One of the best presents you can get a kid for Christmas or their birthday is a go-kart. If you buy your kid a go-kart, they will be thrilled and happy. If your kid really wants a kart, you should probably get it unless it is beyond what you can afford.
Not every go-kart is just as good as every other one. First off, they vary in how safe they are. If you get the cheapest go-kart you can find, it might lack important safety features.
It is also true that some go-karts perform significantly better than others. Some turn better, go faster, are easier to control, and have extra features. A bad go-kart won’t last very long before something breaks. You can usually determine the quality by looking at reviews on Amazon, as long as there are a lot of reviews.
Some cheaper karts are reasonably good, but you have to be more careful with cheaper purchases. A $150 go-kart is more likely to have problems than a $700 go-kart. The cheaper the kart is, the more sure you have to be that the company has a good reputation.
Make sure that whatever you buy is safe, durable, reliable, and backed by a good warranty. Even if the Amazon reviews are positive, don’t buy a go-kart that only has a small number of reviews or doesn’t have a good warranty.
Go-Karts Can Help Your Kid Learn to Drive
Riding a go-kart as a child or early teen can help your kid learn to drive more safely after they turn 16. While a lot of the activities that kids enjoy are good for their hand-eye coordination and motor skills, nothing beats go-karting.
Even video games might help a kid learn the coordination and quick thinking necessary for driving. However, playing a game is so different from driving a real vehicle that games might not make a huge difference. Sports are great for developing motor skills, but they are nothing like driving.
A go-kart gives your kid a chance to get some driving experience before they drive a real vehicle. Being able to drive well is a very important life skill that your kid should get a head start at learning. Go-karts are not completely safe, but they help your kid be as safe on the road as possible as a new driver.
Different Go-Karts are Good for Different Kids
A teenager won’t fit in a go-kart that is made for a much younger kid. Pay attention to the size of the kart and what age it is for. Go-karts also have weight limits.
There are also off-road go-karts, pedal-powered go-karts, tricycle go-karts with engines, and many other variations. Let your kid know about some of the different options first.
Let them know that they can get a go-kart that they can take out in the woods and not only on a racetrack if you live in a good location for this. Off-road go-karts look like all-terrain vehicles but are cheaper, lighter, slower, safer, and great for kids and teenagers.
While most kids will probably want a standard go-kart that they can take around a track, others will want something different. You can get go-karts that are shaped like dune buggies and other vehicles. Let your kid see pictures of some of the different options before they make a choice.
The Best Go-Karts You Can Buy for Kids Today
Any of the products we recommend are of reasonably good quality. They are for kids of different ages, travel at different speeds, and look different, but you can expect any of them to last reasonably long.
Razor Drifter Fury Kart
This is the best affordable electric go-kart for kids over eight years old. The kart has a durable steel tube frame and can bump into things without breaking. The seat is comfortable, and the seatbelt makes it relatively safe.
The speed is relatively slow (9 miles per hour), so it should be safe for not very young children, even if they have never used a go-kart before. Since your kid sits so low to the ground in this kart, 9 miles per hour seems relatively fast.
The maximum weight limit is high (140 pounds), so children more than a little over eight can ride the kart, including teenagers. An older kid can usually fit in the kart comfortably.
Even if someone much over 140 pounds uses the kart, it will only go slowly, not break. The steel tube construction is very strong. The kart’s plastic parts are also durable.
The brake, while manually operated, is effective. It looks similar to a handbrake on a bicycle, and it works the same way.
It is also not easy to tip the kart over. The kart is heavy, and the wheels are a long way apart. After your kid has some experience, they might start doing tricks like spinning the kart around. This is not always dangerous – you can do a 180-degree spin at the highest possible speed many times without tipping the cart over.
Since the kart is so low to the ground, it is dangerous to take it out on the open road. No one in a truck or even a car could see it, especially not when backing up. Thankfully, the go-kart includes a flag to make it visible to cars, but I wouldn’t let your kid use it on the street, even with a flag.
The charging time is long (6-12 hours to charge for 40-60 minutes of use), which is standard for electric go-karts. Electric vehicles may be the future, but they still have problems. If your kid wants to use the kart for more than an hour or so at a time, you can buy extra batteries.
Reasons to Buy
- The design of the brake and wheels make it capable of drifting and 180-degree turns
- Not much assembly required
- Strong, durable frame
- High weight limit
- Comfortable seat
- No significant disadvantages
Radio Flyer Ultimate Go-Kart
The radio flyer kart is great if you want an electric kart for younger children. There are three different speeds, and you can lock the cart to a slower speed to keep a younger kid safe. It has a weight limit of 81 pounds and can travel at 8 miles per hour at the highest speed.
