If you’ve driven an off-road go-kart before, chances are that it had a roll cage. Roll cages on go-karts can protect the driver and the passenger in case it flips over. In essence, it prevents occupants from getting seriously hurt and also protects the main components of the go-kart.
In this article, we will be taking a closer look at various aspects of roll cages on go-karts, such as what types of go-karts are equipped with it and what material they’re made of. Let’s jump right in!
What Are Go-Kart Roll Cages?
A roll cage on a go-kart is a protective frame that extends from the front, all the way over the body to the back of the go-kart encapsulating the occupants. This protective frame acts like a cage, which is designed to keep the driver and the passenger safe.
As go-karts typically don’t have a bodyshell like other vehicles, the roll cage is usually built as an extension of the frame. This is different to cars, where roll cages are usually installed under the roof and sides to reinforce the bodyshell.
As far as go-karts are concerned, roll cages are most commonly welded onto the frame during production. There are also go-kart frame kits that can be installed to go-karts that don’t come with a roll cage.
How Do Roll Cages Work?
When a go-kart accidentally flips over, the top of the roll cage is designed to make contact with the ground, instead of the occupants who are securely fastened to their seats. This helps to absorb shock, while directly protecting the driver and passenger.
It’s important to know that roll cages do not guarantee occupant safety, as there are many other factors in play. However, an encapsulating roll cage greatly lowers the risk of occupant injury and can potentially prevent death.
What Are Roll Cages for Go-Karts Made of?
Roll cages are typically made of the same material as the go-karts frame, which is stainless steel. The frame and the roll cage of a go-kart are designed to withstand high amounts of impact and reduce deformation when coming into contact with an object or a surface.
Do All Go-Karts Have Roll Cages?
No, not all go-karts have roll cages. Most commonly, only off-road go-karts have roll cages, while racing go-karts do not. There is a reason for this, which we will explore in this section.
No Roll Cage
As you can see, there is a distinctive difference between racing go-karts and off-road go-karts: one has a roll cage, while the other doesn’t. Off-road go-karts are designed to be driven on uneven terrains such as sand dunes, mud, rocks and other types of surfaces.
This also means that the probability for an off-road go-kart to roll over is much greater than a racing go-kart. Racing go-karts race on flat surfaces, have an extremely low center of gravity and a wide stance.
Therefore, the probability of racing go-karts flipping over is relatively low compared to off-road go-karts and that’s why they’re not equipped with roll cages. Roll cages also add additional weight to a go-kart and also change its center of gravity.
An off-road go-kart has a much higher center of gravity, due to the higher ground clearance, larger tires and taller construction. As racing on uneven terrain and surfaces increases the risk of a go-kart to roll over, most off-road go-karts come with a roll cage, in order to keep the driver and the passenger safe.
Go-Karts with Roll Cages
Almost all go-karts come with a roll cage for additional occupant safety. One of the most popular go-karts with a roll cage is the Coleman Powersports KT196.
It features a stainless steel frame with an encapsulating roll cage that protects both the driver and the passenger. It’s also equipped with various other features that you can read in the Coleman KT196 go-kart review.
If you’re looking for a wider selection of off-road go-karts that have roll cages, feel free to take a look at the best off-road go-karts. There’s also a detailed buying guide in that article for more information.
Roll Cage Kits for Go-Karts
As previously discussed, most roll cages are assembled during production. However, there are also off-road go-karts that don’t come with a roll cage or go-karts that are homemade using plans that don’t include any type of protective frame.
If that applies to you and you’re looking to upgrade your go-karts with a roll cage, you’ll essentially have two of the following options: construct a custom roll cage or buy a roll cage kit for your go-kart.
Websites to buy roll cage kits for go-karts:
Roll Cages vs Roll Bars
In this section, I’ll discuss the main difference between roll cages and roll bars. Roll cages and roll bars are not the same, although they have the same purpose, which is to protect the driver in the event a go-kart rolls or flips over. Below, you’ll be able to see what they look like.
The first image illustrates an off-road go-kart with a roll cage and the second image shows a rental go-kart with a roll bar. It’s quite common to see that most rental go-karts have a roll bar instead of a roll cage.
This is because rental go-karts require drivers to secure themselves with a safety belt and therefore cannot be removed from the go-kart leaving them vulnerable to head injury. The likelihood of rental karts flipping is relatively low and a roll bar is strong enough to support its weight.
Roll cages on the other hand are more common on off-road go-karts, as they are heavier and built into the frame. Compared to roll bars, roll cages are encapsulating, while roll bars are supporting pillars located at the back of the seat.