Home Forums General Karting Discussion Why are karts so expensive?

This topic contains 32 replies, has 20 voices, and was last updated by  Ted Hamilton 2 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #53397

    Richard Gordon
    Participant

    I had a Franklin Zip back in 1990.  Sit up sprint kart roller . Brand new and it was under $1000.  Seems pretty similar to current sit up sprint karts.  You would be hard pressed to find a new roller for under $3500.  Has inflation gone up that much since then?  Have the materials or components gone up that much?  You can’t even get a bare frame for that cheap anymore.  Seems kind of crazy.  Have been out of karting since 1991 and got sticker shock.  In 2007 bought a new complete IMCA modified roller for $6500 and in 2003 a complete INEX Legend race car for $8500.  Got a lot more actual material for the money.  Did everything gradually just creep up in price when I wasn’t paying attention?

  • #53398

    Matt Dixon
    Participant

    Because the market will bear it…

    Or will it, why are there so many “Why are kart counts so low?” Threads…

    94y

    • #53400

      Pete Muller
      Participant

      Hmm… sounds like the price has almost doubled, even *after* inflation:

      According to a “calculator” I found for inflation, that grand in 1990 would be $1826 today.

       

      PM

       

  • #53402

    Richard Gordon
    Participant

    Guess there are some differences.  Didn’t have the full coverage body work and the wheels were 3 piece.  Still should be less than $2500 though.  The age of credit must have made it possible?  Doesn’t seem like salaries have increased that much.  I know mine hasn’t gone up hardly any since I started working full time in the mid 90s.  I got lucky and won an auction on EBay for a new 2013 roller for $1625.  There is no way that I could have afforded to buy a new kart otherwise.

  • #53411

    Curt Smock
    Participant

    Interesting question. we’re currently being offered a front drive Roadster car in very good condition. My son can drive it weekly at a high bank track were the ASA got it’s start. No entry fee. $30 pit pass. All it needs is fuel in the tank and air in the tires.

    the car is being offered at less than we’ve invested in any of our 3 karts.

  • #53424

    Dan Breuer
    Participant

    Yes, continues to get expensive….But make sure you compare apples to apples. A front drive roadster is entry level, similar to an entry level class in karting while your upper divisions (late models in circle track) would be more comparable to a tag or shifter. Sounds good running a cheap car, but just like in karting, the expense comes in as we all try to move to the next step.

    Curt, it may seem a ‘good deal’ to go car racing (and it may be). Make sure you look at your son’s age, experience,etc. while also factoring in garage space, trailers, practice time. I could take my daughter racing in several venues but choose karting because it really does hone the skills that she will need to be successful in any form of motorsports. Plus I can jump on a kart and race with her.

  • #53428

    Patrick Roth
    Participant

    This seems like a silly question given a 25 year time span (we could have the same discussion about the price of gas, cars, toys, screwdrivers, stuffed animals, etc)…  Yes, inflation is partly responsible and yes, materials and components cost more (ex: bodywork).  Building on what Mark mentions, the market also plays a huge role not just in what price it will bear, but also in what it demands (magnesium components, variety of different seats, fancy brakes, data acquisition, etc).

    How much was the cost of a kart in 2003 and 2007 to compare with the Legend (noticed you didn’t say “new Legend”) and new IMCA car?

    Curt, how much would your front drive Roadster cost new?  How much are brakes and tires and how long do you think they will last?  How much are suspension components when they get damaged during contact or an off track incident?

    I wish karts were cheaper to buy and operate but I don’t buy for a second that racing a car is less expensive at an equivalent level.  IMHO, even if they were penny for penny equal, driving a car on a track isn’t near as thrilling.

    Cheers! :)

     

  • #53430

    Greg Wright
    Participant

    OK here’s my take on it, take it for what it’s worth.

    By 2004 imported sprint karts had all but destroyed  US sprint kart manufacturing with Margay being one of the few exceptions. From 2004 to 2008 wholesale prices on imported karts went up nearly 20% a year. Sounds like predatory business practices to me.

