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Choosing the Right Sprocket for Your Go Kart: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to optimising your go-karting experience, selecting the correct sprocket is crucial. At our company, we often get asked about the best sprocket for different go-kart setups. Here’s a detailed guide to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Sprocket Pitch

Most go-karts run a 219 pitch sprocket, which is the most popular size. However, some corporate karts and larger Honda engines might require a 420 or 428 pitch sprocket.

What is Sprocket Pitch?

Sprocket pitch refers to the distance between the centres of two adjacent roller pins on your chain. This measurement is crucial because it ensures that your chain fits properly onto the sprocket, allowing for smooth and efficient power transmission.

Common Sprocket Pitches

  • 219 Pitch: The most popular size for most go-karts.
  • 420 Pitch: Often used in corporate karts and larger Honda engines.
  • 428 Pitch: Also used in some larger karts and engines.

How to Measure Sprocket Pitch

To measure the pitch of your chain, you need to:

  1. Identify two adjacent roller pins on your chain.
  2. Measure the distance between the centres of these two pins.

Here’s a visual guide to help you understand this process: 

  1. Identify the Roller Pins: Look for the circular pins that connect the chain links.
  2. Measure the Distance: Use a caliper or a ruler to measure the centre-to-centre distance between two adjacent pins.

This distance will tell you the pitch of your chain, which you can then use to select a compatible sprocket.

Importance of Sprocket and Chain Maintenance

Chains and sprockets are among the most consumable items on any kart, making it essential to keep them properly lubricated and ensure correct chain tension for maximum longevity. Here’s a more detailed look at why this maintenance is critical:

Lubrication: Proper lubrication reduces friction between the chain and sprockets, which not only extends their life but also ensures smoother and more efficient power transfer.

Correct Tension: Maintaining the correct chain tension is vital. A loose chain can stretch quickly due to whipping, which reduces performance and lifespan. Conversely, an overly tight chain is constantly stretched between sprockets, leading to faster wear and potential damage to the engine’s main bearings.

Regular Inspection: Regularly inspect your chain and sprockets for signs of wear. Look for elongated chain links or hooked sprocket teeth, which indicate that the chain is worn and not meshing properly with the sprockets.

Cleaning: Keep your chain and sprockets clean from dirt and debris. Use a suitable chain cleaner and brush to remove grime and ensure smooth operation.

Choosing the Right Chain Length

Using the right length of chain is critical. As a rough guide for 219 pitch chains, add the number of teeth on the engine sprocket to the number of teeth on the rear sprocket, then add 10 to determine the required length of the chain. For example, if your engine sprocket has 11 teeth and your rear sprocket has 85 teeth, you would need a chain with 106 links (11 + 85 + 10 = 106).

Types of Chains

  • O-Ring Chains: These chains have tiny seals to retain internal lubrication and keep out dirt, making them last longer than conventional chains. However, they cause more mechanical drag, which can reduce valuable power in sprint racing. They are essential for endurance racing due to their durability.
  • Conventional Chains: While these chains have less drag and might provide better performance for short races, they require more frequent maintenance.

Chain Lubrication

Proper lubrication is key to maintaining chain and sprocket health. Using the right chain lubricant can prevent drag and reduce wear.

  • Thick Lubes: These stay on the chain longer but may slow it down.
  • Thin Lubes: Better for allowing the chain to run freely, though they need to be applied more frequently.
  • Wax Types: These stay on the chain without penetrating the links, offering a balance between thick and thin lubes.

It’s important to avoid using motorcycle chain lubes as they are designed for lower-speed drives and larger wheels, which don’t suit the high-speed, high-stress conditions of go-karting.

Sprocket Ratio and Circuit Requirements

The ideal sprocket ratio depends on the engine and the circuit you’re racing at. Since different circuits have varying requirements, it's challenging to provide a one-size-fits-all answer. We recommend checking online resources or consulting with the circuit where you'll be racing to get specific advice tailored to your setup.

To assist further, here’s a useful guide for sprocket choices at various circuits:

Circuit Cadets (Comer W60) Cadets (Honda 20T) Cadets (WTP) Rotax (Mini Max) Rotax (Jnr) Rotax (Snr) Rotax (Snr Hvy) TKM 2/ (Jnr) TKM 2/ (Ext) (10T engine sprocket)
Bayford Meadows 93-95 75 95-97 12/85 12/83 12/85 88-89 88
Blackbushe (Camberley) 93-95 75 95-97 12/86 12/86 85-86 85-87
Boyndie 92 13/75 13/80 12/79 87 85
Buckmore 92 92-94 12/79 12/84 12/83 84-87 89
Clay Pigeon 86 71 88-90 13/71 12/70 12/75 77-78 77
Crail 12/80 12/83 81 77
Dunkeswell 94 96 12/83 12/89 86 86
Ellough (Beccles) 73 89-91 12/74 12/75 12/77 12/82 78-80 81
Forest Edge 91 73 91-93 13/79 12/80 12/81 85-86 81-83
Genk 86 73 87-88 13/73 13/74 12/77 76 75
Glan Y Gors 88 76 13/76 13/79 12/78 80-82 80
Golspie 12/72 78
Hooton Park 88 71 89 13/74 12/73 12/78 81 77-80
Hullavington 90-92 70-72 13/79 12/76 12/82 81-85 87
Kimbolton 95-97 95-99 12/79 12/84 84 82
Llandow 72 13/73 12/72 12/76 12/79-80 86
Lydd 13/73 12/72 12/76 12/79-80 86
Milton Keynes 13/79 12/80 88 87
Nutts Corner 12/89 87 85
Pembrey 12/89 86 85
PF International 88 87-93 13/75 12/75 12/79 12/80 83 79-80
Red Lodge 97 12/87 12/89 90 88
Rednal 12/80
Rissington 86-87 93-95 13/74 12/73 12/78 12/80 82 82
Rowrah 93 75 93-95 12/78 12/82 12/87 88 86
Rye House 93 82 95-96 12/80 12/82 12/86 12/87 87 86
Shennington 86 90-92 13/75 12/74 12/76 82 80
Stretton 13/77 12/81 84
Tattersall 12/89 88 87
Tilbury 86
Tockwith 12/89 88 87
Warden Law 91-94 71-72 13/79 12/85 88 87
Whilton Mill 88 73 89-91 13/78 13/80 12/80 12/82 85 81
Wigan 81 75 82-84 14/70 14/74 14/79 72 69-70
Wigan Valley 83 13/77 12/74 12/80 83-84 80-81
Wombwell 89 69-70 88-90 13/77 12/74 12/80 83-84 80-81
Woodthorpe 12/81

Disclaimer

The information used in this guide has been sourced from various websites online. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, we cannot guarantee its accuracy. We strongly recommend consulting professionals, local circuits, and kart manufacturers for the most precise and tailored advice for your specific needs.

In conclusion, selecting the right sprocket and maintaining your chain properly are vital steps in ensuring a smooth and competitive go-karting experience. If you have any questions or need further assistance, feel free to reach out to us. Happy racing!

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