Go karts are fast, fun and can be controlled by little hands and feet. The best go karts are one step closer to the “real deal,” and one of the most thrilling kid toys out there. The design makes it an excellent car for racing. If your kiddo wants one, have no doubt, that is what they have in mind. If you are not as excited about getting a go kart as your kid, you can thank Art Ingels, who made the first go kart in 1956. If you do not know much about go karts, then relax, we’ve got you covered and will help you sift through what you need to know.
As a parent, I understand you have questions and concerns about choosing the one for your son or daughter. We’ll provide you with the types of go karts, the best go karts, popular brands, frequently asked questions and safety tips.
Before reviewing the best go kart to buy, here are some frequently asked questions that may help you with your decision:
Go karts are open-wheeled cars that come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Some have motors (electric and gas), and others do not (pedal). They have four wheels, are low to the ground and have a low center of gravity. Go karts for kids are designed for children within specific age ranges. Some karts are capable of fitting adults, especially double seaters. They have small engines (two- or four-stroke), and speeds range can reach as high as 40mph. They vary in capability of going on dirt, grass and paved terrain.
Low speeds (under 9mph) are best for very young children. There are a variety of safety features, both standard and add-ons, by each manufacturer. The safest go karts have safety harnesses. The five-point harness offers the most point connections for safety. If you are buying a used go kart, check that the safety harness was not cut out. There are also other features such as roll bars and cages. Pedal and electric karts, having no gas tank, may be safer if an accident occurs. The fact is, there are durable quality go karts available, but accidents happen. Talking with your kids about following safety rules and wearing safety gear is the best protection you can offer them.
Aside from a local dealer, Amazon is the place to go for a variety of gas, electric and pedal go karts. Some familiar stores such as Walmart, The Home Depot and Sears carry go karts; however, the selection available for gas and electric karts is sometimes small in number.
Karts speeds vary from 2mph to 40mph.
Each kart manufacturer provides age recommendations. Check with your state for legal requirements. Also, ensure your child is ready to handle driving, especially a gas or electric kart. Just because he or she is within the age, height and weight requirements does not mean your child is ready for the responsibility of driving one.
Prices vary based on the manufacturer and features of the kart. Karts can range from $60 (pedal and electric) to over $2,000 (all of them).
This answer depends on where you live and age; laws vary state to state. You will need to know the age. Most allow vehicles to travel at low speeds on the street. The kart speed can be verified at your local DMV office, but you will need insurance coverage. Check with your state for a list of safety requirements, such as turn signals, headlights, taillights, breaks, windshield and wiper, among other additions.
Most go karts require some assembly. Typical parts that need assembly are roll bars, front guards and front and rear wheel assembly. The parts that stick out from the body are the ones that often require assembly.
Pedal go karts will likely fit into your vehicle, and some electric go karts are made slim and might fit in your vehicle. Gas-powered go karts are not recommended to be put inside your vehicle. However, these karts are made of heavy duty frames (usually steel). Just because it can fit does not mean you want it to.
No motor, rubber wheels (usually), some adjust as the child grows (e.g. seat)
The driver controls the speed, adjustable seats, can easily pick it up and turn it around when stuck
Often no seatbelts or breaks
An electric motor and battery, some have solid rubber tires and others pneumatic, many have seatbelts and durable frames
Quieter than gas, great torque, quick acceleration
Limited play by battery life, battery recharging required
Pneumatic tires, durable frames and increased safety features that may include seatbelts, roll bars, cages, headlights and horn
Greater use time than electric, great for off-roading
Fumes, fuel refill required
Pedal go karts are great exercise for kids. It gets their hearts pumping and legs moving. It is safer than the motorized go karts and just as much fun. Kids gain skills such as better reflexes and coordination. Having family time together and time outdoors (away from the TV) are also great for mental and family health.
If your kids love go karts, then maybe you have already shelled out some money for recreational tracks. While the experience is different, they may not ask to go to the track as frequently with one at home. If they are young, then a go kart is considered a better option than other children’s vehicles for the excitement factor, durability and longevity (depending on what you buy).
When it comes to comfort, I look closely at customer reviews. They are quick to tell you honestly about comfort. Features such as padded and adjustable seats are typically easy to spot. Suspension will make the ride smoother. Noise level may also be a comfort concern, as gas karts are the loudest.
Each go kart has variations on how it operates. Some children may find hand-operated controls easier, and others may have no problem with pedals. For younger children, the pedal karts are the sturdiest, and the speed is based on their power capability. Karts that offer operation of the steering and pedals that are independent are best for young children.
Thankfully, since 1956, go karts have changed significantly when it comes to safety. However, additional measures can be taken to ensure your child’s safety while driving or riding in a go kart.
Take time to explain all safety gear to your kids and why they wear it. They may be rolling their eyes at you, but they should know their gear before racing around the yard.
Before driving, check that clothing is properly fitted (tight-fitting is best); nothing should be hanging out or baggy because you don’t want anything getting stuck in the mechanics of the machine. Kids with long hair need to pull it up so it will not come down while driving. Pants and long-sleeved shirts are best to wear for protection of the skin in the event of an accident.
Make sure your son or daughter knows what to do in the event of an accident. If the kart does flip, children need to keep their hands and legs inside the go kart at all times. Placing their hands on their chest or the wheel is considered safe.
When kids are racing around the yard, they are likely looking around to see who is watching. Talk to your kid about keeping their eyes ahead of them and looking out for low branches, uneven pavement, holes in the ground and other changes in the terrain. Checking for trouble spots in the drive area ahead of time is always a good idea.
