DuroMax XP7HPE
  • 7 hp
  • 212 cc
Best Value

Honda GX160
  • 5.5 hp
  • 163 cc
Premium Pick

Predator 6.5 HP
  • 6.5 hp
  • 212 cc
Most Affordable

10 Best Go-Kart Racing Engines in 2020

The engine is often considered the heart of a go-kart. It’s arguably the most essential component of any go-kart and without it you won’t be able to drive. If you are planning on replacing your existing go-kart engine with an upgraded engine or if you are looking to build your own go-kart and are deciding to install a new engine, you’ve come to the right place!

Keep in mind that there is a wide variety of engines that can be used for go-karting and in this review list we’ll be comparing the best petrol engines for go-karts. You’ll typically see four-stroke or two-stroke engines that have an output of around 3.5 to 20 hp, depending on the type of go-kart it’s meant for. These engines will have an air cooling system, overhead valve, vertical shaft, and various other features.

Best Go-Kart Racing Engine Reviews

As there are plenty of engines on the market and each engine having a unique set features and specifications, it’s important to understand why some engines may be more suitable of your go-kart than others. The engine reviews in this article will focus on the cost-to-performance ratio, features and build quality.

These aspects should give you the necessary information to make an informed purchase decision. To summarize, the 10 best engines for go-karts are as follows:

List of Best Go-Kart Racing Engines

  1. DuroMax XP7HP (Score: 98%) – Read Review
  2. Titan TX200 (Score: 97%) – Read Review
  3. Lifan LF 168F-2BDQ (Score: 97%) – Read Review
  4. Briggs and Stratton 550 Series (Score: 95%) – Read Review
  5. DuroMax XP16HPE (Score: 95%) – Read Review
  6. Predator 6.5 HP (Score: 94%) – Read Review
  7. AlphaWorks 7HP (Score: 92%) – Read Review
  8. Honda GX160 (Score: 90%) – Read Review
  9. XtremepowerUS 7HP (Score: 88%) – Read Review
  10. Briggs and Stratton CR950 (Score: 87%) – Read Review

1

DuroMax XP7HPE

  • EPA & CARB Compliant
  • 7 hp at 3,600 rpm
  • Fuel-efficient engine
  • Clear valve cover

Max Output
7 hp

Displacement
212 cc

Type
4-Stroke OHV

Fuel Capacity
1 gallon

Dimensions
17.3″ x 16.7″ x 17.12″

Weight
46 lbs

The DuroMax XP7HPE takes the number one spot in our list of best go-kart racing engines, as it features the best cost-to-performance ratio and is equipped with a lot of high-quality features. It’s a 4-stroke overhead valve engine that has a maximum output of 7 hp at 3,600 rpm. This DuroMax engine features full EPA and CARB compliance which means that it’s suitable for operation in all 50 states.

It’s also very fuel efficient. Combined with a 1 gallon fuel tank and a consumption rate of a quarter gallons of fuel per our (at half load), it can run for about 4 hours before it requires any refuelling. This makes it ideal for go-kart racing.

The engine runs on 87 octane rated fuel (or better) and features a max torque of 9.7 ft/lb or 13.2 Nm. A special feature of this engine is that has a clear valve cover that allows you to see the pistons while in operation. Overall, the DuroMax XP7HPE is extremely high in quality with exceptional performance. In essence, it’s the perfect engine for go-karts!

Criteria Rating

Cost-to-Performance 100%
Features 95%
Build Quality 100%

Overall Rating

98%

AWESOME!

2

Titan TX200

  • Throttle-ready
  • Splash lubrication system
  • Impressive performance
  • Made for motorsports

Max Output
6.5 hp

Displacement
196 cc

Type
4-Stroke OHV

Fuel Capacity
0.82 gallons

Dimensions
12.6″ x 14.8″ x 13.6″

Weight
35 lbs

The Titan TX200 is also an excellent go-kart engine, regardless if you are replacing an existing motor or building your own go-kart. The reason this engine if great is because it’s equipped with a recoil start and is throttle cable ready. This means that hooking up throttle cables for your go kart is a breeze with this engine. 

