Home Forums General Karting Discussion TAG vs. Rotax Decison-Newbie

This topic contains 35 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  Brian Mead 4 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #15276

    Wade Wishneski
    Participant

    I am considering karting in 2014 and I want input from racers, ex-racers, and dealer’s input in which class makes the most sense in deciding to race, TAG or Rotax and why?  I have done some research into karting and I feel one of these two classes makes the most sense for my needs.  In 2010 I had practiced on a TAG kart a few times which is all the karting experience I have to date.  I have dirt car racing experience but that goes back 20 years ago, so karting is a new venture for all intensive purposes.  At this point in my life (48 years of age) I have some $$ to spend on racing, not big $$, but a few thousand to spend annually (after initial kart & spares purchases) on tires, entry fees etc.  My son no longer is racing MX, so I have some ability to race about 10x a year.

    With all that said, in our area it appears Rotax & TAG counts are similar so that is less of a factor.  My input or inquiry is what class is easiest on motors, tires, clutches, durability & overall expenditures etc.  Also, it appears getting a Tony, Birel, CRG, Topkart makes the most sense as well so input on chassis would be welcomed as well.  Any input in this decision is welcomed.

    Thanks.

    WW

    #15281

    Gary Osterholt
    Participant

    Hey Wade,

    First thing I’d ask is where do you plan on racing?

    Do they have a Rotax class.  I think about karting is it’s very localized on what’s popular in that area.

    Rotax is a TAG.  TAG or Touch and Go is a genetic name for a group of “like” engines.  The cost is similar for each.  Rotax is just a single engine class, but can also run with other TAG engines.  Which is why I said where do you plan on racing above?

    As far as the kart, about any kart can win.  Some are easier to tune, but again go with what’s local or at least have a local kart shop that can assist you.  For a beginner, most of the time it doesn’t matter what kart you drive, the learn curve is steep.  Buy some tires and go drive drive drive.

    Gary

    #15283

    Wade Wishneski
    Participant

    My bad, let me clarify, Leopard vs Rotax.

    Millville, NJ  NJMP

    Yes it seems seat time is priceless.

     

    #15318

    Dan Schlosser
    Participant

    You’ll never accuse me of being a Rotax fanatic but I have to say it is extremely hard to beat in terms of TAG packages for someone wanting to get in to the sport and turn a lot of laps. The biggest factor is that it actually starts every time you hit the button. The lower rpm’s and being counter balanced also make it less likely to vibrate itself, and you, in to oblivion. The rotax ignition, exhaust and clutch are a lot more robust too than any other TAG and won’t typically let you down without warning.

    The carb on the Rotax is unnecessarily tricky but there isn’t an option unfortunately. It is fine for lapping days but you’ll spend some time and testing to get comfortable with it to be able to fine tune on a race day.

    The Rotax will also run 2-3 times longer than any other TAG package which helps offset the additional initial expense.

     

    #15321

    Walt Gifford
    Participant

    Hi Wade, Do yourself a big favor and call Grandproducts and ask for Jimmy Schultz.   <span>(215) 244-1940</span>

    Tell him Walt Gifford sent you.

    Gif

    P.S. Unless you have a burning desire to run in the Rotax max challenge stay well away from rotax for so many reasons.

    #15368

    Larry Hayashigawa
    Participant

    If there is a good Rotax Max Challenge series nearby, then I would pick the Rotax.   If the nearest series is TaG, I wouldn’t pick the Rotax, as it’s been rendered uncompetitive by SKUSA when they added a 20lbs penalty this year.  The Rotax is relatively competitive if the track has a lot of mid-range but will get killed if the track has lot of point and squirt turns.

    I’ve run Leopards, Motori and Rotax and the Rotax is by far the more reliable engine.  In fact, right now, they are offering a 12 month warranty.   I don’t believe that any other engine supplier even offers a one day warranty, I think that says a lot about reliability and robustness of the package.

    Like Dan said, it’s easier on the drive train because of the lower RPM, chains and sprocket seem to last forever.   I think the lower RPM contributes to the longevity of the motor, you can go 2 seasons on the bottom and 1 season on the top.

    With the advent of the new generation clutch, the package is unbeatable for reliability It’s  not the sexiest sounding or looking motor but very utilitarian and damn it’s nice when the starter work every time.   Get a powered kart stand and you can go to the track without need for help.

    The carb is not complicated, just find someone or a shop that knows what they are doing and have them set it up for the track you are running.  The carb is very forgiving once set up right, especially if you run the same track.