    Yes I can document this.

    Greg Wright
    Rapid Racing Inc.
    Vintage B-Stock Pilot
    "When in doubt Gas it, It won't help but it ends the suspense."

  • #53432

    Richard Gordon
    Participant

    Yes, the Legend was a used car.  New, turn key was $12500.  Still not bad considering what you got.  Car racing has more overhead.  Need a larger tow vehicle, larger trailer, more tools and equipment, and space to store it all.  Parts for most of the spec racers and entry level classes are actually cheaper for cars.  You can build a 350 Chevy stroker 383 alky motor with 13:1 compression that puts out almost 600 hp for around $5000.  The circle track stuff gets expensive when it comes to fuel and lots of broken stuff.  Wheels, tires, tie rod ends, swage tubes, and body work take a beating.  I do think karts are a great learning tool for a new driver and a ton of fun.  And to keep cost down, I chose the LO206 class at our local track that uses a spec tire.  So I got all new kart and engine, with a used suit and gear (new Snell helmet), and used trailer all for a little over $3000.  Pump gas and the tires will last an entire season (Duro rental tire).  Not bad.  Wish we could run TaG, but that class is super expensive.  Motors $3000+, tires $250 a race weekend, $100 in fuel each weekend, etc.  How can your average joe afford to do this as a hobby?

  • #53433

    Dan Breuer
    Participant

    The ‘karting industry’ relies on its income from the racer, and it appears that the numbers have dwindled which makes it more expensive for those still in the sport. My take-work to attract more customers and the price goes down for all. Concession karting brings in a few, but I still believe the biggest ‘miss’ for karting is the appeal (or lack of ) to spectators. Shows are too long and they are not entertaining. Our local track has no place to sit and any fans that would show up feel like they are more of a burden, let alone the fact that the events run all day.

    My daughter runs two totally different kinds of karts, a tag at the local sprint track while also running a ‘mini outlaw’ kart at a small dirt track. We will run the dirt track tonight, hot lap at 7:00, be at home in bed around 11:00. I have watched the track gain cars and fans- they will have around 400 people there tonight. We will race the sprint track in a couple of weeks, it will be an all day Saturday event. Not that it is bad, they do a great job and really try to give you as much time as possible for the money-but you can see the totally different mindset.

    Bottom line, attract more people over all and the sport will grow…Spectators do become participants.

  • #53435

    Tim Koyen
    Participant

    If you guys had watched the video on the Tonykart factory, you wouldn’t be asking why karts are so expensive.

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  • #53449

    Walt Gifford
    Participant

    Where are the Chinese go karts and would you trust one in turn 5 at Summit? Part of what you pay for is something that won’t fall apart at 90 mph.

    Gif

    FAA certified jet engine and aircraft technician,
    Nicholson Speedway class champion 2001,
    Yamaha KT100 Service Center,
    41 years karting experience

  • #53450

    andy graham
    Participant

    Tim’s right, its incredibly expensive to produce anything in Europe due to how much control the labor unions have.  That video Tim mentioned — notice how few humans are in the factory, it’s all robots….expensive?  Hell yes!!  But, OTK Group aren’t stupid, they did the fisability study and saw that human labor is more expensive than machine labor…thats a huge statement in my opinion, and means less jobs and more expense for he consumer…the economic situation in the EU doesn’t help us either, the tariffs paid for each unit exported is ridiculous…..So, if you want a new chassis, get out the check book and get ready to stroke a good one….FYI — Average cost of an mx bike (4 stroke) is nearing $10k these days….its motorsports, its costly, and if you want to be up front, that check book better be real fat!

     

  • #53453

    Richard Gordon
    Participant

    Did see that Comet sales has the Eagle which is a copy of an Arrow for around $2500.  Made in U.S. from imported chromoly.  Seems more reasonable, but has some cheaper components.  Seems like there used to be a lot more American made chassis around.  And the Zip was made in the UK back in 1990.  Now have a Margay which has some EU components like the axle.  It retails for $3795 without tires.

