Tillotson 212 vs Predator 212: Which Engine is Better?

There is a long-standing battle between the two most popular 4-stroke engines on the market: the Predator 212 and the Tillotson 212. Both of these engines have a similar design, but which one has a slight edge in terms of performance?

While both the Tillotson 212 and the Predator 212 are similar in design internal components specifications, the Tillotson 212 has an output that is about 40% higher than the Predator 212 engine and 10 – 20% more torque. Therefore, it’s also about 50% more expensive. 

After having extensively tested the Tillotson and Predator engines, it’s become clear that both are great value for money and easily make it into the list of best go-kart engines. While they have distinctive differences, both engines are suitable for go-karts or any other types of recreational vehicles, equipment and tools. 

Here’s a quick overview of this guide:

  1. Predator 212 Engine
  2. Tillotson 212 Engine
  3. Similarities & Differences
  4. Buyer’s Guide

In this review, I’ll be taking you through a detailed comparison of the Predator and the Tillotson engine, where we will explore the similarities and differences. I’ll also make sure to make a buyer’s guide available to you so that you are able to make an informed purchase decision.

Predator 212 Engine 

The Predator 212 is arguably the most popular small engine in the market and is widely used for all types of applications, such as go-karts. With a displacement of 212 cc, this engine produces 6.5 hp and up 8.1 foot-pounds of torque at 2,500 rpm. 

Engine Features

  • Displacement: 212 cc
  • Output: 6.5 hp
  • Type: Non-Hemi Model

The great thing about this predator engine is that it has one of the best cost-to-performance ratios, meaning that it’s relatively affordable for the amount of power it generates. 

Additional features include heavy-duty cylinders made of iron, a low-oil sensor shut-off, a 3/4″ crankshaft, a recoil starter, amongst various others. This engine comes in either a Hemi or Non-Hemi configuration, but doesn’t feature an electric start (it has to be upgraded).

The Predator 212cc is a great choice for go-karts and other types of vehicles, equipment and tools because it’s extremely versatile and can be easily upgraded, modded and replaced. 

Predator 212cc Specifications: 

  • Brand: Predator 
  • Model: 212cc
  • Output: 6.5 hp
  • Type: Hemi / Non-Hemi
  • Torque: 8.1 ft-lb (@ 2,500 rpm)
  • Starter: Recoil

Tillotson 212 Engine 

Meet the natural competitor to the Predator 212: the Tillotson 212. This engine is another popular choice when it comes to go-karts and other types of vehicles. The reason it’s so popular is because it offers a similarly impressive cost-to-performance ratio. 

Engine Features

  • Displacement: 212 cc
  • Output: 9+ hp
  • Type: Hemi

While they are both similar in design, there are some distinct differences with regards to specifications. The model in the spotlight here is the The Tillotson 212E and the 212EE (electric start version), which have a displacement of 212cc but a rated output of about 9 hp, thanks to it’s lightened flywheel and high compressions. 

As stated, this Hemi engine is designed to facilitate high compressions, which makes it a great engine for go-karts and other types of vehicles. The Tillotson 212 has gained in popularity over the years due to its excellent performance and its ability to replace existing Honda and Predator engines. 

It also features an electric start (hence the 212EE nomenclature), a lightened die-cast flywheel (with a temporary speed of up to 10,000 rpm) and similar to the Predator 212cc is easy to operate and maintain. 

Tillotson 212E Specifications: 

  • Brand: Tillotson 
  • Model: 212E / 212EE
  • Output: 9+ hp
  • Type: Hemi 
  • Torque: 9-10.5 ft-lb (@ 2,500 rpm)
  • Starter: Recoil / Electric

Tillotson 212 vs Predator 212: Similarities and Differences 

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at each of the individual aspects of the Tillotson 212 and the Predator 212 engine. While they share a similar design, there are distinctive differences. I will be comparing the specifications and features, dimensions, performance, cylinder design, valves and pistons, and price ranges. 

Specifications & Features

As you can see, there are several performance and dimension-related differences between the Tillotson 212 and the Predator 212, while the core internal components remain fairly the same (apart from the valves). 

