Go-karting is one of the most popular around the globe, and the USA is one of the global hotspots of this motorsport. Every year millions of drivers participate in this sport for its competitiveness and adrenaline rush.

However, if you want to become serious about karting and proceed to competitive karting, you’ll require a shifter kart. Unlike regular karts, shifter karts have transmission systems, giving them an edge in control and speed.

In this article, I’ll show you how to build a shifter kart as a beginner and its cost. So, without further ado, let’s begin.

Guide on How to Build a Shifter Kart from Scratch

If you have built a go-kart before, this guide should be relatively easy to understand. If you haven’t early, there is nothing to worry about here as we have your back with this detailed step-by-step guide.


So, you first need to understand that it’s a DIY shifter kart, so there are dozens of ways to put one together.

Be sure to understand if the guide is different than any guide you have seen previously. Before you proceed with the build, you must ensure you have some primary tools at hand to begin. The list of tools includes:

  • Measuring tape
  • Welder
  • Tube saw
  • Screwdrivers

You can start the build if these items are available at your workshop. Among these tools, a welder and an automatic tube saw can cost you some money, so keep that in mind. However, you can invest without hesitation, as these tools can come in handy for future repairs, upgrades, and projects. Now, let’s show you how to build a shifter kart for adult

  • Step 1: Before putting together the frame, you should start with the axle assembly. This way, you can carve the frame accordingly. Take the axle and install the brake disc, sprocket, and wheel hubs at both ends with bearings.
  • Step 2: When all axle parts are correctly installed, screw the wheels tightly with the bearings. That should end the rear axle and wheel setup for now.
  • Step 3: After the rear wheel is assembled correctly, it’s time to focus on the wheel. This time, take the spindles and spindle brackets and screw them tightly with the front wheels. That should end the front wheel assembly for now.
  • Step 4: Now that the front and rear wheels are assembled completely, it’s time to put together the skeleton of the shifter kart. For that, place the front and rear wheel assembly, the engine, and the seat ion on a smooth work surface where you want these parts to be. Then draw a map of the construction.
  • Step 5: the next thing you’ll need is tubing for the construction. Measure those tubes according to the map and cut them precisely. After cutting the pieces, lay them on the ground and check if the cuts are precise according to your map.
  • Step 6: Now that the tubes are ready, start welding them together. First, you must join the front wheels with a tube by welding the spindles. Next, take two long tubes and weld them with the front one to form the middle part of the shifter karts.
  • Step 7: The rear axle setup needs to be connected to the main body. For that, weld the wheel brackets firmly with the tubes. After the wheels are welded to the construction, it’s time to install the seat and the engine.
  • Step 8: Take a tube across the structure, and weld it firmly for the seat. Then, you can weld the seat on it. As for the engine, you’ll need a plate to put it on. Weld this plate behind the seat and in front of the right rear wheel. 
  • Step 9: After your engine plate is welded, stand on it with tube pieces and screw the engine on them to secure its location. The last thing in the construction is the floor pan. Just cut a steel sheet according to your map and weld it under construction.
  • Step 10: Now that the construction and engine installation is complete, it’s time to install the steer wheel and pedals. Weld the spindle, tie rods at the front wheel setup, and connect the rods with the spindle and steering wheel. If the steering wheel is functioning correctly, install the brake, gas, and clutch pedal at the front.
  • Step 11: We are at the very end of the build. All you need to do is connect the pedals with cables to their related parts, which should conclude the build for you.

How to build a shifter kart with a motorcycle engine

If you are a beginner and this is your first shifter-kart build, you can rely on an old motorbike engine. These engines are capable and save you the money of purchasing a new engine. The process of building a kart with a motorbike engine is the same. You’ll have to do extra tweaks, and it’ll be ready to run. Here is how to build a shifter go-kart for adults with a motorbike engine.

  • Step 1: First, you’ll need an air filter installed at the front of the engine. Connect it to the engine with pipes.
  • Step 2: Install a master cylinder at the back of the engine and connect the fuel hose.
  • Step 3: As a motorbike engine, you’ll need a different carburetor between the engine and the master cylinder. Install a filter on it too.
  • Step 4: At the very end, connect the master cylinder, carburetor, and tubes, and your motorcycle engine installation should be complete.

How much does it cost to build a shifter kart?

Building a shifter kart can be fun and challenging at the same time. But before you proceed, you need to know exactly how much it can cost. At least an estimation can be a good beginning.

If you plan on building s shifter kart from scratch with all new parts, it’ll cost you at least a thousand dollars. On the other hand, used parts can be much lower for around $500. eBay and Craigslist can be two sites you can check out for used details. You can also reduce costs by going to scrap dealers, garage sales, and salvage yards.

How much horsepower does a shifter kart need?

There is no fixed engine horsepower for shifter karts. However, as it’s sued for racing purposes, there is a minimum threshold to get up to a decent speed. When building, you should ensure that the engine can at least generate 7 hp, giving you a top speed of around 20 to 35 mph, depending on other parts.


That’s a wrap for today. I hope my article will help you to get a good idea about how to make shifter kart. As you have seen in the build, these shifter karts have a transmission system that separates them from a regular go-kart. Other than that, building a go-kart is the same whether it’s a shifter or a conventional one.

Following this guide, you can quickly start making a shifter kart and start your journey toward competitive karting.

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