Another noob w/1,000,000 questions

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  • #42713
    RainMan303
    Participant

    I’ve been wanting to get into karting for years, and I think the time has come to take the plunge. Unfortunately, I am totally new to the sport and have lots to figure out. I would like to get into shifters, but I don’t exactly know where to start. Stock Honda CR 125 seems like a good place. I am trying to figure out what is the relationship of CR 125-engined class to karting-specific motors. Do all 125 shifter run together? If so, are any specific layouts inherently better than others (performance/maintenance/parts availability/cost/etc.)? Also, are all shifters push-start only, or are there any remote starter systems that can be used? Any tricks on starting shifters w/out a helper?

    Then, what are the Junior and Masters classes – is that by age (I’m a Master), or by ability (I’m a Junior).

    I have done few years of motorcycle road racing (mostly Southeast and Las Vegas with the old AMA-CCS – anybody know/remember Roger Edmondson (lol)?) so I am not intimidated to wade through rule books and class definitions if someone can point me in the right direction. I have also driven couple of TAGs (Ocala, FL), and they were a blast, but I really would like to try a shifter. FWIW: I am 6′-1″ and 200 pounds (you can already see what is going to be my excuse for being slow (lol)).

    Any info would be appreciated.

    Thnx

    #61361
    Jeff Welch
    Participant

    Welcome to karting!

    There are four 6-speed shifter classes in Colorado:
    125 Shifter – ICC and built moto engines, age 16+
    125 Shifter Masters – ICC and built moto, age 35+
    Stock Honda – stock Honda engines only, age 16+
    Stock Honda Masters – stock Honda engines only, age 35+

    If you’re dead set on getting a shifter, I would strongly recommend the Stock Honda class. This is for two main reasons: 1) the reliability, cost, and performance are very good and 2) it is a very rapidly growing class, whereas ICC shifter classes are shrinking. ICC is your other main option for a 6-speed shifter (there are also some older built moto engines out there, but they aren’t competitive against the ICCs). These engines require substantially more maintenance than a stock Honda and are therefore generally more expensive to run.

    Another option you should definitely consider is the Rotax DD2. It is a 125cc, 2-speed engine package, and depending on the track, is either slightly slower than or slightly faster than a stock Honda package. Cost is similar. However, the DD2 requires much less maintenance than pretty much any other engine package currently used in karting (and we mostly use pretty reliable engines these days). It has all the long life characteristics of the Rotax TaG engine but does not have a chain (the axle runs through the engine and is driven using a splined hub), which is the primary maintenance point on a TaG. The other big difference is in a full-fledged 6-speed shifter, the ride is fairly brutal because of the ridiculous amount of torque. In a DD2, the power goes down very smoothly, which translates to a lot less abuse on your body. I’m not kidding when I say I’ve come off the track in my shifter with half a dozen severe bruises. That won’t happen in a DD2. Other positives to the DD2 include a sealed engine that can only be worked on by authorized service centers, which prevents people from cheating, and a 1 year warranty on the engine. Rotax engines are the only engines in karting that have a warranty!

    And then, of course, there’s TaG. If you want to truly learn how to drive, get a TaG. A shifter can mask a lot of bad habits. If you slide sideways a little in a shifter, you can simply drop a gear and get most of it back. Maybe one guy will pass you. If you slide it in a TaG, five guys will pass you. The ability to drive smoothly is certainly important in a shifter as well (and all the fastest guys in shifters are very smooth drivers), but it’s much more difficult to learn when you have all that torque at your disposal to mask driving mistakes. TaG karts are less expensive than a shifter and quite reliable, so they’re always a solid option.

    Please feel free to give us a call at the shop at 303-781-7829. We’re more than happy to answer any questions you have.
    (My family owns Shockwave Karting. We’re the largest American manufacturer of karting components, have our own chassis line, and are one of the Rotax service centers for Colorado.)