At 6.5 hp, the Titan TX200 gives your kart great performance for a mid-range engine. Additional features include a splash lubrication system, a dual element air cleaner and a Transistorized Magneto Ignition (TCI) system. It also features a carburetor with a butterfly valve, that allows the reduction of air intake in, order to allow more fuel to enter the 4-stroke single cylinder that helps with cold engine starts.  

The engine is extremely well-built and designed for motorsport vehicles such as go-karts. For a 6.5 hp engine and with at 2,500 rpm it has a torque rating of 9.1 ft/lb or 12.4 Nm, which is impressive. This justifies the TX200’s high cost-to-performance rating and it’s one of the top contenders for best go-kart engines. 

Criteria Rating

Cost-to-Performance 100%
Features 95%
Build Quality 95%

Overall Rating

97%

AWESOME!

3

Lifan LF 168F-2BDQ

  • Automatic shut down protection
  • Electric start ignition
  • 1600 hour engine
  • Fuel efficient

Max Output
6.5 hp

Displacement
196 cc

Type
4-Stroke OHV

Fuel Capacity
0.95 gallons

Dimensions
17″ x 16″ x 17″

Weight
43 lbs

The Lifan LF 168F-2BDQ takes the third spot in our list of best engines for go-kart racing. The industrial-grade OHV 4-stroke gasoline engine with .75″ keyway shaft is rated with high-efficiency, great power and impressive durability. Lifan markets the LF168 variants as true 1600 hour engines. It also features a compression release for E-Z starting and has the ability to automatically shut down in case of low il to protect the engine’s working efficiency.

Moreover, this go-karting engine has an electric start ignition that allows for easy starting of the engine without the need of a pull cord. The cast-iron cylinder sleeve and automotive-grade parts make this engine not only very durable and also long-lasting. it’s very efficient as compared to other engines of its kind.

The fuel tank capacity of 0.95 gallons allows you to run your kart for longer periods without the need of frequent refueling. In short, if you are a go-kart racer in need of a high-quality racing engine you should definitely consider this 196 cc marvel.

Criteria Rating

Cost-to-Performance 95%
Features 100%
Build Quality 95%

Overall Rating

97%

AWESOME!

4

Briggs and Stratton 550 Series

  • Great size-to-performance ratio
  • Dual element air cleaner
  • Fuel-efficient engine
  • Splash lubrication system

Max Output
3.5 hp

Displacement
127 cc

Type
4-Stroke OHV

Fuel Capacity
0.42 gallons

Dimensions
10.3″ x 13.7″ x 12.9″

Weight
28.7 lbs

The Briggs and Stratton 550 Series is another great go-kart racing engine, due to its high-efficiency and excellent build quality. This engine features overhead valve technology, which allows for a more compact design and greater fuel efficiency. This technology enables the engine the quality of running efficiently without heating up too much.

The single-cylinder 4-stroke engine meets the compliance requirements to operate in all 50 states.  It has a DuraLube™ Splash Lubrication System which keeps the 550 Series running smoothly. The Dura-Bore™ cast iron cylinder sleeve keeps the engine well protected and safe from wear and tear, thus rendering it a longer life.

One very important feature that makes this engine great for go-kart racing is it has a great size-to-performance ratio. Due to its compact size, it fits on nearly all types of go-karts. Additionally, the Magnetron electronic ignition system allows you to start the engine with a simple push of a button.

Criteria Rating

Cost-to-Performance 95%
Features 90%
Build Quality 100%

Overall Rating

95%

AWESOME!

