,600 rpm.

Compatibility

You’ll also need to ensure that the clutch is suitable for your go-kart setup. Therefore, it’s best to ensure that it’s fully compatible with your engine’s output, crankshaft diameter and chain size. Please ensure that you check the clutch specifications thoroughly. 

Engine Output

When it comes to engine compatibility, you’ll notice that each go-kart clutch has a recommended engine output. If your go-kart engine is overpowered, it may cause excess wear on the clutch and it’s simply too small in size. An underpowered go-kart engine may never get your clutch fully engaged and can cause it to slip more than fully engaging.

It’s best to check each product’s actual description on the recommended engine output. From a general point of view, the average recommended output range of the engine for these clutches is between 2 – 7 hp.

Given that the specifications are met, a go-kart clutch should fit any small to medium go-kart engine. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of engines that these go-kart clutches are compatible with:

  • Honda (GX160 GX200 GX140 GX120 GC160 GC190, GX200)
  • Harbour Freight (Greyhound 196cc & Predator 212cc)
  • Briggs and Stratton (All models with an output between 2 to 7 hp)
  • Titan (All models with an output between 2 to 7 hp)
  • Tecumseh (All models with an output between 2 to 7 hp)
  • And more…

Crankshaft

Most go-kart clutches that are suitable for smaller and homemade go-karts usually have a bore diameter of 3/4″. If you’re wondering what a bore is, it’s the opening in the center of the clutch where the crankshaft goes through.

Consequently, if the bore diameter is 3/4″, that also means that the crankshaft has to be 3/4″ in diameter in order for a perfect fit. This type of crankshafts also have a corresponding keyway that measures 3/16”. Before you decide on which clutch to purchase, ensure that your crankshaft and keyway are compatible.

Chain

A go-kart clutch is connected to the rear sprocket via a roller chain (or ‘chain’ in short). Go-kart chains come in different sizes and the size requirements depend on the size of your rear sprocket and clutch sprocket.

Always ensure that the clutch sprocket and the rear sprocket require the same chain size. You’ll see that in most cases, go-kart clutches are compatible with a #35 chain or #40/41/420 chains. The #35 is smaller and also used in bicycles.

The chain size does not necessarily correlate with the number of teeth on a sprocket, so please read the product descriptions carefully to ensure compatibility. For more on go-kart chains, check out the go-kart chain size chart.

Gear Ratio

You’ll always want to ensure that you have the ideal gear ratio for your go-kart. The gear ratio is calculated by dividing the number of teeth on the rear sprocket by the number of teeth on the clutch sprocket.

For example, if you have a 10-tooth clutch sprocket and a 60-tooth rear sprocket, the gear ratio is 6:1. Sometimes this value is also expressed as a single digit: 6.

One thing you have to remember is that the smaller the gear ratio, the faster the go-kart will go. However, that also means that more stress will be applied on all the respective parts. As a general reference, a safe ratio to strive for is 6:1. You can always change your gear ratio by changing the sprockets accordingly.

Material

A go-kart clutch is made of high-grade steel that is designed to be heavy-duty and long lasting. It must withstand the strain and heat that is caused by friction, once the clutch engages.

There are also inner parts, such as the arrestor spring, bushing and friction shoes, which are also made of steel.

Components

There are several things that you should look out for when buying a go-kart clutch. You should always make sure that you account for all the relevant parts that are required to install your clutch. Certain clutches don’t include all necessary parts and you’ll need to source some of them separately if they’re not included.

Here is a short list of all parts that are required in order to install a go-kart clutch. If you have some of these parts lying around, you can simply reuse them. However, if you don’t you’ll need to consider buying a go-kart clutch kit or purchase the missing parts separately.

  • 1x Clutch
  • 1x Chain
  • 1x Keyway
  • 2 – 3 x Set screws (depending on clutch)
  • 1 x Set of tools

Price

The price range for a standard go-kart clutch is about $25 to $50, depending on the number of components that are included. Clutches that usually don’t contain any go-kart chain are more expensive and clutches that come without any additional components are priced at the lower end of the range.

Frequently Asked Questions

As you and other readers may have some questions that go beyond the buying guide, I’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions on buying go-kart clutches. If you have questions that are not on this list, please feel free to leave a comment and I will address it, as best I can.

What Type of Go-Karts Are Clutches Compatible With?

Technically speaking, you can install a clutch on any type of go-kart, given that your engine, crankshaft and chain are compatible. However, go-kart clutches only really make sense if you use your go-kart at higher speeds, as it performs much better at high torque ranges.

On that other hand, at lower torque ranges, you tend to damage a clutch instead. Go-kart clutches are also a transmission with a fixed gear ratio, therefore it won’t be able to optimally handle various types of loads as well as a torque converter does. However, they’re perfect for go-kart racing.

Go-kart clutches work best on these types of go-karts:

  • Racing Go-Kart
  • Homemade Go-Karts

Do I Need to Oil a Go-Kart Clutch?

Go-kart clutches require a certain amount of maintenance. Besides checking the condition of your clutch from time to time, it’s also important to keep it properly oiled.

You should always make sure that your go-kart clutch is oiled at all times, as failing to do so can cause the clutch to not disengage properly. This can happen when heat damage occurs. If that happens, it will drastically reduce the lifespan of your clutch.

You should apply oil to the top of the snap ring, which is located just off the clutch sprocket. Never oil the large ventilation holes on the drum. This will cause your clutch to not engage properly anymore. For more information, you can check out this video.

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