The 10 Best Go Karts for Kids to Buy in 2020

The 10 Best Go Karts for Kids to Buy in 2020

Go-karting is one of the most enjoyable activities imaginable for a child. The thrill of careening downhill with the wind blowing through your hair or pulling off the perfect drift on the neighborhood cul-de-sac is impossible to beat—and the real thing is so much more exciting than even the most closely fought Mario Kart Grand Prix.

Are you looking to spoil your little one rotten on their next birthday? They’ll love you forever if you bring a brand spanking new go-kart home. Here’s everything you need to know about go-karts and our top 10 recommendations so you can shop with confidence and pick out the perfect product for your child.

Three…two…one…go!

Things to Consider When Buying a Go-Kart

Buying a shiny new go-kart is a pretty significant investment, probably the most expensive toy you’ll ever purchase for your child. So to ensure you don’t regret your decision, you must factor in several considerations before hitting the ‘buy now’ button. Here are the top things to think about when shopping for a go-kart.

Safety

‘Safety first,’ as the old saying goes, and never has the idiom been more important than the safety of your child. Before anything else, you need to consider whether the go-kart you’re looking to buy is appropriate for a child of that age (we include a recommended age range on all our reviews). Next, take a look at the safety features on board. Does it have (and does it need) seat belts, shoulder straps, foam padding, bumper bars, and a roll cage? Is the frame likely to withstand a significant impact? These are important questions that we’ll cover in our reviews.

Cost

With kid’s go-karts ranging from a couple of hundred bucks to a couple of grand, there’s something out there on the market to suit every household economy. But as much as you’d love to spoil your child, you mustn’t overstretch your budget. Work out how much you can afford to pay, set yourself a maximum limit, and stick to it. Your child will still love you if you go for a cost-effective model, so don’t feel pressured to splurge. Having said that, if you’ve got the funds, there’s no harm in picking up a top-of-the-range machine.

Type of Go-Kart

As cool as go-karts are, kids love mucking around on trikes, buggies, and quad bikes as well. Which option is best for your little one, then? Well, it depends on your budget and the type of terrain where they will use the vehicle. Trikes and karts tend to work better on roads, while buggies and quads can venture off the beaten track. If you live out in the sticks, it might be worth looking at a more all-terrain go-kart.

The Engine

Go-karts work through one of three different propulsion systems: pedal power, an electric motor (12V or 24V), or a gas-powered internal combustion engine.

Pedal-powered machines are easy to maneuver and won’t go fast (except down steep hills), so they’re better for little kids aged 3-7.

Electric powered karts range from slow to fast, making them great for kids between 6 and 10.

Gas-powered karts, on the other hand, can be menacingly quick, and the added danger factor means they generally aren’t suitable for children under 11. There are some exceptions, though, such as the TrailMaster MINI XRX Kart.

The Load Capacity

Go-karts are rated to carry a set amount of weight, which is known as the load capacity. Only consider buying a go-kart in which the load capacity significantly exceeds the weight of your child. If daddy plans on doing a few burnouts around the block, then factor in his weight as well. Some go-karts can carry two passengers, in which case you’ll need to add up both their weights before comparing the final sum to the load capacity.

To learn more about the exhilarating world of go-karts, jump ahead to our Go-Kart Buyer’s Guide.

Top 10 Best Go Karts for Kids 2020

1. Best Go-Kart Overall: Razor Dune Buggy

Razor Dune Buggy


Why we like it: This beautiful electric powered machine is a child’s ideal introduction to the automotive world.

Editor’s Rating:

Fast Facts

Type: Buggy
Engine: 24 V (2x 12V) 350-watt electric motor
Top speed: 9 mph
Safety features: Bucket seats, seatbelt, foam padding
Age range: 8 years and up
Weight: 100 pounds
Load capacity: 120 pounds
Battery life: 40 minutes

Review

If you’re looking to give your little one their first taste of driving, you can’t go wrong with this fantastic electric-powered buggy. You probably recognize the brand Razor for their awesome, kid-friendly scooters—rest assured this buggy adheres to the same high standard of quality workmanship and unbridled fun.

With a top speed of 9 mph from the 350-watt electric engine, Razor’s midrange Dune Buggy goes fast enough for thrills but won’t put your little one at risk. And should they get nervous, the cushy bucket seat and seatbelt will help them remain firmly tucked in place.

