How Does Go Kart Clutch Work

If you are a professional go-kart racer or just a new beginner at go-karting, you must have heard the term clutch, whether by someone or read it somewhere, and wondered what the purpose of this clutch is. Where is it installed? Why do we need a clutch, and how can we upgrade to improve the go-kart performance?

A go-kart clutch transmits power from the engine to the wheels, making them roll in the direction the energy is diverted. Some go-karts, for example, shifter karts, have hand clutches used to start the engine. Please do remember that go-kart clutches are different from car clutches.

So, now let’s look at more details about clutches.

Why do we need a clutch in a go-kart?

While the clutch isn’t an absolute necessity in go-karts, many go-karters use a centrifugal clutch because they are best at transmitting the power from the engine to the wheel at high speeds. We all know that go-karting is a competitive sport, and you need to be fast at making centrifugal clutch one of the most popular transmission systems in go-karts.

Related post: The Complete Guide to Go Kart Transmission

So, if you know you will compete at the highest level of go-karting, add a centrifugal clutch to your go-kart.

Moreover, the clutch serves two purposes

  • Engage the load – Make the go-kart go.
  • Disengage the load – Make the go-kart slow down or stop.

Types of Clutches Systems

  • Centrifugal clutches
  • Variable Transmission Clutches
  • Belt Clutches
  • Liquid Clutches
  • Electric Clutches

The most common one is the Centrifugal clutch; hence in this article, we will discuss how it works and is a bit essential for a centrifugal clutch.

How Does A Centrifugal Clutch Works?

Centrifugal clutch works by shifting the weights through the clutch driver, increasing the engine speed gradually. When the engine speed increases, the centrifugal force on the weights increases by a factor of two of the rate.

Force Weight = K (Constant) x RPM2

The engine’s speed can be gradually increased, and the engagement will also gradually increase.

These are the most cost-effective clutches available in the market, and one can quickly obtain them at a low cost; they are easy to mount and can easily be maintained.

Centrifugal Clutch Components

Centrifugal Clutch Components

Centrifugal Clutch can be divided into two parts,

  • Drum Part – Depicted on the left diagram
  • Springs, Spiders, and Shoes – Depicted on the right diagram

The drum relates to the driven shaft, while the Shoes, Springs, and spiders are connected to the driving shaft, so once you start the engine, the inner part of the clutch starts to spin and expands to the outer part; the whole device begins to turn. It is then connected to the wheel by the driving shaft, which makes the wheel spin.

Centrifugal Clutch at Idle Engine

When the engine is idle, the clutch is disengaged, and the kart isn’t moving. Still, when you press the gas pedal, the RPM increases until the clutch engages, around 1800 RPM for a grip to fully engage; the manufacturer sets this idling speed at the factory.

Though partial engagement of the clutch at idling speed can become a problem causing clutch bells to become very hot, drivers need to regulate engine speed when the go-kart is idle, making sure that the clutch is fully disengaged.

Related Post: How to Fix Go Kart Clutch Problems

How to adjust Centrifugal Clutch for Higher RPM

Shortening the speed length can achieve higher RPM as the engine begins to engage more. This can be done by cutting the 2-3 loops at the open end of the circular spring, keeping in mind that shortening too much will cause reassembling problems.

When you shorten the spring, the engine engages more, but if you compress the spring too much, the engine might not engage at all, so keep that in mind; let’s discuss some steps to adjust your clutch.

Adjusting the go-kart clutches easy steps

  • Remove the clutch from your go-kart.
  • With the help of the snap, the plier removes the snap ring; the snap ring will be the one that holds the drum of the clutch to the other half of the grip.
  • A washer/spacer will be between the drum and the cover of the other half of the clutch. Please keep it safe.
  • Remove any other snap ring you find.
  • After the cover has been taken off, you will see the spring. Please remove it.
  • Now you can cut 2-3 loops from the open end and put the spring back.

Replacing the spring in the clutch

There might be times when you will not only want to cut the spring but to replace it altogether; there are few springs in the marketplace that have much higher stiffness meaning that they can engage more at higher RPM. Depending on your need, you can choose the type of spring based on their engagement.

Pros and Cons of Centrifugal Clutch

We will now analyze the pros and cons of using the centrifugal clutch, which is as follows.