5

DuroMax XP16HPE

  • EPA & CARB Compliant
  • Efficient 16 hp engine
  • For high-performance racing
  • Clear valve cover

Max Output
16 hp

Displacement
420 cc

Type
4-Stroke OHV

Fuel Capacity
1.75 gallons

Dimensions
20.5″ x 22″ x 18.5″

Weight
77 lbs

The DuroMax XP16HPE has a whopping 16 hp and is a beast of a go-kart racing engine. This is due to the high-performance nature and features that this engine has to offer. It also runs very efficiently and is made of high-quality parts, as it is an EPA and CARB certified engine. This high-performance motor has a 4-stroke OHV system that outputs a maximum of 16-horsepower at 3,600 rpm, making it a very powerful go-karting engine that is capable of high-speed racing  conditions.

Moreover, it’s equipped with a reliable air cleaning system that prevents dirt, dust and other foreign elements from hindering its smooth running. One very interesting feature of the cleaning system is that you can adjust it to operate it on varying conditions like semi-dry, oil bath or dual.

To conclude, the Duromax XP16HPE is a high-performance go-kart racing engine that is, durable and efficient for all types of races, particularly for races. This engine may not be suitable for your if you’re looking to build an entry-level go-kart or are replacing your existing engine with a small or mid-range kart engine.

Criteria Rating

Cost-to-Performance 90%
Features 95%
Build Quality 100%

Overall Rating

95%

AWESOME!

6

Predator 6.5 HP

  • For beginner & intermediate karts
  • Long lasting cast iron cylinder
  • Auto-shutdown function

Max Output
6.5 hp

Displacement
212 cc

Type
4-Stroke OHV

Fuel Capacity
0.9 gallons

Dimensions
15.4″ x 12.6″ x 13.6″

Weight
37.5 lbs

The Predator 6.5 HP is another great engine that is ideal for go-karts. Like most engines on this list, the Predator engine features an overhead valve system that is designed to be fuel-efficient. It’s also known to have a high degree of durability, smooth performance, and a good tolerance for extreme conditions.

The engine is designed with a horizontal shaft that has been mounted on a ball bearing. It’s build quality is also decent, as it’s manufactured with durable and long-lasting cast iron cylinder that protects it from wear and tear. This makes it ideal for all types of weather conditions.

Additionally, it has an auto-shutdown sensor for low oil situations. This prevents the engine from operating when it’s low on oil, which otherwise can damage the engine’s working efficiency. The starting and operation controls of the engine have been designed to be very user-friendly making it suitable for use for beginner and intermediate go-karts. 

Criteria Rating

Cost-to-Performance 90%
Features 95%
Build Quality 95%

Overall Rating

94%

AWESOME!

7

AlphaWorks 7HP

  • CARB & EPA certified
  • Transistorized Magneto Ignition (TCI)
  • 8.85 ft/lb or 12.4 Nm @ 2,500 rpm
  • Automated engine shut-off function

Max Output
7 hp

Displacement
209 cc

Type
4-Stroke OHV

Fuel Capacity
0.7 gallons

Dimensions
16.6″ x 15.8″ x 14.5″

Weight
32.6 lbs

The AlphaWorks 7HP has a displacement of 209 cc and a maximum output of 7 hp, as its name suggests. The engine is manufactured to OSHA/ISO regulation and is also CARB and EPA certified.

It’s equipped with a Transistorized Magneto Ignition (TCI) system and the forced air-cooled system ensures that the engine is kept at optimal running temperature for go-kart racing. It’s also recommended to let the engine run on 87+ unleaded fuel with a higher than 10% amount of ethanol for optimal performance.

This engine is optimal for go-kart racing, as it has a horizontal cylinder configuration with a 4-stroke OHV. At 2,500 rpm it has a torque rating of 8.85 ft/lb or 12.4 Nm, which is good. Additionally, it’s equipped with an automated engine shut-off sensor to prevent engine damage in case of low oil levels. The AlphaWorks 7 hp is a great mid-range engine for your go-kart and has respectable technical specifications for off-road or racing go-karts.

Criteria Rating

Cost-to-Performance 90%
Features 95%
Build Quality 90%

Overall Rating

92%

AWESOME!

