Camber is something that is often talked about when it comes to cars and motorsport. Did you know that it’s a key set up tool that can make you faster in karting as well?
If you don’t know what camber is or where to begin adjusting it, don’t worry. In this article we are going to cover everything you need to know about camber. It’s an important set up tool that can help you become the fastest driver on track.
On top of that, camber is a set up element that is used throughout all of motorsport. Even if you move up to cars, you can still adjust the camber on your tyres to get the best out of them.
What is Camber?
Before we can use camber to go faster on track, we need to understand what it is and how it will affect our kart’s tyres. Drivers often ignore camber settings because most guides make it way too complicated to understand.
Camber is basically the angle that the tires have. If you lie flat on the ground in front of the kart and look at the tyresyou can easily see the camber settings.
It’s best to look at the top half of the tyres, this is where camber has the most effect.
Neutral Camber —
There are three basic camber settings that you can spot with the naked eyeThis is the factory setting that you will receive your kart in. The tires will be an equal distance apart.
Negative Camber —
This setting means that the top parts of the two front tires will be closer together. From the front view, it will look like the tops of the tires are pointing towards each other.
Positive Camber —
In this setting, the bottoms of the tires will be closer together. When you are looking from the front of the kart, the top halves of the front tires will be pointing away from each other.
Basically, what camber does is change how much of the tyreis touching the ground. Essentially, you will be changing what is called the ‘contact patch’ between the rubber and the tarmac. Each camber setting has different advantages and disadvantages.
Adding positive camber means there is less contact between the tyresand the road. The result is that the steering will be lighter, but you may find that you have a bit less grip in the corners. This is because there is less rubber that can grip onto the road. However, the advantage here is that you will have better straight-line speed since there is less rubber touching the tarmac which slows you down.
Reducing camber, to neutral or negative camber will make you slower on the straights. However, this will give you more grip in the corners since there is more rubber touching the tarmac. You may notice that the steering becomes stiffer and more difficult to hang on to during corners too. If the track has a lot of rubber on it and too much grip you will notice that the steering becomes shaky. This is when the tyreshave too much grip and you will begin to slow down in corners.
You can check the camber settings on your kart just by looking at the tyres. If your tyresare a few laps old, you can look at where they are starting to grain and wear out. If the line is in the middle, you have neutral camber. If it’s more towards the inside of the tyreyou have negative camber, and it the wear is more towards the outside of the tyreyou a running positive camber.
Camber requires very small adjustments. You can easily overdo it, or even unbalance the tyres. The left and right tyresalways need to be the exact same measurement, otherwise the kart will be unbalanced, and the tyreswill wear unevenly.
For example, if you want to add 6 millimetresof positive camber, you need to adjust the camber by 3 millimetreson each of the front tyres. Adding 6 millimetreson both tyreswill mean you have added 12 millimetresto your camber set up.
How To Use Camber To Your Advantage
Camber can be a tricky setting to play with. If you get it wrong, it can throw off the balance of your whole set up. In general, this is a good rule to follow: positive camber means less surface contact, and less grip. Negative camber means more surface contact, which creates more grip.
Remember that there are a lot of variables you need to consider when you adjust your camber settings. For example, if it’s raining you will need more contact between the tyresand the road, so you would opt for a negative camber.
On the other hand, if a track has too much rubber it will already be offering high amounts of grip. If you have too much grip your kart will begin to struggle. This problem could arise as the rear of the kart hopping when it goes through a corner. The issue is that when the tyreshave too much grip there is too much resistance, which makes it more difficult for them to rotate.
You can use different camber settings between races and qualifying. For example, if you need your tyresto heat up quickly and get up to temperature, you can add negative camber. The increased contact between the track and the tyreswill make them heat up much faster.
However, the problem with this is that the tyrescan overheat very quickly too. If you’re going into race conditions and you need your tyresto last longer, then you need to add more positive camber to your set up.
Adding more positive camber will also give you better straight-line speed and acceleration. If you think your opponents have an edge over you on the straights, a small camber adjustment could do the trick, but you will be sacrificing some cornering speed.
In terms of how different camber settings feel during cornering, they each have their own unique cornering styles. In the examples below, we will use extremes. This means that you might not experience the same thing with small camber adjustments, but rather if you were to run a full positive or negative camber.
Neutral camber for example, will give the kart more precise turn in during a corner, but it might oversteer slightly throughout the corner and be a bit less stable on the exit when accelerating.
If you set the camber to a positive setting in comparison, the kart will grip less when turning into corners, and you might find that you will need to turn into corners earlier to hit your apex. The rear of the kart will be planted on the exit of the corner, and you can accelerate earlier and faster out of the corner.
If you were to set the camber to a negative setting in the same scenario, you might have an extremely sharp turn in, but you will find yourself fighting the kart with oversteer as the rear will lose grip before the front. You would also find the kart to be a lot slower on exits and straights with the extra contact between tire and track slowing it down.
You need to test each setting to see which one you are most comfortable with, and which one you are fastest with. Understanding your own driving style will help you to quickly identify which one is best for you.