We love the versatility of this model, too, as your child can enjoy embarking on both off-road and on-road adventures. The kart’s air-filled 8-inch knobby pneumatic tires and all-terrain suspension make it suitable for cruising around the backyard, the park, or the campsite. Your kid will get 40 minutes of use out of a single charge, which isn’t bad considering the terrain it can tackle.

And once they’ve had their fun, you can lift the 100-pound product up (with a little effort) and stash it away vertically. The machine comes fully assembled as well, a godsend for us less mechanically-minded parents.

On the downside, there’s no reverse function, which is a bit of an issue at times. However, the thing handles beautifully and has a tight turning circle, so your child shouldn’t get it stuck too often.

Pros

  • Perfect first motorized vehicle
  • Fun yet safe
  • Can venture off-road
  • Easy to control
  • Well-known and trusted brand

Cons

  • Can’t reverse
  • Only suitable for kids up to 120 pounds

2. Best Budget Go-Kart: Hauck Lightning - Pedal Go Kart

Hauck Lightning - Pedal Go Kart


Why we like it: It’s the best pedal-powered go-kart you can get for under a hundred bucks.

Editor’s Rating:

Fast Facts

Type: Go-kart
Engine: Pedal power
Safety features: Ergonomic seat with high backrest
Age range: 4 – 7 years
Weight: 23 pounds
Load capacity: 120 pounds

Review

You don’t have to be wealthy to buy your kid a go-kart, as many pedal-powered models are cheap enough for the average American family to afford. And this delightful unit from Hauck is the best of the budget-minded bunch and you will still receive change from a Benjamin.

The Lightning stands out among other pedal-powered go-karts for its impressive functionality and design. The kart’s rubber wheels are notably better than its competitors (often plastic), and the race-inspired pedals, sporty steering wheel, and eight ball-style hand break let your kid feel like they’re driving the real thing.

It’s suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, and can even be taken off-road, although it quickly becomes tiring to pedal on rough terrain like gravel and grass. Little kids love tearing around in the Lightening, and it comes in three cool colors (green, pink, and orange) to suit both boys and girls.

As for the cons, some assembly is required, although it’s not particularly difficult. The turning circle could be a bit better, and the chain is rather flimsy, but you can’t expect perfection at this price point.

Pros

  • Easy to pedal
  • Good for indoor and outdoor use
  • Possible to take off-road
  • Cool race-inspired design
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Requires assembly
  • Turning circle could be better

3. Best Electric-Powered Go-Kart: Radio Flyer Ultimate Go-Kart

Radio Flyer Ultimate Go-Kart


Why we like it: The Ultimate looks like it’s straight out of Mario Kart and it is a joy to drive.

Editor’s Rating:

Fast Facts

Type: Go-kart
Engine: 2x rear electric motors
Safety features: Speed governor, seatbelt, visibility flag
Age range: 3 – 8 years
Top speed: 8 mph
Load capacity: 81 pounds
Battery life: 45 minutes

Review

American toymaker Radio Flyer is best known for its iconic red toy wagon, but the Ultimate Go-Kart proves the company knows a thing or two about automotive fun as well.

Perhaps the best thing about this cool electric go-kart is how well it grows with your child. The adjustable seat suits kids aged anywhere from 3 to 8, which is a broader age range than most competitors. It’s also got a nifty parent-controlled gear lock, A.K.A. a speed governor, so you can inhibit the highest gear until your child is old enough to handle the unit.

Speaking of gears, unlike our top-rated Go-Kart Overall: the Razor Buggy, this fantastic kart has a reverse gear so your little one can easily navigate out of a tight spot.

Once your kid gets access to the third (and highest) gear, they’ll love doing drifts everywhere—a pure adrenaline-pumping pleasure thanks to the kart’s wide rear slicks. Said tires are indeed plastic, which isn’t ideal, but they do allow for some pretty gnarly drifts. And the fun lasts for at least 45 minutes on a single charge thanks to the high-capacity 12V battery.

Kids love its traditional go-kart design, which is especially endearing when dressing up as Mario to act out a wild race from the popular Nintendo game—add real-life banana peels for hilarious effect.

Going off-road is doable depending on the weight of the child, but you’ll always get better performance on a nice smooth surface. It’s a bit slower than the Razor Buggy as well, which means it’s not ideal for serious thrill-seekers. The unit requires some assembly, but nothing too complicated.

