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How To Drive A Shifter Kart

Just when you thought go-karts couldn’t be any more difficult, lets look at how to drive a shifter kart. Unlike touch and go karts (TaG), shifter karts have a transmission which requires the driver to upshift and downshift over the course of a lap. This transmission is not like a paddle shifter in formula cars as shifter karts use a stick shift. This means that for more than half of the lap, the driver is basically steering a go-kart with much more power, braking strength, and acceleration than a TaG kart, with one hand! Shifter karts are definitely not for the weary, but if you are up for the challenge, here are some tips on how to drive a shifter kart.


  1. Learn the gears
Shifter karts having a transmission is the quality that separates it from single speed karts. So, it is important to know the basics of said transmission. A shifter kart is a 6speed transmission, meaning that there are 6 gears. The gear pattern is as follows: first, neutral, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. If one wants to upshift, you must pull the lever in order to do so. On the other hand, pushing the lever results in a downshift. When shifting, make sure that your foot is not on the gas when doing so. This means that when upshifting, you must lift your foot of the gas the exact moment you are to upshift. When downshifting, simply keep your foot off the throttle as you are most likely braking when downshifting. The kart always starts in neutral, which means that the driver must downshift in order to put the kart in first gear. If you by chance need to return the kart into neutral from first gear, simply half-shift the lever to return to neutral. In order to shift from first to second, you must pull the lever to upshift. Remember that you cannot skip gears in shifter karts (example: going from 3rd to 5th). So, say that you want to shift from 1st to 4th. That means you must upshift three times in order to get to 4th, and downshift three times if you are to return to first.


  1. Understand 4-wheel braking
The concept of 4-wheel braking is quite simple. Shifter karts have brakes on all four wheels compared to other karts where the brakes are on the rear. The difficulty comes in performing the action of braking itself. If you are to step up to shifter karts, judging the braking is much harder as you have more performance to play with, which are much faster karts that can brake at a faster rate. It is also important to consider that you will be holding the steering wheel with only one hand as you perform the braking since your other hand will be on the lever to downshift. Despite all this, it is important to always keep in mind the basics. Always do most, if not all your braking in a straight line and slowly lift off it when you approach the apex.


  1. Adapt to the extra power

As mentioned earlier, shifter karts have more power, better braking, and faster acceleration. This extra power is not easy to handle, especially if you are a driver who is used to other types of go-karts be it rentals or TaG karts. So, in order to control this extra surge of power, you must be able to adapt to it. There are many ways to go about this. For starters, increasing the intensity and difficult of your workouts can help better condition your body for the sensations that you will experience in the kart. These can include extra g’s placed on the body, increased difficulty of turning and maneuvering the kart, and the rush of air as you zoom along the straights. Placing yourself on a stricter diet is also something you can do, but nothing beats the feeling of driving the shifter kart itself. Heading to a track to get some laps is always the best way to go about it. But if budget is a concern, the simulator is also a good way to better understand and feel the kart.


These are the 3 basic concepts that you must grapple with as you step into the world of shifter karts. If you want to further expand your knowledge on the world of shifter karts and the KZ class in general, Kart Class has launched a new program called The Art of KZ”. Together with SKUSA Supernats champion Danny Formal, learn new and advanced techniques such as late braking, flat-shifting, and the ideal carby tune among others, all of which can take your karting career in shifters to the next level!

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