2-Stroke Vs 4-Stroke Go-Kart – Discover The Best Option!

  • By: Go Kart Picks
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Almost any vehicle enthusiast will be fascinated by the workings of a go-kart engine, which is available in two types – 2 strokes and 4 strokes.

No one engine is better than the other, regardless of what you may think. Each engine has its own features that make it suitable for different applications.

For example, a 2 stroke go-kart engine makes an ideal choice for sprint karting because they are lighter and run faster than a 4 stroke engine. Yet, if you wish to participate in endurance karting, a 4 stroke engine will make a better choice because of the fuel efficiency.

If you’re not sure which engine would be a better fit for your go-kart, the following points might help you better understand the differences.

Go-kart Engines: How They Work

To understand how gas engines work, you need to know how combustion takes place in an engine. Combustion generates energy for the engine.

For the engine to produce energy, the piston should move up and down, and hit two particular points within the engine’s cylinder.

These points are called “top dead center” (TDC) and “bottom dead center” (BDC). One stroke is equivalent to the movement of the piston from BDC to TDC or TDC to BDC.

When the piston hits these points, it triggers proper airflow that is needed for combustion to get the go-kart going.

2-Stroke Vs 4 Stroke Go-Kart Engines - Discover The Best Option! PIN

A combustion cycle generally consists of five processes – intake, compression, ignition, combustion, and exhaust. There are two kinds of gas engines – 2 strokes and 4 strokes.

It only takes two strokes of the piston to complete a cycle in a 2 stroke engine, while it takes four strokes of the piston to finish all the five functions in a 4 stroke engine.

2-Stroke Engines


  • Lightweight and relatively more affordable
  • Fast engine with a high RPM
  • Simple design with ports rather than valves
  • Easy to fix or repair


  • Frequent maintenance required
  • It produces a distinct buzzing noise. 
  • Not environment-friendly

4-Stroke Engines


  • Effective with high durability
  • Excellent fuel efficiency
  • Quieter and more convenient
  • Environment-friendly
  • Great power at lower RPM


  • They are relatively heavier and weigh twice as much as a regular 2 stroke engine
  • Complex parts with higher repair costs
  • More expensive

Differences & Similarities

While both 2 stroke and 4 stroke engines operate similarly, the major difference is the number of strokes they need to complete one combustion cycle.

With 2 stroke engines, it only takes two strokes which is the movement of the piston up and down, to make a cycle. During the upstroke process, the piston moves upwards, which allows fuel and air to enter the crankcase, which in turn gets compressed and burned.

The downstroke is when the piston moves down. This downward movement pushes the exhaust out.

A 4 stroke engine requires four strokes to complete a cycle. The first step is the intake, where the piston moves downward and allows fuel inside. The fuel gets compressed when the piston goes upward. The next downward movement ignites the compressed fuel to generate power. The final upward step opens the exhaust valve for the exhaust to escape.

A 2 stroke engine produces more rotational force at a higher RPM. This makes 2 stroke engines more speedy than its counterpart. They can also generate two times the power of a 4 stroke engine while remaining lightweight.

However, the consequence of being quite speedy is that it requires frequent repairs as it is prone to wear out fast. But it is more affordable and lightweight because it uses ports instead of a more complicated valve.

On the other hand, a 4 stroke offers more moments of force at a lower RPM. This means that the engine will not have the speed of a 2 stroke engine, but it will make up with more endurance, making them ideal for bigger vehicles.

Unlike 2 stroke engines that require pre-fuel and oil mixing, 4 stroke engines feature a separate oil compartment and do not emit as much exhaust as 2 stroke engines.

In general, 2 stroke engines are used in small and light vehicles such as dirt bikes, scooters, and go-karts. In contrast, 4 stroke engines are applied to bigger vehicles like cars, trucks, and buses.

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What Is Better For A Go-Kart 2-Stroke Or 4-Stroke

When choosing an engine for a go-kart, drivers often wonder what type is the best. Choosing the right engine will help your vehicle perform at its best.

The combustion cycle plays a crucial part in the performance of the engine, but not one of them is superior to the other. Choosing the right engine for your go-kart depends on what type of karting you wish to do.

A 4 stroke engine is a good choice for your go-kart if you are interested in something that will last longer and be more fuel-efficient. For this reason, they are ideal for endurance racing.

If speed is your priority, a 2-stroke engine is a better choice since it is lighter and faster. It features a simple design that is quite easy to repair and maintain. Speed is an important factor in sprint karting, which is powered by this type of engine.

As a result, there is no definitive answer as to which of the two engines is better for a go-kart. Depending on the circumstances, both 2 stroke and 4 stroke engines are suitable for go-karts.

Even though each has its variations, the final decision is dependent on the driver’s preferences and needs.

2-Stroke Go-Karts

The first 2 stroke engine was invented in 1878 by a person named Sir Dugald Clerk. 2 stroke go-karts make the best engines for short-length high-speed runs. The main aspects of a 2 stroke go-kart include:

  • Weight 

A 2 stroke go-kart is relatively lightweight. Since there is no valve present in a 2 stroke go-kart, much of the engine’s weight is reduced without affecting the performance. 