Pros

  • Grows with the child
  • Parent control of the gears
  • Long battery life
  • Suitable for a wide age range
  • Looks like a go-kart from Mario Kart

Cons

  • Not as fast as other electric karts
  • Requires some assembly

4. Razor Force Drifter Kart

Razor Force Drifter Kart


Why we like it: Its classic go-kart design and high-powered electric engine make this a drifting machine.

Editor’s Rating:

Fast Facts

Type: Go-kart
Engine: Variable-speed, chain-driven electric motor
Top speed: 12 mph
Safety features: bucket seat, shoulder strap, flag
Age range: 7 years and up
Weight: 72 pounds
Load capacity: 140 pounds
Battery life: 40 minutes

Review

Razor makes our favorite Go-Kart for Kids Overall with their widely popular Dune Buggy. And this ultra-fun Drifter Kart could have enjoyed pole position if not for one significant flaw—the batteries can be problematic and sometimes die completely. But bear in mind, the issue is relatively rare.

Aside from that issue, the Force Drifter Kart is a hoot. It’s faster than most electric competitors, topping out at an impressive 12 mph. And that extra juice—coupled with its specially designed rubber slicks—makes the kart perfect for drifting around town. Fishtails, burnouts, and 180s are way too much fun on this exhilarating drift machine.

Controlling the kart is a breeze because it comes with a responsive handbrake and three variable speeds. But unlike the Radio Flyer Ultimate Go-Kart, parents can’t lock the gears in place so expect your little one to careen around at breakneck speed. Always check your child has fastened the shoulder strap because you don’t want them to crash at maximum velocity.

Some assembly is required, and your kid will get 40 action-packed minutes out of a single charge. Note that the slick tires make this thing terrible for taking off-road.

Pros

  • Faster than most electric karts
  • Awesome at drifting
  • Solid safety features
  • Ease to control

Cons

  • Battery can be unreliable
  • No parental lock on the gears

5. Best Pedal Powered Go-Kart For Kids: Hauck Batmobile Pedal Go Kart

Hauck Batmobile Pedal Go Kart


Why we like it: What little kid doesn’t want to cruise around in the Batmobile?

Editor’s Rating:

Fast Facts

Type: Go-kart
Engine: Pedal-powered
Safety features: Comfortable backrest, handbrake on both wheels
Age range: 4 – 8 years
Weight: 22 pounds
Load capacity: 120 pounds

Review

Hauck does the best pedal-powered karts on the market; their Lightning: Pedal Go Kart is our top budget pick. But for fans of the Batman franchise—and what little kid doesn’t love Gotham’s famous superhero?—the Batmobile Pedal Go Kart can’t be topped.

In this model, which retails for only a little more than the Lightning, you get much of the same quality design features that make Hauck so great: responsible steering, an adjustable bucket seat, race-style pedals, quality rubber tires, and a cool 8 ball brake.

The biggest bonus, of course, is that your kid gets to act out their superhero dreams. Fighting crime in Gotham City will be a blast in the Batmobile!

Putting the kart together takes about 20 minutes and isn’t especially tricky. Annoyingly, the Batman cover on the front tends to fall off sometimes, which kind of ruins the whole fantasy (you can just stick it back on, though).

Pros

  • Cool Batmobile design
  • Quality pedals and brakes
  • Responsive steering

Cons

  • The batman cover sometimes falls off
  • Requires a bit more assembly time than others

6. Best Quad Bike for Kids: Razor Dirt Quad

Razor Dirt Quad


Why we like it: This brilliant off-road vehicle comes with superb suspension to soak up the bumps.

Editor’s Rating:

Fast Facts

Type: Quad bike
Engine: Electric
Top speed: 8mph
Safety features: None
Age range: 4 – 8 years
Weight: 80 pounds
Load capacity: 120 pounds
Battery life: 40 minutes

Review

Looking for something your little one can tear up the countryside in? Then look no further than the Dirt Quad from Razor. This awesome electric quad bike has been specially designed for outdoor use, making it the perfect toy to rip around the campsite or farm.

Razor includes tough 13-inch pneumatic knobby tires plus a terrain-tracing rear suspension and a coil shock absorber, all of which equates to epic off-road capability. And that means your child can trample over even the most rugged terrain with ease.

