Best Go-Karts for Kids – For Children With a Need for Speed

Kids' Gear

Best go karts for kids

Why do children enjoy swing sets, roller coasters, and racecars? Because they’re fast and fun! Most kids will agree that there’s nothing quite like a sudden boost of speed.

An adrenalin rush heightens your senses and creates an air of excitement that’s tough to match. And while kids look forward to fast-paced thrills, parents often dread them because they’re afraid kids will get hurt.

Enter the kid-friendly go-kart!

Go-karts come in a variety of models, from motorless (pedal-powered) to roaring, racing machines (electric- or gas-powered). Go-karts are defined as small, low to the ground, four-wheeled vehicles, with one or two seats and an open-top design. They’re used for recreational racing.

Go-karts are so popular that they’re now made for kids of all ages, starting as young as 3 years old. If handled with care and caution and with the proper supervision, go-karts can be a super fun and safe way to satisfy a youngster’s need for speed. This article will help you determine which youth go-kart is right for your family.

Benefits of go-karting

If you aren’t convinced that it’s a good idea to put your child on a go-kart, check out the following list. The number of benefits attributed to go-karts may surprise you.

Fun and easy

You don’t need to know how to drive a car or another grown-up vehicle to drive a go-kart. Although there are skills to master, they are within the grasp of a child as young as 3 years old (depending on the model, of course).

Confidence building

Once your child has learned the skills, she’ll feel tremendously accomplished cruising around in her go-kart. Certainly, this boost of confidence will serve her well when she begins learning the rules and regs of driving a grown-up vehicle and applies for a driver’s license.

Sensory experience

You need all of your faculties to effectively drive a go-kart. You need to watch where you’re steering, listen to what’s around you, and react to what’s on the road. Besides this, all drivers have ample opportunity to hone their reflexes. An added bonus of pedaling a go-kart is that it strengthens the leg muscles.​

Team time

Driving or racing go-karts is a great community activity. Whether your kids join a go-kart racing team or just tool around the neighborhood with friends, it’s a surefire way to strengthen existing relationships or pave the way to new friends.​

A quick word about go-kart racing: Once your child gets a feel for the go-kart (and as she gets older), she may want to “upgrade” to the next size and she may even be curious to explore racing opportunities. The go-karts in this article are intended for recreational use rather than serious competition. For more on go-kart racing, check out this great website.

Basics to consider

It’s important to assess go-karts in terms of your individual children and their abilities. So before you begin researching the best go-karts for kids, take a look at the following list of general considerations:​

  • Size: Can your child comfortably reach the pedals or footrests and the steering wheel? Is she strong enough to engage the breaking mechanism? Is she heavy enough to keep the go-kart stabilized? Is she strong enough to push the pedals (if it’s pedal-powered) and coordinated enough to steer?
  • Age: Pay attention to the manufacturer’s recommended age group. It’s never a good idea to choose a model that is significantly above or below the recommended age range.
  • Comprehension: A moving ride-on vehicle is a big leap from push toys, so be sure your youngster is responsible enough to handle the action. This includes understanding “rules of the road” and being aware of other people and things in the surrounding areas.
  • Price: There are a number of kids’ go-karts to choose from in a wide price range. Remember, a higher price does not necessarily mean a better, safer product.
  • Safety: And of course, be sure to double-check the safety features and the overall craftsmanship of the model. You want to rest assured that your child is operating a fully functioning machine.

TIP: If you're going to give a go-kart as a gift, we suggest also gifting a helmet and a detachable flag. In this way, the helmet becomes an essential part of the package and the child will be more likely to remember to wear it.

The flag is extremely helpful because it alerts others to the presence of a go-kart. Since the go-kart is low to the ground, it can be tough to see if you are driving in a car. The flag will signal to drivers that you are on the road (or the sidewalk), too.

Once you have a general sense of what your child will be able to handle in terms of a go-kart, the next step is to pick whether to buy a pedal-powered or an electric-powered design.​

Pedal vs. electric

There are major two categories of go-karts: pedal-powered and electric-powered.​

Pedal

For the youngest drivers, pedal-powered youth go-karts are the way to go. Here are some reasons why:

  • Easier to control since there’s no chance of sudden acceleration.
  • Excellent for kids who can’t yet ride a bike (or are worried about falling off a bike)
  • Pedaling strengthens muscles and ups the heart rate for a solid cardio workout
  • Stimulates hand-eye coordination
  • No batteries required! This makes for easier maintenance, less frustration (don’t have to wait for batteries to charge), and it’s better for the environment!
  • Although there are some pricey models, pedal-powered go-karts are generally less expensive.
  • Easier to maintain since there isn’t any motor (or batteries) involved. The only upkeep is cleaning.
  • More convenient because pedal-powered models are generally lighter in weight and easier to transport from place to place
  • Fosters an interest in sports and the outdoors

The only drawback we uncovered to the pedal-powered go-kart is that it’s tough to use on uneven ground.