  • #53635

    Paul Hir
    Participant

    Where are the Chinese go karts and would you trust one in turn 5 at Summit? Part of what you pay for is something that won’t fall apart at 90 mph. Gif

    Walt, I hear that all the time that you get what you pay for, but I don’t think that answers the question posed by Richard. Zip kart I am under the impression is good quality and a good fair priced kart in the 1990’s, why are we as racers are we being gouged?

    On a side note you can get a Coyote frame for $849.00.

  • #53694

    Daniel White
    Participant

    TS Racing has their entire line of new full-size 2014 and 2015 DR karts on sale for between $3200-3700 (the shifter is $4349). Those are good prices. If I replaced just my Tonykart frame it would cost me $2850!

  • #53697

    Tim Koyen
    Participant

    Anyone  has the ability to go out and buy all the brands listed above, yet so few do.  Even fewer are running up front with them.  If you want the European brands that have thousands of hours of engineering and testing behind them, then be prepared to pay for that.  If you don’t think its worthwhile, then buy one of the other brands.  There is something available at all the price points.

    Are the OTK or other Euro or imported karts worth the extra money, apparently most karters think so, or we’d be seeing fields full of the other locally produced karts instead of those brands.  If you don’t think its worth it, or your financial ability, or driving ability limits you, then buy a cheaper make.  I doubt that you’ll have less fun because your kart cost less.

    It costs money to produce high quality stuff with precision over and over.  But you also want to know that each kart you pull out of the box is going to work correctly and consistently.  At least its not a bunch of cheap crap made in China.  Although, for what it’s worth, some of components on some very nice karts, ARE made in China.  Which just goes to show, that with right engineering oversight, CNC machines located in China can produce quality product.

    KartLift Kart Stands
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  • #53699

    Richard Gordon
    Participant

    My personal preference is to buy a U.S. made chassis.  Like to keep people employed. 2nd choice is EU made.  But if you look at the mountain bike industry almost all of the top brands have their frames made in Taiwan.  Must be cost effective and they make a quality product.  The R&D is usually done in the U.S. or EU, but the final production is in Taiwan.  So I’m pretty sure that the cost can be lowered and the quality retained.  There might not be enough volume to make this a reality though or this would have already be the case.  I do like what Margay is doing with the Ignite.  Race ready with LO206 for unde $4k.  Kart does not have all the bells and whistles, but would a great way to start racing on the cheap.  I do see the Extreme karts which are made in Italy starting at $2300.  Throw a Fireball kit on it and you have a cheap TaG set up.  The Extreme and Eagle are the only chassis unde $3k that I have seen.  Not sure how good or competitive the set up would be, but also a great price point for entry level.  Seems like more of this is needed to get people into the sport.

  • #53700

    Greg Wright
    Participant

    If I replaced just my Tonykart frame it would cost me $2850!

     

    You can buy a frame for a full blown sprint car frame for less than that and yes it would be a quality piece. That’s what gets me to wondering.

    Greg Wright
    Rapid Racing Inc.
    Vintage B-Stock Pilot
    "When in doubt Gas it, It won't help but it ends the suspense."

  • #53712

    Richard Gordon
    Participant

    Yes, how much does the tubing cost in one frame?  How much does it cost to bend and cut the tubing?  How much does it cost to weld it together?  Small robots and jigs can be used for the whole process.  I’ve seen it done for bicycle frames.  We have a makers space that has a small robot that moved the frame in different positions for the welder to weld it up.  Seems like a decent rolling chassis can be made for $1500-2000 that would be a good starter kart and still be competitive at the local/regional level.  How about the cadet karts?  Why are they so much cheaper?  Has almost the same amount of material and very similar components/design.  It just doesn’t add up.