At 8 mph, it’s certainly not the fastest electric machine we’ve looked at, but neither is it meant to be. The Dirt Quad is all about off-road adventures along tough, bumpy trails. Shifting gears lets the rider adjust their speed, and there’s plenty of torque to churn its way uphill. Coming down, the hand-operated disc brake keeps your kid in control at all times.

Another big plus to this machine is its durability; powder-coated tubular frame and shatter-resistant plastic fairings will see it last for years to come.

On the downside, there’s no governor to limit the top speed, and it’s a little tricky for a newcomer to master. More importantly, quad bikes (both kid’s toys and the adult version) are famous for flipping over when turning a corner too hard. It’s imperative you keep a close eye on your little one as they learn to ride.

Pros

  • Awesome off-road driving
  • Durable design for optimal longevity
  • Variable gears
  • Powerful disc breaks

Cons

  • Challenging to master
  • Prone to flipping

7. Best Premium Go-Kart for Kids: Coleman Powersports Off Road Go Kart

Coleman Powersports Off Road Go Kart


Why we like it: The kart boasts a powerful 196cc engine to give you oodles of off-road fun.

Editor’s Rating:

Fast Facts

Type: Go-kart
Engine: 196cc, single-cylinder, 4-stroke engine with 6.5 hp
Top speed: 31 mph
Safety features: Padded seating, safety harness, roll cage, hydraulic disc brakes
Age range: 13 years and up
Weight: 330 pounds
Load capacity: 400 pounds (two seater)

Review

If you’re willing to splash out on a gas-powered go-kart to spoil your kids with serious thrills, then let the Off-Road Go Kart from Coleman Powersports be it.

Why, you ask? Simple: this thing is an absolute weapon.

Boasting a chunky 196cc 4-stroke engine, she’s capable of reaching a terrifying top speed of 31 mph on flat terrain. And the kart isn’t even designed for racing as off-road is where it really shines. Low-pressure tires and soft, bouncy suspension soak up the bumps to let your kid blast through the bush without a care in the world. And with side-by-side twin seats and a load capacity of 400 pounds, two siblings can enjoy simultaneous off-road adventures—such nice wholesome fun!

Of course, high-performance, gas-powered go-karts are a little on the dangerous side, so it’s nice to know Coleman has included an array of protective features. A padded roll cage and a four-point safety harness help to keep the kids out of harm’s way in a crash. She’s also got a kill switch and ultra-responsive hydraulic disc brakes to help prevent one from occurring in the first place. And yes, everyone definitely does need to be wearing a helmet.

The drawback, of course, is the cost—you’re looking at thousands rather than hundreds here. And as it’s got a sophisticated gas-powered engine, you’ll need to perform regular maintenance to keep her running sweet.

Pros

  • Goes really fast
  • Excellent off-road vehicle
  • Incredibly fun
  • Advanced safety features

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Requires constant maintenance
  • Dangerous if not driven carefully

8. Fisher-Price Power Wheels

Fisher-Price Power Wheels


Why we like it: It’s an excellent all-terrain option for young toddlers who love going off-road.

Editor’s Rating:

Fast Facts

Type: ATV
Engine: Electric motor powered by a 12-volt battery
Top speed: 5 mph
Safety features: Automatic power-lock brakes
Age range: 3 – 7 years
Weight: 68.5 pounds
Load capacity: 130 pounds
Battery life: One hour

Review

American toymaker Fisher-Price has thrown their name into the go-kart market with this respectable electric ATV. It’s designed especially with the little ones in mind, so it only goes a modest 5mph and is super easy to control. Much like the Costzon Electric Go Cart, the Power Wheel sees the child brake by taking their foot off the accelerator—it doesn’t get much easier than that.

The Power Wheels does have a few extra advanced features to entice young minds. Two gear settings let the driver dictate their speed (2.5 mph or 5mph), and the manufacturer has included a gear for reverse. The highlight, however, is its impressive off-road prowess—the Power Wheels can power through wet grass and rugged terrain with ease.

For little kids who love exploring outdoor areas like the backyard or the local park, Power Wheels is an excellent choice.

We’re not too keen on the plastic wheels, though, as rubber would have been the superior option.

Pros

  • Great for toddlers
  • Easy to control
  • Excellent off-road
  • Variable gears and reverse

Cons

  • Slow
  • Boring for older kids
  • Plastic wheels only

9. Best Gas-Powered Go-Kart for Little Kids: TrailMaster MINI XRX Kart

TrailMaster MINI XRX Kart


Why we like it: Toddlers with a need for speed will adore the horsepower of this potent machine.

