Introduction: How to Make an Electric Go Kart

Picture of How to Make an Electric Go Kart

In this Instructable I will be showing you how I transformed an old gas powered go kart into an electric go kart. This project was very time consuming and I am very happy to finally share it with all of you! The hardest part of this project was definitely searching for all of the parts and overcoming issues along the way. This go kart is loads of fun to drive around town and with the current sprocket set up it can go around 50kph!

Before you go through the rest of the steps for this project, you should definitely watch the video that I have posted below. The video will show you plenty of clips of me building the go kart from start to finish and you will also be able to see my drive it! Also, if you enjoy the video you should definitely hit the like button or even consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. Most importantly don't forget to follow me here on my Instructables page so that you can see all of my future projects! Let's get started with this project!

Step 1: Buying an Old Go Kart

Picture of Buying an Old Go Kart

A while back I was browsing through Kijiji and I came across a rusty old go kart which I ended up purchasing for only $60! This go kart did not run and was overall in very rough shape. All that mattered was it had a lot of the parts that I needed in order to complete this project. I had the idea of making an electric go kart for quite some time and when I saw this go kart for sale I knew it would be the perfect time to get the project started.

Step 2: Restoring the Frame

Picture of Restoring the Frame

I spent a lot of time restoring the frame along with some of the original parts. I started by disassembling the entire go kart. The frame was very rusty and all of the old paint was peeling off. The first thing I wanted to do was grind the frame down to bare metal in order to prepare it for a new paint job. After removing all of the rust I realized that the frame was very short and because I am 6' 2" my legs would not fit comfortably. I ended up cutting the frame in half and extending it by 5".

Once that was finished I gave the frame a fresh coat of paint and then slowly began putting the go kart back together. The paint I used was a vibrant orange Rustoleum oil based paint.

Step 3: How It Works

Picture of How It Works

Before I go any further with this Instructable I am going show you all of the parts that I used and show you how everything will work.

The parts that I used were:

  • A 1600W 48V brushless motor
  • A 1600W 48V speed controller
  • A 48V hand throttle with a battery indicator and speed limit switch
  • A 3 pole charge port
  • A key switch
  • And a 48V 12AH lead acid battery pack

I would have much rather used lithium ion, but that would have made things much more expensive.

In the pictures above you will see a diagram that I made so that you can see exactly how I wired everything together.

The motor, speed controller, hand throttle, charge port, battery charger, and batteries were all purchased from:

You can also find most of these parts on Aliexpress.

Step 4: Making the Foot Throttle

Picture of Making the Foot Throttle

One of the first things that I did was convert the hand throttle into a foot throttle. I started by disassembling the throttle and removing the battery indicator, as well as the speed limit switch. I will be re using the battery indicator later on but I won't be re using the speed limit switch.

I then took some measurements and designed a foot pedal on Tinkercad which I then printed using black ABS. The pedal just slides on and is fastened into place with two screws. I then covered up the existing holes so no dust will get inside and added a spring to give it more tension. I also added a stopper so the pedal can't get pressed too hard and snap.

Here is a link to the .STL file:

Step 5: The Build

Picture of The Build

Here are some pictures of me assembling the go kart so you can see how I put everything together.

The original rear hubs were seized onto the 1" live axle. I was forced to cut them off with a grinder and look for new ones. Luckily my neighbor had some old wheels in his shed so I took them apart and cleaned them up. Originally these hubs had bearings inside and were not made to go onto a live axle. What I did was removed the bearings and welded on some weld on hubs from Princess Auto.

The seat that originally came on the go kart was broken in half. The new seat is a LEIFARNE seat shell from IKEA and it works perfectly!

I used Molex connectors to connect all of the electrical components together. All of the electrical components get connected to the speed controller. The speed controller is fasted inside of a 6"W x 8"L x 3"H aluminum project box. On one side of the project box there is a flexible grommet which all of the wires can be fed through. The other side of the project box is where I fastened the charge port. On top of the project box is where I put the key switch as well as the battery indicator. I put heat shrink around the battery indicator to avoid any short circuits.

The go karts brake is a simple disc brake which is connected to a foot pedal at the front with a length of threaded rod.

The sprocket on the motor is a 12 tooth sprocket and the sprocket on the axle is a 61 tooth sprocket. The chain size is #35. The sprocket on the motor is custom made. I welded a 12 tooth sprocket from princess auto onto the T8 sprocket that came with it.I ran the motor and held a flap disk to it in order for the outer diameter of the old sprocket to fit inside of the new one. That way it could be welded on perfectly straight.

Step 6: Things to Know

Picture of Things to Know

Overall I had a lot of fun building this go kart and it works better than I expected! Although there are some features that can be added. One very important thing that I am missing is a chain guard.

I have yet to determine how far it can go on one charge (I will update this when I know). I only drive the go kart for about 20 minutes at a time. I do this just to allow the motor to cool off.

Also, for better results try to keep the weight of your go kart as light as possible. This will result in better performance.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

I hope that you all enjoyed this Instructable! Don't for get to follow me here on Instructables and to Subscribe to my YouTube channel! Thanks for reading and watching :)


paulmckelvie (author)2017-11-13

I really like the frame. Would you mind sharing the basic dimensions to get started?

mihoover04 (author)2017-11-06

Can i use a mini bike frame instead of a go kart frame?

Nick's Kicks (author)2017-10-09

hey I was wondering where you bought the battery? and how much it costs?

REDWOOD123 (author)2017-07-18

nice i could do with one of them, how much did it cost all together

Hervee (author)2017-04-28

very nice job!

Maybe you could use a "peltier cooler" to drop the temperature of your engine!

