Can Go Karts Go In Reverse?


When you first climb into a standard go-kart, there might be a couple of things that look similar and a couple of things that look different from a normal car. You might find yourself noticing that, ostensibly, there is no option to put the go-kart in reverse. You might ask yourself, ‘what does this mean?’ Does this mean that you have to yell out loudly every time you find yourself in a sticky situation and just want to back up a little bit and have to get people to do it for you manually? In short, can a go-kart reverse?

Standard gasoline go-karts do not have reverse capabilities. A reverse gearbox set can make these lightweight vehicles a little heavier, which can be very detrimental to their performance. If you want to reverse in a go-kart, you can either buy an electric one or install a reverse gearbox.

There are two ways in which you can ensure that your go-kart can reverse. One is to get a different type of go-kart. The other is to install the capability yourself. So what exactly does it take to install the reverse capability into a go-kart? Is it possible and, if so, what are the requirements to do so? All of this we explore!

Can go-karts go in reverse?

To answer whether or not go-karts can reverse, we must first mention two types of go-karts: gasoline engine go-karts and electric motor go-karts.

There are various advantages and disadvantages that electric motor go-karts have over gasoline engine go-karts, but one of the advantages is that electric motor go-karts can reverse, whereas the standard gasoline engine go-karts do not.

This means electric go-karts can reverse and reposition themselves out of a situation if they spin, for example, whereas gas go-karts need to be manually pushed to reposition themselves.

The reason why go-karts normally cannot reverse is that they do not have reverse gearboxes. Why do they not have reverse gearboxes? Simple, a racing go-kart is made to do one thing: blast forward as fast as possible. Adding a reverse gearbox will make the go-kart a little heavier, taking away the advantage of its lightweight design.

Thus, go-karts can go in reverse, but that is only if you own an electric go-kart or if you have your own customized gas go-kart.

How to install reverse on a go-kart

If we want to add a reverse capability on a go-kart, we must install a reverse gearbox in the go-kart. To install a reverse gearbox on the go-kart, we will need to follow the 6 steps below.

Step 1: Make room available for the installation of the reverse gearbox

The first thing you must do is make enough room available in the engine area so that a reverse gearbox can be placed there. Depending on how large your go-kart is, you may have to move your engine, torque converter, or clutch. It is recommended that the axle must remain in position as is.

If you are going to move the engine, first make sure which gearbox you will buy to determine how much space you must make available.

Now, to make more space available, remove either the torque converter or the clutch and the belts or the chains. After that, you can loosen any bolts that are holding down the engine. Once the fasteners have been loosened, you can shift the engine around.

Step 2: Make sure the engine is mounted and the torque converter is reinstalled

Now you must remount and reinstall what was unmounted and uninstalled. Once you have determined where your engine must be mounted – you might require new brackets to be installed so that your engine is mounted securely. You can also use a slotted plate to move your engine around by just drilling holes into it wherever you need to mount the engine.

After the engine is in place, the torque converter must be installed – make sure that it is installed tightly.

Step 3: Make sure the reverse gearbox is properly setup

Before the gearbox is mounted, it must be set up properly. This means that all the shafts must be lined up, the gearbox must have lubricants applied, and a sprocket and bearings must be installed.

There are some important points to note when setting up your gearbox:

  • The reverse gearbox must be mounted to a bracket or a (slotted) plate, and it must be mounted very tightly.
  • The reverse gearbox’s input shaft must be connected to the torque converter’s driven pulley. This is usually done with a bearing.
  • The reverse gearbox’s output shaft must be connected, with a sprocket, to the rear axle. The good thing is that the sprocket usually comes with the reverse gearbox kit.
  • The reverse gearbox should have lubricant applied to it, as indicated by the instruction manual.
  • All the required shafts must align and be parallel to one another.
  • The chain that connects the gearbox and the rear axle must be installed, and consideration must be given to the tension of the chain.

Step 4: Mount the Gearbox in the correct place

After the gearbox has been set up correctly, it must then be mounted in place. It must be mounted securely; you can either do this with a slotted plate or a bracket.

The slotted plate can be a more convenient option if you must adjust every now and again for position corrections. Additionally, you can also mount the gearbox in a different place on the plate if you want to upgrade or replace certain components.

It is important to note that the reverse gearbox must be mounted horizontally to the go-kart. If this is not done, it can wear the gearbox much faster – so rather use a level ruler to avoid this from happening.

Step 5: Proceed to install the other components of the gearbox

There were, most likely, plenty of other components that came with the reverse gearbox kit after it was purchased – install them! These can be components such as transmission lines, gearshift discs, gearbox levers, etc.

You will have to install these components through the go-kart’s frame and make sure that the gearbox lever is installed where it can easily be reached. Thus, it is recommended to first sit in the driver’s seat and then find suitable mounting locations for the gear lever and transmission lines. For the gear lever, try placing it next to (either side of) the seat.

Step 6: Test to see if the Reverse gearbox is working

If you’ve completed all the previous steps, the only step remaining is to make sure that which you have built works perfectly.

Take into account that gearboxes have different gear ratios. The gearbox ratios depend on each reverse gearbox. Since the forward gear ratio and the reverse gear ratio differ, it causes that the car doesn’t move as fast in reverse as it moves forward.

If you have completed this step, you have finished installing your reverse gearbox.


In conclusion, yes, go-karts can go in reverse – you are not doomed to only drive straight in your go-kart until you find yourself stuck in a situation where you can no longer move! Luckily, there are ways to reverse your go-kart without having to get out of your go-kart and push it yourself or quickly call your friends to come and do it for you!

First, you can either buy an electric go-kart to avoid this situation altogether. Secondly, you can use your gasoline go-kart, but you will install a reverse gearbox in the go-kart with 6 steps.

These steps include everything from making sure that you have extra room available in your go-kart, making sure that you relocate all the rings you had to remove, installing your new reverse gearbox in your go-kart, and testing your final product. They are not the easiest steps, but once you have a go-kart that can reverse, it will have been worth all the effort!