Every go kart needs a drive system in order to transmit the engine’s kinetic energy to your wheel. While there are a few different types of go kart clutches, the most common type of drive system is the go kart centrifugal clutch.
The centrifugal clutch go kart’s popularity is due to its very simple operating mechanism, making it not only affordable, but very reliable as well. There are also higher end torque converters available, but these are also much pricier. For the majority of go karts, the centrifugal clutch will do just fine.
Go kart Clutch – Centrifugal Clutch
The go kart centrifugal clutch consists of a clutch housing attached to a sprocket. The centrifugal clutch sits inside the clutch housing, expanding when the engine shaft rotates due to centrifugal force – hence its name.
When the engine shaft is rotating fast enough, the outer housing locks up with the shoes, causing the engine’s energy to be transferred to the centrifugal clutch’s sprocket and chain. When constructing your own go kart, its important that you don’t mess with the mechanics of the centrifugal clutch. If the clutch housing is not properly in place, not only could the clutch fly apart while running, but it can be very hard to put the clutch back together once the lock pins are removed.
Go Kart Clutch – Torque Converter
Go kart torque converters are higher end, higher priced go kart clutches designed to get the most power out of your go kart engine. While the centrifugal clutch locks in at certain RPM of the engine, the torque converter operates like an automatic transmission, allowing infinite variation and smooth shifting. At low speeds, a torque converter is set automatically in low gear and shifts gears as the go kart reaches higher speeds. This allows you to maximize the efficiency of your go kart engine. As you can imagine, torque converters are especially useful on off road go karts.