Karting Tips: Choosing The Right Senior Karting Class

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We’re demystifying karting and proving that it is still a simple sport with something for everyone.

We’re starting with the senior classes for over 16s. If you’ve only done corporate karting, doing some races in a two-stroke arrive and drive championship like DMAX is a very good idea. You will get to drive similar karts to what you may eventually buy (DMAX use Rotax Max EVO engines) although they are reduced a bit in performance so they last longer. You will also get to know a lot of the tracks and learn vital racecraft against some very competitive drivers.


The main differentiating factors when choosing a class are:

Power: This is just a matter of personal preference as you’ll be racing against people with the same engine as you to start with.  

Engine maintenance costs: Two-stroke engines need to be rebuilt at regular intervals, some more often than others, but some cost more for the rebuild due to being more complicated. For example, Rotax Max rebuilds cost about £300 including replacement parts but the engine lasts up to 50 hours, so £6 per hour.

Tyres: Tyres cost between £100 to £140, and some last longer than others. All of these classes use a specified tyre.


Rotax and X30 are Touch-and-Go (TAG) engines which start with a button, and with TKM you get a choice between direct drive (push start), a clutch and external starter, or a TAG, but push-start TKMs are often agreed to be faster.

To read the regulations, go to https://www.msauk.org/Resource-Centre/Technical-Kart and download the MSA Kart Race Yearbook, known as the Gold Book. X30 hasn’t made it into the Gold Book yet but you can download the regulations from the same page. You will receive a hard copy of the Gold Book with your license.

All of these classes are raced at non-MSA meetings too, but you will need to check what rules they run to as they are all slightly different.

The same general specification kart is used for all of these classes except Easykart, where everyone uses the same design of chassis as well as engine.


Rotax Max

Rotax Max is the most popular class in the country and you can race in it at nearly every track. You can choose whatever chassis you want as long as it doesn’t have front brakes. Tony, Kosmic, Alonso and Exprit karts are the most popular; these all come from the same factory (OTK) and are the same design.

The engines are water-cooled 28hp 125cc units which are sealed, so only an authorised service centre can rebuild it, which is a measure designed to keep performance fairly equal and prevent a) cheating and b) engines being wrecked by incompetent bodgers.

The headline figure of how often you need to rebuild your engine is 50 hours, which is fairly accurate while you are quite new, although top drivers will have them rebuilt more often. Rebuilds cost about £350 plus VAT including parts (except conrod and balance shaft). New engines sell for about £1875 plus VAT which includes carburettor, exhaust and radiator.

There’s two weight levels, although the heavier 177kg class isn’t raced everywhere. The tyres are made by Mojo, they will last about 200 laps and cost £122 plus VAT a set (£141 plus VAT for wets).


X30 was introduced in 2014 and has grown rapidly to the point where it is the biggest class at some club meetings, particularly PF International and Whilton Mill. The engines are 125cc TAG like Rotax but with no power valve, and aren’t sealed. We’d recommend having the bottom end rebuilt every 30 hours and a new piston every 10-15 hours. The conrod should last 60 hours.

The tyres are Komets that cost £114 plus VAT for slicks and £125 plus VAT for wets.

Like Rotax, you can use any chassis in X30 as long as it doesn’t have front brakes. The OTK karts are again very popular but many others are also doing well, such as CRG, Gold, Mach 1 and Praga.

Outside of club meetings, where X30 isn’t as widely raced as Rotax yet, you can race all over the country in the X30 Tour alongside the Little Green Man Cadet series where there are grids of 30-40.


Easykarts are raced in the Easykart UK Championship with events all over the country. The championship is organised by Club 100 and this year has become an IKR series. Everyone races on identical karts with a limited range of adjustments. Second-hand karts on the official Easykart For Sale page are listed at between £1125 and £2150 at the time of writing, and a new complete kart costs £2850 plus VAT. Each driver can only own one chassis/engine combination at once.

The engines are 125cc and air-cooled with a similar power level to the Rotax Max. Anyone can rebuild the engine as it isn’t sealed, but there is a strict blueprint. They need to be rebuilt every 18-20 hours which will cost £420 plus VAT from ACR. There are Heavy and Light classes which are both well-supported. You can download the regulations from http://www.easykart.co.uk/events/rules-and-regulations/.


The TKM Extreme class isn’t as popular as it used to be but you can still find good club racing within easy reach of most places. There were previously dedicated karts for TKM but now the class runs on the same karts as Rotax Max and the others but with the middle rear bearing taken out, no caster/camber adjustments and torsion bars either taken out or welded in.

The engines are 115cc air-cooled engines made by Tal-Ko, who are the only British-based engine manufacturer and you have a choice whether to use direct drive engines that you have to push start, clutched engines where you use an external starter, or TAG engines will a starting button. The engines aren’t sealed so can be rebuilt by whoever you want. They aren’t as powerful as Rotaxes or Easykarts but it’s really good for your driving skill to start with less power. A typical rebuild costs £180 plus VAT and the tyres are specially made Maxxis tyres which cost £123 plus VAT for slicks and £138 plus VAT for wets.

Over the last few years a Clubman variant of the class has been introduced and is popular at several tracks in the Midlands like Shenington. It uses chassis in the original TKM style with two rear bearings and very few adjustments. Tyres are second-hand from the Extreme class.

There are three regional Interclub Championships (North, South and Midlands) which run alongside club meetings for Extreme and sometimes Clubman, plus the annual TKM Festival at Kimbolton.

Another plus point for TKM is that the class owner Tal-Ko produces plenty of information about setup, maintenance etc as well as a column in Karting magazine, which is something no one else does.

Check out our guide to pick the best karting gloves and best karting boots.