Editor’s Rating:

Fast Facts

Type: Go-kart
Engine: Air-cooled, 4-stroke, 163cc engine with 5.5hp
Top speed: 25 mph with a speed governor set as low as 4 mph
Safety features: hydraulic disc brakes, seat belts
Age range: 5 – 9 years
Weight: 176 pounds
Load capacity: 400 pounds

Review

If you’ve got a toddler who just won’t settle for the lackluster power of electric karts like the Costzon, then the 163cc engine of the MINI XRX should satiate their desire for thrills.

This particular go-kart is specially designed for younger kids who want to tear around the racetrack at breakneck speed. And with a maximum velocity of 25 mph, it won’t disappoint.

Now, 25 mph is clearly going to be reckless for a 5-year-old child, which is why TrailMaster has included a speed governor into the mix. Simply set it at the desired threshold (minimum 4 mph), and you’ve instantly tamed the savage beast. Other safety features include a seat belt, a padded roll cage, and hydraulic disc brakes.

Like all gas-powered go-karts, it requires substantial financial investment and continuous care. Unlike the Powersports Off Road Go Kart, the MINI XRX doesn’t do well in the rough, so we highly recommend sticking to smooth surfaces. As a result, you’ll probably have to take this to a racetrack to get proper use out of it, which will entail additional costs.

The fact two kids can enjoy the ride at the same time helps justify the high price tag. If you’ve got older kids, however, then take a look at the next size up, the TrailMaster MID XRX.

Pros

  • High-powered machine for little kids
  • Speed governor
  • Goes very fast
  • Good safety features

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Too small for children ten years and up
  • Requires maintenance

10. Best Go-Kart for Young Kids: Costzon Electric Go Cart

Costzon Electric Go Cart


Why we like it: It’s amazingly cheap for an electric kart.

Editor’s Rating:

Fast Facts

Type: Go-kart
Engine: Electric motor powered by a 6V battery
Top speed: 3 mph
Age range:  2 – 6 years
Weight: 16 pounds
Load capacity: 55 pounds
Battery life: One hour

Review

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to grab your kid an electric-powered go-kart because this machine comes in at well under three digits. Now, the first thing you need to note is this is a little kid’s go-kart; anyone over six is going to get bored of its low top speed and excessive simplicity. But for parents with go-kart-loving toddlers, Costzon deliver the goods.

The brilliant thing about this product is just how simple it all is. Forget about gears and handbrakes and whatnot, the kart only has one pedal to accelerate, and when you take your foot off, it automatically applies the brake. And that’s why the kart can be suitable for teeny tots as young as two.

Of course, kids that age are going to treat it pretty rough, which is why Costzon has built it tough with a P.P. and iron chassis, DHPE wheels, and a waterproof surface that’s simple to clean. And just in case your child gets into a crawling speed accident, there’s a tiny little seat belt to keep them safe. Adorable.

The go-kart comes fitted out with cool flashing lights on the bottom, and the battery lasts an impressive one hour on a single charge.

Pros

  • User-friendly design for young children
  • Funky flashing lights
  • Durable materials
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Very slow
  • Too simplistic for big kids

Go-Kart Buyer’s Guide


Looking to learn more about go-karting in general? We’ll cover everything you need to know about this fun, kid-friendly pastime right here in our comprehensive Go-Kart Buyer’s Guide. If you just want to know what you need to consider before purchasing a go-kart, then jump to our mini buyer’s guide at the top of the page.

What Is a Go-Kart?

As the name implies, a go-kart is a cart that goes. Simple, right?

Go-karts come with a wide range of propulsion systems, from petite pedal-powered devices to elite gas-guzzling beasts. The vehicles vary in shape and size, too—the traditional design is an open-wheeled car-like machine, although some have roll cages that mimic the style of the buggy.

In our buyer’s guide, we’ll include dune buggies, trikes, and quad bikes under the umbrella ‘go-kart’ term so you’ll have more choice when shopping for your kid.

We don’t, however, include gravity powered go-karts, A.K.A., soapbox derbies, or billy karts, as these don’t fall under the technical definition of a go-kart.

What Powers a Go-Kart?

A go-kart is run on one of three propulsion systems.