Electric

Electric go-karts tend to be a bit more of an undertaking and require a bit more responsibility. Though there are more things to keep track of and definitely more precautions on this list, all of them are easy to manage and worth handling.

  • More difficult to control because the speed can suddenly change (some electric-powered go-karts can reach 60 mph, although those are most likely for grown ups).
  • Need to be more alert and aware of surroundings and take appropriate precautions to avoid accidents and collisions
  • Need to make sure young drivers are able to handle the amount of power and the range of speed of the go-kart
  • Since batteries can run down, drivers need to keep track of driving time and distance (and know if a backup battery is handy)
  • The cost of an electric go-kart is generally higher than the cost of a pedal go-kart.
  • Some maintenance and basic upkeep will be necessary to keep the vehicle’s motor running smoothly.
  • It will be more difficult and cumbersome to travel with an electric go-kart because it will be a significantly heavier and larger machine.
  • Perhaps more difficult to flip over because of the weight of the electric battery

For even more info on the different types, check out this article.

Make a safety list

As with any ride-on toy, especially one that is electric-powered, safety is a huge consideration.

Before letting your child hop into the driver’s seat, read the go-kart’s instruction manual and check to see that all the parts are in place and secure. Many parents make a checklist and insist that any young driver refer to it before climbing in the driver’s seat.

The checklist could look like this:​

  • Helmet: Always wear a helmet! No excuses!
  • Seatbelt: Never drive without securing the safety harness (which may be a shoulder harness or a strap across the driver’s lap). And never drive with a passenger on your lap.
  • Clothes: Are your clothes too baggy or loose? Make sure nothing can get caught in the wheels or other moving parts of the vehicle. Always wear shoes!
  • Control: Always remain in control of the machine! Do not increase speed unless you are in complete control.
  • Flags: If you’re in a residential neighborhood, secure a safety flag to your kart so others will see you coming and have time to react accordingly.

For a more detailed list of precautions, this is a great resource.

Additional precautions

There are features to look for on the go-kart itself too.

Perhaps one of the most important is a roll bar. This will protect the child if the vehicle rolls over or flips upside-down.

Next, hand brakes are an excellent addition because they can slow down the go-kart when it’s cruising around corners, coming to the end of a road, or navigating various obstacles.

In addition, look for brakes that are covered up so they remain free of dust and grime and stay in good working shape.

As for tires, if your kid wants to go off-road, the tires should be built to handle uneven terrain. If they plan to drive through wet or muddy grounds, the wheels should be rustproof.

Replacement parts, such as tires, should be available to order via the manufacturer (either online, on the phone or in person).

The truth is, you can never stress the safety issues too much, but when kids are all hyped up about the go-kart, the last thing they want to hear is a list of safety instructions. That said, it’s essential that they understand how to stay safe and protect others around them.

Before we get into the finer details, here's a quick overview of our favorite models on the market.

Quick comparison: Best go-karts for kids​

Go-kart

Features we love

Rating

Buy it now

Razor Force
Drifter Kart

Best go-karts for kids

- Improved rear axle improves maneuverability and steering
- Hand-controlled
brake and accelerator
- Maximim speed is 12 mph
- Allows riders to drift

Razor Ground Force Electric Go-Kart

Best go-karts for kids

- Short charge time
- Quiet motor
- Long-lasting battery
- Go-kart is durable
and built to last

Hauck Highlander Pedal Go Kart Ride On

Best go-karts for kids

- Responsive, quick maneuverability
- Handbrake is easy to use
- Ergonomic molded seat
- Assembly is a cinch

Hauck Lightning
Pedal Go-Kart

Best go-karts for kids

- Adjustable seat, so it fits kids of different heights
- Rubber wheels and improved brake provides smooth ride
- Steering is quick
and responsive
- Safe and ergonomic

Razor Crazy Cart

Best go-kart for kids

- Drivers can fully control their drifts, spins and cornering
- Powerful rechargeable battery system
- Patented drift system
- Tires equipped with stabilizing features

Berg Toys Junior Buddy

Best go-karts for kids

- Tires offer superior traction
- Steel frame is strong but not too heavy
- Wheels have sealed bearings,
so no need for lube
- Able to pivot
on uneven surfaces

Now let’s take a closer look at the best go-karts for kids.

