The adrenaline rush that comes with go-karting is exhilarating. This is one of the most enjoyable motorsport road racing activities that leave you feeling energized. Even so, go-karting is physically demanding, a lot more than people expect. If you have never done it before or are still a newbie, you might find it tasking.
One of the main issues that many people face is braking. When and how do you brake this motorsport effectively? What makes braking challenging is that go-kart brakes act on the rear wheels only. So, when you start to decelerate, the rear body’s weight shifts forward, which often results in loss of traction or sliding. So, what are the most effective braking techniques to apply? Keep on reading to find out more
Types of Go Kart Braking Techniques
There are two main types of Go Karting braking techniques that you can apply. Whether you are a pro racer or a newbie, here’s what you attain high speeds and safely slow down without sliding or losing traction.
This is a combination of speed and braking. That’s why it’s a dangerous but still efficient way of braking. Power is important for your go-kart’s speed. A high weight-to-power ratio is important in ensuring that you get better responsive handling, faster acceleration, and top speed.
What happens is that while you continue to accelerate, you need to press your brake pedals slowly. This is important when you are approaching a bend. You are simply slowing down but without the need to release power.
Most pro racers use this technique on the last lap since the combination of power and speed might seem weird initially. But understand that you need to be careful when using this braking technique since it can easily destroy your kart’s brakes and engines.
It’s quite a difficult maneuver, but you can master it. You need to apply this technique when approaching a corner. Tail braking is highly effective since it helps you to manipulate your kart’s weight while approaching a bend effectively.
Instead of releasing the brakes quickly, do it slowly and smoothly. This helps eliminate the risk of your kart sliding or losing balance due to quick brake release. Besides that, it will help quickly accelerate after taking a turn.
Besides that, you can opt to brake at the last second when you are approaching a corner while going full throttle. After that, you can slowly reduce the pressure by slowly releasing the brakes as you fully take the corner and turn in.
One thing about tail braking is that you need hours of track training to master it. Successfully knowing how to apply maximum braking pressure at the last second while turning in a bend requires skills and experience. But once you master this, then you will become a pro.
Go Kart Braking Technique Tips
The key to maintaining your go-kart’s speed is knowing how and when to brake. If you can master this, you will attain fast lap times on the track. If you want to pipe out your mates smoothly, here are a few tips to help you:
Fast Out- Slow In
Go-karts are racing machines that have limited grip. So, if you increase speed while taking a turn, the finite grip will cause the tires to lose traction and slide. This will consequentially lead to oversteering, i.e., sliding off the back of the kart / the rear of the kart losing grip or understeering, i.e., lack of steering/ the front of the kart losing grip.
To maintain traction and balance, slow down when taking a turn. This will give you better control when moving past turns, and you can gradually increase your kart’s speed.
Use One Feet
There’s always that temptation to press both feet on the pedals, at least to some degree. Most people do this to increase ease of access- when you finish braking, your other foot can easily find its way on the accelerator, and you can easily pull away.
Well, this shouldn’t be the case, at least if you know the structure of go kart’s clutch system and the damage it causes to brakes. With the former, it means that your brakes must work twice as hard to slow down while the engine will also try to push forward while the brakes are still engaged. This will result in overheating and wear and tear over time.
Secondly, indoor karts have in-built centrifugal clutches that don’t need to be controlled. So, if you are going to press your feet on the pedals, then the clutch will be engaged, resulting in rapid wear. So, simply use your foot, one or the other, by using one pedal at a time.
Learn Smooth Braking
I know you might be chasing high speeds, but there is nothing more crucial than learning the art of smart braking. It will save you from the headache of constant sliding and losing momentum.
The design of a go-kart brake’s system links it only to the rear axle. This means that if you rapidly and intensely stamp on the brake, your rear wheels will lose traction and lock up! It’s that simple. Consequentially, you will end losing tracking, sliding, and if things get worse, then your kart might stall. All these things will negatively impact your lap time.
Instead of braking too hard, make it smooth. To quickly slow down your kart within the shortest distance possible, apply steady and optimal pressure before the wheels finally lock. Simply ensure that you brake firmly without the chances of locking up.
Always Brake on a Straight Line
This makes it easier to bypass the cornering process and helps to minimize the possibility of oversteering. Braking on a straight line ensures that the kart doesn’t lose traction, especially if the rear wheels lock.
Don’t Brake too Early
Most drivers make a common mistake is speeding on the straightaways and then rapidly stopping in corners. This isn’t going to work, and that’s where many drivers fail. If you want to attain braking success, you must know when to slow down.
