In this article, we’re reviewing the best go karts for kids. Although we fondly remember the homemade soapbox racers of our youth, today’s go karts add power, safety features and proper build quality to go along with the fun – and still get kids playing outdoors!
There’s a wide range of go karts for children – they’re smaller, lighter and slower than adult or racing karts, which not only makes them safer and cheaper but also much easier for kids to drive.
We have carefully reviewed dozens of models to select the 8 best go karts in 2020. From pedal or electric powered machines suitable for younger children right up to gasoline powered speedsters for youths, there’s something here for everyone.
Our guide below will help you find the best go kart for your kids. First we’ve got a quick comparison table of the main features. Then a review of each go kart or buggy in more detail. Finally, our buying guide and FAQ, to assist you in making the right choice.
Best Go Karts for Kids – Quick Comparison
The selected go karts in the table below are in ascending order of price (and usually top speed). After the table we then review each model in the same order, to make comparing them easier.
If you’re on a small screen, click the green plus sign, or the little picture of each go kart, to see more features.
|Hauck Lightning Pedal Go Kart||4-7||Pedal||n/a||$||110 lbs|
|Hauck Batmobile Pedal Go Kart||4-8||Pedal||n/a||$||110 lbs|
|Razor Power Rider 360 Tricycle||8+||12 Volt||9 mph||$$||120 lbs|
|Fisher Price Power Wheels Dune Racer||3-7||12 Volt||5 mph||$$||130 lbs|
|Razor Ground Force Drifter Kart||8+||24 Volt||12 mph||$$$||140 lbs|
|Razor Dune Buggy||5-10 *||24 Volt||9 mph||$$$||120 lbs|
|Coleman Powersports KT100 Offroad Go Kart||8+ *||98cc||15 mph||$$$$||150 lbs|
|Trailmaster MINI XRX Kart||4-10||163cc||25 mph||$$$$$||400 lbs|
Top 8 Best Go Karts for Kids in 2020 – Reviews
These reviews are in the same price (and top speed) ascending order as the comparison table above.
Best Pedal Power Go Kart
- Age Guide: 4-7
- Max Speed: n/a
- Max Load: 110 lbs
- Colors: Green, Pink, Orange
Unlike powered karts, we like the fact that pedaling lets kids work off a lot of steam outdoors. It can also help build their strength and coordination – and there’s no battery to recharge or gas to refill!
Assembly is straightforward and a steel tube powder-coat frame makes this quite a sturdy go kart. The bucket seat with high backrest is adjustable (forwards and backwards) to allow for fast growing legs, making it suitable for most kids around the 4-7 age range.
However, adjusting the seat is via a screw underneath the kart so you have to tip it upside down first. This can be a pain if you have different sized kids wanting to share the kart all the time… We wish it had a simple lever to quickly adjust the seat from the top.
Although this pedal powered go kart is likely to be slower than a small bike, being so low down to the ground does give the impression that it’s much quicker than it really is, so it’s still exciting for very young kids.
- Age Guide: 4-8
- Max Speed: n/a
- Max Load: 110 lbs
- Colors: Black
Like the Lightning, race-styled pedals and an 8 ball style hand brake for both rear wheels make it easy to control speed or brake. Rubber wheels provide good grip, especially on hard surfaces like concrete.
Assembly is straightforward and the steel tube frame makes this a sturdy go kart. But the front panel with Batman stickers is only held in place by two plastic tabs – so if you hit anything, the panel comes off and needs reattaching. On the plus side, that means the panel doesn’t just shatter into little pieces!
The bucket seat with high backrest is adjustable (forwards and backwards) to allow for fast growing legs, making it suitable for most kids around the 4-7 age range.
However, like the Lightning, adjusting the seat is via a screw underneath the kart so you have to tip it upside down first. If only one child uses the kart that isn’t a problem. But, if sharing it between kids of different sizes, it would be easier if it had a simple lever on top to quickly adjust the seat.
The Hauck Batmobile is mechanically so similar to our top ‘pedal power’ pick, the Hauck Lightning, that it is also a smart option for younger kids. It’s usually slightly more expensive than the Lightning but if your kids are mad about Batman then this would easily be our top choice.
Best Fun Ride For Kids Over 8
- Age Guide: 8+
- Max Speed: 9 mph
- Max Load: 120 lbs
- Colors: Black
It’s also hugely entertaining as it’s not just capable of typical go ‘circuit’ racing – where the 360 tricycle excels is in its ability to do full 360 degree spins.
You can also power slide or drift on it thanks to high-performance dual inclined rear caster wheels. This video gives an idea of what it’s capable of:
The Power Rider 360 has a push button throttle for easy acceleration. A front, hand operated braking system helps kids avoid any looming obstacles.
