Dynamic image illustrating the step-by-step process of building an affordable go-kart.

How to Build a Cheap Go-Kart?

How to Build a Cheap Go-Kart? Building your own cheap go-kart can be an enjoyable and affordable way to get into motorsports. With some basic mechanical skills and cheap or salvaged parts, you can construct a fast, custom kart on a budget.

Steps to Build a Cheap Go-Kart

Here is step by step guide to make cheap go kart:

Plan Out Your Go-Kart Design

Before gathering materials, think about how you want your go-kart to look and perform. Consider factors like:

  • Size – Will it be for kids or adults? Go-kart frames come in different dimensions.
  • Seating – Do you want a single or two-seater go-kart?
  • Steering – Choose between front wheel, rear wheel or four wheel steering. Four wheel is more stable.
  • Engine – Smaller engines are cheaper but limit speed. Larger engines deliver more power but cost more.
  • Transmission – Direct drive or gear transmission? Gearboxes allow speed control but are more complex.
  • Brakes – Hand brake, foot brake or both? High performance karts have hydraulic disc brakes.
  • Body – You can build an open frame kart, add a roll cage or body panels. Consider safety.
  • Suspension – Do you want a smooth ride (softer suspension) or racing performance (stiffer)?
  • Wheels/Tires – Larger wheels and tires improve handling and grip. Air or solid tires?

Once you’ve decided on the go-kart configuration, sketch your design to visualize the final product.

Gather Affordable Parts and Materials

You can find go-kart parts and salvaged components for very cheap or even free:

Frame and Chassis:

  • Kart frame kit – Basic tubular steel frames are inexpensive if you don’t need advanced features.
  • Lawn mower frame – The frame and rear axle can be repurposed into a go-kart frame.
  • Scrap metal tubing – Check junkyards and metal shops for square/round steel stock.
  • Wood – Plywood and 2x4s can form a cheap frame. Not as durable as metal.

Wheels, Tires and Axles:

  • Old bicycle wheels – Youth bike wheels with pneumatic tires work well.
  • Lawn mower wheels – Sturdy rear drive wheels with hubs can be recycled.
  • Wheelbarrow wheel – One wheelbarrow wheel for front steering.
  • Motorcycle wheels – Check for used wheels/tires on classifieds or in salvage yards.
  • Axles – Use axle stubs from lawnmowers or a ready-made live axle kit.

Steering System:

  • Bicycle fork and stem – The front fork assembly can act as the steering linkage.
  • Steering shaft – A 3/4″ black pipe with U-joints allows angle adjustment.
  • Steering wheel – Can be salvaged from a boat, lawn mower or junk car.
  • Tie rods -Threaded rod with ball joints connects steering to wheels.

Engine and Drivetrain:

  • Lawn mower engine – 4-stroke engines up to 8 HP can reach 30+ mph.
  • Go-kart engine – New 6.5-10 HP engines are affordable at $150-300.
  • Motorcycle engine – Used single cylinder engines offer ample power, but require more setup.
  • Torque converter – Attaches engine to live axle. Creates automatic transmission.
  • Centrifugal clutch – Engages belt drive at higher RPMs. Simpler but less adjustable.
  • #420 chain – Sturdy chain drive connects engine sprocket to rear axle sprocket.

Brakes:

  • Bicycle brakes – Rim brakes or disc brakes can be fitted to kart wheels.
  • Lawn mower brake – The rear wheel brake can be reused if the axle is salvaged.
  • Motorcycle master cylinder – Hydraulic brake system allows a hand lever or pedal.

Body and Controls:

  • Steel tubing/wood – Use spare framing to create a roll cage or body panels.
  • Kart seat – Bucket seats from racing sites or molded plastic seats.
  • Bicycle handlebars – Adjustable handlebars and grips for steering input.
  • Throttle/brake cables – Inner derailleur cables and housings for controls.
  • Junkyard pedals/levers – Repurposed car or bike components for throttle/brake.

Construct the Frame and Chassis

With materials gathered, it’s time to start building. Here are the key steps:

  1. Layout the frame design on a flat surface.
  2. Cut and weld the tubing into the main frame rails and cross members.
  3. Mount the front steering and rear axle subframes to the main frame.
  4. Attach the engine mount plates and brackets in the correct locations.
  5. Add a roll cage or body panels (optional). Focus on driver protection.
  6. Install the pedals, steering wheel, controls, seat and other ergonomic components so the driver fits comfortably.

Install Drivetrain and Steering Components

  1. Mount the engine, torque converter and #420 chain sprockets.
  2. Run the drive chain through the chain guards/guides. Tension appropriately.
  3. Attach the steering shaft and steering wheel to the front wheels via tie rods.
  4. Add the throttle, brake cables and associated linkages from pedals to engine.
  5. Bleed hydraulic brakes if included in your design.

Add Finishing Touches

With the go-kart mechanically complete, put on final touches:

  • Paint or polish raw metal for aesthetics and corrosion resistance.
  • Add number plates/decals and custom graphics.
  • Install safety pads on the roll cage for driver protection.
  • Upgrade to racing seats, 5-point harnesses, neck braces and rib protectors.

Test and Tune the Go-Kart

Before full speed runs:

  • Check bolts are tight and parts are secure.
  • Do low-speed steering, braking and handling tests.
  • Break in the engine properly with moderate RPMs.
  • Gradually increase speed in safe environments to test capabilities.
  • Make adjustments and enhancements until the go-kart performs as desired.

With some basic mechanical know-how and affordable materials, you can build a custom go-kart on a budget. Just take time to properly plan out the design and don’t cut corners on safety. Follow this guide and you’ll be racing around tracks and trails in your own fast kart in no time!

Also read: How Much Does It Cost to Build a Go Kart?

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is question and their answer about building cheap go kart:

How much does it cost to build a go-kart?

Building a basic go-kart can cost as little as $200-300 if using mostly salvaged parts. Purchasing new components for a higher performance kart can cost $800-1500.

What tools do I need to build a go-kart?

Useful tools include wrenches, socket sets, pry bars, hammers, drill, grinder, welder, ratchet straps, torque wrench and basic shop equipment.

What engine is best for a go-kart?

For low cost, a 5-8 HP lawn mower engine works well. More powerful options are a 6.5-13 HP gasoline go-kart engine or small single-cylinder motorcycle engine.

Is a transmission necessary for a go-kart?

A centrifugal clutch or torque converter allows good speed control without a manual transmission. A gearbox is only needed for racing level performance.

How fast can a homemade go-kart go?

Typical top speeds are 15-45 mph. With a sufficiently powerful engine and gearing, home built go-karts can exceed 60 mph. But higher speeds require advanced components and safety gear.

Conclusion

Constructing your own DIY go-kart is an enjoyable project that can be done on a budget. By using recycled parts creatively and shopping for deals, the build cost can be kept quite low. Make safety the number one priority, especially for designs with higher speed potential. Follow this guide to learn the basics of planning, sourcing, building and testing a cheap go-kart from scratch. Once complete, you’ll have a custom ride to race around in style.