    Seems like the current system for someone starting out, is to buy someones used equipment.  Thats all well and good, but there is something said for buying new chassis and getting everything set up for the driver.  Instead of having to adjust to what is already put together.  You learn a lot more from putting a new kart together yourself.  Also, you don’t know what you are getting when you buy most used karts.  A lot out there is probably used up and won’t ever work that well anymore.  This will result in frustration for the new owner and they will probably quit.  Most new karts are out of range price wise for some one wanted to get into the sport.  Seems like this is what is laking in the industry.  A cheap way to get started.  At least there are a few companies starting to address this issue.

  • #53720

    FREDDY SANDOVAL
    Participant

    Life is not for everyone! LOL

    I’m sorry I just couldn’t help it, I meant to say “karting/ or racing is not for everyone”

    Tim Koyen hits it right in the nail, there is a reason why top quality karts run up front, and win races/championships, I don’t see cheap karts dominating at big events.

    I also agree that there is a budget for everyone, I could personally buy a brand new economy kart and start racing with it, but I can also assure you I will get extremely frustrated from trying so hard to catch up with the faster guys ( I like to win ) I would take a long time for me to find the correct set up, axle stiffness, hubs, spindles, seat position, etc before I could start having fun. When I can just pull my OTK kart out of the box and start kicking butt.

    It’s just like starting a race with cold tires, or starting the race on hot tires out of the tire warmers.

    We’ve had so many different kart manufactures through the years, including top US brands, and let me tell you something My kid will never want to use anything else other than his Alonso kart (Blue Tony Kart/ OTK)

    I encourage everyone to get back to the point ( Why are karts so expensive?)

    I think we’ve already established that ( You wanna play, You gotta Pay )

    Cheap and karting do not go together. If I can’t afford to buy a starter, a clutch or a good quality suit, maybe I shouldn’t be racing, I would wait till a season in time when it’s affordable. My 2 cents.

    • #53721

      Richard Gordon
      Participant

      Care to tells us how much you spend in 1 year for karting?  Also, what level are you racing at?  Still no explanation why a bare frame can run up to $3k. Numbers are not there.  Seems like the name and its reputation will dictate the price.  People are willing to pay that much if they perceive that it gives them .1 seconds advantage over the competition?  I have been racing something since the early 80’s.  I have won a lot of races in many different disciplines from MX to nationally sanctioned cars.  Have won at the regional, state and local levels.  Have qualified in national events, etc.  I have always been able to do it on a shoe string budget.  If you think you he who spends the most wins, you are part of the reason that everything is so expensive.  People with attitudes like your’s will kill the sport in the long run.  Sorry, but couldn’t resist.

      • #53722

        Dan Brown
        Participant

        Care to tells us how much you spend in 1 year for karting? Also, what level are you racing at? Still no explanation why a bare frame can run up to $3k. Numbers are not there. Seems like the name and its reputation will dictate the price. People are willing to pay that much if they perceive that it gives them .1 seconds advantage over the competition? I have been racing something since the early 80’s. I have won a lot of races in many different disciplines from MX to nationally sanctioned cars. Have won at the regional, state and local levels. Have qualified in national events, etc. I have always been able to do it on a shoe string budget. If you think you he who spends the most wins, you are part of the reason that everything is so expensive. People with attitudes like your’s will kill the sport in the long run. Sorry, but couldn’t resist.

        Actually the numbers are there. A small mom and pop shop back in the day bending tubing and hand welding it could keep costs down. Todays karts are so much more advanced than that. The countless hours of engineering, design, testing etc. are what makes the prices what they have become. Plus, think about the insurance that the manufacturers have to carry. Everyone is lawsuit happy these days, so liability insurance costs are insane.  As Paul mentioned, a new Coyote chassis can be bought for a reasonable price. Nothing against Coyote, but if they were capable of winning a SKUSA or USPKS  championship then everyone would be racing one and winning with it. There are some decent karts available reasonably priced, and the Extreme is one of them. It’s an excellent choice for club level or entry level karting, but do race with the best you have to drive the best and that costs money.

        Dan

         

  • #53724

    TJ Koyen
    Moderator

    The options to run cheaper chassis are out there for sure, as been mentioned in this thread. However, for whatever reason, no one is running them up front on a national-level.