The chain-driven 100W motor is powered by a 12V 5Ah battery (charger supplied). This gives a continuous running time of about 40 minutes, depending on the child’s weight and the terrain. It takes about 12 hours to fully recharge the battery so this is best done overnight.
For the extra versatility and fun of 360s, this is our top pick for adventurous kids over 8 who want something more tricksy than a classic go kart. And because Razor is a US manufacturer, replacement parts are readily available from their website.
Best Two Seater for Very Young Kids
- Age Guide: 3-7
- Max Speed: 5 mph
- Max Load: 130 lbs
- Colors: Green
Power Wheels is a brand name of Fisher-Price, which is itself part of Mattel, the famous US toy company.
The Power Wheels offers 2 speeds (2.5 and 5 mph) plus reverse – parents can lock out the top speed for beginners or very young kids. Auto brakes aid safety by stopping the kart immediately when you lift off the throttle.
This is certainly a stylish looking buggy with a sturdy steel frame and metal sidebars for hand support. The ‘Monster Traction’ system (hard plastic wheels) ensures that it can handle wet grass and rough terrain, but it’s not so good on hard surfaces.
Power from the 12V battery (charger supplied) gives a long running time of 1-3 hours, depending on the child’s weight and the terrain. But full charging time is correspondingly long – at least 14 hours.
The proprietary battery is equipped with a built-in thermal fuse which powers off the buggy if it is overloaded. If the fuse ‘trips’ the driver must wait 25 seconds before starting up again – remove some weight to avoid another shut down.
The Power Wheels is one of four electric go karts and dune buggies in this article. If you’re looking specifically for a two seater it’s the only game in town. And it has better battery life than its single seat rivals, although it is a lot slower.
- Age Guide: 8+
- Max Speed: 12 mph
- Max Load: 140 lbs
- Colors: White, Blue
The Drifter features a powder-coated, steel frame and a large 250W high-torque chain driven motor powered by two 12V 7Ah batteries (charger supplied). This gives a continuous running time of about 40 minutes, depending on the child’s weight and the terrain.
Time to fully recharge the battery is about 12 hours so is best done overnight. Razor recommend not storing the batteries in temperatures below freezing so they may need to be removed for storage over Winter.
The Drifter is operated by variable speed, thumb trigger acceleration control and a simple hand-operated rear brake helps avoid nasty surprises. But there’s no reverse gear, no parental speed control and no engine braking, so it only slows down gradually if you lift off the throttle.
It therefore takes some time and maturity to learn to drive (especially as it’s designed to be very tail happy!) But it’s quick, exciting and the maximum load of 140 lbs should make it suitable for most kids including teenagers.
Best Classic Dune Buggy for Kids Under 10
- Age Guide: 8+ (Razor’s guide). 5-10 (* Real world guide…)
- Max Speed: 9 mph
- Max Load: 120 lbs
- Colors: Red
Razor is a US manufacturer and it’s easy to get replacement or spare parts from their website.
Razor’s recommended age is a very conservative 8+ but an age range of 5-10 (real world guide…) with parental supervision may be more suitable. Because this four wheeler is a relatively small size – kids over 10 may find it too small… The maximum load of 120 lbs is also too low for many teens.
The Dune Buggy is 99% pre-built right out of the box so is quick to assemble. It features a durable tubular steel frame, padded bucket seat and a (lap) seatbelt plus side roll cage for safety. 8 inch knobby pneumatic tires and terrain following rear suspension provide a comfortable ride and increased traction.
Performance comes from a large 350W high-torque chain driven motor powered by two 12V 7Ah batteries (charger supplied). Top speed is a hefty 9 mph so safety precautions (e.g. a helmet) are necessary – see our safety guide below.
Battery life of about 40 minutes continuous use is fairly typical – the Dune Buggy has a battery power indicator which lets the rider know how much juice is left. The full battery recharge time of 12 hours means it is best to charge the battery overnight.
Like other electric models, the Dune Buggy has small, narrow tires and little (just 1 inch) ground clearance. That’s enough clearance to go over small curbs and through short grass and it won’t ruin your grass, unless it’s really wet. But it is ideal for flat surfaces like concrete.
Despite its name, it can’t really cope well with sand (or soft dirt) either – the tires are just too small.
However, as a ‘classic’ buggy it is still a really capable machine that is also very stable in turns so this is our top pick for kids under 10 if you prefer electric power.
The main competition comes from gas powered monsters (see the next reviews) that are much quicker, but also a lot more expensive.
Best Gas Powered Go Kart for Kids and Teens
- Age Guide: 13+ (Coleman’s guide). 8+ (* Real world guide…)
- Max Speed: 15+ mph
- Max Load: 150 lbs
- Colors: Red
Coleman’s recommended minimum age is 13+ but this is a relatively small kart. We think that an age range of 8+ (real world guide…) with parental supervision may be more suitable – if kids have the maturity, size and strength to drive it safely.
