Riding a go-kart is an entertaining activity to enjoy with your friends and family. But adding the excitement and challenges of building a go-kart on your own can make things more interesting. So if you are asking about how to build a cheap go-kart, you have come to the right place.
With proper guidelines, building a go-kart can be pretty easy, and I am here to provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to build a go-kart at home. Apart from the build, you’ll also get a brief idea about the costs and how you can source different parts for the go-kart. So without further ado, let’s begin.
Is it Cheaper to Build or Buy a Go-Kart?
The answer totally depends on what type of go-kart you are planning to have. If you are planning to complete the build with the lowest possible budget, then definitely building a go-kart will be the cheaper option.
The price difference is huge if you compare a cheap complete go-kart from the market with a custom-made basic go-kart. The main reason behind this price gap is that pre-built go-karts come with many extra features and parts that you might not need or want for casual go-karting.
Another reason why building a go-kart is relatively cheaper is because you can source almost every single part and material from old vehicles and junkyards. Still, if you are looking to buy then you may check out my previous article about high-quality adult go-kart.
Is it Hard to Build Your Own Go-Kart?
To be honest, building a go-kart with no prior experience and knowledge of vehicle parts can pose a challenge. If you don’t have that, it’s best to work under the supervision of someone experienced in this field.
As there is no fixed guideline to build a go-kart, it makes the job even harder. There are hundreds of options available for every part, and you’ll need to improvise and use your past experience to put everything together.
I am not trying to discourage anyone here. If you think you got the creativity and prior knowledge, you can go for it. The challenges you’ll face will make your driving experience more fun afterward.
So, How to Build a Cheap Go-Kart from Scratch
Building a complete go-kart on your own is not easy. However, if you got the interest and willpower to achieve it, the job can be a lot easier, and you are already halfway there. So now, let me help you with my experience of building custom go-karts over the years.
In this step-by-step guide, I tried to demonstrate the complete process of how to build a go-kart from scratch. Keep reading as I take you through the method here.
Step 1: Having primary knowledge about the key parts
Assuming you don’t know anything about this build, let’s give you some primary knowledge about the parts you’ll be assembling.
Depending on the type of go-kart, it can consist of different types of parts. Among them, some arts are essential for any sort of go-kart build. As I’ll be showing you a basic go-kart build, let’s have a quick look at the parts you have to assemble first.
- Mainframe: The mainframe is the metal construction of the go-kart, and other parts work around this. You’ll have to cut, drill, and wield hollow metal tubes to give the mainframe a shape for this build.
- Drive Axle: The drive axle is the joint between the split axles at the front and back of the go-kart. This part somewhat controls the wheel’s movement. You can either source it from other vehicles or build it on your own.
- Steering System: The steering system will have the overall control of the go-kart. Though the steering system for this build will be pretty straightforward, you’ll still require a steering column, wheel, brakes and a gas pedal to put it together.
Apart from these there, you’ll have to source other essentials like the engine and seat. I’ll discuss it later in this article.
Step 2: Planning the Build
Now that you have a primary idea about the parts you’ll have to build let’s move on to the planning. Planning a go-kart yourself can be tricky, but it’s also an advantage of making custom go-karts.
I’ll not recommend any particular plan because the basic is the same for every build. Then, later on, you can make any customization to change the different design elements.
Once you have made your mind about the plan and how you want your go-kart to look, make a complete list of materials you’ll need to complete the job. For a beginner-level go-kart, you’ll require these parts mentioned below.
- Steering wheel
Now, the plan is ready, but the tools you’ll require to execute the plan aren’t. So, get yourself the necessary tools like a welder, drill machine, metal cutting saw, and a measuring tool. Additionally, don’t forget to wear protective gear like hand gloves and eye-protection glasses when you are building the go-kart.
Step 3: Building the Frame
For this step, open up the go-kart plan in front of you first. Then lay the metal tubes in front of you on a table or a stable surface like a concrete floor big enough to accommodate the frame.
No matter what frame design you have, make sure the size correctly matches the driver’s size. Frames sizes typically differ depending on the driver’s height. Then, use the metal cutting saw to cut the tubes according to the plan.
When cutting and wielding tubes, measure them properly so that no problem occurs later going into the build. If you want to avoid repeated measurements, you can also mark the design on the surface you are working on and weld the parts on top of it.
Before wielding the tubes, take the bucket seat and place it onto the drawn design to see if the frame sizing is accurate. After you weld the joints, you can use concrete blocks or pieces of wood to elevate the joints so that the joints stay secure.
This frame will carry the whole weight, including the driver’s; take your time to weld the tubes. Additionally, you can use gussets at the corners to increase the strength of the frame.
Step 4: Drive Axle Setup
After putting together the frame, it’s time to assemble the drive axle for the go-kart. This part is a bit complicated, so follow closely.