    Cheaper karts have always been around. People continue to buy the expensive ones. The expensive ones consistently run up front. The cheap ones come and go without putting a real dent in the market. I’m not saying it can’t or shouldn’t be different, but so far that’s how it’s been.

    And it isn’t a matter of the Europeans “screwing us” or whatever. The iKart, a successful American chassis, is a $4500 kart as well. So they’ve provided a kart that’s built in America, competes with top-level European brands on a national level, and is comparable in price. And yet, they still aren’t a very popular kart despite being around for a few years. It takes a lot of time, money, and developing to keep up with these European companies that have been doing this for decades.

    It isn’t just two guys in a shed bending and welding tubes together. This is 2015, robots and trained, highly-skilled engineers are building this stuff. That isn’t cheap. Like my dad noted earlier, go watch the OTK Factory Tour video on YouTube and you’ll stop asking why kart cost so much.

    And Greg,

    I’m not sure where you’re seeing a new sprint car frame for under $2850… According to Spike’s website, I’m seeing $4k-$7k for a frame kit, and $15k for a rolling chassis…

    Driver/Coach/Wrench : Innovative Performance/Exprit
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  • #53725

    FREDDY SANDOVAL
    Participant

    Richard Gordon

    I didn’t mean to offend you, I do have a weird sense of humor, I apologize if I offended you with my comment.

    I am not the reason why this sport is the way it is, and I assure you I have taken my shirt off to help the needy racer, or the new karter, we also have several karts available to help people learn how to drive, educate them about the sport before they make a purchase.

    There have been many times where guys use even our personal karts to test and get a clue of how it is, not to mention constantly giving people a wrenching hand when lost and confused at the track.

    I am not gonna get into details with numbers, how many wins, how many championships I’ve won, because it will not be a fair statement.

    I just simply made a statement about the reality, I am not responsible why top of the line karts are so expensive, and why the value and market for their product is so high, if OTK karts have a price tag and that is the value of their equipment then more power to them, I don’t have a major in economics or finances, but just by looking at their factory, equipment, facility, machinery, state of the are operation, etc I would probably do the same thing, as this is not a charity event, this is a business.

    I am an old fashion kind of guy too, that would love the sport get better, and I totally have a passion for the sport and the people in it.

    Driving any good old kart does it for me, and I am a believer that no matter how old or beat up your kart is you should be able to drive it like you stall it, and make it work for you, but at the end of the day I get my butt kicked by the newer technology, better quality, etc. I’ve had my share of frustration with low end karts, so I decided to work less and used better chassis.

    It’s just like buying a socket from harbor freight tools, or a nicer better socket from Snap-On Tool ( which I have my share on those too) and it all boils down to frustration for me, don’t give me wrong they both get the job done, but 1 does it better, faster, and probably won’t hurt you.

    Please understand that we’re just trying to answer your questions here in this forum, and I’d like to believe that we are a family of karters

    I really wish OTK karts were cheaper (less expensive, I would really love that)

    I hope we’re all cool with this.

  • #53728

    Richard Gordon
    Participant

    No problem Freddy.  You have given me useful advice in the past and I appreciated it.  Sorry to be so stand offish.  I figured you guys are probably running at the national level.  I would expect this level to be expensive.  It should be since it is the top tier of karting in the U.S.  Maybe the karts are worth it.  Just seems like everything in karting went up a bunch since I last did it and also compared to the various car series I raced in.  The cost of running even local club events in most 2 cycle classes is pretty steep.  This is why I decided to go the LO206 route.  Spec tire, cheap pump gas, and low engine maintenance with a sealed motor made a lot of sense to me financially.  At some point we might end up with a TaG or stock moto, but for now the LO206 will be fun and a good way to get into sprint kart racing.  For now, just with our club.  Maybe in a regional series at some point.  Problem for us is the distance to the other tracks.  All over 5 hours one way.  Local track is still 2 hours one way.

  • #53729

    Dave Holstein
    Participant

    Just thought I would throw my two cents in, and I realize that this comment doesn’t really answer the op.