Clark57 (author)Hervee2017-05-21

A peltier or peltiers big enough to be effective would drain the battery faster than the motor.

The better bet would be to use a larger motor that would produce the same or better results as this one. Though the weight's increased, the actual consumption shouldn't since the bigger one doesn't have to work as hard.

buddyweiser230953 (author)2017-05-09

Going to build one this summer with my grandson excellent job and great instructions

Thank you!

Jonathanrjpereira (author)2017-05-13

Solidworks/CAD files?

I designed the throttle in tinkercad. The link to the .STL file is posted in the Instructable!

KryptoTSD (author)2017-05-03

I want to build that one, or one just like it....

Ronelka (author)2017-04-25

how did you attach the brakes and where did you buy it from?

austiwawa (author)Ronelka2017-04-29

The brake came on the old go kart frame. It is a small disc brake from princess auto.

Ronelka (author)austiwawa2017-04-29

Thanks a lot austiwawa

RetBill (author)2017-04-25

I made a different version, but after about 25 feet the plug pulled out of the wall!

Pray48 (author)RetBill2017-04-29

RetBill, When I was 10 years old my friend and I built an electric go kart. We used an old solid wood door for the platform and an electric motor out of a washing machine. Then we gathered up over 100 feet of extension chord. We could go about 70 feet each direction. We only had one speed, FAST. Our brake was to hold your hand up and the other guy pulled the plug. I had forgotten about our adventure until I read your post. Thanks.

dukejustice (author)2017-04-25

WOW! Impressed! I will build one for my son. What speeds can you achieve? I don't want to hurt him in the process.

austiwawa (author)dukejustice2017-04-29

Thank you! Around 50kph. I am going to use a speedometer to measure the exact speed and I will update the Instructable.

RobR2 (author)austiwawa2017-04-29

There are GPS speed apps available for smart phones, I use HUD on Android for my 4 wheeler and boat. these apps will work on old no service phones as well.

RobR2 (author)dukejustice2017-04-26

DukeJustice with that throttle set up it would be easy to govern this to half throttle. Just add a long bolt under the pedal with a locknut. Set it where you want, tighten lock nut, as he grows and gets better at driving it turn the bolt down and give him more throttle to use.

austiwawa (author)RobR22017-04-29

Cool idea!

dukejustice (author)RobR22017-04-26

Thank you for answering. Very clever. Means I could use it too! Thank you RobR2!

KiLL3Rw0Lf (author)2017-04-25

This is a cool build! I might have to do this one day as I have bout everything but the frame and batteries laying around! Lol. I've seen these types of frame on Craigslist around me for dirt cheap.

One thing I might try on top of this is more gears. What do you think? Maybe like a bike gear set and derailer? Would add much more torque in lower gears and might be able to pump out a bit more speed!

Maybe add a little arm to lift the chain a bit while your changing gears so it would be a smoother transition. Basically making a clutch. Lol. Plus, if you add sides onto the arm to guide the chain, it would help keep the chain straight and not pop off as much.

On top of that, if you had gears you could possibly use a lower voltage battery since you don't need as much torque to start off. Then you could get more mAh in the same size as your 48v battery, meaning more distance.

Just a few random thoughts for you.

austiwawa (author)KiLL3Rw0Lf2017-04-29

Those are some good thoughts :) Its interesting hearing about other peoples ideas in the comments!

KiLL3Rw0Lf (author)austiwawa2017-04-29

Thank you. I have a 24v high torque motor and a 24v speed controller just sitting around. If I ever come by a cheap frame I may have to test my ideas. It's half the voltage, but with the gears I might be able to get somewhere. It's the same motor out of a Razor Scooter and it drives those pretty well. Could maybe get somewhere with gears.

VGsss (author)2017-04-27

Range and max speed?

austiwawa (author)VGsss2017-04-29

The range is to be determined! The go kart can go around 50kph.

VGsss (author)austiwawa2017-04-29

Thank you :D

Timothee Gillier (author)2017-04-24

Really cool dude!

Thank you!

Mr_Wolf_Is_Innocent (author)2017-04-25

hi, first off, nice one, I have been considering making a similar rough terrain electric vehicle, and was considering Lipo batteries, so I thought I'd ask why you chose lead acid?

I chose lead acid due to the price!

It's cheaper. Li-po is ok when the power requirements are low like for most electronics but when moving a person or something as heavy as a car you need a lot of batteries and they cost. E.g. most electric car battery packs cost like 8k. I think the Tesla ones might be more.

Thank you, that is what I had assumed was the main reason.

henrykeultjes (author)2017-04-27

Anybody making this in the future, why not use Switched Reluctance Pancake motor EV drive-train? Henry Keultjes keultjeshatgmall get more details.

mrygula (author)2017-04-26

How fast would you say it goes?

james.quirk.35 (author)2017-04-26

AWESOME!!!!! I'm going to look into adapting your motor design for a bike.

curtpg (author)2017-04-25

How much do you figure you have in it?

dpiccine (author)2017-04-25

More like a refurbish than making from scratch... good tips anyway... tks

NonexB (author)2017-04-25

Nice job!

I wouldn't mind adapting it to my wheelchair

skiboy007 (author)2017-04-25

Nice job!

At what inclines (uphill) do you think it can handle with approx 100kg load (person)

MiguelQ11 (author)2017-04-25

About how much did you spend on this project?

rainingfiction (author)2017-04-23

Yaaaasss. This is so coo!

About This Instructable




Bio: Hello and welcome! My name is Austin. I enjoy creating interesting projects and sharing my projects and ideas with all of you. Please feel free ... More »
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