8

Honda GX160

  • CARB & EPA certified
  • Heavy-duty recoil starting system
  • Eco-friendly engine

Max Output
5.5 hp

Displacement
163 cc

Type
4-Stroke OHV

Fuel Capacity
0.82 gallons

Dimensions
12.3″ x 14.3″ x 13.6″

Weight
33 lbs

The Honda GX160 is a 4-stroke gas engine, which provides great performance with relatively good durability and reliability. Even though it has an average-sized fuel tank, it consumes around 0.27 gallons of fuel per hour running at 3,600 rpm. It’s therefore not the most fuel efficient engine, but still pretty good.

This engine has been built with very lightweight materials and highly lubricated parts, allowing it to function quietly. The crankshaft is supported by ball bearing which provides the engine greater stability and smoothness while it’s operating.

It also features a very ergonomic and heavy-duty recoil starting system. While it’s user-friendly, it still requires you to pull the cord, in order to turn start the engine. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an electric starter for added convenience. On a positive note this engine is CARB and EPA certified, which shows that it meets the emission requirements and is therefore eco-friendly and less polluting. Even though it may not have the latest features, it’s still a great and robust engine for go-karts.

Criteria Rating

Cost-to-Performance 85%
Features 90%
Build Quality 95%

Overall Rating

90%

AWESOME!

9

XtremepowerUS 7HP

  • Large fuel tank
  • EPA and CARB certified
  • Cast-iron cylinder frame
  • low-maintenance design

Max Output
7 hp

Displacement
212 cc

Type
4-Stroke OHV

Fuel Capacity
1 gallon

Dimensions
12.5″ x 15″ x 14.25″

Weight
38 lbs

The XtremepowerUS 7HP gas engine features a horizontal keyway shaft and tapered output shaft that gives the engine a smooth running environment and enables it to perform in all types of weather conditions.

The engine has been built with industrial-grade materials, which lets it run efficiently for longer durations of time. The cast-iron cylinder frame gives the entire engine increased durability. It features a low-oil shutdown functionality that automatically turns off the engine, in order to prevent structural damage to the engine. This comes in handy if you don’t have an oil level gauge installed on your go-kart. 

It’s designed to be low-maintenance with great fuel efficiency. The recommended operating fuel used for this go-kart engine is a standard 87 octane or higher quality gasoline. It’s clear that the XtremepowerUS 7HP engine is marketed more as an affordable entry-level engine but make no mistake,  it definitely does pack a punch!

Criteria Rating

Cost-to-Performance 95%
Features 80%
Build Quality 90%

Overall Rating

88%

VERY GOOD!

10

Briggs and Stratton CR950

  • Low-maintenance design
  • Electronic ignition
  • Dual-element air filters
  • Dura-Lube Splash system

Max Output
9.5 hp

Displacement
208  cc

Type
4-Stroke OHV

Fuel Capacity
0.8 gallon

Dimensions
11.4″ x 13.2″ x 14.6″

Weight
33 lbs

The Briggs and Stratton CR950 is another Briggs and Stratton engine that made it into the list of best go-kart engines. Similar to the 550 Series, this engine comes with a cast-iron cylinder sleeve, which is ideal for go-kart racing as it protects the engine from wear, tear and abrasions due to friction and therefore extends the engine’s life.

In addition to that, this engine has a Magnetron electronic ignition that allows easy starting and operation. It’s also designed to be as maintenance-free as possible, thus relieving you from the hassle of frequent maintenance issues. It also features an overhead valve technology that allows cooler working and increases the durability of the valves.

The CR 950 comes with a dual-element cartridge that filters the air. The foam pre-cleaner prevents dust, dirt and foreign particles from trapping into the engine. It also features the Dura-Lube Splash Lubrication system that Briggs and Stratton are famous for. Under the bottom line, this engine a more powerful variant of the 550 Series for go-karts. 

Criteria Rating

Cost-to-Performance 85%
Features 85%
Build Quality 90%

Overall Rating

87%

VERY GOOD!

