How to Measure a Go-Kart Brake Band

Depending on the type of go-kart that you purchased or built, you may have drum brakes installed. There are several types of drum brakes and one that is quite commonly found on go-karts uses an outer band, in order to apply friction to the drum. This slows the go-kart down when applying force or a string that is connected to it.

Drum brakes with bands are more common on homemade go-karts. As these bands wear off eventually, you’ll need to replace them. However, in order to replace them you need to have their measurements first, in order to be able to find a replacement. So the question is, how do you measure a go-kart brake band? Measuring a go-kart brake band is relatively simple. Here’s the short answers. The brake band size that is indicated is usually in reference to the diameter of the drum brake.

Let me give you a quick example. If you buy a 4″ brake band, this means that they are meant to be used for drum brakes that are slightly larger than 4-inches in diameter. If that doesn’t ring a bell or if you are lost, don’t worry. I’ll go into more detail in the sections below. Just so you know, you do not need to measure a brake band by hand, you can simply use the table below.

What Is a Go-Kart Brake Band?

A go-kart brake band goes around certain types of drum brakes. The band wraps around the drum brake and is connected to the anchor and brake pins. Using a string or a motion will tighten the band around the brake drum, causing it to experience more friction. In turn, this will slow your go-kart down.

This type of braking mechanism is relatively popular in homemade or low-speed go-karts. In the schematic, you can see the front view of a brake drum and around it the brake drum band, as well as the pins at the top.  

Brake Band Description

  1. Axle
  2. Drum Brake
  3. Brake Band
  4. Band Anchor Points

How Do You Measure a Go-Kart Brake Band?

Go-kart brake bands come in different sizes. Most commonly drum brakes bands will be 4-inches, 5-inches or 6-inches. This is not the length of the band itself, but rather the diameter when being used on a drum brake. Each of these work on drum brakes of different sizes. I’ve created a table below to show you which of these bands fit around what type of drum brake.

It’s important to understand that drum brakes and brake band measurements are always referring to the diameter, never the length. Take a look at this table and match your drum brake band accordingly.

Brake Band DiameterBand WidthDrum Brake Diameter
4" Brake Band1"4-3/16 inches
5" Brake Band1"43/4 inches
6" Brake Band1"6 inches

Important Information on Drum Bands

As you can you see from the table above, each brake band (4″, 5″ and 6″) fits around a certain type of drum brake. They are not referring to the length of the band or the circumference of the brake drum. On that note, please ensure that you aren’t measuring the length of the brake band because that will not work.

It’s also important to note that drum brakes usually indicate which diameter they have and also which brake bands are compatible. Also note that when you look for go-kart brake bands online, they will usually indicate which diameter drum brakes they are compatible with. However, if they don’t indicate that, you can always use the table above as a reference.

  • 4-inch brake bands have a 1-inch width and are suitable for drum brakes that have a diameter of 4 3/16 inches.
  • 5-inch brake bands have a 1-inch width and are suitable for drum brakes that have a diameter of 4 3/4 inches.
  • 6-inch brake bands have a 1-inch width and are suitable for drum brakes that have a diameter of 6 inches.

If you have an existing drum band for your go-kart and want to know if it’s a 4″, 5″ or 6″ brake band you can simply take the brake band and form a circle. Lave ample space at the top, like in the diagram and use a measuring tape to see if the brake band wraps nicely around a 4 3/16, 4 3/4 or a 6 inch drum brake. 

This requires a good eye and also some experience. The best way to measure your go-kart brake band is to actually find out the diameter of your drum break. This will let you know who brake band size was equipped. 

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