Two different kids can use this kart even if they are a few years apart. The seat is adjustable, and you can set the maximum speed lower for a young child.
The battery charge times are not bad (8 or 10 hours), and you can use the kart for 60 minutes before it runs out of power. The steering is responsive, as is the electric foot pedal. If you take your foot off the pedal, it will stop moving automatically, so it is easy for young kids to control. The go-kart even has reverse.
Reasons to Buy
- Lockable speed control
- Reverse as well as forward
- Relatively cheap
- Popular kart with excellent reviews
- Somewhat faster than normal charging times
- Adjustable seat
- No significant disadvantages
Razor Dirt Off-Road Vehicle
Many kids want an off-road vehicle they can take on a forest trail or around a park instead of on a track. The razor dirt off-road vehicle is a miniature quad bike with a relatively slow 8mph maximum speed.
It might be the best kid-friendly ATV you can get. It is mostly for older kids, with a maximum weight of up to 120 pounds.
While this is a relatively expensive choice, it performs well and is built to last. The vehicle can get over rough terrain with its large tires. It is made of metal beams plus shatter-resistant plastic, so regular use and minor crashes won’t wreck it.
The razor even has decent suspension, which is impressive for a kid’s go-kart. You can ride it smoothly across bumpy, muddy, and otherwise difficult terrain. The twist-grip speed control is also great for off-road locations where there are obstacles to watch out for.
The kart uses batteries, which run out fairly quickly. You can continuously use it for 40 and maybe 60 minutes, but the batteries take 12 hours to charge up. The batteries aren’t very powerful for the size of the vehicle, so the maximum speed is a bit slow, and the batters don’t last. You might get additional batteries for the kart.
Reasons to Buy
- Very capable of handling rough terrain due to its huge tires
- Variable speed control that allows your kid to accelerate and makes it easy to regulate the speed
- Decent suspension and shocks make it a smooth ride
- Somewhat slow maximum speed and somewhat short battery life
- Somewhat expensive
Berg Toys Buzzy Nitro Go-Kart
If you trust a very young child with a go-kart, the berg toys buzzy nitro is a great choice. It is wide, cannot tip over, and is pedal-powered, so it isn’t any more dangerous than a tricycle is. Even a toddler that can’t ride a bike yet may be able to use the buzzy nitro safely.
The buzzy nitro doesn’t take any strength to steer, so it is controllable by children under the age of five. Building up speed is easy; everything about the kart takes very little strength to use.
You can use the buzzy nitro in many different situations – outdoors on grass or pavement, on a track, or even indoors if you have a suitable room for that.
The petals are designed for a young child. The wheels are solid, so there is no way to puncture them, and you will never have to replace them. Since kids grow so quickly at that age, it is great that the seat and handlebars are adjustable. If they start young enough, your kid can keep using the kart for a few years.
Reasons to Buy
- Great for small children from as young as 2 to 5
- Lightweight (15.4 pounds)
- Easy for a kid to move and control
- Adjustable seat
- 66-pound weight limit is enough for the age range
- The seat/handlebars will not fit a kid aged six or older
Coleman Powersports Go-Kart
The Coleman Powersports Go-Kart is a powerful, gas-powered, relatively fast kart for people in their early teens. The kart is not a racing cart so much as an off-road cart that you can use on trails. You can also take the cart around town if it is legal and relatively safe to do this.
It has a high maximum speed (31 miles per hour) and is for older kids that you can trust. There is a roll cage and a safety harness, but these strong safety features don’t always outweigh its speed. A kill switch makes it easy to shut off the power if anything goes wrong.
It is heavy (330 pounds) and has a weight limit of 400 pounds. Again, this is a big, powerful, pricey, fast machine that works very well either on or off the track. The 4-stroke, 196cc, 6.5 horsepower engine is much more powerful than the electric motors many other go-karts use.
Since the Coleman Powersports Go-Kart is a gas-powered rather than electric machine, you won’t have to worry about long battery-charging times. It is easy to start the engine. Your kid can use the kart as much as they want on the track, in the woods, or mabye even around town.
It also has hydraulic brakes, pressurized tires that make the ride smooth on a bumpy trail, and excellent maneuverability and steering.
Reasons to Buy
- Powerful gas engine, no batteries to recharge
- Safety features: harness, killswitch, and roll cage
- High maximum speed
- Very high weight limit
- Great if you want a high-end kart
- Works well both off-road and on the track
- Not for young kids
- Potentially too fast
Hauck Batmobile Go Kart
The batmobile is best for batman fans between 4 and 8 years old. It is pedal-powered, and its front has an authentic batmobile shape. The kart has a great handbrake. The brake stops the rear rather than the front wheels, so there is no chance of flipping the kart over if you try to brake at high speed.
