Changing a go-kart tire can seem like a chore, especially if you don’t have the right tools for it. Now imagine doing that for four tires! Getting the right tire changing tool is not only more convenient, but it will also save you a lot more time that you can instead spend on the race track.
In this article we’ll be exploring the best tire changing tools for go-karts. Here’s a quick summary:
The great thing about these tire changing tools is that they are all affordable, and you’ll most likely use a combination of them. I own all of these tools and use them routinely, depending on where I am changing my tires.
1. Tire Bead Breaker
A tire bead breaker is hands down the best tool for changing go-kart tires! It’s extremely easy to operate and will have your go-kart tire removed from your rim in a matter of seconds. You’ll definitely get the fastest turnaround with this tool and it’s also very convenient when changing more than a single tire.
The only downsides are that it’s much larger than the other two tire tools and cannot be transported as easily (unless you have a trailer or a van). It’s also a little more expensive than the other options, but still quite affordable.
In my opinion the slight increase in price definitely makes up for the increased convenience and speed. Here’s a separate guide I wrote on go-kart tire bead breakers.
- Fastest way to remove tires
- Easy to operate
- Extremely convenient
- Adjustable height
- Hard to transport
- Slightly more expensive
How Do Tire Bead Breakers Work?
By essentially pressing the lever down, the bead of the go-kart tire is dislodged from the rim’s bead seat. The tire is then rotated and the step is repeated until the tire is loose.
Once the bead is separated from the bead seat, the tire can be safely removed by hand. It’s an extremely simple process and bead breakers are known to be the most efficient go-kart tire changing tool.
2. Tire Tongs
- For 6″ wheels only
- Stainless steel
- Comes with plate
Tire tongs, also known as tire scissors, are also a great tire tool for changing go-kart tires. Firstly, they’re affordable (higher end models can cost a bit more though). Secondly, they are also relatively easy to transport, due to their small size. Moreover, they’re also fairly easy to use, once you get the hang of it (it may take some time getting used to it).
On the other hand, there are two things which I think the tire bead breaker does much better. Changing tires with tongs takes a while longer – about half a minute for experienced people and about a minute or two for inexperienced people. You’ll need a little more energy to operate it, too. Overall however, tire tongs are still a great tool.
- Easy to operate
- Easily transportable
- Moderately time intensive
- Requires some effort
How do Tire Tongs Work?
Tire tongs work similar to other tire changing tools by breaking the bead of the tire and dislodging it from the bead set. This is done by inserting the sharp tip into the bead, pressing down the tire tongs and swinging the handles outward.
This causes the tire to pop out of the wheel and after that you’ll be able to use your hands to remove the tire completely. It essentially does the same as a bead breaker – it’s just a little bit more manual.
3. Tire Irons
Tire irons are a set of two to three small steel rods with a curved tip. The great thing about tire irons is that they are the most affordable tire changing tool for go-karts and can be used for any wheel size.
They are affordable because they’re easy to manufacture and don’t cost much to make. This also makes them easy to transport. They’re light and can pretty much fit into any tool box.
The huge drawback for using tire irons to remove go-kart tires is the amount of effort it takes to use them. They are very labour-intensive and you’ll definitely lose a bit of productivity. However, that’s the trade off.
- Most affordable
- Easiest to transport
- suitable for any wheel size
- Most labour-intensive
- Slow tire changing speed
- Harder to operate
How do Tire Irons Work?
Tire irons work pretty much similar to the rest; they remove the tire bead from the bead seat of the wheel. However, the big difference here is how they are used.
The tire irons are inserted into the tire near the bead and are used as leverage to create a gap. This required some coordination and practice. This process is then repeated until the tire is loose.
Go-Kart Tire Changing Tool Buying Guide
There are several aspects you should consider before deciding on which go-kart tire changing tool is the best for you. In this buying guide we’ll cover the topics of speed, convenience, portability and price.
Once you consider all of these aspects, you’ll know which one is the best for you. By the way, you may not necessarily end up with just one. I personally use a bead breaker in my garage and I bring along tire tongs and irons to the race track.
The speed at which the tool is able to remove the tire from the rim will determine the overall turnaround time. Remember that you’ll most often have to change four tires at one go, so whatever time you take to replace a tire is multiplied.
As far as speed goes, hands down the winner is a bead breaker. There is no faster tool in the market as you’ll be able to change tires in no time. The second fastest tool are the tire tongs, followed by tire irons, due to the manual effort required.
For reference, here’s a rough estimated amount of time it takes to change a go-kart tire with each tool.
- Tire Bead Breaker: 10 – 20 seconds per tire
- Tire Tongs: 20 – 40 seconds per tire
- Tire Irons: 30 – 50 seconds per tire
The convenience of each tool is typically related to the speed and overall turnaround time. Faster speeds also mean that the tool is more convenient to use, as it’s less manual. Tire bead breakers take the cake here again, as you’ll only need to place the tires onto the mount and press the lever down.
On the other hand, tire tongs and tire irons require quite a bit more labour. Here’s my ranking of these tools:
- Most convenient: Tire bead breaker
- Convenient: Tire tongs
- Least convenient: Tire irons
There’s definitely a unique application for all of these go-kart tire changing tools. Due to the different sizes, weight and design some of them are going to be more portable than others.
By far the most portable are tire irons, as they are small, light and fit into any tool box. Tire tongs are also very portable but may require a larger tool box.
On the other hand it’s going to be hard to transport a tire bead break to the race track, unless you have a van, truck or trailer. Here’s my ranking on their portability:
- Most portable: Tire irons
- Portable: Tire tongs
- Least Portable: Tire bead breaker
Tire changing tools for go-karts are generally very affordable and won’t break your bank. However, it should go without saying that the most convenient tools are generally more expensive than the ones that require more manual effort.
With that in mind, here is the ranking of these tools based on affordability:
- Lowest price: Tire irons
- Average price: Tire tongs
- Highest price: Tire bead breakers