Buying Guide: How to Choose Go-Kart Racing Engines

The list above represents a good range of entry-level to intermediate go-kart engines. Of course, you’ll need to decide what type of go-kart you have or are planning to build, in order to decide which engine is best for you.

It’s worth to note that there are also other aspects that you should take into consideration, in order to make an informed purchase decision. In this buying guide we’ll take a more in-depth approach to understanding the various other aspects that are important to know. These aspects include the go-kart engine’s performance, shaft orientation, efficiency, size, features and price. Let’s take a look!

Performance

The performance of the engine should be one of the most important things you should take into consideration. If you’re building or replacing an engine for a racing or an off-road go-kart you should consider a more powerful engine. This is because racing go-karts require greater power, in order to accelerate faster and reach higher top speeds. Off-road go-karts also require more power as they typically race on uneven surfaces and rocky terrain. If you’re buying an engine with the intention to build a go-kart yourself or if the go-kart engine is for kids or teenagers, you should consider a lower powered engine. 

In order to understand how to read performance indicators of an engine, the next section will help to explain horsepower, displacement, torque and running speed. 

Horsepower (hp)

The power of a go-kart engine is expressed in horsepower (hp). This output value is defined by the displacement, design, running speed and torque of the engine. For example, the DuroMax XP7HPE has a maximum output of 7 hp. For reference, 1 hp equated to 746 watts (0.746kW). To illustrate this, a 1 hp engine can list 330 pounds 100 feet in a minute.

Displacement (cc)

The displacement of an engine indicates the total volume that all cylinders can hold. Go-kart engines usually run on one-cylinder engine. The unit of measurement for displacement is cubic centimeters (cc). The bigger the displacement value, the larger the engine is.

Torque (ft/lb)

The torque of a go-kart engine measures the rotational effort that the piston is applying to the crankshaft. Simply put, it can be understood as the ‘turning force’. This is measured in foot-pound (ft/lb) or Newton-meter (Nm). For example, the Titan TX200 produces 9.1 ft/lb. The greater the torque value, the more powerful the engine.

Running Speed (rpm)

RPM is a measurement that indicates how many revolutions per minute a crankshaft is doing. Go-kart engines have a typical rpm range of around 2,500 to 10,000 rpm, depending on how powerful the engine is.

Shaft Orientation

You also need to understand what type of shaft orientation you require for your go-kart. Go-kart engines can have a vertical or a horizontal shaft orientation. This also influences the shape of the engine. If you’re replacing an existing engine, you should definitely match the shaft orientation of the engine that you are replacing. 

If you’re building a kart from scratch, you’re free to choose. Keep in mind that horizontal and vertical shaft engines are differently shaped. Below illustration will show the shape and design differences. Most go-karts use a horizontal shaft engines, due to space constraints on the frame. 

go-kart engine with horizontal camshaft

Engine with Horizontal Camshaft

  • Camshaft orientation is horizontal
  • Requires more vertical space
  • Mostly used for go-karts
go-kart engine with vertical camshaft

Engine with Vertical Camshaft

  • Camshaft orientation is vertical
  • Requires more horizontal space
  • Mostly used for lawn mowers

Efficiency

The efficiency of a go-kart engine is important to understand, as well. If you are running a very inefficient engine you not only unnecessarily pollute the environment but you’ll also have to fork out more money for gas. An engine’s efficiency is defined by how much fuel it uses, in order to operate. To put this into context for go-kart racing engines, we’re looking at the fuel efficiency of the engine.

Let’s take the DuroMax XP7HPE as an example. This engine is rated with a fuel consumption rate of 0.25 gallons of fuel per hour at half load. This means that running this engine at half its maximum load will consume a quarter of a gallon per hour, which is very fuel efficient. Of course, the fuel efficiency of a go-kart engines depends on the load it’s used at and how powerful it is.