    #61362
    Sheldon Potter
    Participant

    @RainMan303 wrote:

    I’ve been wanting to get into karting for years, and I think the time has come to take the plunge. Unfortunately, I am totally new to the sport and have lots to figure out. I would like to get into shifters…

    Hey, Rain Man – As another newcomer to the sport, based both on what I’ve heard/read from more experienced others and from my own admittedly limited experience, I’d have to agree w/ Jeff re. the potential value of starting in TAG when learning the basics of driving.

    I’ve mostly been in the arrive and drive machines at The Track at Centennial and elsewhere locally (working on getting into my own machine), but also have had a chance to briefly try out a TAG/Rotax, 6 Speed Honda shifter and most recently one of the Shockwave DD2 machines.

    I don’t know where you are in innate talent/athletic ability, and never having been in bikes I don’t know how much skill would carry over into karting, but I’d have to say that all other things being equal I can see how important being able to focus exclusively on cornering, throttle/braking, passing/getting passed, as well as all the hundreds of basic things you have to learn mechanically and about setup, etc. first for a driver new to karting can be of great value longer term. Certainly for myself TAG is a no brainer. 🙂 OTOH, then I’ll have to find some other excuse for being the slow guy… We’ll see..

    (of course, your own mileage may vary)

    Also, so, you only have a million questions? That’s about a million less than I’ve had and continue to have. This forum and the local karting community it represents are invaluable resources in that regard! Don’t know about you, but it’s all a nice little adventure.

    Sheldon Potter

    BTW, Rain Man, what’s your actual name? (Don’t say Dustin Hoffman, I’m not *that much of a rookie…)

    #61363
    RainMan303
    Participant

    @Jeff Welch wrote:

    […] I would strongly recommend the Stock Honda class.

    Thanks – you have confirmed my gut feeling. I am a huge fan of KISS classes – Keep It Stock, Stupid – my extensive and expensive mods to my Honda CBR600 taught me a lesson on that one.

    Thanks for taking time to demystify this stuff. Just out of curiosity: what do ICC and DD2 stand for? I can make a wild guess that DD2 stands for Direct Drive 2-speed, but ICC….?

    #61364
    Jeff Welch
    Participant

    @RainMan303 wrote:

    @Jeff Welch wrote:

    […] I would strongly recommend the Stock Honda class.

    Thanks – you have confirmed my gut feeling. I am a huge fan of KISS classes – Keep It Stock, Stupid – my extensive and expensive mods to my Honda CBR600 taught me a lesson on that one.

    Thanks for taking time to demystify this stuff. Just out of curiosity: what do ICC and DD2 stand for? I can make a wild guess that DD2 stands for Direct Drive 2-speed, but ICC….?

    Good question. ICC stands for Intercontinental C, which is the European name for the class. For our purposes here in the US, ICC refers to any of the 125cc, 6-speed engines manufactured by a variety of Italian companies specifically for karting purposes. A “moto” engine, on the other hand, refers to any 125cc, 6-speed engine that was originally built for dirt bikes that has been adapted for use on a kart. The Honda CR125 is by far the most common moto engine. Again, despite being built specifically for karting, ICC engines are subject to some major disadvantages as I discussed above. The Europeans apparently don’t really mind rebuilding their engines constantly, which is why they are willing to sacrifice longevity for power. The trend in the US has been to increase longevity at perhaps at a slight power penalty.

    If you’re looking for used karts, you’ll probably come across “built moto” engines. These are the engines we used to run before ICC was introduced to the US. Essentially, they are heavily modified moto engines (again, usually Hondas, but there are a few Yamahas and TMs out there). They can be raced today in the same class as the ICC engines, but are generally not competitive and usually suffer the same reliability issues. The Stock Honda class was designed to address the reliability issues of both the ICC and built moto packages, and in my opinion, has done so very admirably.

    You might actually be right on the DD2 standing for Direct Drive 2, but it’s not referred to as such in the US. It’s also not really accurate – the DD2, although it has no chain, is not direct drive. It has a centrifugal clutch, which allows the engine to run at an idle without the kart moving. As soon as the engine RPMs increase to a certain point (ie, when you push on the gas), the clutch engages and the kart begins to move. In a true “direct drive” vehicle, the engine cannot run unless the kart is moving.