This very solid go kart, of heavy duty 16 and 13 gauge tubular construction, has plenty of power. The 98cc (3.0HP) air cooled 4-stroke, 1-cylinder gas powered engine can propel kids to a thrilling 15+ mph. So safety precautions (e.g. a helmet and gloves) are advised – see our safety guide below.
With 13 inch rugged low pressure pneumatic tires it is as happy tackling muddy open fields as hard flat surfaces. For peace of mind, parents can adjust a governor to restrict the speed for smaller kids and beginners.
Fully automatic transmission means kids don’t have to worry about changing gear. Rear disc brakes provide good stopping power while a roll bar, heavy duty brush guard and 4 point harness give extra protection.
The KT100 wins our award for best gasoline powered go kart for kids over 8. It’s quick (but parents can govern the speed) and the maximum load is 150 lbs which is suitable for some teens. Even small adults claim to ‘borrow’ this kart from their kids and still have lots of fun in it!
Best Gas Powered Two Seater for Young Kids
- Age Guide: 4-10
- Max Speed: 25+ mph
- Max Load: 400 lbs
- Colors: Blue, Black, Green, Red, Yellow
The Trailmaster MINI XRX Two Seater (check price on Amazon) provides your little one (and a friend!) with all the fun of a go kart, with ease of use and safety in mind. The maximum load capacity of 400 lbs is more than sufficient for 2 children.
The whopping 163cc (5.5HP) air cooled 4-stroke gasoline engine (a Honda clone) has electric start. It can propel kids up to 25 mph so safety precautions (e.g. a helmet and gloves) are advised – see our safety guide below.
For peace of mind, parents can start up or shut down the engine from up to 100 yards away using the included remote controller fob. There is also a governor to restrict the speed down to as little as 4 miles per hour for beginners.
Hydraulic rear disc brakes provide good stopping power and roll bars plus 5 point harnesses offer extra protection for driver and passenger. A pair of working LED headlights not only look cool but also help the driver see and be seen.
Double A-Arm front suspension with coil over shocks and large 13 inch rugged tires help tackle bumpy terrain more smoothly while fully automatic transmission makes it easy to drive. Ground clearance is 3.5 inches (several inches higher than many electric karts) which helps tackle off-road terrain.
The MINI XRX costs a lot more than the Coleman KT100. But it’s still good value for a small, very quick go kart if you need the ability to carry a passenger. If you don’t, we’d suggest the Razor Dune Buggy instead – it’s a lot slower but is about a third of the price.
So you’re looking to buy a go kart or dune buggy for your kids? There’s more to think about than buying a traditional pedal-power ride on vehicle. Read on to discover the most important differences, advantages and safety features below.
What to Look For when Choosing a Go Kart for Kids
Before buying, make sure a go kart is the best option for the terrain your kids will most often drive on.
Pedal and electric powered karts and dune buggies usually have small, thin wheels with very low ground clearance. So they are best suited to flat surfaces like concrete or grass fields. They don’t cope well with sand (or soft dirt or gravel) – the tires are just too small.
- If your kids will use it mostly in the backyard then a pedal or electric go kart is a great choice.
- But if they want to spend most time off-road, see our article about the best small ATVs for kids instead.
- Or choose a gas powered model – they have more power and larger wheels, with higher ground clearance, to cope better with light off-roading.
Finally, decide if you need a single or a two seater. Single seaters are more common but must never be used to carry a passenger in front of the driver. That isn’t safe because, in a crash, the passenger can be crushed between the steering wheel and the driver.
Pedal vs Powered Go Karts
A pedal powered kart is a great option for very young kids. They can burn off energy in a safe way and it never runs out of juice, until they do! These models are also cheap, quiet, maintenance free, lightweight and easy to store – and you don’t need gas or a charging point.
Powered vehicles are more suitable for older and more mature kids who feel the need for speed. They can play a part in improving a child’s coordination, risk awareness and maturity.
They also offer a possible gateway to racing go karts and an early driving experience that may help when learning to drive a car as an adult. But gas powered karts and dune buggies should only be driven by kids who are responsible enough to handle them – they can be very quick.
Electric vs Gas Power
4 of the racers in our reviews are electric and 2 are gas powered. Each power source has its own merits and disadvantages:
- Electric go karts are slower, cheaper and quieter (like the whine of a drill). Ideal for backyards in sleepy neighborhoods.
- Gas powered karts are faster, more expensive, smellier and noisier (like a motorcycle). Best suited to rural locations or off-road use in remote areas.
Electric models depend on a battery which needs recharging when it runs down. Depending on the vehicle, the battery can last as long as 3 hours or as little as 40 minutes. But that’s still enough for 5-10 miles of riding fun.
