You are not invincible!
Common Questions about a go kart roll cage
A go kart roll cage is a safe and beneficial safety addition to any go kart. The cage consists of tubing that forms a cage around the driver and riders. A roll cage can be bolted on or welded on. They may protect you in the event of a roll over or collision with another object. They are relatively inexpensive and are not too terrible to install.
So why would I say it is dangerous?
A roll cage can be dangerous because of the false sense of security. Just because you are surrounded by some tubes does not mean you can drive wreck less without consequences.
We will cover some common questions about roll cages so you can see if a cage is a safe option for you.
1. What is the benefit of a roll cage?
As mentioned previously, a roll cage on your go kart is a safety device to protect the occupants.
With that being said you cannot drive like a crazy person without consequences.
Have you looked at a racing go kart? Most have no cages and no seat belts! Sounds crazy right. In a racing go kart it is safer for the driver to be thrown from the go-kart and not be trapped underneath the kart.
If you have a roll cage you are going to need to invest in adequate seat belts to prevent you from bouncing around and hitting your head off of a roll cage.
In fact, the only racing go kart I know of that uses a roll cage also utilizes belts to secure the driver in. Champ karts are a class of karting that usually race on oval tracks. They utilize a cage.
2. How much does a go kart roll cage cost?
Anywhere from $100 – $500 is the general cost of a go kart roll cage.
The cost will vary greatly. The main reason is the specificality of each go kart and how the cage will mount. Each manufacturer will have a different connection to the main chassis.
As you can see each of these go karts have cages. While similar they both bolt on differently.
My recommendation would be to determine if a roll cage is an important safety factor to you before purchasing a go kart. If a roll cage is important be sure to buy a go kart with one already installed or an option to install later on.
Companies such as Tractor Supply sell go karts with and without roll cages.
3. Are cages hard to install?
No, a go kart roll cage is not hard to install.
Of course, there is a BUT…
If you are purchasing a model specific cage or replacement roll cage dedicated to your go kart it will be very easy to install.
On the other hand, if you are building your own roll cage and then installing that can be a bit trickier. That is a great Segway into the next question!
4. Can you Build a roll cage for your go kart?
If you have the tooling and the skills, you absolutely can build your own.
So, what tooling will I need to build my cage?
- Tubing bender
- Drill (optional if opting to weld together)
- Grinder (with multiple discs to cut and grind)
- Assorted hand tools
- Misc. nuts and bolts (optional if opting to weld together)
- Tubing Notcher
Depending on how you would like to assemble the cage will determine some of the specifics of the tooling you may need. Something to think about is welding vs bolting the roll cage to the go kart.
A bolted-on roll cage is beneficial because you can remove it if you need to store your go kart in a height sensitive location. A bolted-on cage is also less ridged than a welded-on cage.
A welded-on roll cage is a more ridged structure. A bolted-on cage may move or wiggle a little. A welded cage is stronger as well.
When building your roll cage start at the max height of the driver. You will want the top of the cage to be well above the driver’s head. Then come down to the nose of the go kart at an angle. The front part of the cage is important because it will provide rigidity and deflect objects in the event of a crash.
Keep in mind that a roll cage does not make a go kart safe from risks. A roll cage is a added safety device that can provide protection in some accidents.
Also map out our cage before bending and cutting your tubing. Use a cheaper material. For example, some 1/8″ rod from Home Depot is cheap and will allow you some practice before the real deal. Below is a link to get an idea of what some roll cages will look like on different vehicles.
5. Does a Roll Cage Help my Go Kart’s Performance
In most applications like back yard fun karts a roll cage will not make a difference given the weight and height are reasonable.
Let’s go over a couple factors of how a roll cage will change your go kart.
- Center of gravity
- Chassis Stiffness
- Weight – depending on the material used and how extreme you build/purchase weight could be a performance loss. A common 4-stroke go kart engine is around 6-8 HP. Adding 100 pounds of steel to the kart will hurt the performance and may cause overheating issues.
- Center of Gravity – the center of gravity in a go kart is very important. The higher the weight is the more likely the go kart is to tip over. If a very heavy roll cage is installed weight is added at a high point on the frame. This can cause the go-kart to flip easier while corner or during lateral weight transfer.
- Chassis Stiffness – Why does it matter if my chassis is stiffer. Some go karts do not have suspension. Also, a go kart with a live rear axle needs the rear wheels to rotate at different speeds to help corner. A stiffer chassis may not allow the inside rear wheel to lift allowing easy cornering.
6. Where can I purchase a roll cage?
Unfortunately, some go karts are not offered with a roll cage. This makes installing one difficult because there is not an easy way to connect the bars.
You will want to have a welder, tubing bender, chop saw and some basic tools to fabricate your own.
For example, Check out this roll cage kit for a go kart. You can see that it is custom to that specific go karts utilizing specific points on the frame.
7. Roll Cage Vs Roll Bar
Some go karts you may see a tall hoop that raises behind the driver’s head. That is a roll bar.
A roll bar is beneficial when you are securely strapped into the go kart. In the event of a roll over the roll bar contacts the ground and you are securely belted into the go kart still.
A roll bar offers no protection from incoming objects though. A roll bar would be more beneficial in an open environment or open racetrack. A roll bar does offer good protection of the back of the driver. Preventing other go-karts from running over the back of the driver.
8. Roll Cage Padding
So, steel tubing is pretty hard the last time I checked. Maybe you should wrap the tubes to provide some collision insurance. Hint. Hint.
A cheap and easy option is pipe insulation. Pipe insulation is sold at your local hardware store and comes in different diameter sizes. The insulation material is foam and slit down the middle. Making it super easy to slide onto the roll cage to provide some added safety features.
Remember a roll cage is an added safety element that needs to be followed up with other safety practices to fully benefit. Always determine if you want a roll cage before purchasing your go kart. And please race and drive safe out there!