     

    Larry

     

    #15370

    Brandon Ryan
    Participant

    Wade,

     

    Me and my friend are in the same boat as you, and the majority of the answers have already been provided for you. I will give you a few of our situational decisions, and maybe it can lead you to a properly based decision.

     

    Class Size: This is a huge thing for us, we have been racing everything together all of our lives, and we love competition. ALSO, we just recently got done building 2 SCCA STL class honda civics, and the class in florida literally died over the off season. My thing is I will ruin 10K worth of racing machine if I am out there with 15-20 people, but I refuse to risk my money to race 3 people.

     

    Availibility and knowledge: Where we race in Ocala, FL. Tony Kart is the go to chassis. Allbeit Tony Kart, FA Kart, Cosmic, Expirit, but all tony kart nonetheless. Also our home track OGP only stocks TK parts because of this. Their travel team, and race team all run Tony Karts, so clearly this decision was pre-determined for us. I refuse to have a race weekend ruined, or ended because I broke a part I cannot get because nobody carries it. If I break something and they are out of stock, well that is just dumb luck, and I chaulk it up as a lesson learned. Obviously also because they race, own, operate, and sell TK clearly the knowledge to help us with the tuning learning curve is there.

     

    Reliability: I have read great things about all the TaG, and Rotax FR125 motors. I have also read bad things. The bad things usually seem to stem back to whom the builder was, more so than the product itself. I believe if you find a QUALITY engine builder, its just like a real car engine, or dirtbike engine. Everything is only as reliable as the maintenance program you put fourth.

     

    For us we chose Rotax Masters class, we are both 30 but we meet the minimum weight of the driver without helmet of 190+. Another reason we chose the Rotax motor is that it essentially gives us more classes to run. I can run TaG Heavy and Rotax Masters during the FKCS, if I wanted to. All without changing a thing, will I be as competitive? Probably not, this will be my first year in a kart. Closest thing I have is 1/4 midgets, see the similarity at all?

     

    All-in-All it comes down with like everything you do. What is popular in your area, what type of support can you get, and what is the best bang for the buck.

     

    I hope this helps you out,

    Brandon

    #15374

    Wade Wishneski
    Participant

    Walt G.

    I have spoken with Jim Schultz about a year ago @ GP Inc., its about 40 minutes from me. I am familiar with his career many years ago. He seems to give good advice (objective), not necessarily what is his best interest!!
    Thanks.

    WW

    #15375

    Wade Wishneski
    Participant

    Rotax seems to have good reliability and easier on the kart as well as smoother. Yeah the Leopard starter is always an issue it seems. I have received some advice that Rotax turnouts @ NJMP are light. I know Leopards are plenty in this area and yes I am a believer the deeper the class the better!! Leopards seem like they do need rebuilds sooner but they are up there in the RPM range so not too much of a surprise.

    What about tires, this seems to be a real issue with karting, new rubber is important and @ $225 for a set of 4 seems to add up quickly.

    Thanks for all the responses, this is helpful!!

    WW

    #15376

    Brandon Ryan
    Participant

    Tires from what I can tell are a spec tire dependent on the class you choose to run.

     

    Unforutunately there is no real getting around that aspect, unless you have a local that is sponsored for tires and runs a practice session on a new set and disgards the old set.

     

    We have the FWT coming into town for us, so I am hoping to score a couple sets myself, not going to be racing, but attending nonetheless.

    #15381

    Walt Gifford
    Participant

    Have you seen the class structure at Englishtown? There are options other than Tag$ or Rotax$. Pick up a good used kart with a KT100 for about $1500 and have a blast. Tires last forever on a 4 hole can kart.

    Gif

    #15382

    Wade Wishneski
    Participant

    Yes familiar with Etown, that’s where I had done some practicing and every time my son would race MX at Etown I would venture over and watch if the karts were running. Yes the KT100 seems fairly popular without spending a fortune. Certainly a good way to develop driving and becoming smooth!!! I notice it is easy to “overdrive” a TAG.

    #15385

    Jim Derrig
    Participant

    I run a Leopard but have driven both.  Have to agree that overall and on average the Rotax is more reliable.  The starters suck on both motors.

    But it’s still racing and I’ve known Rotax owners who’ve broken down constantly and Leopard owners who never seem to have to do a thing.  Anyone who buys a used racing engine banking on it being low maintenance is deluding himself.   That being the case,  I’d just go with what is most popular at the track you are running at or with the used kart package that gives you the best overall deal.