Razor Force Drifter Kart

The Ground Force Drifter combines old school appeal with modern power. The classic low-to-the-ground model boasts a solid steel frame, aluminum wheels, rubber tires and “slider POM rear wheels.”

Reaching up to 12 mph, the Drifter is controlled with a thumb-triggered acceleration and a hand-operated back brake. The electric motor can last up to 40 minutes before it needs to be recharged (battery charger is included).​

Best go-karts for kids

Technical specs

  • Item dimensions: 39.5” x 26.5” x 16”
  • Item weight: 58 lbs.
  • Recommended age: 8 and up
  • Maximum weight capacity: 140 lbs.
  • Color: blue
  • Maximum speed: 12 mph
  • Brakes: hand-operated rear brake
  • Batteries required: 2x 12V batteries
  • Battery life: 40 minutes
  • Battery charge time: 12 hours (charger included)
  • Assembly required: yes
  • Other: flag included, bucket seat with shoulder strap

Pros

  • Cool design​
  • High maximum speed
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • Battery takes a long time to charge​
  • Customers complained of short battery life

Our favorite feature

The classic look of Razor’s Drifter Kart immediately caught our eye! It’s a simple, attractive design that absolutely delivers in terms of speed and mobility (it slides through corners like a pro!).​


Razor Ground Force Electric Go-Kart

Built for drivers 8 years old and up, Razor’s Ground Force Go-Kart has much to recommend.

This electric-powered racing machine can reach 12 mph and run for approximately 45 minutes before the battery needs to be recharged.

The solid steel frame and upgraded 4 ½ inch rubber tires make for a smooth ride and the steering is a breeze. What’s more, the motor is surprisingly quiet!​

Best go-karts for kids

Technical specs

  • Item dimensions: 41” x 29” x 16”
  • Item weight: 55 lbs.
  • Recommended age: 8 and up
  • Maximum weight capacity: 140 lbs.
  • Color: silver
  • Maximum speed: 12 mph
  • Brakes: hand-operated rear brake
  • Batteries required: 2x 12V batteries
  • Battery life: 45 minutes
  • Battery charge time: 4-6 hours (charger included)
  • Assembly required: yes
  • Other: flag included, bucket seat, shoulder strap, 90-day limited warranty

Pros

  • Battery recharges quickly​
  • Very fast!
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • Some customers complained of faulty battery​
  • Small turning radius

Our favorite feature

Our young driver was extremely anxious to take his Ground Force out for a test spin, so it was a huge relief when we assembled it without any mishaps. We think it’s safe to say that even if you aren’t very technically inclined, you should be able to put this go-kart together without a hassle.​


Hauck Highlander Pedal Go Kart Ride On

The Highlander is a great introduction to go-karts; it’s a pedal-powered kart suitable for drivers as young as 4 years old (and up to 8).

For starters, the sporty look will hook the kids while the sturdy construction (steel frame, large 12” rubber tires) will appeal to the parents.

While your young driver is having a blast cruising around the neighborhood, you’ll know that she’s also building up her physical strength and honing her coordination and reflex skills.​

Best go-karts for kids

The bucket seat is adjustable and comfortable. The pedals are modeled after racing pedals and there is an easy-to-use hand-operated brake. Assembly should take no more than 20 minutes!

Technical specs

  • Item dimensions: 37.7” x 24.6” x 10.6”
  • Item weight: 34 lbs.
  • Recommended age: 4 to 8 years old
  • Maximum weight capacity: NA
  • Color: red/black
  • Maximum speed: NA
  • Brakes: hand-operated rear brake
  • Batteries required: No
  • Assembly required: yes
  • Other: 1-year warranty on parts

Pros

  • Easy to assemble​
  • Adjustable seat
  • Sturdy steel frame

Cons

  • Some say it runs small (even for a 7 year old)​
  • Doesn’t run well on uneven surfaces (grass, gravel)

Our favorite feature

Since we can never really relax when our kids are operating a moving vehicle, we appreciate the solidity and safety of the Highlander design. Our little driver was as happy as can be with the controlled speed and we never had to worry that she would suddenly lose control.​


Hauck Lightning Pedal Go-Kart

​The Hauck Lightning Go Kart is for the young racer who wants be seen! The bright green color will stand out as it zooms across the road and easily slides into a cool skid-stop.