Size

When it comes to go-kart racing engines it’s apparent that they all vary in sizes. Some are smaller, some larger but there are also other measurements that you should take into account, especially if you’re replacing an existing go-kart engine. These measurements usually revolve around the engine itself and the shaft. 

The reason why this is important is because your other go-kart components need to be compatible with these measurements, in order to function properly. Here’s a list of engine measurements that you should check before you make your decision:

  • Engine Dimensions
  • Shaft Size
  • Shaft End
  • Center of shaft to base
honda gx140 schematic

Features

Go-kart engines have some basic features, which are all the required components. Each engine is equipped with the standard components which are a shaft, cylinder, housing, fuel tank and an oil tank. Some go-kart engines have additional features that you may want to consider. Below is a list of additional go-kart engine features that you are able to see on the high-quality engines. 

Additional Engine Features

  • EPA & CARB certification
  • Increased fuel efficiency
  • Automatic shutdown sensor
  • Dual element air cleaner
  • Electric starter
  • Splash lubrication system
  • Throttle-ready
  • Overhead valve design
go kart engine with electric starter
Engine with electric starter
Engine with large fuel tank

Price

Go-kart engines have a very wide price range, depending on the features that it offers and the performance of the engine. There are beginner engines that start at around $140, intermediate engines that start at about $220 and professional engines that start at about $350.

Everyone has a budget to work with and there’s an engine for even a shoestring budget. Decide what price range you are comfortable with and select an engine that fits in that price category. This list below shows a summary of go-kart engines prices according to their level:

  • Beginner Go-Kart Engine: around $140 to $220
  • Intermediate Go-Kart Engine: around $220 to $350
  • Professional Go-Kart Engine: around $350 to $1,200

Frequently Asked Questions

From time to time I get asked about go-kart engines, whether it’s in person, via emails or comments. I’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions below. If you have questions that are not found in this list, please get in touch with me and I will have them added. 

Question: What Type of Go-Kart Engine Should I Buy?

I often get asked if I can suggest an engine for a particular go-kart. While I love to give recommendations, the answer to the question of which go-kart engine is best, only you know. I believe that this list should give you an overview of what the best go-kart engines are, but ultimately you must be able to decide which one to go for. If you give me some details in the comments, I’m happy to chime in and give a recommendation.

As a general rule of thumb, you should pick an engine based on performance and price. There is a sweet spot, but make sure that you know what type of go-kart engine you are looking for and allocate a budget to how much you are willing to spend on a go-kart engine. Once you have those two points nailed down, the rest will fall into place and you’ll be able to make a decision in no time.

Question: How Do I Find My Engine Dimensions and Measurements?

The engine dimensions and shaft measurements can all be found in the owner’s manual that your go-kart came with. If you’ve already replaced your go-kart engine before and bought an engine separately, the measurements can be found in the engine’s handbook. If you’re buying a brand new engine and have no reference, you can always check the dimensions and measurements on the manufacturer’s product page.

Question: How Do I Clean My Go-Kart Engine?

Go-kart engines can become dirty relatively fast, especially if you own an off-road go-kart or a racing go-kart. Your engine can stain very quickly and be covered in grease, oil or mud. If that’s the case, you can resort to these general cleaning instructions below. 

  1. Make sure that your go-kart is stationary and the engine is off
  2. Use a high-quality degreaser and apply it to areas of grease or oil
  3. If you own an off-road go-kart, run down the mud with water gently first
  4. After applying the degreaser, simple take a moist cloth and the grease should come right off
  5. Rinse the towel and repeat the process without applying the degreaser
  6. Let the engine’s exterior dry by wiping it with a dry towel this time
  7. Ensure that there is no water left on the engine and it’s completely dry 

Conclusion

I hope this review and buying guide was able to help you identify what the best engines are for go-karts and that it also managed to give you an understanding of the various key components and aspects of a kart engine. I hope that this article has made your buying decision easier and that you were able able to find an engine that suits your performance and budget. If you need more insight or help, please feel free to reach out to me and I’ll gladly be of help. Happy racing!

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