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TJ Koyen


I think you’ll find you might get multiple answers for some of these, because every driver/tuner communicates differently. But for the most part these are universal phrases.

The guys above covered them pretty well but I’ll give my input.

Side bite: I use this when referring to the kart’s ability to “dig” in the rear and lift the inside wheel off the ground. If your kart doesn’t have enough side bite, you won’t get the inside rear wheel lifting and the kart will likely slide on the outside rear tire. See “oversteer” below. A kart that doesn’t have enough side bite usually benefits from narrower rear track. This lets the kart tip easier and gets the outside rear tire to dig into the track better. Increasing caster will also generate more lift and could help the kart dig better in the rear. This might seem counterintuitive, because when your kart is sliding generally you don’t want to increase caster. But if the issue you’re chasing is a lack of side bite, it could help get the kart tipped and digging easier. It’s a driver feeling thing to determine if that’s the issue or not, and whether caster will help or hurt.

Hopping: As stated above, it’s when the kart loads and unloads quickly in a corner. This usually happens when the kart is either too soft in the rear, or you have too much side bite as described above. If the kart is too narrow in the rear, you will get lots of inside lift, overload the outside tire with all that force, and it’ll slip, grab, slip, grab and the hopping begins. If this is your issue, a small rear track adjustment; widening the rear by 5mm, could be your fix. What I usually like to do is start at 1390mm rear track, and narrow the rear up until it starts hopping a bit, then just back it off and widen it back out 5mm. This usually gives the kart the max amount of side bite, but the driver must be smooth on the wheel. A kart that is properly set up to achieve maximum rear lift, grip, and speed through a corner will be on the brink of hopping because you have so much side bite dialed into the rear. If the driver is harsh on the wheel, his hard inputs will cause the rear to overload the outside tire and cause the kart to hop. 

Understeer: The kart does not have enough front grip and continues to drive on straight after steering input is induced. The front tires are scrubbing. This can happen on entry OR exit. Entry push means you need a wider front track width usually to give you more grip and more reactive steering. Exit push means you have too much weight jacking dialed into the kart, and the inside rear wheel is setting down prematurely, causing the kart to plow off the corner. Taking caster out or widening the rear track can help this issue, as you are then allowing the inside rear wheel to lift a little more slowly and help the kart rotate further into and off the corner.

Oversteer: Opposite of understeer. Kart is too reactive and has too much front grip on entry. You are overloading the outside rear tire too quickly and the kart is dropping the inside rear wheel because you are having to countersteer. Narrowing up the front track, reducing caster, or narrowing the rear track can alleviate this issue.

Push: Same as understeer, just different words.

Push-kick: Refers to when you have understeer on turn-in, causing you to put more wheel input in to get the kart to turn. When the kart finally slows down enough to rotate, you have so much wheel input in the kart that it grabs and reacts very harshly, causing the rear to kick around and gives you oversteer on apex/exit. This can be a confusing one to tune out because drivers are feeling both understeer and oversteer in one corner and they usually only remember the oversteer since it happened last. You need to have them determine if the reason for the understeer was legitimately not enough front grip, or if they are getting oversteer on entry.

The final things to remember are that ALL handling woes can be driver induced, and almost all handling woes can be FIXED by adapting your driving style to the kart. A driver can take a perfectly set up kart and make it oversteer or understeer or whatever if he isn’t driving properly. Conversely, a good driver will take a poorly handling kart and adjust himself to drive around whatever issue is plaguing him and make the best of it. On a national or regional level, where the track is changing so much and most drivers are running on competently set-up equipment, basically a level playing field, it will be adaptable drivers who can get more out of their setup who will be the ones on the podium.

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