Understand that you shouldn’t brake earlier ion since this means that you won’t have enough speed to complete the turn successfully. On the other hand, if you wait too long, you might need to brake instantly, which is quite dangerous. What if you end up spinning out of control?
When you are approaching a turn, decelerate. On the other hand, accelerate when you are getting out of the turn. This way, you don’t have to rely on instant brakes to slow down your kart solely.
Common Go Kart Racing Braking Mistakes
Incorrect braking will cost you speed. If you want to beat your competitors in a race, you must avoid these mistakes by braking like a pro.
For instance, an incorrect brake application means that you will end up losing speed and traction. It’s a common mistake to apply brakes at the wrong time, which usually leads to a significant loss of momentum.
Before applying brakes, understand that a go-kart track isn’t like a normal road. Hence, its braking demands are slightly different. That’s why you should consider applying brakes a few moments before it’s needed. If you brake on demand, you will decrease the kart’s speed, lose momentum, and even slow down other drivers.
Besides that, drivers also use the wrong turning method. This is a costly mistake since it normally slows the lap time. Consequentially, you might lose your race, especially if you are competing against drivers with experience.
Depending on the sharpness of the curve, ensure that you turn in right in the curve’s direction and at a specific point. Avoid taking an extremely narrow or wide turn. For instance, a wide turn increases your risk of losing control and spinning out. The best turning approach is usually at the middle of the apex.
Braking isn’t easy to master when go-karting, but consistently practicing will quickly set you apart. Try to create time and find solutions to your braking needs. Besides that, don’t panic or lose composure when making mistakes.
Lastly, when braking, always look ahead. Don’t be tempted to look back because there’s nothing important for you to check out. Your peripheral vision is important since you need to use this information to guide your go-kart through the next turn. This way, you can sufficiently prepare beforehand and determine the braking point.
Your Expectations When Braking for the First Time
Mechanically, many things happen when you apply pressure on the pedal. The kart generally experiences several types of forces and pressure in its system. One noticeable thing that happens is that the engine notes will significantly drop. This usually happens within a short time frame. That’s why some novices describe it as “clutchless.” if you feel like there is still a clutch, then apply more pressure on the brake.
Secondly, your kart tires might produce squeaking sounds. This isn’t strange and occurs because of a loose back. If this is the case, then you shouldn’t apply more pressure.
How to Correctly Brake a Go Kart
But even with these tips and insights, the only way to become a pro is to know the steps to braking properly. Your foundation needs to be strong to avoid locking up the tires or spinning out.
Step 1: Consider the Starting Point
You can start driving the go-kart from anywhere if you wish. However, the ideal avenue for learning braking is a sharp corner with a long track before it. This is the right starting point for training since it gives you enough time and space to accelerate and decelerate.
Step 2: Consider the Braking Point
Choose a braking point that suits you. It should be well-positioned, not too far into the corner and away from it. Carefully approach it while maintaining a safe distance from the track’s edge. It’s important to maintain a safe distance. If there is an unexpected mishap and a slight imbalance, you will remain within track. Note that the braking point you choose should be before the usual breaking point.
Step 3: Apply Pressure When Approaching the Breaking Point
You need to apply full force on the brake pedals as you approach the breaking point. Overall, the brake pedal should be fully pressed.
Step 5: Release the Brake Pedal and Accelerate
Slowly but steadily, release your foot from the brake pedal. It’s important that you do it this way since go-karts tend to sway when releasing brakes. Once you have total control of the kart, you can start to accelerate again.
When Should You Accelerate after Braking?
Your acceleration depends on how you have mastered the go kart braking technique as well as the timing. If you lose control after braking at the wrong time, you will have acceleration problems.
What you still must master is when you should brake, and after that, you can easily accelerate. Don’t hesitate when you are approaching a corner. Again, don’t brake while you are on a curve but right before you reach it. Once the track starts to curve, you should stop braking and then release the brake pedals gently. After that, you can start to gain accelerate to gain maximum speed.
The fundamentals of go-kart braking are all the same. It takes practice and patience to master all these techniques. Over time, this will become an easy feat for you.
It’s not easy to brake a go-kart since its braking system isn’t like a real car. This is one of the reasons why most people have a hard time competing on the tracks. They end up losing traction and speed as they maneuver through different corners. It takes time, patience, and practice to master go-karting braking. Using the above-reviewed tips can help improve your whole experience, especially if you are keen on becoming a pro. Regardless of your experience and driving level, don’t let braking difficulties take away the fun that comes with racing a go-kart. Enjoy the adrenaline rush as you make mistakes until you become a pro.