 Predator 212Tillotson 212
ManufacturerPredatorTillotson
TypeHemi / Non-HemiHemi
Cycle4-Stroke4-Stroke
Output6.5 hp9+ hp
Displacement212cc212cc
Torque8.1 ft-lb
(@ 2,500 rpm)
9.5 - 10.5 ft-lb
(@ 2,500 rpm)
Compression Ratio8.5:1-
Oil Capacity0.125 gal (473 ml)0.16 gal (600 ml)
Fuel Type87+ Octane87+ Octane
Mounting Pattern
(LxW)
6.40" x 2.95" to 3.17
(162mm x 75.5mm to 80.5mm)
-
Sound Rating104 dB113 dB
Dimensions
(LxWxH)
15.4" x 12.6" x 13.6"17" x 12.75" x 14.5"
Weight37.5 lbs (17 kg)38 lbs (17.27 kg)
Shaft RotationCounter ClockwiseCounter Clockwise
Shaft Diameter3/4" (19.05mm)3/4" (19.05mm)
Shaft Length2.43" (61.7 mm)2.43" (61.7 mm)
Stroke Length2.12" (55 mm)2.12" (55 mm)
Bore2.76" (70 mm)2.76" (70 mm)
StarterRecoilRecoil (212E)
Electric Start (212EE)

Dimensions

As far as dimensions are concerned, the Tillotson 212 engine is slightly larger at 17″ x 12.75″ x 14.5″, which equates to 43.2 cm x 32.4 cm x 36.8 cm. On the other hand, the Predator 212 measures 15.4″ x 12.6″ x 13.6″, which is 39.1 cm x 32 x 34.5 cm.

This makes the Tillotson engine about 15% larger in overall size, whereas the base area (LxW) is about 10% larger. This is important to take note of, as you’ll need to account for the added space on your go-kart or the equipment you’re mounting it on. 

Performance 

While both engines have the exact same displacement of 212cc, the Tillotson is the more powerful engine. Let’s take a closer look at the output, as well as the torque.

 Predator 212Tillotson 212Difference (%)
Displacement212cc212c-
Output6.5 hp9+ hp+40%
Torque 8.1 ft-lb
(@ 2,500 rpm)
9.5 - 10.5 ft-lb
(@ 2,500 rpm)
+10 - 20%

Having tested both engines extensively, the Tillotson has a 2.5 to 3 hp advantage over the Predator engine, which equates to a 40% performance boost. In terms of torque, the Tillotson generates about 10 – 20% more torque at 2,500 rpm. 

Cylinder Design

The Predator 212 has a Non-Hemi and a Hemi version, with the latter being the newer one. On the other hand, the Tillotson 212 is only available in a Hemi configuration – a Non-Hemi variant is not available. 

Hemispherical combustion chambers mean that the piston head is angled, instead of traditionally flat. This means that the intake and exhaust valves are also placed at an angle, instead of completely horizontally. 

The advantage of a Hemi engine is that the flat surface of the piston is smaller than on flathead pistons of Non-Hemi engines. This keeps more heat in the combustion chambers and results in higher peak pressure and ultimately better performance.  

Valves & Pistons

Below, you’ll find a chart that covers valve and piston information. More specifically, you will see the intake and exhaust valve measurements, stem size and the bore and stroke lengths. 

 Predator 212 (Hemi / Non-Hemi)Tillotson 212
Stroke (length)55mm / 55mm55mm
Bore (length)70mm / 70mm55mm
Intake (diameter)27mm / 25mm 27mm
Intake (diameter)25mm 24mm24mm
Stem (length)5.5mm / 5mm 5.5mm

Price

As the Tillotson produces more power and is equipped with better features, it’s also more expensive. A Tillotson 212E and 212EE costs between $250 to $300, whereas the price of a Predator 212cc engine typically ranges between $150 – $200.

Buyer’s Guide – Choosing the Right Engine

So which engine is best for you? This depends on various factors, which we will explore in this section. Here, I’ll cover several aspects such as application, speed and performance as well as budget. 

Application

At the end of the day, it all boils down to what you intend to use the engine for. Both the Tillotson 212 and the Predator 212 are great engines that are suitable for a wide variety of applications, such as racing and off-road go-karts, equipment, tools and even other small vehicles. 

If you’re looking for a go-kart engine replacement or upgrade, then both engines are suitable. Take note that there are considerable power differences between the two. 

Speed & Performance

If you need a little more speed the extra 40% power difference that the Tillotson 212 offers is definitely noticeable. The 9 hp cranks out enough power for even the largest and heaviest of go-karts. 

On the other hand, the Predator engine would suffice if you’re building a go-kart or replacing an existing engine without wanting to go overboard. It delivers enough power for any type of standard go-kart that can easily reach 25 – 30 mph, without any upgrades.

Upgrades & Modifications

Another thing that you should consider is the modification potential. While Tillotson sells upgrade kits they can be quite hard to find. On the other hand, Predator engines are extremely popular and there are various upgrades, modifications and parts available. Check out the list below for more information:

Budget

Lastly, you should also consider your budget and should select the engine that suits it. Take note that the Tillotson is going to be more expensive than the Predator, due to its higher performance and high-performance parts.

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