  • Power

In a 2 stroke go-kart, it only takes the piston to move up and down to make a combustion cycle. So more combustion takes place as compared to 4 stroke go-karts. Where there is more combustion, there is more power. 

  • Durability

Since frequent combustion takes place and more pressure is felt, it calls for more wear and tears when it comes to 2 stroke engines. 

  • Maintenance Level

The level of maintenance and repair is easy. It also sports a simple design for easy handling. This makes 2 stroke go-karts an ideal option for go-kart lovers. 

  • Fuel Efficiency

It consumes more fuel and is not suitable for long-distance runs. Both fuel and oil are mixed beforehand, and the exhaust is let out after the combustion takes place. 

4-Stroke Go-Karts

Before the invention of 2 stroke go-karts, 4 stroke engines were already around. It was invented by Nicholas Otto in 1861. 4 stroke go-karts are generally used by those who take part in long competitive runs because of their endurance level. The main factors of a 4 stroke go-kart include:

  • Weight

4 stroke go-kart engines feature additional parts and add extra weight to the engine. This makes it relatively heavier than 2 stroke engines.

  • Power

Combustion happens less frequently than 2 stroke engines. This means that a 4 stroke go-kart will not offer immense power, but it will retain endurance instead.

  • Durability

When it comes to durability, the 4 stroke go-kart is the clear winner. While they come at a more expensive price tag, they offer high durability to handle endurance karting. 

  • Maintenance Level

In comparison, 4 stroke go-karts feature extra parts. So, they are quite complicated to repair and maintain. 

  • Fuel Efficiency

A 4 stroke go-kart consumes less fuel, and so it has excellent fuel efficiency. Also, since the engine has a different chamber, it does not pre-mix fuel and oil, thus contributing to a cleaner environment.

go-kart racing

Are 2-Stroke Engines Faster Than 4-Stroke?

As is stated above, 2 stroke engines have more frequent combustion, which leads to more power and speed. All the functions of intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust are completed in two movements of the piston, i.e., up and down.

So a 2 stroke engine is relatively more powerful and offers greater speed ability than 4 stroke engines due to increased throttle response. Some 2 stroke engines produce twice the power and speed of a comparable 4 stroke engine. 

Given that 2 stroke engines have fewer and less complicated parts, especially the heavy valve train, they are comparatively much lighter than 4 stroke engines. This lightweight nature of the engine enables greater speed for the go-kart.

But for every benefit, there is a sacrifice. While 2 stroke engines offer unrivaled performance in terms of power and speed, they are prone to more frequent wear and tear. They need high maintenance, but usually, they can be easily fixed or repaired. 

How Fast Is A 2-Stroke Go-Kart

Go-karts are classified into different groups that range from 50cc to 250cc. The speed of a 2 stroke go-kart will vary according to the engine classification, with an average of 40-50 mph. This range is considered the most comfortable and safest zone. 

A 2 stroke 50cc go-kart is generally designed for kids with a maximum speed of up to 30 mph. The top speed of a 2 stroke 125cc go-kart stays somewhere between 70-80 mph.

A 2 stroke 200cc go-kart has a maximum speed of 120 mph, while a 250cc go-kart has a top speed of 150 mph. Various factors such as the track layout, weather, horsepower level, and more contribute to the variations in the speed of a 2 stroke go-kart. 

Why 2-Stroke Engines Aren’t Being Used In Other Vehicles

There used to be cars with 2 stroke engines, but not anymore, and for good reasons. We are already aware that 2 stroke engines are not the best at contributing to a cleaner environment. They have a high rate of combustion, and this produces more exhaust.

Since the fuel and oil are pre-mixed, burnt oil is also trapped and expelled into the air when combustion happens. This leads to air pollution and thus does not apply to cars and other big vehicles. 

A 2 stroke engine is also susceptible to frequent tears and is not durable enough to be used on bigger vehicles such as cars and buses. They also have low fuel efficiency and quickly drain fuel. 

2 stroke engines are known for their lightweight nature and incredible speed and performance. This is why they make the ideal choice for smaller cars and other appliances.

Some of the examples where 2 stroke engines are applicable include go-karts, light dirt bikes, chain saws, jet skis, model plans, tiny outboard motors, and more. 

Final Thoughts

Depending on the type of race you are training for, you can either go for a high-power and lightweight 2 stroke engine or a heavy and durable 4 stroke engine.

Both the engine types are efficient for different purposes. Their unique features offer them distinct roles in various scenarios and circumstances. 

If you’re looking for a lightweight engine that can offer superior power and speed, a 2 stroke engine will offer good and satisfying performance. But you should be ready for the easy periodic repairs that will come your way. 

On the other hand, if fuel efficiency and reliability are what you have in mind, a 4 stroke engine is a go-to option. Although they can’t offer the same level of speed and power as 2 stroke engines, they’ll surely offer the endurance and durability you need for longer runs. 

In the end, whatever you choose will depend on the type of scenario you have prepared in your mind. The performance of a go-kart will depend heavily on the type of engine it is running on. Choose the right engine and have an incredible go-karting experience. 

Read Also

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The Best Go Kart For Kids 

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