With properly sourced arts, drive axle assembly can be super easy. My recommendation would be to go for a lawnmower differential that has 13 teeth and sprocket and a 9 teeth axle for the drive axle. To connect the sprocket and the axle, you can use a type 50 chain.
This chain size will also make sure that you get more speed than the lawnmower. After you are done with the axle and chain, finish by putting a chain guard to prevent the chain from falling.
Step 5: Steering System Setup
There are two ways of setting up the steering system for the go-kart. You can go for a manual steering linkage to control the wheel’s direction, or you can use a steering system sourced from old vehicles. The decision totally depends on which one you find more convenient and your budget.
To assemble the steering linkage, you need two steel rods measuring 1.5 cm and 2 cm respectively from the linkage and the axles. If you can’t bend the axle rod, try heating it first. Now, if the linkage assembly seems a bit complicated, you can go for the easy of just installing a steering rack.
Not only this method is easier, but it also works more efficiently. But on the drawback, it’ll cost you some money even if you pick this part from a very old car.
Step 6: Sourcing and Installing the Engine
As I have already told this guide’s objective is to keep the cost as low as possible, I’ll be sourcing the engine from other vehicles. Junkyards are usually a great place to look for engines like this. As a brand new engine costs quite a lot, installing an old engine from other vehicles will help you keep the price down.
If you take my advice, an engine from an old motorbike or lawnmower is your best bet of having a decent and powerful engine at a low price. You can try snowmobile engines too as they are easy to find in some places.
There is no particular mounting mechanism here as the mounting options vary from engine to engine. Just remember that when you plan the build, keep the mounting option and position in mind. Additionally, make sure there is no engine oil inside as it can spill when mounting the engine.
Step 7: Mounting the Tires and Brakes
We are almost at the end of the build. Most of the complicated installations are complete, but one crucial thing remains, which is the tier and braking system.
Like the engine, you can buy brand new kits or source the wheels from older vehicles from a junkyard; the decision is up to you. If you are sourcing from the junkyard, pick a small wheel, e.g. mini bike wheels, and mount them on your go-kart.
After the wheel, it’s time to install the brakes. Now, even if you use old materials, this can go two ways. You either craft a disc brake on your own with a disc on the rear wheel and calliper assembly, or you can just get the entire brake system from an old vehicle like a motorbike or minibike.
You can mount the gas and brake pedal by your side to operate with your hand; leaving it for the feet is the best idea.
Step 8: Finishing Touches and Test Drive
For this step, you should start with installing the seats first. Just collect a single or double seat from an old vehicle and attach it on top of the go-kart. You can even use an old chair from your home by cutting its legs.
If you want to paint the go-kart and give it a fresh look, you can do that too. Lastly, before you hit the road, make sure the steering, brakes, and gas pedals are working perfectly.
How much does it cost to build a go-kart from scratch?
As you might assume already, it’s not possible to state a specific amount here. This is because different parts are involved, and they can also be sourced from different places, so the cost varies from person to person.
But if you are looking for a rough idea here, building a go-kart from scratch will cost you a minimum of 400$. Of course, there is no maximum limit, as you can spend thousands of dollars with flagship parts and kits.
You can buy new, used, or salvage parts on your own. Salvaging is the best bet to keep the price low. But for that, you’ll also have to invest some time to check out different parts and get the best value for the money.
Advantages of building own Go-kart
Building a go-kart can be challenging, but it also brings a lot of benefits to the table. So now that you know how to make a go-kart at home, let’s look at the advantages over complete go-karts.
I think this is the most obvious advantage of building your go-kart. In a pre-built kart, you don’t have any control over different parts. Additionally, the parts are synced in a way that further customization or alteration of parts is not possible.
There is always a concern if a particular change of parts will be compatible with the go-kart. When you are planning and building your kart, the case is totally different. You can add or remove any part you want with enough room to make future customizations.
Another benefit of building your go-kart is lower cost. I have already mentioned how much it costs to build a go-kart, which is way lower than buying a complete one. When building a go-kart, you have complete creative and part selection control, allowing you to save money in different sectors.
Additionally, the option to salvage parts on your own is always there. If you are planning to step into go-karting, this is a great advantage to lean towards building a go-kart.
Design and Shape Preference
Last but not least, building your go-kart allows you to execute your unique design, shape, and plan for the go-kart. Apart from some design basics, you are entirely at liberty to plan your go-kart however you like it.
When you are building your go-kart, it’s not only about the performance or cost. You can also use it as a chance to showcase your creative side with unique designs and paint jobs. Lastly, the option of customizing the go-kart according to your height is another huge benefit of building a go-kart.
Here we are at the end of the article. I hope my guidelines answer the question of how to build a cheap go-kart. I tried to make them easy to understand, and they should help you with all the knowledge necessary to build your own go-kart.
As you can see, with proper planning and cost management, it’s not too hard to put together a go-kart. It’s a super fun garage project you can take on your own or with your son/ daughter and enjoy a challenging time together.