Pedal-Powered Go-Karts

These are the simplest type of go-kart on the market and operate through—you guessed it—pedal power. The child must spin the pedals with their legs to make the vehicle move forward, much the same as you would with a bike.

The key advantage to the simple system is cost—with no expensive engine to install or maintain, pedal-powered go-karts are super cheap.

On the downside, pedal-powered karts can only go as fast as your kid’s little legs can carry them, which isn’t very fast at all. Bigger kids will find these too slow and infantile to fully enjoy; don’t bother with these for a child over six or so.

Another advantage of their simple nature is safety. Because the karts can’t travel quickly, your child is unlikely to injure themselves in an accident.

Check out our favorite Pedal Powered Go-Kart For Kids: the Hauck Batmobile Pedal Go Kart.
Child riding a pedal-powered go-kart

Electric Go-Karts

Electric go-karts operate on an electric motor powered by a 12V or 24V rechargeable battery, either lithium or lead-acid. These machines have been invented relatively recently and represent the next step up in the go-kart hierarchy. Lower end models can only travel a modest 3-5 mph, which makes them suitable for little kids. The best electric go-karts on the market can hit a thrilling 8-12 mph, making them perfect for kids aged seven and up.

Electric go-karts are easier to operate and maintain than gas-powered go-karts, although they’re more complex than their pedal-powered counterparts. Pricewise, electric go-karts also sit somewhere between the two.

Check out our favorite Electric-Powered Go-Kart for Kids: Radio Flyer Ultimate Go-Kart.

A child driving an electric go-kart

Gas-Powered Go-Karts

Gas-powered engines are the premium members of the go-kart family—expensive, challenging to maintain, and capable of reaching exhilarating speeds of 30 mph or more. The vast majority on the market use two-stroke engines, with four-strokes generally reserved for serious racing go-karts.

When measuring the potency of a gas-powered go-kart engine, we tend to look at two metrics: cubic centimeters (cc) and horsepower (hp). Some manufacturers use just one in their advertising, while others might display both to entice the more mechanically-minded buyers out there.

Gas-powered go-karts for kids tend to be smaller than 200 cc—anything bigger would be too dangerous to give to the average child. In the same vein, anything from the 5 to 10 hp range is okay for a responsible child, but you shouldn’t go for engines more powerful than that for safety’s sake.

Check out our favorite Gas-Powered Go-Kart for Kids: Coleman Powersports Off Road Go Kart.

Child driving a gas-powered go-kart

The Benefits of Buying a Go-Kart

Despite the considerable financial outlay, investing in a go-kart is a fantastic decision that few families ever regret. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of owning these exciting automotive machines.

Less Screen Time

Kids these days spend far too much time inside looking at a screen, whether it’s a tablet, a smartphone, or when playing Xbox. Developing these bad habits from an early age causes a whole host of issues: sleeping disorders, mental health issues like anxiety and depression, and obesity.

Although go-karting doesn’t provide a tremendous amount of exercise—except for pedal-powered karts, which require a jolly good workout—it does at least get kids outside and socializing. And in an age where young eyes are constantly glued to the screen, that can only be a positive thing.

An Appreciation for the Great Outdoors

We live in a spectacular country, and getting your kid a go-kart is the first step towards teaching them to appreciate the beauty of the world. Rather than being cooped up inside all day, go-karting gets kids exploring the neighborhood and savoring the great outdoors.

The go-kart driving experience is particularly enjoyable on camping trips when your kid can hop on their off-road go-kart and start tearing through the surrounding countryside.

Wholesome Family Fun

Go-karts provide hours of fun for the whole family to enjoy. Mum and dad can teach the child the theory behind driving, and the entire family can spend quality time together on a weekend karting excursion. Owning a go-kart allows you to enjoy wholesome fun for years to come.

Develops Driving Skills

Driving is an essential skill we all must learn to make it in this world, so why not give your little one a leg up by getting in early? Go-karting gives kids the chance to hone their driving skills from a young age and will make the learning process much easier once they’re old enough to use a real car.

Crucial driving skills your child will master through go-karting include braking, accelerating, navigating corners, checking mirrors, and dealing with unpredictable terrain.

Learning to Share

Even if you’ve got an only child, it won’t take long before your kid is obliged to share the go-kart with a long list of friends. Giving your child a go-kart will teach them the value of sharing. Children who practice these skills from an early age enjoy enhanced social development and will reap the benefits later in life.
A child driving a go-kart

The Disadvantages of Buying a Go-Kart

We’ve made a pretty convincing case for the benefits of the go-kart, but there are two significant downsides to consider as well.