Since the kart is so adjustable, it might fit the same kid for all four years of its age range. The seating is comfortable, the steering is very responsive, and the kart is too low to the ground to tip over. The appearance and style are perfect for batman fans.
The steering also makes the kart worth buying. It is responsive enough that your kid can turn sharply, and the tires make it easy and safe to do this.
Reasons to Buy
- Great stylish appearance for batman fans
- Excellent steering and braking
- The front fender comes off easily. This is not so much of a flaw that we cannot recommend it, but you will have to put the fender back on once in a while.
- The batmobile is smaller than you might expect. If your kid is in the older half of the age range and tall, it might be too small for them right from the start. It is best for kids in the first half of the age range.
Trailmater Mini XRX
The Trailmaster Mini XRX is one of the best high-end go-karts you can get if you have a teenager that wants something fast, powerful, and serious. It is a dune buggy-style racing kart that has a powerful engine and a large fuel tank.
Since the engine is so large (163cc and 5.5hp), the Trailmaster can travel up to 25mph. The 4-stroke engine powers a live-axle drive that can get this heavy cart going quickly.
The Trailmaster is easy to control despite its speed, with hydraulic disc brakes plus front and rear suspension. The seat belts, safety seats, and guard bars add to the kart’s safety. It also has a low center of gravity, so it is not easy to tip over. It is not dangerous to make a sharp turn with this kart.
If you do not want to run the Trailmaster at full speed, you can set the speed as low as four miles per hour. If your teen has never used a go-kart before, they might start with a slower speed until they get the hang of it. You do not need prior experience with slower go-karts to ride the Trailmaster.
The Trailmaster is also a two-seat go-kart, with a utility rack and a fairly long distance between the seat and the petals. While the kart is heavy (176 pounds), it is not nearly as heavy as the Coleman Powersports Go-Kart. The kart is powerful enough to carry a load of up to 400 pounds.
Reasons to Buy
- Fast, durable, and powerful
- Two seats
- Excellent gas engine
- Easy to control
- Safety features
- Variable speed control
There’s a lot to think about before you buy a go-kart. First and foremost, a go-kart should be well-made and safe. You don’t want to end up with something that will break not long after you buy it.
A go-kart should be made out of high-quality materials that fit together properly. Don’t buy a kart that has a bad reputation for quality. Some go-karts have a specific part that is likely to break soon.
Even if most of the go-karts from a company are well-made, some of them will still have manufacturing defects. Make sure the warranty is fair. You can lose several hundred dollars on a go-kart that breaks.
Not everyone can afford to buy their kids very expensive birthday/Christmas presents every year. Thankfully, some reasonably cheap go-karts work well and won’t break easily. Be more careful with the company’s reputation if you are buying a cheap go-kart.
A kid will usually be more excited if you get them an electric go-kart than a pedal-powered one. However, pedal-powered carts are cheaper, lighter, and better exercise.
If you do get a powered kart, gas is sometimes better than electric because you won’t have to charge the batteries. Charging the batteries for any kind of vehicle takes a long time.
If your kid is nine years old, you should get them a kart for 9-12-year-olds and not for 6-9-year-olds. The go-kart will last for a few years, and your kid will grow during that time. If you get them a kart that they are almost too old for already, they might become too big for a kart in only one year.
Some go-karts are more impressive-looking than others. You might show your kids a few pictures of karts and have them choose the right one.
You can get karts that are similar to anything from tricycles to ATVs, as well as regular racing karts. Some karts are better for off-track use than others. Ask your kid what kind of a kart they want.
You want your kid to be excited when riding their go-kart but not go dangerously fast. If you want to be on the safe side, you might get a kart that maxes out at about 12mph for a young child. Older children can quickly learn to ride faster karts safely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a kid have to wear a helmet when using a go-kart?
Yes, helmets are a must. It is not safe to use a bicycle, go-kart, or other ride-on vehicles without wearing a helmet. Whether or not there are any laws requiring helmets for go-karts in your area, your kid should wear a helmet.
Are Go-Karts Allowed on the Street?
Most go-karts are probably not legal to use on the street, but many are in many places. You might modify a go-kart to make it street legal if you have the time.
Most places have laws covering low-speed vehicles, which include go-karts. If your go-kart meets the criteria for a legal low-speed vehicle in your area, your kid can take it around town legally.
Things like golf cards are also covered under laws for low-speed vehicles. Some places have more lenient laws than others. In some places, making a go-kart street legal is so much of a hassle that it isn’t worth it.
You have to be able to trust your kid before you can let them out on the street with a go-kart. Getting hit by a car while riding a go-cart is far more dangerous than getting hit while driving a car. Go-karts are small, light, and have no crash protection at all.