However the time required to fully recharge the battery is usually 12+ hours so you do need to plan ahead. You don’t want it to run out of charge after 5 minutes, or a long way from home…
Gas go karts are, of course, powered by gasoline so, if the gas tank is empty, just pour another gallon in and you’re good to go again!
There are also differences in the amount of maintenance each type of kart requires:
- Electric go karts and dune buggies have a maintenance-free electric motor.
- Gas engines require regular servicing, just like a motorcycle. Oil, brake fluid, spark plug, fuel lines etc may all need regular inspection, cleaning or replacement.
Finally, electric power should be more environmentally friendly than a gas guzzler. If the home electricity you use to recharge the battery comes from a renewable source, but that’s an argument for another day…
Pedal powered karts only go as fast as your little kids can pedal, unlikely to be more than a fast walking pace. An adult should easily be able to keep up with them if necessary.
Electric go karts in our review are split into 2 groups:
- Ride on ‘toy’ buggy for younger kids, the Power Wheels Dune Racer, with a top speed of 5 mph
- Faster karts for older kids and teens (like the Razor 360 Tricycle) with a top speed of 9-12 mph depending on the terrain and the weight of the driver.
Gas powered racers can reach seriously fast speeds of 25 mph. They are more suitable for older or mature kids. But both models in our review also have a governor that lets parents restrict the speed for beginners.
Electric four wheelers are arguably safer by design than gas powered vehicles:
- They’re slower and don’t have the inherent dangers of the oily bits in an internal combustion engine. Think of a glorified hair dryer motor compared to a screaming motorcycle engine…
- Gas engines also run much hotter than the motors found in electric vehicles. Especially the muffler which can cause a serious burn if touched.
A desirable safety feature in the best kids go karts is a governor (limiter) that parents can set to restrict maximum speed:
- The Power Wheels has a simple switch to select half or full speed, up to a maximum of 5 mph.
- Both gas models we reviewed have a more sophisticated parental governor with variable speed control for younger kids and beginners.
- But the powerful electric karts for teens (like the Razor Ground Force Drifter) don’t have any governor. You have to rely on the child’s maturity to drive them at an appropriate speed.
Other desirable safety features include:
- A seat belt – to stop the driver being thrown out in the event of a crash.
- Good brakes – essential in faster models (disc brakes typically provide more stopping power than drums).
- Roll bars or a roll cage – provide extra protection for the head and shoulders in case of a rollover.
Working head and tail lights are necessary for driving at night. But none of the models we’ve reviewed have tail lights so they should only be driven in the daytime. Good daylight also lets the driver quickly see, and respond to, any obstacles or sudden changes in terrain.
See the FAQ below for recommended safety gear.
Go Karts for Kids FAQ
What is a kids go kart?
It is a popular type of open wheel car, often used for racing. Modern versions typically have four wheels, a single seat and a steering wheel but two seat versions are available in leisure karts.
They can use pedal power or an electric motor or a gas/diesel engine (similar to a motorcycle). They are smaller and slower than full size adult racing models and often have additional safety features.
What is the right age for a go kart?
Our reviews cover a variety of go karts for kids of all ages, from 3+ right up to teens and youths, so there’s something for everyone.
Manufacturers’ recommended age guidelines are a good place to start but they are sometimes quite conservative – they don’t want to be sued…
Each child is different – you don’t want to buy a vehicle too small, slow or ‘childish’ for your kids. But neither do you want to let them loose on something too fast or big for them to handle safely.
Consider the size, strength and maturity of your child, not just their age. If choosing a powerful kart, are they prepared to learn how to drive and brake safely, wear appropriate safety gear and maybe take some lessons?
Are go karts safe for kids?
A lot depends on the type and speed of kart, as well as the size and age of your child.
Pedal power models (and the Power Wheels) are slow enough that an adult can walk alongside and keep up with them. Letting young kids ride a bike is likely to be more risky.
But more powerful electric and gas karts are quick and heavy enough to potentially cause injury if suitable protective gear is not worn.
Always keep to the following safety rules:
- Kids must never carry a passenger in a single seater.
- Under 16s should be supervised by an adult.
- Always wear a safety helmet.
- Long hair must be tied up or kept inside the helmet – so it can’t get caught up in the wheels or chain.
- Loose clothing should be avoided, for the same reason.
- Go karts must never be taken onto public roads (illegal in most states anyway). They are for off-road use only.
- To help keep your kids safe, check for hands-on training courses for children in your local area.
What go kart safety gear do kids need?
For the more powerful electric and gas models, always use the following safety equipment:
- A suitable Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet. This is the most essential safety gear. According to a government report by the NCBI, the “relatively low incidence of head and neck injuries, compared with traffic accidents, may be attributed to … use of a safety helmet”.
And other protective gear can be useful such as:
- Eye protection
- Suitable (over the ankle) riding boots
- Long pants and a long sleeved shirt.