The Cost

We won’t sugarcoat it: go-karts are expensive.

The minimum you’ll need to fork out for something long-lasting and fun is about $100. And should you fancy spoiling your child with a high-end, gas-powered machine, the outlay could soar into the thousands.

The one simple reason most American families don’t own a go-kart is they don’t come cheap. Nonetheless, not many other toys offer the same level of satisfaction, so the investment is entirely justifiable.

The Danger Factor

Like driving a car, go-karting involves a degree of risk. Regardless of how careful your child drives and what safety features come included with the kart, there’s always a chance your kid could get injured.

As a parent, you can do three things to mitigate the risk:

  • Purchase an age-appropriate go-kart
  • Purchase a go-kart with suitable safety features for its speed
  • Train your child how to drive the machine safely and supervise them at all times

Following these three steps will reduce the risk to virtually zero.

How Fast Will My Child’s Go-Kart Go?

Go-karts max out anywhere between 3mph and 50mph, depending on the type and size of the engine. Perhaps a more appropriate question would be: “How fast should my child’s go-kart go?”

Younger kids aged between three and six don’t have the coordination or responsibility to manage a fast machine, so look for a go-kart that maxes out around five mph or less. Kids up to 10 are capable of safely handling more sophisticated engines, so you can confidently give them a go-kart that reaches a top speed of 12 mph. Kids over 10 are starting to transition into adults and can comfortably handle a serious piece of mechanical hardware; aim to buy them something that goes up 30 mph, with the upper limit only suitable for responsible teens.

Can I Control How Fast the Go-Kart Travels?

Parents who feel worried a go-kart may travel too quickly for their child can purchase a model with a speed governor, kind of like a parental control that dictates the maximum velocity the kart may reach.

Some speed governors work by prohibiting gears. For example, the Radio Flyer Ultimate Go-Kart allows parents to prevent the child from entering into third gear. Other speed governors simply prohibit acceleration once a threshold mph figure has been reached.

What Do I Need to Know About Safety?

Keeping your child safe at all times is of utmost importance because there’s no denying that go-karting involves a degree of risk.

High-powered go-karts require special safety features like seat belts, padded roll cages, harnesses, and hydraulic disc brakes, while slower machines don’t need any of these.

Pedal-powered go-karts, for example, are only capable of hitting a few miles per hour so there’s not much point installing a four-point safety harness. Electric go-karts will need a few basic safety features, while gas-powered beasts require the works.

In any case, make sure your child is wearing a helmet whatever they drive.

How Much Do I Need to Spend?

We’ve recommended go-karts with price tags ranging from $90 to $1,700, so it’s really up to you to determine how much you will spend. To give you a rough idea of what you’ll be looking at, consider the following price ranges:

  • Pedal-powered go-karts: < $100
  • Electric-powered go-karts: $100-400
  • Gas-powered go-karts: $1000-2000

As you can see, gas-powered go-karts are quite a substantial step up from the others, which is why they’re primarily popular among keen enthusiasts.

Where Can My Kids Drive Their Go-Kart?

It’s illegal to drive a go-kart on the road in America, whether it be pedal-powered, electric, or motorized. Having said that, plenty of American families let their kids cruise around the cul-da-sec in a low-powered machine.

Although it’s possible to modify a gas-powered go-kart to make it street legal, the process requires a significant financial investment and plenty of perseverance. Besides, you probably don’t want your little one venturing off onto the open road anyway.

Gas-powered go-karts that require an asphalt surface—such as the TrailMaster MINI XRX Kart — could see you paying a day-use fee at a go-karting track every time you want to drive it.

Off-road go-karts and buggies can be driven around rural areas, campsites, beaches and the like. Always check for county restrictions because motorized vehicles may be prohibited in your area of choice. Families in rural areas will have no shortage of places to drive around in their off-road go-kart, while city-living enthusiasts will have to dig around a bit.

The Finish Line

You’ve now learned everything there is to know about the exciting world of go-karting. Take the time to evaluate the pros and cons of each of our recommended products to determine which is the most suitable for you. By purchasing a go-kart for your child today, you’ll be providing them with a whole host of benefits that will stick with them for years to come. And let’s not forget: driving a go-kart is a whole bunch of fun. Enjoy the race!