Due to the lack of suspension, you feel small bumps a lot on a go-kart. Their safety features don’t matter in collisions with vehicles. Taking a go-kart out on the street is for older children and teenagers that you trust to be very responsible.
How Do You Make a Go-Kart Street Legal?
You will usually have to put a fair bit of time into modifying it. You can order the parts online; people sell kits for go-kart speedometers, windows, seat belts, and so on.
Not every go-kart you can buy is suitable for modification. Some of the things the law may require are:
- Lights including turn signals
- Mirrors including side view meters
- Speedometer and odometer
- Windshields and wipers
In some places, you might also need a license plate, VIN number, and insurance to drive a simple, low-tech vehicle around town. Making these vehicles legal for use on the street isn’t always practical. You may have to tell your kid that you can’t make it legal for use on the street.
How Do You Use a Go-Kart Safely?
Wearing a helmet is the single most important thing you can do. Make sure your kid has a helmet that fits before they get on a go-kart.
Make sure your kid does not wear loose clothes, as clothes might get caught in the mechanism and cause serious injury. You might buy a race suit if you want to be as safe as possible.
Get a go-kart with a harness or seat belt, and make sure your kid uses them. Even though go-karts move at relatively low speeds, always use a seatbelt if the kart has one.
Be particularly careful on the street, because you might not be visible to cars. Most go-karts are so low to the ground that they might be invisible to someone who is backing up.
Riding a go-kart in a public parking lot isn’t necessarily safe or legal either. Take your kid to a real go-kart track where accidents aren’t likely to be serious.
Can a Kid of Any Age Ride a Go-Kart?
Some very young children can ride go-karts with adult supervision. Even a four or five-year-old might be fine on a go-kart. Different tracks have different age limits, with many tracks allowing kids as young as five years old.
Are Go-Karts too Dangerous for Kids?
No, go-karts are not so dangerous that they should not be used. A bicycle can easily be more dangerous than a go-kart for a young child. Again, go-karts can teach a kid how to drive safely.
Do Go-Karts Require Maintenence?
Thankfully, you don’t have to do much to maintain them. A pedal-powered go-kart might last for a very long time without requiring any maintenance.
With motorized karts, you have to charge the batteries or change the oil. Change the oil as regularly as you are supposed to, or else you can suddenly and unexpectedly wreck the engine. The torque converter, brakes, or fuel line will sometimes need to be checked or fixed, but go-karts are fairly low-maintenance.
Do Go-Karts Work on Dirt?
Any go-kart will work on a hard dirt track as well as a paved track. However, some are much better for off-road riding than others. Get a proper off-road go-kart that is like a miniature ATV if you want to use it outdoors away from tracks.
How Fast are Go-Karts?
They vary in speed, with some going up to 40 miles per hour and others only 15. Go-karts made for younger kids usually have lower maximum speeds.
How Do Kids Benefit From Go-Karts?
Go-karts are great fun and excitement for kids across a wide range of ages. Your kid will have a great time learning how to ride and perhaps race go-karts on a track.
Children need to develop hand-eye coordination, and driving can teach these skills just as well as sports. If your kid does not like sports, they might still love go-karting.
Kids can also win trophies, prizes, and money racing go-karts. If your kid races, they will learn to be ambitious and competitive. If your kid loves and is good at riding a go-kart, they will often move on to racing.
Prizes can be anywhere from very small to thousands of dollars. You kid can also win scholarships. You might need a go-kart that is more expensive than anything listed here for serious, competitive racing.
Are There Different Go-Kart Racing Classes?
Yes, kids of different ages have separate races and use different karts. The engines are smaller and the speeds slower for younger kids.
Kids Carts – Kids karts are the slowest (under 30mph) and use the smallest (50cc) engines. These races are for kids aged 5 to 7.
Cadet Micromax – Cadet Micromax Karting is for drivers aged 7 to age 12. The engines are larger (60cc), and the karts are significantly faster (often over 50mph).
Cadet Minimax – These are for racers 10 to 13 years old, still using fairly small 60cc engines.
Juinor Class – This class is for racers that use significantly more powerful 125cc engines. 12-15-year-old racers use them.
Senior Class – This class is for 15+-year-old racers. The karts use 125cc engines and do not require restricted exhaust. Many adults also participate in go-kart races, sometimes with other age classes.
Your Kid Will Love a Toy Vehicle
Nothing beats getting your kid a working vehicle for their birthday. A go-kart will be lots of fun, an opportunity to learn, and something that will impress your kid’s friends.
A slower go-kart may be safer and not more dangerous than a bicycle is. If you can afford it, get your kid a go-kart.