Pros of Centrifugal Clutch

  • It is pretty more budget-friendly and economical
  • Have a low Maintenance cost
  • Straightforward construction and easily adaptable
  • Fully automatic

Cons of Centrifugal Clutch

  • The Disk plates slip and sometimes cannot run at full efficiency.
  • A lot of heat is generated.

How to install a go-kart clutch

If you are trying to replace a faulty go-kart clutch or trying to build up your go-kart, you will most likely come across the task of installing the clutch for the go-kart; while it may seem a heinous and tedious task, it has a simple process and doesn’t require much hard work, all you need to understand the process at hand and have the right tools.

We are going to list down simple easy to do four steps to install a go-kart clutch,

  1. Slide the clutch into the crankshaft.
  2. Set the clutch into position.
  3. Align the clutch into the sprocket with the rear axle sprocket.
  4. Do the final testing.

This is the step-by-step process on how to install the go-kart clutch, but before you start the installation of the clutch, you need to ensure that the engine you are working on is quite easily accessible and has the required tools for the installation.

A list of tools you will need beforehand for installation is as follows,

  • Set Screws
  • Allen Key
  • Washer
  • Key
  • Wrench

Best Go Kart Clutch

There are many clutches available in the market, but we are going to specifically discuss those clutches which go best with the engine from 2-7 HP and have a bore size of ¾’ Size; bear in mind that clutches have different sizes, so when ordering make sure that it is compatible with your chain size and have many teeth accordingly to linkup gear ratio.

The two clutches we are going to discuss are as follows,

  • FDJ Go-Kart Clutch – Best Value for Money
  • Max Torque – Best Quality

FDJ Go-Kart Clutch

One of the best Clutch concerning price is considered one of the economic clutches available in the market. The clutch is compatible with chain size #40/41/420, and with proper oiling from time to time and adequate gearing correction, these clutches can be lost very long.

One of the critical characteristics of this clutch is that it is bi-directional, which means that chain can be installed facing out or inwards. It is straightforward to install this clutch as it comes with bolts and washers, which can easily be bolted to the crankshaft.

FDJ Go Kart Clutch

Key Specifications

  • 3/4” Bore Size
  • 10/12 Teeth
  • Compatible with #40/41/420 chain size
  • Economical

Max Torque Clutch

One of the best quality made clutch, known for its build quality and longevity, The Original  Max Torque Clutch with ¾’ bore is the best and will outlast and outperform many of the other clutches out there, the only downside being it might be a bight expensive on the pocket compared to other clutches.

The Max Torque comes with multiple chain options and several teeth in the sprocket,

  • #35 chain size and 11 teeth
  • #35 chain size and 12 teeth
  • #35 chain size and 13 teeth
  • #35 chain size and 17 teeth
  • #41 chain size ten teeth

To have an engagement at higher RPM, there are performance upgrade shoes and springs available by Max Torque.

Max Torque Clutch

Key Specifications

  • 3/4’ Bore Size
  • 10,11,12,13 and 17 Teeth available
  • Available for all chain sizes
  • Best Material and Build Quality

How to Oil Your Clutch – Clutch Maintenance

By properly oiling your clutch, you can avoid overheating and damage caused by it, as when heat damage occurs, the clutch might never disengage, and the machine will start moving by itself as soon as you start the engine.

So, to avoid this problem, proper clutches maintenance should be conducted from time to time. We will guide you about a step-by-step process for oiling your clutch, which is as follows,

  • You will find an internal bronze bushing behind the snap ring right next to the sprocket teeth; this bushing requires oil lubrication from time to time.
  • Turn the engine off and sprinkle oil behind the snap ring while the bushing is warm.
  • Also, oil the clutch before you take the go-kart for a ride
  • Give a few minutes before driving so the oil can settle down.
  • Don’t put oil inside the clutch; the holes inside the drum let hot air out of the clutch, Don’t Put oil in those Holes, which will cause the slipping of the clutch.


I hope you enjoy the read; In this article, we talked about different aspects of clutches used in go-karts from their working principle, why we even need them, how to maintain them, and the different types of clutches available in the market.

This article also provided a guideline for installing or replacing your clutch if you are a newcomer to go-karting or a veteran. It included the list of tools you would need to come in handy, so you have a proper path to begin your clutch installation journey.

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