How Do Go Kart Clutches Work? A Beginner’s Guide

Assuming that a go-kart features a direct drive system, most off-road and racing go-karts have a gearbox. A gearbox transfers mechanical power from the engine to the go-kart’s rear axle in a regulated manner. Go-karts that employ a torque converter or a clutch as a gearbox are the most common. The clutch is a type of automated gearbox that is actuated as the engine’s RPM rises. 

The clutches on your go-kart are the most crucial component of your racing engine. There are a few things you should know about the disc that engages and sends you racing down the course at full speed. 

The Basics of a Go-Kart Clutch 

A non-variable transmission is a go-kart clutch. This implies it has a fixed gear ratio determined by the diameters of the crankshaft and rear axle sprockets. The gear ratio remains constant throughout the engine’s RPM range.

Go-karts feature many different types of clutches, but the most frequent are dry centrifugal clutches. Four components make up a centrifugal clutch. The inside components are encased in an exterior drum, as seen in the figure above. The drum is joined to the driving sprocket, which is connected to the back axle by a roller chain.

The clutch is a type of automated gearbox that is actuated as the engine’s RPM rises. When the kart is idle, the clutch should not engage. The idle speed of an engine is fixed at the factory by the manufacturer. The engine’s idle speed is usually approximately 1,650 rpm +/- 200 rpm.

A wet, multi-plate, centrifugal clutch system will most likely be used on your 4 strokes go-kart clutch. This is the mode of operation for all Honda GX200 engines. There are several varieties of brands of clutches available from local dealers, and racer tastes vary from one location to the next.

If you’d be interested in check out a list of the top go-kart clutches, then we’ve compiled one here for you.

Types of Go-Kart Clutches

Here are some of the top go-kart clutch types available in the market.

Auto Express Clutch for Go-Karts

A wonderful alternative for small engine-powered go-karts is the Auto Express Clutch, which is composed of high-quality steel. It’s a dry centrifugal system with a toothed sprocket of 12- and just one variation. If you already have a roller chain, you may directly connect it to your kart or either source one yourself.

For engines with a minimum power output of 2 and a maximum of 6 HorsePower, the Auto Express Go-Kart Clutch is suggested. It boasts an engagement scale of 2200 to 200 RPM once fitted. 

Bravex Clutch for Go-Karts 

The Bravex Clutch is available in sprockets with either 10- or 12-tooth. It’s designed for engines performing between 3 and 6.5 HP. Plus, the displacement should be less than 200cc. 

Its overall build quality is excellent. The wear-resistant steel and high-impact design offer a 50% longer lifetime.

FDJ Go-Kart Clutch

The go-kart clutch from FDJ is an excellent addition to our roundup of the best go-kart clutches. It’s composed of heavy-duty steel, which makes it wear-resistant, making it last longer. It’s incredibly compact as a result, and it’s ideal for small to medium-sized go-kart engines. It comes in three distinct sizes, each available in tooth sprockets of 12-, 11-, or 10-.

The FDJ Go-Kart Clutch fits most go-kart engines that have a 3/4″ crankshaft plus a 3/16″ keyway, ranging from 2-7 HP.

Trkimal Centrifugal Clutch for Go-Karts

The Trkimal Centrifugal Clutch is also an excellent option for go-karts with a minimum engine power of 2 and a maximum of 6.5 horsepower. It’s made of tough steel, which makes the clutch resistant to both heat and wear. 

It also has a 3/4″ inner bore, which makes it congenial with crankshafts with a 3/4″ diameter and 3/16″ keyway. The clutch measures 54.5mm in height and 107mm in diameter, making it tiny and compact.

MooSun Clutch for Go-Karts

The MooSun clutch is the finest clutch on our list because it has the ideal balance of construction quality and price. For Briggs and Stratton, Tecumseh, Predator, and other small to medium engines of go-karts, this clutch is ideal. 

It can generally support any engine with a power output of 4 to 7 HP. The MooSun features a 2300+_300 RPM engagement scale and comes with a 35 roller chain. You don’t have to look for it individually.