Before you search for the perfect go kart, ask your family what your goal is in having a go kart. Get a picture of how you are going to use it. While thinking about the big picture, ask your family to consider the following:
This will depend on where you live. Is the drive area primarily paved? Some go karts have tires that are harmed by pavement. Others get stuck off-road. Do you have a large property, or are there nearby trails you can take it on? Can your child handle off-roading?
What speed does your family feel is safe for your children, now and as they grow. Speeds can vary greatly, some more easily controllable than others.
Each kart manufacturer has recommended age ranges (and weight limits). Pedal karts are great for the very young, as young as two years old. Some have cost-efficient features such as adjustable seats and pedals that allow the kart to grow as your child ages.
A price tag cannot beat the peace of mind that your child is safe. Knowing what features are must-haves for safety is important. For example, some have a side cage and roll bars that nearly enclose the machine, but others have none at all. They are also made of different materials such as steel. You may be surprised to learn that not all karts have seat belts.
And finally, what kind of maintenance does your family want to handle? Electric karts require recharging and eventually the purchasing of a replacement battery. Not all batteries are the same. The life of the battery tends to vary from kart to kart. Gas karts require fuel, and some karts require oil and have air-filled tires.
Electric karts run on battery power and just like gas, it depends on how easy on the pedal you are to make it last a little longer. Typically battery life lasts up to 40 minutes. With fuel, however, if they run out, there is no need to wait for a 12-hour recharge, you can fill it up and keep going.
Hauck sells products exclusively for children. The only go karts they carry are pedal karts. They have a great range of basic colors: black, lime green, red, blue, pink/black and even have a Transformer kart.
Razor sells a variety of exciting products, including electric karts. They have a nice range of colors: black, white, red and blue, and they seem to stick to racing style colors and design.
Trailmaster (Company name BV Powersports LLC) sells gas go karts, most of which are two-seaters. They have a basic range of colors: red, blue and yellow, and some fun ones, too, such as camo and girly pink.
Coleman Powersports sells gas-powered off-road go karts, single and double occupancy. They don’t offer a big variety of colors. At this time, they have red-seated karts with black frames and a camo-colored kart.
Berg specializes in outdoor toys, including pedal go karts. They offer a great variety of colors, including all the basic colors, pink and a John Deere pedal go kart.
Actev is a relatively young company, just formed in 2014. The Arrow Smart-Kart is their first model. The kart is black, and two body karts are available to purchase separately, red or silver.
If you haven’t seen one of these in action, find a video on YouTube, they look like so much fun! I love the hand-controlled feature for the acceleration and rear brake. I feel like this gives kids more control and makes it safer for them.
This two-seater gas kart is for kids ages 13 and up. You can join your kiddos while they are hitting the dirt tracks up to 31mph. It has the safety features to make you feel better when they are exploring rough terrain and the durability to make the ride a true off-road experience. It has a pull start, so no battery is needed.
As a mom, I appreciate the durability and safety features such as roll cage bars, rack and pinion steering (makes it easier to control), four-point safety harness, tires made to absorb shock and impact, hydraulic disc brakes and a kill switch.
Check out this cool ride that will take you back to the 70s – and if you were never there, then you can just enjoy the ride and vintage design. It offers a smooth ride because of the rear suspension and eight-inch knobby pneumatic tires. The accelerator and rear brake are hand-operated. While it is a low speed, it still has nice safety features such as a shoulder strap belt and flag.
So, which go kart do I choose as the best go kart for kids? It’s super quiet, great for off-roading and has vintage flare. You guessed it, the Razor Dune Buggy. I love that it is fast enough to get a freedom kick, but not so fast that you have to worry like crazy at a max speed of 9mph. It offers great off-roading ability and easy maneuverability with hand controls. The safety features are satisfactory, and to top it all off, the price is a great value.What’s the Best Go Kart for Kids?
The mother in me is a full-throttle investigator. When I need to know something, I do a lot of talking and researching. I like to start with friends and family to see what they know and then start digging online to see what I can find. I read customer reviews to get an idea of the real pros and cons of each product. Watching YouTube videos are also helpful. I paid close attention to reviewer comments about safety features and maneuverability. Star ratings are only valuable when they are high numbers; so friends, family and paid reviewers are averaged out.
Accessories can give a little added peace of mind when you focus on safety. Here are some products to consider while shopping:
Ensure your kids have a helmet to protect that precious noggin. I find the full-faced helmets without the visors to be the best choice; they provide great ventilation all around. Your child’s breath does not fog up her or his vision, and glasses are not an issue.
The helmet on the top of my list is the Razor Full Face Youth Helmet. It’s lightweight, fits well and is made well. It has a plastic clip rather than a steel D-ring for the strap, which is a negative for some people. The size chart is a little inaccurate. Some reviewers noted complaints that the helmet was too big.
Knee and elbow pads are important to protect joints from shock and scraps. I like Mongoose BMX Bike Gel Knee and Elbow Pad Set.
They are soft, and the gel padding makes them super-cushiony. This set isn’t especially good for the youngest of kids, as they may be a little too big for them.
Goggles are a great compliment for a no-visor helmet to protect the eyes. I like one that is anti-fog with UV protection like the MX Goggles For Kids Youth by Nenki.
Make sure to check the goggle measurements to ensure it will work with the helmet if you order it online.
That was some fun research! I learned a lot about the ins and outs of go karts, and I hope you did as well. I feel like this list represents the best go karts for kids on the market today. Always remember, the best way your children can be safe is by you taking the time to educate them on safety. Stay safe and have fun!