Best go-karts for kids

The Lightning is crafted from durable steel with rubberized tires, an adjustable, ergonomic seat (to accommodate 4 to 7 year olds), three-point steering, a hand-controlled back brake and race style pedals. These features make the go-kart easy to handle and safe, even for first-time drivers.

Without doubt, this is a creative and exciting way to encourage physical movement, coordination and team playing.​

Technical specs

  • Item dimensions: 36” x 20” x 20”
  • Item weight: 24 lbs.
  • Recommended age: 4 to 7 years old
  • Maximum weight capacity: 70 lbs. 
  • Color: green/black
  • Maximum speed: NA
  • Brakes: hand-operated rear brake
  • Batteries required: No
  • Assembly required: yes

Pros

  • Adjustable seat​
  • Responsive steering
  • Easy to assemble (check out this video)

Cons

  • Doesn’t ride as well on uneven surfaces​

Our favorite feature

Our little racer loved the skid-brake that allowed him to slide into a stop safely, but with style!​


Razor Crazy Cart

For the slightly older crowd (9 years old and up), here's an exciting option: the Crazy Cart from Razor.

At first glance you can tell that this isn’t your run-of-the-mill go-kart. Thanks to innovative anti-tip caster wheels, this model moves in all directions – backwards, forwards, sideways, and diagonally. Even at a maximum speed of 12 mph, tight corners are no problem with 360 degree steering and a drift bar.

In terms of safety, there’s a lap and shoulder strap and a deep ergodynamic seat, plus a removable flag.​

Best go-kart for kids

Take a look at these two young drivers having a blast on their Razors!

Technical specs

  • Item dimensions: 24” x 19” x 37”
  • Item weight: 55 lbs.
  • Recommended age: 9 years and up
  • Maximum weight capacity: 140 lbs. 
  • Color: red/black
  • Maximum speed: 12 mph
  • Brakes: hand-operated rear brake
  • Batteries required: yes, 2X 12V sealed, lead-acid battery
  • Battery life: 40 minutes
  • Battery charge time: 12 hours (charger included)
  • Assembly required: yes
  • Other: lap and shoulder strap, flag

Pros

  • Easy to assemble​
  • Unique design
  • Charger included

Cons

  • Not stable on uneven surfaces​
  • Pricey

Our favorite feature

Our favorite feature has to be the sheer “craziness” of this go-kart. We could never figure out in which direction it was going to turn. It was good, safe fun watching the spontaneous choices of our young driver!​


Berg Toys Junior Buddy

This pedal go-kart is a durable choice for kids ages 3 to 8 (weight capacity is 150 lbs.).

Crafted from strong tubular steel and equipped with “super traction” tires, the Junior Buddy can handle both smooth surfaces and rougher terrain. The young driver can pedal forward and backward with ease and precision and coast along keeping the pedals in a static position.

With an adjustable seat (3 positions), your child will enjoy this go-kart as she grows and become a more competent and daring driver.​

Best go-karts for kids

Technical specs

  • Item dimensions: 44” x 26” x 25”
  • Item weight: 40 lbs.
  • Recommended age: 3-8 years old
  • Maximum weight capacity: 150 lbs. 
  • Color: orange
  • Maximum speed: NA
  • Brakes: hand-operated rear brake
  • Batteries required: no
  • Assembly required: yes
  • Other: 2-year warranty on frame and 1-year on parts

Pros

  • Durable​
  • Drives backwards and forwards
  • Sturdy tires
  • Cool design

Cons

Our favorite feature

We loved that we would be able to use this kids’ go-kart for years to come – until our fearless driver was around 8 years old (and 150 lbs.). In this way we felt that the purchase was well worth the price.​


When it comes to ride-on toys, go-karts (and electric scooters) are one of the hottest items around and it’s easy to see why. Kids love the being in control of a fast moving vehicle, whether it’s racing with their friends or just rocketing around the neighborhood.

Go-karts are a hit with kids of all ages, from 3 years old on up, and it’s easy to find a model to fit the size and skill-level of just about anyone.

What’s more, go-karts are also parent-approved! With the attention and care given to the construction and design of modern go-karts, parents will feel comfortable with their kids in a driver’s seat.

Featured image: Aaron Trombetta - Go Kart Kid

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