How Does a Go-Kart’s Clutch Differ From a Go-Kart Torque Converter 

When opposed to a clutch, a torque converter works in a fundamentally different way. The key distinction is that the torque converters idle before engaging and engage at roughly 1,700 RPM. Even in stop-and-go traffic, the gear ratio is flexible once engaged, and there is little wear. On the contrary, clutches are a different story.

While clutches engage sooner, their slip range is between 1,400 and 1,600 RPM. Increased heat and wear on the components might result from slipping. When a clutch is completely engaged, though, it feels a lot snappier.

Torque converters are most typically utilized on off-road go-karts because they can manage low torque ranges more readily. They operate better at slower speeds, making them perfect for stop-and-go traffic. This is since off-road go-karts must occasionally negotiate difficult terrain at slower speeds.

Clutches, on the other hand, are quicker and more responsive at high speeds. They’re made to keep you interested all the time, which makes them great for go-karting. Multi-disc clutches are used in high-performance go-karts to accommodate different torque ranges.

As a result, clutches are better suited to scenarios in which you’re frequently engaging at higher speeds and higher torque ranges. 

What Ruins A Go Kart Clutch

Here are some examples of certain bad practices that are responsible for spoiling your clutch. Because the clutch works based on friction, it’s best to keep it cold.

Too Slow of a Driver

When you drive your go-kart at a slow speed, the clutch doesn’t engage completely. Doing so causes the clutch’s shoes to start slipping on the drum generating lots of heat. And that definitely is not good for your clutch. 

Driving with Frequent Stops 

When you drive your go-kart with regular stops, you do not give the clutch enough time to lose steam before deploying it over and over again. 

Clutch Smeared With Oil

If you grease the clutch’s inner components, the lube will cause slippage in the working mechanism of the clutch. It will start heating up, and you already learned what may happen if the clutch becomes too hot above safe temperatures.

The Clutch is Dirty

After each race, it is very important to clean the clutch of your kart. Emery paper helps in removing the grime and dirt that has built up on the inner components of the clutch. If necessary, you may replace the springs as well. 

How to Maintain Your Go-Kart’s Clutch 

Even though it is a minor mechanical component of any go-kart, the clutch plays a critical function. It is consequently critical to properly maintain a go-kart clutch for it to function correctly. 

This can be accomplished by lubricating the clutch’s brass bushing with oil or another appropriate lubricant. 

I’ll walk you through this procedure step by step so you can understand it completely

  • The first step consists of removing the roller chain from the sprockets. To do so, make sure you have all of the necessary equipment and that your go-kart is in a position where you can easily access the chain and clutch.
  • Now, it’s time to take your go-karts’ clutch out. To do so, you’ll need to first take off the pieces that are holding the clutch in place. The most typical way to attach a go-kart clutch is with a couple of set screws that go through the clutch and/or a washer and bolt that run through the crankshaft.
  • Thereafter, lubricate the clutch on the go-kart. It’s better to perform this on a workbench or table with plenty of room. Also, it is a good idea to do this on a towel or tissue in case any oil drips.

FAQs Regarding the Working of Go-Kart Clutches

How much HP can a clutch for go-karts handle?

There’s a wide range of HP that a go-kart clutch can handle. For example, NORAM centrifugal clutches are available for engines ranging from a hundredth of horsepower to 50 horsepower. 

How do you put a clutch on a go-kart?

Install the go-kart clutch on the shaft of the engine. The clutch will be able to glide onto the engine shaft with ease. Align the 3/4-inch-bore go-kart clutch with the axle. Make sure the 3/16′′ key is in the clutch before sliding it onto the shaft.

Can you adjust a go-kart clutch?

Centrifugal clutches are picky by nature, and even the least misalignment can drastically affect performance and engagement rpm. In most situations, periodic modification to account for wear on the springs and clutch material is rather straightforward. 

Bottom Line 

In general, racing go-karts are fitted with a clutch that performs better at high RPMs and allows for a higher top speed. The clutch is a crucial component of any go-kart that might mean the difference between the first and the last place.

Overall, remember to take care of your clutch! You’ll be rewarded with a slew of entertaining races if you do!

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