Different Gear Ratios for Go Karts

by Beth Berry
Gear ratios help determine the top speeds of go karts.

Gear ratios help determine the top speeds of go karts.

The gear ratio for go-karts is a measure of the potential performance of the kart. As the ratio increases, so does the potential top speed. However, power is compromised with an increase in ratio, making top speeds more difficult to achieve, in much the same way that it is hard to climb a hill on a bicycle in high gear. To determine gear ratio, divide the number of clutch teeth by the number of sprocket teeth on the drive axle.

6-1 Ratio

A 6-1 ratio is thought to be the ideal ratio by many go-kart enthusiasts. This means there are six teeth on the rear sprocket for every one tooth in the clutch. This ratio can provide the most speed without compromising power.

4-1 Ratio

In instances of higher gear ratios, such as 4-to-1, the go kart will have very little torque, making it difficult to get going at the start of a race, possibly even requiring a push-start. It will be capable of higher top speeds, but in many cases this will not win a race without quick take-off speed.

Other Important Considerations

In addition to gear ratios, other factors must be considered for optimum top speed, take-off speed and efficiency. Tire size, driver weight, track or terrain conditions, tire tread and overall weight of the go kart will greatly impact the performance of the vehicle.

About the Author

Hailing from Austin, Texas, Beth Berry has been writing since 1995 about sustainable farming, fiber arts and parenting. She brings expertise in organic gardening, landscape design and domestic arts to her writing. Berry holds a Bachelor of Science in environmental science from Abilene Christian University and is a master seamstress.

Photo Credits

  • karting in the rain 4 image by Xavier MARCHANT from Fotolia.com