    #61365
    RainMan303
    Participant

    @sjpkarter wrote:

    […] I’d have to agree w/ Jeff re. the potential value of starting in TAG when learning the basics of driving.

    Yeah, this is one of the reasons why I am contemplating going the TAG route – the horse power doesn’t get in the way of learning the technique.

    @sjpkarter wrote:

    Also, so, you only have a million questions? That’s about a million less than I’ve had and continue to have.

    I was only referring to the million I know of; I wasn’t counting the ones that I don’t even know about yet….like “What the heck do ICC and DD2 stand for?”… :loony: 😀

    @sjpkarter wrote:

    BTW, Rain Man, what’s your actual name? (Don’t say Dustin Hoffman, I’m not *that much of a rookie…)

    Not that type of Rain Man 😆 – I got the name due to the fact that most of my top three finishes were in the rain (and we got plenty of it in the Southeast – probably good 25% of the time in Daytona, Moroso, Roebling Road, and Road Atlanta)

    Oh, right, the name: Jerry

    Thanks Sheldon

    #61366
    Jeff Welch
    Participant

    I just realized I missed a couple of your questions in your original post.

    Parts – if you get an ICC, the parts will have to come through a dealer for whatever particular engine you have. ICC parts are pricey. If you buy a stock Honda, you can get parts from any Honda motorcycle dealer in the country, and there are hundreds of them. Honda parts are cheap. If you get a Rotax (DD2 or TaG), you’ll have to buy parts from a Rotax dealer. Rotax parts are pricey, but you generally don’t have to replace them often.

    Starting a shifter – there are no starter mechanisms available or legal for the 6-speed karts. You have to bump start them. Usually this means having somebody push you. You can do it by yourself (take off at a run pushing the kart, then jump into the seat and start it) but that’s not easy to do (worth practicing in case you need to do it during a race though). The best method to push start a kart if you don’t have a buddy with you is to ask somebody else in the pits nicely 😉
    The DD2 is easier because it has an electric starter on board just like a TaG kart.

    #61367
    RainMan303
    Participant

    @Jeff Welch wrote:

    I just realized I missed a couple of your questions in your original post.

    Thanks a bunch – I really appreciate your time. :clap:

    @Jeff Welch wrote:

    If you buy a stock Honda…

    Are there any particular years to stay away from, or any range to shoot for? Would mid-90’s vintage be too old to consider?

    Thnx

    #61368
    Doug Welch
    Participant

    @RainMan303 wrote:

    Are there any particular years to stay away from, or any range to shoot for? Would mid-90’s vintage be too old to consider?

    Actually, the stock Honda is a kit engine that Honda parts company puts together for karting.

    I has 2000/2001 cases, a ’97 transmission and a 1999 cylinder, head and ignition. Almost all Hondas, built or stock, start with this kit engine.

    #61369
    RainMan303
    Participant

    I came across a shifter with a KGB Phoenix chassis from early 2000’s with a ’96 CR125 in the low $2000 range. It doesn’t have any gauges or data acquisition, the body is a little rough, but supposedly the chassis is straight. I am thinking it might be a good starter kart. Any thoughts?

    BTW, it has vented brakes – any opinion on vented vs. solid vs. drilled discs?

    #61370
    Doug Welch
    Participant

    The KGB is a Parolin kart with SKM components. Jeff and Greg were factory drivers for KGB so we are very familiar with them. Parts are readily available and should not be a problem. WE might not have brake pads in stock but we can easily get them. If the kart is straight, it could be a good deal to see if you like the sport. Check the underside of the frame in the waist area for flat spotting. It is flat more than 1/2″ wide, the frame maybe too far gone.

    #61359
    RainMan303
    Participant

    Good call on frame flat spotting! I checked it out, and sure enough – no good. I let this one go. BTW, thanks to all for great advice, including the PMs!!!

    Another thing I was wondering about: do the 125 moto karts retain their power valves?

    #61360
    Doug Welch
    Participant

    Jerry

    Most CR125 have the power valves plugged. No need for them, we never run that low in the power band. Most other brands of moto based engines also plug the power valves if they have them.

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