Recent visitors to KartMania 10 would have seen one of my good friends from Holland had made the journey from Europe to promote his corporate karts and especially the electric Tom kart that actually managed to make a couple of laps round his stand !!
Eglem karts have been around for many years and Frank has been involved in karting from being a young boy (many years ago!) being a mechanic for his father, to winning many national championships in karts and moving on to producing his own race and corporate karts supplying many circuits in and around Europe and the UK
I made a recent visit to Holland to visit Frank to see what was new in the corporate market as they are always trying new ideas and Frank has a good team of designers and engineers from universities all over Europe that are always pushing the design boundaries. One of his biggest projects at the moment is his Butterfly Chassis, as most of us know corporate karts are usually quiet big and heavy to withstand the constant abuse they get from drivers of all shapes and sizes throughout their racing life, this weight obviously puts a lot of stress on the moving parts and engine, Franks idea was to produce a more competitive lightweight kart to give the arrive and drive karters more of a feel for karting, but also keeping it strong enough. His team came up with the butterfly and after proving itself in extensive tests at various circuits is now in production, it is a single engine chassis which will accommodate the Honda 160/200/270 engine, with a normal drive chain or the new CVT (more later) with a sliding or fixed seat, and the new design sliding pedal system so the kart is ideal for juniors and adults and changed in seconds, the main attraction is the reduction in weight from 155kg to 125kg without loosing any strength. After driving it for many laps at an indoor circuit that has been testing the butterfly I can tell this is a far better product to drive, it is as close to the feel of a racing kart than you will ever get in an indoor circuit, it is light, manoeuvrable and strong enough to withstand my driving!! They are now working with a technical university to produce the butterfly chassis in a composite material and the first 10 karts will be ready for extensive tests in early 2011.
I mentioned earlier about the CVT, this is already used on a lot of motorbikes and cars and has proved itself as a reliable drive system, Frank has adapted a motorbike 25hp CVT system to work on a corporate kart and the results are brilliant. Basically the engine and final drive are an adjustable pulley system that constantly change while driving, to start off the rear pulley is small and the front large to allow fast acceleration and as the kart accelerates and gains speed the rear pulley gets larger and the front smaller the same as changing gear ration but it is constantly changing to give optimum performance, this gives maximum torque throughout the rev range so their are less problems with weight differences of drivers the system compensates, if you spin off then you have fast direct power to get you going again so you are less likely to get a kart hitting the back of a slow moving kart, there are no top revs required the engine runs at its best torque range of 3800 – 4200 rpm which is such a strange sound when the engine never changes revs while you are going from a standing start to full speed, it does take a bit of getting used to when you expect to hear a screaming engine next to you, this of course gives an longer life span to the engine as it is not being thrashed all day, you could also use a smaller engine and get the same performance range as everything is totally optimised. Another advantage is the vast reduction in fuel used, a Honda 270 would use only 3L of petrol per hour and a Honda 200 only 2l of fuel and there is also a vast reduction in fumes. All types of tracks would benefit from the CVT system but especially those that have a bridge within their circuit, all drivers would be at the same speed regardless of weight. It is a great system to drive and is definitely faster than the conventional petrol version with a much faster acceleration and pick up out of the corners, the first karts with this fitted are being tested to destruction at the moment, but it could take a while !!! we will keep you informed.
The final product we tried out was the Electric Tom Kart, I know that electric karts have been tried many times all over Europe during the past years but the biggest problem has been the weight due to the batteries, with the recent changes in the battery construction it has allowed manufacturers to rethink the system and Frank Eglem is once again one of the first I know to start looking into the new generation of electric karts. The kart that was on show at KartMania was powered by Lithium batteries which had 40Ahour with a management system, with a maximum of about 13HP, if you used them at just over half the power the produce, 25Ah, you could drive for about 30 minutes before a recharge of only 13 minutes, there is a guarantee of 5000 recharge cycles and the expected life of the batteries is 8-12000 recharge cycles which brings the running costs down considerably, especially with very low maintenance costs. Another advantage of this type of electric kart is that you only need one kart fitted with a sliding seat and pedal system to suit every driver, on the back of the power system there is a switch to control the power so you have a cadet, junior and senior speed kart from one unit, you can even compensate if one driver in a team is a “big guy” by adjusting the power you can allow him to race on par with the other drivers. The Tom Kart is a composite construction with forward and reverse gears full body kit and ready to go in 10 minutes. Ok the down side, cost, they are more expensive at £8500 but you are getting 3 karts in one, cadet, junior, senior, with massive fuel savings especially with petrol rises all the time, great lack of maintenance costs as there is only one moving part and that is the motor which is oversized for what it is being used for and there are no emissions to keep the environmental people off your back so health and safety are greatly improved. If you are thinking of starting your own indoor circuit a big expense is the air fan system you have to install now to get rid of any fumes, imagine if you did not have to install all that system because you could used electric karts, what you save would help buy the karts and keep the local authorities happy especially if you had been refused a circuit earlier, all food for thought I think !! and but the way they are also a lightweight machine, not like the old heavy karts these are fun with neck snapping acceleration and great performance.
So that ended my visit to Eglem karts, it was good to see at the show that the new sliding foot control unit was working and we will bring you a report on that as soon as i can. Keep up the good work at Eglem and boundaries are made to be pushed !!