    I wouldn’t worry much about the chassis, so long as there is a current importer.  Look at the chassis running in the supernates.  Any of those will work and will be plenty competitive at the club level.

    Serious advice:  Buy a ribtec or other quality rib vest.  Do NOT try and save money here by buying something on eBay or from K-1.

    Some of the Leopard expenses can be offset with home rebuilds, unlike the sealed Rotax.   I’ve done  4 at this point and that motor is about as complex as box of corn flakes.  Also, 20 hours (rough Leopard rebuild cycle) is a lot of seat time.  Assuming you are not burning up practice miles and are just club racing, it will last you that entire 10 race season.

    Tires?  My first racing season I ran about 9 races plus occasional practice days and, due to a promise to my wife, did it on two sets of tires.  Since I was slow anyway it didn’t make much difference.

    #15428

    james kent
    Participant

    Have you seen the cost of rmax parts ? Hahaha what a joke. You have to pay a “certified” rmax center to do any engine work; top end let’s say. I don’t get why anyone would spend more to go slower.

    #15429

    Ayrton Mutagaana
    Participant

    For where you are in the country: Get a Rotax

    For what you are looking to do in karting: Get a Rotax

    To save yourself lots of grief: Get a Rotax

    For your age: Get a Rotax

    If you tip the scales at over 200lbs: Get a shifter

    If you want to race SKUSA, WKA, or USPKS: get a Leopard

    I don’t hate Leopards, they just don’t make much $ense.  …to me anyway!

    #15463

    Walt Gifford
    Participant

    I had a Rotax once, so glad I sold it. Everything on that engine cost $500 or more. When I bought it it was legal. In the course of a year or so they came out with required changes/upgrades to the cylinder, the balance gears, the clutch, the airbox, the ignition system and some other things I can’t recall right now. It had almost zero resale value, finally found a parking lot racer and let it go for cheap.  I’ve been racing kart for over 40 years, been through allot of stuff, now I run a $60 clone motor I got from Harbor Freight and loving it.

    Gif

    #15553

    russ Jolly
    Participant

    I to am thinking about leaving Rotax and moving to Lo206 or Leopard. would like to know what you guys think.

    #15713

    Dan Schlosser
    Participant

    If you have Yamaha available, run in that direction… quickly… without looking back…

    TAG is fine – it’s fast and has some decent classes but if you are starting out there is no better package than the Yamaha.  Seriously, buy a Yamaha and have fun and stay in the sport for a bunch of years without breaking your bank, ribs and interest.

    The idea that TAG or Rotax is a good entry level point is something that people with short term agendas perpetuate.

    #15716

    Wade Wishneski
    Participant

    Thanks Dan,

    I have had some advise in the Yamaha direction & I have thought of that as an option. The Leopards do corner hard and do have an impact on the ribs, lol. When I had my TAG (leopard) I was surprised how hard these things can corner!!

    WW

    #15736

    Greg Wright
    Participant

    Uhhhhhh, Where does the perception come from  that a TAG kart will corner harder than a Yammie? Corner speed should be the same.

    #15737

    Wade Wishneski
    Participant

    Corner entry speed? Throttle off the corner?

    #15741

    Greg Wright
    Participant

    I don’t think so Wade.

    In this comparison the karts will be on the same tires and if the driver is getting the maximum out of the machine corner entry will be the same. Admittedly the TAG will have to slow more before entry.

    Throttle off the corner, Same thing applies and in fact the edge might go to the Yamaha, again there is only so much cornering traction available so theoretically they should be the same. Observation; At NCMP a Yamaha will out pull a TAG off of the slower corners for several yards, then the parties over.

    #15742

    Wade Wishneski
    Participant

    Greg

    Appreciate the insight, I get it, makes sense. After I sent the last post I thought about it in the sense of having to slow down considerably more in a TAG and the fact that you don’t burn the tires off the corner with a Yamaha etc. etc. I did try a Yamaha kart, I was impressed. I have considered even picking one up for learning purposes and developing “smooth” driving skills before going the TAG route. Here’s a question, a Yamaha 4 hole can motor develops roughly how much HP?

    WW

    #15760

    james kent
    Participant

    Leopards aren’t the only tag engines. They are if your name is wka and you want to impose a monopoly over the series by penalizing a better built motor.

    #15775

    Greg Wright
    Participant

    Here’s a question, a Yamaha 4 hole can motor develops roughly how much HP?

    WW

    I hate horsepower number since they can be manipulated so easily. So my answer is “About Half”.

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