    I got started in karting three years ago, got an 80 shifter for only $500 ready to race, really good deal I’m not complaning but it became very apparent to me that if your going to race these things, even at the club level the initial cost becomes less significant after you factor in everything it takes, tires, fuel, engine maintenance, etc.

    Kinda like the old saying “there is no such thing as a free horse”

  • #53819

    Brock Weiss
    Participant

    Simply put I think Tim and TJ Koyen hit the nail on the head. Watch the OTK Factory video and that should tell you why karts are so expensive.  I don’t even want to guess how much those robots cost.

    That and there are people that will pay that kind of money to have the best stuff available and win races.

    I’m learning in racing if you want to run up front, a top of the line chassis helps a tremendous amount. There is a reason why OTK brands are so popular and until people stop buying them the price is not going anywhere.

    Which I don’t see happening anytime soon and unfortunately I think that is one of the reasons why you see karting numbers so low at the club levels because people starting out don’t want to pay $5500 for a new chassis.

  • #53856

    Daryle Redlin
    Participant

    Just thought I would add a comment about robots etc, they are not as expensive as you think and companies purchase them because they are a net reduction in production costs. Don’t be mislead to think that production has gone offshore because North American companies cant compete. We produce a number of product lines and one of them is bike parts. We have better quality, faster delivery and just as competitive on price. The major problem in NA is the request to manufactures to make smaller runs of parts. When we run 200 sets of bike cranks we can be price competitive but if we are only asked to make 5 sets we cant. In reality the production ability of Tony Kart should make them the most cost competitive and they should be able to beat everyone on price. They sell at the higher price only because customers continue to pay it. I guarantee you that if their sales went down 20% the price would immediately drop. Its simple supply and demand. Ikarts prices should be the highest because they are hand making the kart and they don’t have the scale yet of the larger manufacturers. Once karting finally implodes on itself due to pricing the kart prices will magically come down to what they should be and the market will hopefully rebuild itself.

  • #53870

    Larry Hayashigawa
    Participant

    Racing is expensive; Looked up prices for a top of the line road racing bike, they range from $10K to $6K  (MSRP), and they only go 25 MPH and don’t make any noise!

    Larry H

     

  • #53871

    TJ Koyen
    Moderator

    Racing is expensive; Looked up prices for a top of the line road racing bike, they range from $10K to $6K (MSRP), and they only go 25 MPH and don’t make any noise!

    Larry H

    Having worked for a major bicycle company, if you knew the margins on that stuff, you would think karting was a bargain!

    Driver/Coach/Wrench : Innovative Performance/Exprit
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  • #53872

    Greg Wright
    Participant

    David Cole and Rob, SPAM  alert, not just in this thread either. Fake passports GEEZ!

    Greg Wright
    Rapid Racing Inc.
    Vintage B-Stock Pilot
    "When in doubt Gas it, It won't help but it ends the suspense."

  • #53911

    Ted Hamilton
    Participant

    IMO, karts are a “boutique” item, ie. not mass-produced.  Even the “factory” efforts aren’t pumping out 10,000 units +…  Therefore, the remaining racers are forced to pay for what is essentially a hand-crafted item, even it’s produced with “modern” techniques.  Also, lack of corporate backing from industries outside the sport forces interior industries to pass marketing and promotions costs on to their customers through the pricing too…

    Now why Coyote (or similar) aren’t paying a top-level driver to go win Man Cup races on their cheaper chassis to “prove” that they’re competitive is a mystery.  Even an inferior chassis, (which I’m not implying about Coyote), can win consistently with enough development time and superlative talent in the seat and engine sides…Win Sunday, Sell Monday…  IMO, the reason you don’t see Extreme, or others selling is that they aren’t winning, and they aren’t winning because nobody’s making the risk of running and developing them to the point of competitive worth it for the “top teams,” and so the top teams choose the “proven” chassis and reinforce the impression that Verde, Rosso, or Black are necesary to win.

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